Digital Billboards: How Many is Too Many for One Market?

Operators around the country have shown concern about overbuilding or saturating their markets with digital units. The question that gets posed to me is, “How many is enough for my market?” This is tough to answer, but I know one thing for sure—the number is almost always more than most would have initially thought.

A large number of Watchfire’s customers in small and midsized markets are aggressively building and upgrading to LED boards. Many times we wondered whether a market was approaching saturation only to see additional units added with occupancy and rate levels remaining constant. 

Here are a few examples:

  • A customer purchased and installed a digital billboard in a town of 15,000.  The operator had success filling the space 90% of the time at the rate they wanted.  Then a competitor came into that market and built a second location.  After three months of operation, the competitor added a second face.  Conventional wisdom would say that this small town could not support all of this inventory, but both operators are still achieving great occupancy and one of them has additional units planned.
  • Another customer has managed to successfully operate nearly 20 units in a market of roughly 50,000 people.  Competitors in the area control another dozen units or so, pushing the market total close to 30. 

How can these communities support so much digital inventory? I believe there are "uncontrollable” variables that combine to allow digital to thrive. Reduced access to other forms of media, weak competition

Beyond opportunities related to a sparse media mix, I believe there are two main reasons that billboard operators are poised to take advantage of these media voids. First, operators are doing a good job of marketing this new technology, and second, the medium is opening up superior marketing possibilities for local advertisers.

Operators are using creative network options to encourage advertisers to utilize the strengths of digital billboard technology. Other marketing promotions and quality locations can strengthen their sales approach in competitive situations.

For advertisers, the ability to change price points and specials, promote one day sales or run conditional content on the fly are not available with any other traditional media outlets (internet being the exception). This powerful new option for local advertisers is finding its place and isn’t looking back.

Operators should be comfortable adding units even if they are not able to be the first to bring digital to a market. Our experience has shown that smart advertisers are quick to recognize the possibilities offered by digital outdoor. Don’t pass up a chance to earn their advertising dollars.

Our billboard products can help you compete and our Preferred Program, a sales training and consultation service, can help you close more contracts in a competitive market. 

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