Crafting Cost-Effective "Combo" Ads for Modern Billboards

Mastering the Art of the "Combo" Billboard Advertisement

As businesses navigate the economic downturn, savvy advertising strategies are more crucial than ever. One timeless method stands out for its effectiveness and cost-efficiency: the "combo" billboard advertisement. This century-old tactic is witnessing a resurgence, proving its worth by providing exceptional visibility without compromising profitability. 

Decoding the "Combo" Advertisement

What exactly is a "combo" advertisement? It's a strategic partnership where a billboard space is shared by two or more businesses. This collaborative approach slashes individual advertising costs while maintaining the billboard owner's revenue. In an era where budgets are tight, the "combo" ad is a shining example of a mutually beneficial solution for price-conscious advertisers and billboard operators alike. 

Synergy in Advertising: The Perfect Match for Billboard Sharing

When it comes to sharing billboard space, harmony is key. Successful "combo" ads pair non-competing businesses that appeal to similar customer demographics. Imagine a gas station and a nearby diner advertising side by side on the same billboard. Each targets travelers, yet they offer complementary services. While overlap is inevitable (like a gas station selling snacks), the focus is on the unified goal of attracting highway customers to a shared location. 

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Incompatible Pairings

On the flip side, certain pairings spell disaster for "combo" ads. Competing businesses, or those whose services don't align well (think a steakhouse next to a vegan cafe), will find little success in a shared space. The goal is to find businesses that can coexist on the billboard without stepping on each other's toes—companies that can pool their marketing efforts to create a cohesive message. 

The Crucial Element: Unified Direction

The secret ingredient to a "combo" ad's success? A shared destination. The billboard must direct customers to a common exit or location to avoid confusing split directives. A clear, singular call to action such as "Exit Here for All Your Needs" simplifies the message and enhances recall, while differing directions can muddle the message and render the ad ineffective.

Beyond Duos: The Possibilities of Multiple Advertisers

Why limit the collaboration to two when more can join? Inspired by state highway department signs that effortlessly direct to various services at an exit, "combo" ads can successfully incorporate multiple businesses. The trick is to keep it visually coherent. Too many logos or messages can overwhelm and detract from the ad's effectiveness. A trio of advertisers sharing a common destination can strike the perfect balance between diversity and clarity.

Adopting the Advertiser's Lens

From an advertiser's perspective, halving the cost of a billboard spot without losing the impact is an attractive proposition. A "combo" ad still delivers directionality and brand presence. More importantly, it fosters long-term relationships with clients who appreciate the cost savings and are more likely to renew their ads year after year.

Designing the "Combo" Billboard

For an impactful "combo" billboard, symmetry is paramount. Two equally sized ad spaces, with a unifying direction, ensure neither advertiser overshadows the other. If a third party joins, the space is equally divided, maintaining the visual balance. Contrasting backgrounds for each section enable clear distinction between the advertisers, guiding the viewer's eye across the billboard.


In today's economic climate, the "combo" advertisement is not just a creative solution but a necessity. It provides a win-win scenario: advertisers benefit from reduced rates, and billboard operators sustain their revenue. By employing thoughtful strategies in "combo" ad creation, you can forge lasting partnerships that weather economic challenges and come out on top.

Frank Rolfe started his billboard company off of his coffee table, immediately after graduating from college. Although he had no formal training on the industry, he learned as he went, and developed his own unique systems to accomplish things, such as renting advertising space. Frank was formerly the largest private owner of billboards in Dallas/Ft. Worth, as well as a major player in the Los Angeles market.