Are digital billboards an improvement? It appears that there may be more cons than pros. Let’s explore.

Some Cons:

At first glance, a lot of what might be thought to be in the Pro column end up in the Con category. First, one might think that the ability to change out artwork often is a benefit. But is it really? Marketing your company is difficult. With so many marketing messages thrown at us daily, could it be that having a single, great marketing message would be to your advantage? Life is confusing enough without asking me to keep track of your brand messaging bouncing from message to message. In the good ole days (we’ll call them that for the sake of this article), you had the opportunity to get to know a marketing message. A company would typically purchase a month to expose you to their message. Passing by this message over and over for a month gave the consumer time to take it all in, grasp it, and possibly remember it.

billboard_nation digital_billboards

Let’s paint the picture here. I’m cruising down the interstate at 72 mph, down the road, to my right I see a billboard, it catches my eye. Here are the two options for what is likely to happen next — 1) It immediately switches to the next advertiser’s message before I had the opportunity to take in the one that was of interest to me, or 2) Your message remains on the screen and I “try” to read your thoughtful message as I zoom past it. I’m really not sure what it said, but congratulations, that was a nice purple.

What? And businesses are paying for this. For fear of sounding cynical, I will not refer to the CASH CROP of extra revenue the outdoor companies are looking at long-term. Sure, I understand that there was an investment in the technology, but in the long run we are talking major dividends.

Currently, when it comes to these digital outdoor boards (especially on interstates/highways/freeways) the most successful boards I’ve seen do not attempt to advertise. They stick with branding. Full screen logos or maybe those with 2 words — this, I have time for. So, a top-of-mind awareness tool? I’ve also witnessed a wonderful outdoor board where Cspire (mobile/cellular/data provider) simply used a very short hashtag. I thought it was brilliant. The board provided viewers with something they could see easily, and something they could act to learn more at the same time. Even a lengthy URL is too much information at this point. #GoodIdea + Logo = a pretty solid form of outdoor, digital billboard messaging.

Any Pros?
Sure, why not. Some of the boards that I’ve seen offer the ability to display dynamic information. Or schedule different artwork for more relevant times of the day. One local emergency room likes to display current wait times. So, I guess it is interesting that the technology is accessible to have such a message, but I’m not sure where this weighs in when it comes to Real Value VS Perceived Value. I mean, it seems cool — but now I’m imagining myself driving my friend to the emergency room (a room where you take people in crisis, remember?) and I’m trying to guess my level of concern regarding the marketing messages I’m passing by on the way.

Obviously, these boards have their place in our lives now. But with additional technology, and so much in the way of advertising media, I think it is more important than ever that we constantly ask ourselves, “Is this real value, or perceived value?” At the end of the day, and with life moving at high speeds, both literally and metaphorically, we must make an impact in the few seconds we have to simultaneously capture attention and compel someone to take an action.

The Take-away: Digital Billboards formula for success is something like this — 3 WORDS + LOGO = Success.

What was Harold thinking? Harold was one of the first on the band wagon to sign a multi-year contract. He was inappropriately excited about this Back To The Future style medium in which to share his lengthy advertising message with the world. He was pretty sure he’d be recognized for including ALL of their social media accounts on the boards. He was CERTAIN of winning international fame when he cleverly thought of adding a QR Code to it.