Billboard advertising has been around since the 1830s. The fundamental selling-point of billboards has not changed, but the technology, availability, and ease of use has. Some of the very first billboards advertised circus acts promoting upcoming shows. Today, companies of almost every size advertise using billboards. This has been made possible by the advent of digital billboards which require a lot less investment in preparation for an advertising campaign—digital production and deployment is a lot less expensive and exceedingly more flexible (in many ways) than the traditional printed media billboards. With this advancement the size and shapes of billboards have evolved, but there are still standards by which the industry generally operates.
Over time standards and commonalities have developed in the billboard advertising space. These practices have resulted in some specific sizes to become widely used, and become de facto standards. There are three main types of billboards:
Bulletins are the common billboards familiar to many which appear on the sides of roadways. Bulletins are generally 14’ x 48’, but can occasionally be seen in 20' x 60’, 10’ x 40’ and 10’ x 36’ dimensions. These large billboards are ideal for roadside advertising as they allow for an extended viewing window for people driving by.
Second in size to bulletins, posters are usually 10’ x 22’, which is only marginally smaller than a bulletin. Their relatively smaller size makes them more suitable for urban roadways, and target commuters on surface streets.
The smallest of the three primary billboard categories, junior posters usually measure 6’ x 12’ and are often used by businesses to advertise a location directly adjacent to the billboard. Junior posters are ideal for capturing the attention of pedestrians or those driving along smaller city roads.
This basic sizing information can help advertisers gain a better understanding of the benefits of each type of billboard, and how the sizes can impact the decision making process for an outdoor advertising campaign.
As mentioned above, billboards have evolved, and even though the traditional billboard sizes are extremely common, new breeds of outdoor advertising space have upended the size and shape restrictions imposed by older standards. The most common and desirable new billboard varieties include:
Digital spectaculars - similar in size to bulletins, digital spectaculars, as the name suggests, replace the printed media billboard with a digital screen (of varying shapes and sizes) which in some cases even enables full motion video to be displayed. These are usually installed in high-traffic areas, either along major roadways or pedestrian-dense city centers.
Murals & wallscapes - unlike the digital bulletins, murals and wallscapes are the retro sibling. Hand-painted or affixed to sides of buildings, murals and wallscapes are long-term opportunities which are usually visible from a great distance, even overwhelming their surroundings.
Digital billboards - the evolution of the traditional billboards, the digital versions provide the flexibility of having multiple advertisers/campaigns on the same billboard, reducing the cost of producing the advertising media, and allowing for impression-based campaigns for greater affordability.
The flexibility, and affordability of out of home advertising, in particular digital billboards, makes it an attractive option for smaller businesses as well as mega corporations. The ability to reach a very specific demographic, and even customizing the campaign based on the time and season makes digital outdoor advertising a highly desirable mode of promoting a product, business, organization or cause. The benefits are further enhanced by the advancement of tracking analytics, which make it possible for businesses to track their return on investment on an advertising campaign.