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How to Tell If Your Billboard Advertising is Working

March 2, 2023

Have you ever asked yourself, “Do Billboards work?” or wondered, “How effective is Billboard advertising?”

There is a common myth that it is difficult or nearly impossible to measure the effectiveness of Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising. However, with the rise of digital technologies and tools it's become easier to measure the impact of your physical outdoor advertising efforts.
Though Billboard advertisements can be measured, it may not be as straightforward as other types of advertising such, as online and digital advertising. It is possible to measure your Billboard ads, whether they are static roadside vinyls or digital screens on the side of a building.   

This article will tell you how to set goals for your Billboard campaigns, measure your campaign performance and determine whether you have reached your campaign goals. 

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How to Set Goals for Your Billboard Campaign  

There are a variety of Billboard advertising goals beyond just pure brand awareness or vanity plays. In fact, Billboard advertising can impact all stages of the  from awareness to conversion: 
  • Awareness: Traditionally, Billboards have been known for their reach and ability to raise awareness of brands for store openings, brand launches and more. 
  • Interest: Beyond just awareness, Billboards pique the interest of passersby, encouraging them to search for more information about a brand, product or service. This is especially true when the placement has memorable visuals or taglines, or a strong call-to-action.
  • Consideration: Billboards can help a brand to build its credibility by occupying a space in the physical world. It can add a sense of authenticity to brands and lead audiences to delve more deeply into considering your product or service as an option.  
  • Conversion: When Billboards have a call to action such as scanning a QR code, visiting a website or downloading an app, it can increase digital traffic and conversions. Carefully placing your outdoor advertisement near a physical store can increase foot traffic and sales.
  • Brand Affinity: Beyond initial conversions, Billboards can create brand loyalty and trust. After the purchase, Billboards can encourage repeat business and help you create a stronger connection with your audiences. 

How do you choose which of these goals is right for your campaign? The first step of any marketing campaign is to identify your target audience. In the case of OOH, you’ll want to have an idea of the markets where they live and where in those markets they tend to frequent. This will help you to tailor your messages and set realistic expectations. 

You should also already know your overall business and marketing objectives. Use these objectives to set specific, measurable and achievable goals. These goals will depend upon what you are trying to achieve with your campaign and should have metrics set against them. Common OOH metrics include but are not limited to reach, frequency and impressions. 

For effective planning, you should also set aside a budget and ample time for researching and procuring units. This will help you create realistic campaign details including the size and location of your Billboards or other formats and determine the length of your campaign.

What Makes Billboards Effective? 

OOH can be an extremely effective medium when done correctly. However, there are many things that could potentially go wrong, especially if you are not well-versed in outdoor advertising. This is why many advertisers choose to partner with an OOH specialist to ensure they are effectively planning their Billboard campaigns, to manage the production and installation process and to measure the subsequent results.

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Here are some of the ways that advertisers can ensure their Billboards are as impactful as possible:  
  • Choose a high-traffic location where your target audience frequents and ensure that there are no obstructions like trees or buildings to the viewing area. 
  • Make your message simple. Billboards are not vision tests for your audience. Use a large easy-to-read font and high-contrast colors. 
  • Use exciting images, taglines or elements of surprise or humor to intrigue audiences and keep your brand top of mind. 
  • Consider the timing of your message. Specific events or times of year, or for digital billboards, time of day, may make your brand’s products or services more appealing to your target audience. 
As you are conducting your campaign you’ll want to evaluate your Billboard’s performance so that you can make adjustments as needed.  allow you to quickly swap out creatives and messages. How you measure your Billboard campaign and track success will depend upon your overall goals, but there are several ways to achieve them.

How to Measure the Success of Billboards

Though it may seem like traditional advertising in the form of print, magazine, radio and even to an extent television advertising is dying - the oldest form of advertising, OOH, is still not only alive, but thriving in today’s fast-paced digital world. Keep in mind your goals when creating your Billboard advertising and oftentimes those goals will give you an idea of how to increase engagement and track metrics that prove the Billboard’s success.

Working with a trusted OOH partner or OOH specialist can help you to not only source, plan and execute your Billboard campaigns, but to measure their effectiveness so that you can track the attribution of the campaign. Additionally, although it is a one-to-many medium, OOH specialists can help you with audience demographic targeting so that you can ensure the correct audiences are viewing your advertisement and taking action! 

