15 Fantabulous Facts About Billboards 

15 Fantabulous Facts About Billboards 

In a digital world we have a tendency to forget about the importance of print advertising mediums. Still, some of them are simply too common and massive to ignore. Case in point, billboards.

In cities and on highways (particularly in America) ya can’t drive thirty feet without seeing one. Yet who could imagine that such a common form of advertising has such a sensational history? Well, we didn’t, until now.

Here are 15 of the coolest things we discovered about these guys:

The oldest known billboard is 3,000 years old

It was set up in Thebes, Egypt and wasn’t exactly innocuous. It offered a reward to anyone who captured a runaway slave. The Egyptians also used this method to display laws.

The prototype for the modern billboard came much later

Billboards were used as means of displaying informal info prior to the invention of lithography in the late 1700s.

Billboard leasing has been a thing for a long time

Since 1867, to be precise.

Billboard sizes weren’t standardized until the late 1800s

Over a 40-year period from 1872 to 1912, American organizations determined that billboards needed to meet size regulations to be used. At the time this meant they had to be made of 24-sheet poster panels and be 6 x 6.2 m (19.68 x 20.34 ft) in size. These days, regulations are a bit more relaxed and the standard size has changed as well, to 4.2 x 14.6 m (14 x 48 ft). Oh, and only 10 to 16 sheet poster panels are needed today, due to technological advancements.

The Model T helped increase billboard popularity 

Unsurprisingly, the prevalence of billboards corresponded to the development of cars. As more people began travelling, companies used billboards to advertise to them on the road.

Electronic billboards aren’t that new

In fact, they were created in the early 1900s and were some of the first structures to light up cities.

Billboards were big in the First World War

They weren’t used to advertise brand messages, though. Instead, and to no one’s shock, they proudly displayed content and imagery that pumped up troops for war. They also exhibited more peaceful messages after the conflict.

Billboards made the Depression easier to bear

By the 1930s, emphasis on artistic styling and colourful endorsements made billboards enjoyable to look at; a cheerful distraction from the Depression.

Billboards are extremely reliable

What other types of ads can be displayed 24/7 over three months? Not many! This makes billboards some of the most consistent and reliable forms of advertising.

They’re pretty cheap, too

Well, compared to TV and radio ads, anyway. Indeed, billboard ads cost up to 50 per cent less than radio pieces and 80 per cent less than television advertisements.

Billboards are less invasive than other ad methods

Speaking of TV and radio, how many times have you yearned for stations to just lay off that annoying commercial that plays every few minutes? Probably a lot, at one point or another. Billboards tend not to anger people as easily because they aren’t loud and obnoxious.

Bigger than Super Bowl Ads?

Depending on where they’re located, billboards can be more widely viewed than Super Bowl ads. They’re only a small sliver of the price of one, too!

And yes, they tend to stick

According to a 1999 study by the OAAA, 70 per cent of people look at the billboards they pass and, of these, 63 per cent are consciously read.

2005 was a big year for the billboard industry

Why? Because the first digital models were installed during that year. They caught on pretty quickly as well. As of 2016, there were over 6700 digital billboards in the US alone.

Billboards can be huge

Although I mentioned that the standard billboard is 6 x 6.2 m, they can be made larger or smaller based on the needs of the advertiser. Sometimes they can be ridiculously big, as in 5,265.12 square-metres big. That’s how large a 2018 billboard by Ford Espana (Madrid, Spain) is. To put that gargantuan size into perspective, it’s almost the size of an American football field (5,351.2 square-metres). Yikes!















Greg Plante
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