What is an Electronic Billboard and What can it Really Offer?

Finding new ways to captivate consumers and turn bystanders into shoppers can be a challenge for business owners and advertisers. Old-fashioned outdoor advertising, like a non- LED billboard were once regarded as the standard method of achieving this. Though traditional print billboards are still utilized by many companies and advertisers, digital advertising is the newest form of marketing that offers several distinct benefits. Electronic billboards, or boards that display content digitally, utilize technologies that provide a modernized approach to advertising. This modernized application offers flexible marketing opportunities that allow business owners to display aesthetically intriguing content.

What is an Electronic Billboard?

An electronic billboard, or digital billboard, is a larger screen that is made up of LED light bulbs. The bulbs are arranged to display different images that are either static or moveable. The closer the LED display, or pixels, are to each other, the more realistic and resolute the images become.

Electronic billboards can either be monochrome or complex. Monochrome boards are less expensive as they only use one color to display text and images. Complex boards can produce multiple colors and images because each pixel has red, green, or blue LEDs. Both monochrome and complex boards project content and images that are controlled by software in either the store or from a remote location. An LED billboard is typically used in outdoor areas, such as Times Square, but can also be utilized indoors by retailers and restaurants.

Electronic Billboards & Advertising

Old fashioned billboard signage, or static billboards, do not offer the unique advertising opportunities that electronic billboards do because the images and text cannot be changed unless the sign is sent back to the manufacturer and reproduced. This tedious process includes submitting a new order to the chosen designer or print shop, waiting for the design to be created, and then scheduling someone to put the new print design in place of the old print design.

Electronic billboard software has a CMS, or content management system, which allows owners to upload content for multiple ads, control when ads are shown, and schedule content at different times throughout the day. This ability to change or update content quickly is referred to as dynamic digital signage. Some of the ways dynamic digital signage can be applied include

  • Scheduled Board Changes The content of an electronic billboard can be changed at different times throughout the day, in accordance with a schedule set up by the business itself. For example, the owner can choose to run a lunch special promotion every day from 11-2 p.m.; during peak lunchtime hours. This is a way to advertise at the times that are most financially or demographically beneficial to do so.
  • Tailored Advertising Content can be tailored to a different target audience and at various locations. For example, if one franchise brings in an older demographic than other franchises, early- bird special promotions can run in that specific location only.
  • Utilization of Directional Signs Companies can update content to point customers in towards an event that is running for a limited duration. For example, an electronic billboard can tell shoppers where a conference is located, and then the ad can be taken down once the conference is over.
  • Advertising Slot Purchases If a business owner wants to run an advertisement on other existing electronic billboards, there is a general process to do so. Usually, advertisements can be bought through local or national media networks in the form of dayparts, or time slots. Advertisers can choose a time that targets key demographical groups. For example, a bar owner might want to run an advertisement during a 6 p.m. time slot because people are leaving work and looking for a place to find cocktails with co-workers.

Potential Challenges

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Electronic billboards offer many different benefits to both business owners and other advertisers. However, there are some issues to take into consideration when advertising on an electronic billboard. Some of these include

  • Driving Challenges Content on digital billboards is eye-catching because of the distinctive colors and unique images utilized. Those who are driving can be easily distracted by these visuals, especially if animated effects are used. Companies should consider leaving out any animated or overly stimulating content in high-traffic areas.
  • Regulation Roadblocks Though many areas are welcoming to electronic billboards, there are some localities who are wary of them due to the belief that billboards pollute the environment. Some experts argue that excessive light usage causes pollution, or environmental damage that is caused by the photons emitted from any type of light. Some communities also have strict regulations as to where billboards can be placed, and getting approval to put one in can be a lengthy process. Because of this, businesses should carefully research the different rules pertaining to each locality, and then choose an area that is billboard-friendly.

Are Billboards Eco-Friendly?

There are varying opinions as to whether or not electronic billboards are environmentally friendly. LED lights are more efficient, as they typically use 25%-80% less energy than standard light bulbs. They also can last 2-3 times longer than other standard light bulbs, and do not need to be changed as frequently. Though some environmentalists consider superfluous light usage to be harmful, LEDs are much less wasteful than other standard light bulbs. Electronic billboards also don't use paper and vinyl products that constitute traditional static signage, so there's less environmental waste.

What's the Best Way to Utilize Electronic Billboards?

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Businesses and advertisers who utilize electronic billboards must know how to maximize its benefits. Some of the best practices include

  • Contrast and Simplify the Message
Businesses should make sure there is a large contrast in color between the actual content and the background. One should stay away from lighter colors that wash out content, and use bright and bold colors that show a distinct contrast. Also, messaging should be limited to less than 10 words because viewers typically only see content for a few seconds.

  • Make Content Noticeable
The words and images utilized on electronic billboards should be large and noticeable enough to intrigue viewers who are looking at it from a distance. This especially pertains to billboards on freeways, as drivers are traveling at fast speeds. Even quieter pedestrian areas require noticeable content because there are competing and distracting sounds from the outdoor environment.

  • Choose the Location Properly
As mentioned, companies should do their research properly before choosing a location to place their billboard. If the billboard is outside, owners and advertisers should research the regulations of the locality to see if there will be any zoning or environmental conflicts. Most importantly, companies should put their billboards in high-traffic or noticeable areas where promotions can be run that target key demographics.

  • Repeat Your Message
Customers and viewers change frequently, so messaging and promotions should be repeated on a regular basis. This is especially true if a billboard is used in a tourist location, or any other area with a great deal of foot-traffic.