Choosing a Digital Billboard: Poster or Bulletin?

I have had a few conversations recently with operators who are putting up their first digital billboards and are unsure what size they should build. At the crux of the decision lies a choice between a more expensive 14’ x 48’ bulletin or a smaller poster billboard that might cost less to build but could bring less revenue.

Assuming the operator has permits that are broad enough to encompass a range of billboard size options, here are the questions I would use as a guide when deciding what size digital billboard to build:

  • Where is the location? If it is surrounded by a mountain of clutter (competing signs, power lines, vegetation, etc.), you may want to go taller and larger.
  • Is it on an interstate? If so, something 360 sq ft (10’ x 36’) or larger may be in order. Motorists are driving much faster and setbacks are usually further due to large sections of right of way between the road and property lines. Making the sign larger makes it more noticeable and easier to read.
  • Is it on a secondary road? If so, you may want to make the sign lower to the ground and smaller. You can still get high impact this way.
  • Is it a large or small market? Advertising rates may be the same in a smaller market whether you build a 10' x 36’ or a 14’ x 48’.  It may be best build a smaller sign if the revenue would be the same regardless of size.
  • What size are the surrounding signs? If predominant size of the signs in the area is 14’ x 48’, you may want to keep to a similar size in order to compete. Then again, you may want to go smaller, which gives you the ability to offer the area a lower price point. The winning strategy may depend on the market and your tolerance for risk.
  • Will these be the only signs in the market? If so, you may be able to set the standard. Owning the only digital billboard in town gives you some freedom to set standards for size and pricing. You may be able to get away with a smaller sign and keep the rate high. If you worry about competition coming in later building larger and more marketable signs, you may want to beat them to the punch and go big right out of the box. 

Of course certain municipal factors may impact how large you can go, including city and state regulations. Remember that each location and each market is different and your strategy should be tailored individually. Learn as much as you can about the market and talk with other billboard owners in similar situations.

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