Digital signage is gaining in popularity as a way for organizations to spread their messages. You probably see more of them than you even realize, whether at the movies, walking through a hotel lobby, or visiting the mall. But there is one way of projecting digital content to reach an even broader audience—digital billboards. This new breed of highway advertising is not your granddaddy’s roadside billboard.
Leading global information and measurement company Nielsen recently conducted a study in an attempt to determine the effectiveness of digital billboards. The research looked at the levels of recall for advertisements, as well as related consumer attitudes. The report, commissioned by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), looked at 1,256 online surveys from U.S residents over 18. The samples were taken from five major cities: Atlanta, Minneapolis, Tampa, Cincinnati, and Phoenix.
According to the study, 75 percent of respondents who had traveled roadways with digital billboards recalled seeing them in the past month, while 60 percent recalled noticing at least one over the last week. More importantly, more than half, (55 percent) could remember the message on the digital billboard nearly every time they saw one. What this means for advertising is an extremely high level of viewer engagement, and illustrates that the messages are resonating. Maybe even more impressive is the ad’s staying power. Eighty-two percent surveyed recalled the actual advertisement they saw over the past month. Not surprisingly, Special alerts, specifically AMBER or missing children alerts, were most highly recalled (35 percent), while community information (24 percent) and weather reports (18 percent) also saw success.
The president and CEO of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America echoed the study’s sentiments, suggesting that “this detailed study highlights the effectiveness of digital billboards for businesses to communicate with consumers and for communities to reach the public.” Fletcher added that “consumers are paying attention to the information presented to them and acting on it, whether they are drawn to a location featured on an ad, discussing the ad with friends and family, or attending an advertised event.” The ads can reach multiple demographics and have more eyes on them than the best TV commercial, all because of their position at the side of the road.
Brand or Product Recognition
As mentioned above, travelers are not only noticing the digital billboards but there is huge brand recall. A test of six campaigns across five U.S markets showed that at least one digital billboard ad was recalled between 74 and 86 percent of the time. Consumer attitudes toward digital billboards was also explored. Again, the results were positive, with 72 percent believing billboards “a cool way to advertise.” More than half (65 percent) agreed that digital billboards were a “good way to learn about new businesses in the area,” with 61 percent saying they were “a good way to learn about sales and events.” If all these statistics are making your head spin, this last one is the most impressive. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed believe digital billboards were a more effective form of advertising than online ads, which is pretty astounding considering how many people access the Internet on a daily basis.
OAAA CMO Stephen Freitas believes that “digital out-of-home is part of advertising’s future” with digital billboards providing brands “a quick and flexible solution to target today’s mobile consumer.”
What this research suggests is digital ads on billboards are proving more effective than traditional advertising media. We spend a lot of time driving our cars and it seems we are not only noticing these ads more frequently than one would think, we are clearly remembering the message. More visually appealing and complex than the “Eat at Joe’s” signs of yesteryear, today’s billboards are appealing to a mobile society that is used to technology and always on the go, a combo—it would seem—that is the perfect mix for business success.