Advertising on billboards

Our concise guide on what to know if you're thinking about advertising in the great outdoors

Despite an overall dip in traditional advertising, caused by the growing online and new media spending, billboard advertising is still in remarkably good health.

It is estimated that about 87% of the UK adults see an outside advertising promotion every week, which is why some £1bn is spent on it every year.

The background

There's no promotion bigger than a billboard and there's no doubt they pull-in the eyeballs. However, aside from the location of the billboard, it is not a strongly targeted form of advertising.

Anyone who passes by will see it so this is really a method to reach a broad cross-section of consumers – advertising on billboards isn't niche.

However, if you are attempting to reach a young male audience then advertising on billboards can be a very effective way of reaching a demographic that often appears to ignore other forms of promotion.

Billboard advertising prices

Be warned, billboard advertising prices are high. They are composed of three main elements; the media space, the creative work and the cost of print.

A ‘heavy' two-week roadside campaign, covering 750 panels with 96 sheets, will set you back £750,000. While a ‘light' campaign with the same number of sheets but on 350 panels is closer to £350,000. If you aren't put off by that and still want to try advertising on billboards seek further information on pricing by visiting the Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA) at

How do I go about it?

Multinational companies work with advertising agencies. But, if your budget is limited to anything below £500,000 for a campaign, you may find it more cost effective to use a creative shop and an independent media buying company to decide how best to spend your budget.

A creative shop can produce the mechanical artwork starting with a brief from you, followed by rough designs and photography, right through to the finished printed poster. A stylish, professional model can draw people to a poster in a highly compelling way.

If you are new to billboard advertising but have placed ads in magazines in the past, you might well be overwhelmed by the media buying process. It's strongly recommended that you take the advice of a media buying consultant who in turn has contacts with poster broking firms. These brokers buy large volumes of media and can pass on the savings to you.

The colours of billboard advertising A strong contrast in hue and value is essential for creating good outdoor design. Hue is the identity of colour while value measures a colour's lightness or darkness. Contrasting colours are best when viewing poster designs from far distances.

There are 14 colour combinations that represent the best use of colour contrast for readability. The chart, which can be found at the OAA's website evaluates primary and secondary colour combinations taking these two variables into account.


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