Billboard Advertising: Is It Still Effective In The Age Of Digital Marketing?


After recently seeing the noise online about the Specsavers billboard adverts and how clever they were, it got me thinking about billboards as a method of offline marketing, and just how effective this method is.

Before digital marketing became the top strategy for businesses that were looking to get in front of more people and broaden their audience, traditional roadside billboards were considered an effective way to market products and services. Of course, now, there is a growing increase in alternative digital formats, such as the use of digital billboards for outdoor advertising too.

However, with the rise of digital and multi-channel marketing campaigns that use SEOPPCPaid Social and other channels for marketing, just how effective is billboard advertising now? Is it still worth investing in? Given that these other channels and methods allow you to reach a much wider audience that isn’t limited to a location, do billboards still serve a purpose?

In this blog, we’ll explore the advantages and potential drawbacks that are associated with using billboards, before exploring how they can work with other digital marketing methods to execute a campaign that targets users at different stages of the buying journey.

If you’re already interested in executing a marketing campaign that can take your brand to the next level, then we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us today by calling 0161 327 2635 or sending an email to

Some Advantages Of Billboard Advertising

Billboards are great for building brand awareness

Billboards aren’t a favoured marketing tool if you’re looking to measure the response from your audience. Unless your billboards go viral on social media, there’s no way of measuring how much noise they create and whether they lead to any conversions. However, one thing that billboard advertisements are good for is building brand awareness. It gets you on people’s radars, and so long as they are memorable, it can encourage people to take further steps to learn more about your brand.

They can help you to target specific locations

Billboards can be used pretty much anywhere, which means you can control where they are placed when it comes to location. So, if you’re looking to target a specific location – for instance, if the service you provide is limited to a specific geographical area, billboards can be particularly effective. By placing your billboard in the right area, you can ensure that you target a wide audience – for example, by placing your billboard on busy streets, you can get your brand seen by a large number of people.

You have a guaranteed audience

With a strategically placed billboard in a location that’s busy, you are guaranteed an audience. After all, so long as there are people passing your billboard in your chosen location, then you’ve got an audience. The trick here though is to ensure that your billboard is eye-catching – make it easy for passersby to engage with your display!

They are always working

Billboards never sleep! If you were to pay for an advert on the radio or on TV, it would only play a few times a day at a maximum. However, billboards are visible around the clock, 24/7, meaning that passersby are exposed to your brand whenever they pass it, at all hours. Even though radio or TV adverts can be more comprehensive than billboards and can provide more information, you can still make yourself memorable in the minds of your audience with effective billboard designs. Then, this can encourage them to head online and seek out the information that they need about your brand, product, or service.

Things To Note & Potential Obstacles

Billboards need to be well designed

If you’re using a billboard to advertise your brand, you’ll likely only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your audience, who’ll probably just be passing by. Most of them will probably be driving too depending on the placement of your advert, so you really do only have a few seconds to make an impression. As such, your billboards need to be well designed to ensure that your audience remembers your brand.

They don’t necessarily target a specific market

Whilst billboards allow you to target specific locations, you can’t necessarily target a specific market or an audience segment by demographic. Whilst a large audience will see your billboard, you can’t control how much of this audience is in your target market and you therefore run the risk of your billboard being seen by an audience where the majority aren’t necessarily your target consumer.

Of course, researching the right location can help to mitigate this risk, but there are other forms of marketing and advertising that could help you to target specific audiences more effectively.

High cost of billboard advertising

Given that your audience will likely only see your billboard for a few seconds before they pass by, they can come at quite a high cost considering they don’t provide constant exposure and are soon taken down. As well as this, there’s no way to measure your return on investment – in other words, you can’t track how many people invested in your product or service as a result of seeing your billboard advertisements. You therefore don’t know how effective it is, whereas other methods of advertising and marketing allow you to monitor exactly what you’re getting for your investment.

They are only a short-term form of advertising

Billboards are a short-term form of marketing/advertising, especially in contrast with other types of advertising and marketing, such as digital options. If your billboards begin to attract attention and then eventually get taken down, you’ll lose that momentum. Yet when investing in other methods – like SEO – you’ll gain traction over time and with a solid campaign, and you can create an effective form of long-term advertising and marketing.


Using Billboard Advertising Alongside Digital Marketing

If you’re ponding over the question of billboard advertising vs. digital marketing, of course we’re always going to fly the flag for digital marketing because of its reach, its long-term capabilities, and a whole host of other reasons! However, instead of pitching the billboards against digital marketing, why not consider how they can work together?

Sure, billboards aren’t an effective marketing tool for all businesses – sole traders and SMEs won’t likely be able to invest in billboards, so they are more suited to bigger brands. But, if you are a bigger company that can invest in both a billboard campaign and digital marketing, it’s important to know how billboards and digital marketing can work to provide omnichannel marketing.

Ultimately, it comes down to the buyer journey, and ensuring that you ‘show up’ at the different stages of the journey to make sure that your audience remembers your brand. This buyer journey can be broken down into 4 stages:

  • Awareness – this is where an audience first becomes aware of your brand, your services and/or your products.
  • Interest – you capture the attention and interest of your audience, and they start to look into your offerings.
  • Consider – users get closer to the point of purchase, and start to deliberate and consider your products and services. This consideration could include comparing products and services across your site, or comparing your brand to other competitors. This is something that we, and Google, refer to as the Messy Middle.
  • Purchase – the user makes the purchase.

Within these different stages of the buyer journey, there are certain marketing channels and methods that are most effective. For instance, during the ‘awareness’ stage, the audience might become aware of your brand due to word of mouth, social media, radio, TV, and print. Word of mouth is perhaps the oldest form of marketing and advertising, and it’ll certainly be here to stay. Yet the other ways to increase awareness are rather modern.

However, within the awareness stage, billboards could also be effective. As already mentioned, an effective design is imperative here – this will ensure that your audience remembers your brand. With an effective and memorable billboard, you increase the likelihood of capturing the attention of your audience. In turn, they might discuss your billboard – either during in-person conversations or online via social media – which is where word of mouth can then become effective. If they go viral, they might get picked up by the press, and you can reap the benefits of PR.

Above all though and despite the virality of a billboard, if you make an impression on your target audience, this increases the likelihood of them searching for your brand online when they have the opportunity to do so. This is where your digital presence and your online visibility matter.

But, it isn’t just about investing in one channel – investing in multiple will ensure that you’re always showing up, regardless of what stage in the buyer journey the user is at. So, it starts with a billboard to attract attention and create awareness, but this opens up the door for the use of so many other channels. For instance, SEO and PPC to increase visibility and traffic, and social media to retarget users that have shown interest.

How Good Is Your Digital Marketing And Online Presence?

So, how well are you showing up? Do you show up at every stage of the buyer journey? Here at Embryo, we’re experts when it comes to carefully crafting multi-channel campaigns that drive traffic and increase conversions. To speak to our team and to find out more about how we can support your business growth, give us a call on 0161 327 2635 or send an email to