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Billboards vs. Digital Marketing: Which Is Better for Your Bottom Line?

billboards vs digital marketing which is better for your bottom line

Ever wonder how effective your billboard advertising is at bringing in new business? In this post, we'll look at the ROI of billboard advertising and how it compares to digital marketing.

So, how do billboard advertising and digital marketing compare when it comes to cost?

Let's get right into it.

Here’s how much it would cost to advertise on a billboard in Columbus, Ohio.

Prices are monthly:

Average Cost of Billboard Advertising in Columbus, Ohio

  • Digital Billboards - $2,500-$8,000
  • Large Billboards - $1,500-$5,000
  • Medium Billboards - $700-$3,000
  • Small Billboards - $300-$800

So, at the very least, you’re spending $300/month on a small billboard, which is apparently used to target one local community. Those big billboards in town or on the side of the highway will set you back at least $1500 (and as much as $5,000) while digital billboards go as high as $8,000.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of money to me - especially considering what you could get for the same amount of money if you spent it on digital marketing.

Let’s break that down.

Here's what you could get with $300 in digital marketing services:

  • A marketing strategist who personalizes your strategy to your business’s goals and constantly measures and optimizes your online presence
  • Online directory and presence management, meaning your listings on Google, Bing, etc. will be updated with accurate information so that you show up better when local customers are looking for your products or services
  • A customized, mobile-friendly microsite
  • Help managing your leads from your microsite

For $1500 or $8000, you could add on review marketing, paid advertising and social media to build a full-scale digital marketing strategy which is not only personalized to you, but targets a much larger population, rendering those billboards (at best) less effective than your digital marketing plan.

How to Track the ROI of Billboards

While some drivers claim to have called or visited a business they saw on a billboard, actually tracking this number can be tough.

Some billboard advertising companies will give you a breakdown of the number of people who drive by your billboard each day, week or month, but there’s no way of knowing whether those people are actually looking at your billboard as they pass.

If you have a billboard out there, the best way to track the number of people who choose your business based on your outdoor advertising efforts is to ask each customer or client how they found your business. After a couple of months, add up the sales you've received from customers who found you through a billboard. On average, does this pay for your billboard advertising?

Also be sure to ask those same customers if they did any follow-up research once they saw your billboard. Did they search for your business on Google? Look for you on Facebook?

How to Track the ROI of Digital Marketing

Depending on what you want to track, you’ll need to look at these insights:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google My Business Analytics
  • Facebook Insights

This will vary depending on where you’re focusing your digital marketing efforts and what you have time for, but each analytics option will provide detailed information on ad response, giving you a reasonable indicator of performance.

This is not perfect, of course - there are various problems with 'last-click attribution', especially as more people are using more devices than ever, but these data points likely provide a clearer picture than billboard metrics.

Final Thoughts

Even billboard advertising experts tend to say billboards are better for large businesses with big budgets that want to build brand awareness.

But in the end, whether you advertise on a billboard will depend on your business's budget - and you'll likely still need a digital marketing strategy so that when those customers who find you on a billboard go to research your business online, they find accurate, consistent information about your organization and offers.


Article and image(s) via Social Media Today

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