Has Digital Marketing Eradicated the Need for Billboards?

For something that’s been around for as long as the mid-1860’s, billboard advertising has become a truly stable staple in the marketing community since its inception. In the modern day nothing much has changed and these billboards have inevitably been digitized; out of home advertising now consists mostly of led billboard advertising due to its many advantages over the “traditional” method of putting up large, static printed material.

Digital Marketing

This is evident even in the Philippines where a mixture of both digital and traditional (vinyl) type billboards are scattered along almost every major road with a modest amount of traffic. But as time passes by, the shift to digital becomes more pronounced. This is evident not just in the outdoor advertising sector, but in human habit as well. According to Internet Live Stats, as much as 3 billion people are simultaneously on the internet in any given second today, with up to 40% of the world population ready to saunter on and off at the swipe of a smartphone. This is in stark contrast to only about 2 decades ago, in 1995, when only 1% could access it.

Advertisers have not taken this for granted, of course. They too, have shifted their efforts online. Ads in many ways, shapes, and forms are common sights all over the internet.

This then begs the question: in our rapidly developing world wherein technology reigns supreme, what good are billboards that are placed outdoors when most of the audience can be found online?

While one could not be faulted for thinking that the future of efficient advertising lies in the online market, it is best to remember that that is not the only existing market. Billboards have remained a popular alternative for many reasons, some of which will be tackled here:

General Quantity

Websites nowadays have tools like Google Analytics to keep track of each and every visitor that goes through their website. This is undoubtedly a handy tool, and while billboards do not have a similar feature, they do have one massive advantage: a constant influx of traffic. There will always be people around it, so it comes as no surprise that at any given second there will always be someone seeing a billboard ad. On the other hand, online advertising is a little trickier – people rarely return to a website on a daily basis and those who can easily block ads with one plugin.

Audience Awareness

Even the world’s most well-placed billboard cannot make everyone who sees it directly engage with whatever it is advertising. Chances are, people will see the ad and simply walk away. While that may not seem productive, in truth, it actually is – by keeping a brand somewhere easily seen by everyone, it keeps it relevant and at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

A good example of this is Coca-Cola – a product so widespread and well-known that the brand name itself is sometimes substituted for the name of what it actually is. The same goes for other popular brands such as Kodak – which switched out for cameras; or Colgate – which replaced the term toothpaste.

This technique aims to make sales not directly, but by through recollection. Selling is important, but so is building a loyal following. The latter is actually the better option as it will sustain a brand better; planning for the long run is a great way to ensure stability after all.

So to answer the earlier question, yes, billboard advertising remains relevant. And whether it’s done with static prints or eye catching ads on LED billboards, advertising passively has its pros heavily outweigh its cons every time.


Kimberly Marie Gayeta (Kimmy)?is a Communications Degree holder, currently working as an online Marketing Representative for INEWVATION: LED Supplier Philippines.

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