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Here are some of the ways that Billboard performance is measured. Please note that depending on your goals there are different ways that you would measure the performance of your campaign.

Social Media & Hashtags

Social media and the use of hashtags can be a great way to increase engagement with your OOH advertisement and keep the buzz going long after your campaign ends. Beyond Billboards, social media can be especially effective when doing an unusual, surprising or experiential OOH campaign. Some common metrics for tracking social media interactions with campaigns could include tracking the use of a Billboard campaign-specific hashtag, new followers, mentions, shares of your OOH ad and other engagement. 

QR Codes 

QR Codes were a hot topic when they first appeared, and then they were not. Then the pandemic happened and they rose in popularity again as a touch-free way to access content from restaurant menus to karaoke song lists to website visits and app downloads. QR codes can be set up to lead to a Billboard campaign-specific landing page where your customers can learn more, gain a discount or download an app. This way you can track how many times your QR code led to a visit to that specific tracking url and determine the number of conversions that came about as a result. However, be careful with QR codes on outdoor advertisements. Mobile OOH units such as car wraps might be difficult for audiences to scan. Likewise, a QR code on a 50ft Billboard on a highway will likely not be scannable.  


Surveys can be conducted for brand recognition and favorability before, during and post-campaign to see if it has had an effect on brand awareness. It’s also possible to run surveys to tell you how many people remember seeing your billboard and what they thought of it. This can help you make more effective future billboard advertisements if you include questions about the design, message, location, and overall effectiveness of the ad.

Sales Data and Store Visitation Lift

Putting your Billboard en route to a physical store can lead to more visitors to your store and thus more sales. Carefully choosing an OOH specialist partner can help you to obtain data based on mobile device IDs to track whether a lift in sales and store visitation is due to the efforts of your Billboard campaign. A proper OOH specialist will ensure the correct controls are in place to track sales before, during and post-campaign and determine lift. 

Successful Billboard Campaigns We Love

In 2022, Algorand made headlines for its Billboard campaign in Times Square. Most Billboard campaigns, especially digital ones are focused on bright images that light up an area and draw attention from those in the vicinity. However, Algorand took a different approach. They made digital Billboards in Times Square, a busy, bustling, bright ubiquitous OOH hotspot, turn completely dark for 13 minutes four times in one hour the night before Earth Day. The purpose was to encourage audiences to step away from their digital screens for a moment and show how much less energy their cryptocurrency protocol uses than many other platforms. Through their creative use of the medium, over 50 news articles were generated and the campaign went viral on social media.

Friends of the Children’s annual National Mentoring Month campaign is another great example of effective Billboard advertising. Each year they run a campaign to help raise awareness of their mentorship work that supports children facing adversity. Through entirely donated inventory, the 2021 campaign increased website traffic by 200% across nine markets in major US cities. For the 2023 campaign, to celebrate their 30th year of accomplishments and expanding footprint across the US, Billups helped Friends of the Children secure amazing Digital Billboards in and around Washington DC. This campaign helped to get professional mentoring on lawmakers' minds to support the continued mentorship of children growing up in difficult situations.

How Effective is Billboard Advertising? 

Billboards can be an extremely effective form of advertising whether as a standalone outdoor campaign or in conjunction with your other marketing efforts. According to a study by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), outdoor advertising reaches 98% percent of the US adult population and the average person sees an OOH ad about 70 times per month. In addition to its impressively massive reach, outdoor advertising often has a lower Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) than other forms of advertising.

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Outdoor advertising also amplifies the effectiveness of other marketing channels. Targeting capabilities allow you to fine-tune and target similar audiences to what you would through other channels including TV, online and radio. Using a carefully planned multichannel campaign strategy that incorporates OOH advertising can prove greater ROI. According to a study by Nielsen, OOH can increase the effectiveness of other media by as much as 42%. 

However, remember it’s important to measure your results. If you are planning an OOH campaign make sure that you have a basic understanding of the metrics that will be used and set reasonable targets. An OOH specialist can help you, not only to understand what you should be measuring based on your goals, but track progress towards those goals using advanced analytics tools. 

Billups Can Help You with Effective Billboard Advertising  

At Billups, our sole focus is outdoor advertising. We are well-versed in the subject with presence in global and domestic markets to improve the OOH experience for agencies, brands and their customers. Whether you are seeking to put up a Billboard or other formats we can help you prove ROI on your ad dollars spent. Contact us today to get started on your next campaign! 

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