A Brief History of Billboard Advertising – and Should You Buy One?

Billboard advertising has been around since…well, since billboards were invented. In fact, we could go all the way back to Egyptian monument inscriptions if we want to start with the first ads on walls. But we will instead fast forward to the invention of the automobile, which is when billboard advertising really took off in America.

The boom in billboard advertising began during the early 1900s when large companies bought billboard space to reach motorists traveling on America’s expansive highways. The ads needed to be big, bold, and colorful to catch attention from drivers and passengers, especially since they would only be seen for several seconds. As more American roads filled with automobiles, so did the demand for billboard ads.

Throughout the 20th century, billboard ads increased and improved in quality, primarily advertising products like breakfast cereals and toothpaste before the 1990’s when ads became more diverse, more fashionable, and more artistic.

The modern billboard today follows the set industry standard due to the mass production effort put in place in the latter part of the century. Now, all billboards are a single uniform size, making it easier for large brands to place one advertisement across multiple billboards anywhere in the country.

The only thing that has not changed since the early days of billboard ads is the competition. Billboards reach a lot of eyes – but not all are able to capture consumers’ attention and stick in their memories. In order to do that, the ad has to be well executed. And just like anything else, some are far better than others.

To add to the competitive nature of these types of ads, we now live in the digital age, which means even more options and technology. In addition to the standard outdoor billboard, advertisers can make use of video in certain spaces. And space isn’t limited to highway billboards anymore, either. Billboard style ads can be displayed on bus stop signs, across large vehicles, and even in city squares and plazas.

So, should you buy billboard ad space? The short answer is yes, if you can afford it.

Billboards are just effective today as they have always been, but often come with a premium price tag. Another option, however, if you are looking for large banner-style signage to reach your audience is to create and hang your own. This can be done to a degree with banners – which are, in effect, merely small versions of billboards. You may not be able to hang them by the freeway for millions to drive past, but you can certainly hang them outside your business to attract some car and foot traffic.

BannerBuzz helps thousands of business owners every day come up with affordable, effective print advertising solutions. Let’s design an ad worthy of attention together and get your brand name out there for the world to see.

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