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How Much Does a Digital Billboard Cost?

In advertising, it’s rarely a smart decision to rely on a single channel to reach all of your customers. 

The most effective companies often take advantage of social media, SEO, in-person advertising opportunities and other avenues to target their customers in multiple ways.

Digital billboards represent one such marketing channel worth exploring. They give businesses the opportunity to reach thousands of potential customers.

But digital billboards aren’t right for every business. Read on to find out how they can best be used and whether they’re the right choice for you. 

What is a digital billboard?

Digital billboards are modernized versions of traditional billboards. 

They are electronic displays that are controlled by computers. Companies use digital billboards to display advertisements to people who visit the billboard’s location.

Times Square in New York City is perhaps the most well-known example of digital billboards. It’s one of the busiest areas of one of the busiest cities in the world, which makes it the perfect spot to place digital billboards advertising some of the biggest brands in existence.

Digital billboards vs. traditional billboards

In terms of functionality, digital billboards beat traditional billboards by nearly every metric. 

They can rotate through multiple displays while traditional billboards can show only one. It’s also time-consuming and labor-intensive to swap from one ad to another on a traditional billboard whereas digital billboards can accomplish this — automatically — every few seconds.

Traditional billboards are also prone to wear, tear and discoloration by the elements. Digital billboards remain brilliant year round, rain or shine.

Another factor to consider is that consumers can see digital billboards from greater distances than traditional ones. That means companies may be able to grab the attention of passers-by from further away with a digital billboard.

The only real downside to choosing a digital billboard instead of a traditional billboard is the price — but we’ll touch more on that later.

How to know if your business needs a digital billboard

Digital billboards are expensive so it’s important to make sure that your company will really benefit from using one before making the commitment. 

Billboards are excellent at geographic marketing but not so great at personalization. They need to have broad appeal. That makes them a good fit for certain types of companies and a poor fit for others.

For example, a digital billboard advertisement would be perfect for a local restaurant that wants to attract more customers from the region. But it might not be a good fit for a consulting company that specializes in a niche industry that most people in the area aren’t involved with.

That being said, there are ways to target a niche audience with a digital billboard. You just need to be particular about the location that you choose.

For example, maybe you want to advertise your software security company’s services to large businesses. If so, a digital billboard that’s located in your region’s business hub would be an excellent place to advertise.

Digital billboard alternatives

If you’d like to invest more in out-of-home advertising, then digital signage is an option that you should consider alongside digital billboards. 

Digital signage also lets you display ads on a rotating basis, and allows you to control the screens and what they display 24/7, at the click of a button. 

For example, you can easily turn your smart TVs into digital signs with software from UPshow to begin improving the effectiveness of your in-venue advertising efforts.

How much does a digital billboard cost?

The average cost of a digital billboard advertisement varies from $1,200 to $15,000 per month.

However, your costs could be much higher than that if you want to run an ad on a digital billboard that’s located in one of the most populous parts of the United States.

For example, it can cost up to $3 million per month to advertise on the largest billboard in Times Square. Even if that figure represents the top-end cost of digital billboard advertising, it highlights just how expensive this form of advertising can be in prime locations.

Classic billboards typically cost less than this. They’re available for as low as $250 per month in rural areas, but may cost between $4,000 and $10,000 per month in more populated areas.

Don’t forget to add these additional costs

The figures discussed above only take into account the costs of renting space on a digital billboard for your advertisement — they don’t include the price of planning, designing and producing the ad that you’ll display on it.

The costs for this process can also vary significantly. If you’re a larger company, you may have an in-house design team that can create the ad for you.

But most smaller and mid-sized companies will have to hire someone to do the job for them. You might pay around $1,000 for this if you partner with a design company. But your costs could get much higher than that if you want to work with one of the biggest design companies in the industry.

Factors impacting digital billboard costs

Digital billboards are typically priced based on how many thousand impressions or cost per mille (CPM) they offer. 

For example, a billboard in downtown Chicago will have a very high CPM while one rural Arkansas may have a very low CPM.

We calculate CPM by looking at the circulation that an area receives (the number of people that pass through it in a given time period) and the impressions that it should receive (the number of people that will actually see the ad given factors like the speed limit in the area).

Demographics are another factor that can impact digital billboard costs. It refers to the age, gender and income levels of individuals that pass by the billboard. If your ads are being shown to individuals with lots of extra income, you will likely pay more.

How much is too much to spend on a digital billboard?

The answer to this question varies from company to company. 

It’s worth considering how many leads you would likely gain from the advertisement in order to figure out if it’s a good investment for you and how much you’re willing to spend.

Are digital billboards worth it?

Generally, digital billboards are a better fit for companies with simple, straightforward purposes. 

People don’t spend very long looking at billboards. You might get a few seconds of their attention but you won’t be able to convey a ton of information with a digital billboard advertisement.

That means you should look into adding digital billboard-based advertising to your marketing strategy if you’re a restaurant, shop or another type of business that consumers can understand and connect with almost instantaneously.

But you may want to spend your marketing budget elsewhere if you offer a service or software that’s complex and difficult to explain succinctly or targeted at a specific niche instead of a general audience.

Location is everything

Since digital billboards target consumers in a very specific geographic area, location is everything when figuring out whether a digital billboard is right for you. 

It’s important to make sure that the location of the digital billboard is relevant to your company. You need to make sure that it’s in an area that receives the right type of traffic for your goals.

If at all possible, try to visit the site of a digital billboard before agreeing to display your ad on it. Often, advertisements for billboard space look better online than they do in person, and the only way to really experience how much attention your ad will receive is to go see it for yourself.

Enhance your out of home advertising with UPshow

Whether digital billboard advertising is cost-effective and a good fit for your company or not, out-of-home advertising is definitely something your company should invest in. 

Doing so will enable you to reach your customers while they’re out in the world instead of only when they’re online.

One of the most effective ways to do this is with digital signage software, like UPshow

Our software turns your smart TVs into powerful in-venue advertising devices. You will be able to show your ads on a rotating display while also attracting the attention of your customers with streaming entertainment, trivia questions and more.

If you’d like to learn more about what UPshow can do for you, schedule a custom demo with us today. We look forward to hearing from you.