Digital VS Traditional: The Best Billboard for Your Business

Digital Billboard VS Traditional Billboard

Out-of-home, or outdoor, advertising is a highly effective form of advertising that includes any type of advertising that reaches a consumer outside of their home (usually when they are in transit, on-the-go or waiting). Walls, vehicle wraps, banners, street furniture and billboards are all examples of outdoor advertising. The most common form of outdoor advertising is billboards. In fact, the Outdoor Association of America reports that billboards make up 66 percent of annual outdoor advertising revenue. Billboards are known to be the oldest form of advertising, dating back to when ancient civilizations would carve into tall stones to communicate laws and treaties. Today there are over 350,000 billboards in the U.S. market.

Types of Billboards

Billboards are divided into two main categories: static and digital. Before choosing between a digital billboard versus a traditional billboard as the medium for your advertising campaign, you must be fully informed about the strengths of both types of out of home advertising. Knowing the differences between static and digital billboards is not the only knowledge required to be able to decide on which type of advertising strategy your brand needs. There are a number of factors to consider while making this decision that includes your budget, target audience and the level of creativity of the campaign.

Static Billboards

Static billboard advertising has been used since the 1800s in America, made popular in the time by new printing technologies. Today static billboards make up a large part of out-of-home advertising and are viewed as a norm. Static billboards are popular because they offer 24/7 exposure of an advertisement. Usually seen on major highways and streets across the nation, they provide high impact and reach large numbers of consumers who pass by the billboards every day. Also called vinyl billboards, static billboards must be printed and then installed, which often comes with a service fee. One of the major advantages of this type is that your advertisement is the only one on it for a long period of time.  In addition, they give the audience a chance to see the billboard clearly, unlike digital where the screen changes every few seconds.

Due to the fact that they’ve been around for a while, static billboards have standardized pricing and routine installations. If a brand is going to have one advertisement up for a whole year without there being any damages or repairs, a static billboard may be more cost-effective than a digital billboard. However, oftentimes the vinyl on the billboard needs to be reprinted and reinstalled throughout a campaign. Also, if you run a campaign that requires multiple changes, it may get costly to re-print and re-install the vinyl.

It is believed that static billboards limit creativity because of the standardization and lack of movement, however, this depends on the design, brand, campaign and execution of the billboard’s design. Traditional billboards can and have been used very creatively. An example of a creatively used static billboard to express a message is the United Cooling Popsicle Billboard that advertises cooling services by showing a melting popsicle. The billboard is creatively eye-catching and witty and clearly expresses the advertising message.

One of the most innovative uses of static billboards has been Chick-Fil-A’s Cow Campaign. The brand was one of the first to utilize 3D billboards in 1995 with boards featuring 3D cows painting different slogans on the billboard, persuading the audience not to eat cows. The cows campaigning for their lives is a great example of marketing creativity at its best. The idea and campaign have been working for the last 20 years and are still a consumer favorite today.

Digital Billboards

Digital billboards are computer controlled electronic displays. They are starting to take over the industry with over 2,000 digital billboards across the nation. Digital billboard space is sold in slots, giving your advertisement a 6-8 second exposure time every 64 seconds. An advantage of digital billboards is that you can update and change your advertisement, which makes is easy to run new campaigns, keep up with the holidays or special events, and have dynamic designs. With digital billboards, your brand has the opportunity to advertise at peak times. For instance, a lunch deal can be advertised around lunch time.

The costs and pricing of digital billboards vary from vendor to vendor. However, in the long run, they may have lower costs than the static billboards depending on how many times the campaign requires changes in the advertisement. Digital billboards give brands the opportunity to be highly creative in their campaigns because they can be videos, moving images or live streams. An example of a brand using digital billboards creatively was Porsche’s car recognition campaign in which the billboard detected any upcoming Porsche vehicles and displayed a dynamic message to grab the attention of not just the owner, but also all other drivers around.

The Decision

When it comes to choosing between traditional versus digital billboards, your campaign and goals are a major factor that plays a role in the final decision. For example, Porsche’s car recognition campaign was an innovative way to show an average consumer that it is a leading company in technological advancements and innovation. Using a digital billboard was an appropriate way of conveying such a message. Similarly, United Cooling, a smaller company compared to Porsche, was able to effectively send out its messaging and grab the attention of consumers. Both types of billboards, static and digital each have their own advantages. The best way to choose between the two is by carefully evaluating the goals of your brand and what best suits the marketing campaign and strategy. It is important to consult with a professional marketing agency to help strategize your brand’s advertising campaign in order to achieve the best results.

Whether it’s traditional or digital, out-of-home advertising is one of the most effective tools to reach your audience. Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service Orlando marketing agency that specializes in media buying for local, national and international clients. Appleton leverages relationships with the media to craft a media strategy and plan that is constantly monitored, optimized and analyzed. Appleton delivers multimedia and multi-market campaigns for companies through meticulously placed billboards, advertisements, print publications, radio, TV and online pay-per-click services. Your media planning and buying goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or

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