The Importance of Advertiser Renewal

Part of owning a billboard is renting the advertising space. Even thought you only typically do it once per year, there’s no question that ad revenue is the life’s blood of making money with your billboard. And one of the most important goals of any billboard owner is to find the right advertiser and keep them on the sign year after year. So how does that work?

Why it’s important

Let’s first reinforce why renewal is such an important goal. When you renew the same advertiser on the billboard, you win in many ways:

  • No downtime or loss of revenue during periods between advertisers.
  • No sales expense or commission to pay.
  • You save a ton of time.
  • Better track record of collections.

The bottom line is that renewing an existing advertiser is pretty much the best thing you can do when the ad is coming up for expiration.

How to get it

To get your advertiser to renew, you must achieve the following:

  • Have succeeded in selling enough of their product or service to justify continuing.
  • Offered a good value – better than alternative investment vehicles.
  • Fend off other billboard companies that are determined to steal them.
  • Convince them that the sign is an important part of their business.
  • Bond with the client so they feel they can trust you.

It all revolves around doing your homework before and after the sale.

The first step comes in the selection of an advertiser that you feel will profit from your sign. That typically means that they are at the next exit or that the traffic on this section of the highway is extremely attractive to them. And you need to pick an advertiser to target that has high enough margins – or volume – to make sense of the price. For example, let’s assume that there is a McDonald’s that can put on your billboard “exit now”. That McDonald’s does $3 million a year of revenue, and your sign will probably contribute a large portion of that. This is an ideal prospect because it is located in a perfect position and has enough volume of sales to make sense of the sign’s cost.

The second step is to continue to reinforce the decision to rent the sign after the sale. Monitor the sign to make sure the ad is free from any wind damage and that the lights are working. Remind the advertiser of when the time is approaching to change out the ad message. And stay on top of market rents and make sure your price is in-line.

How to lose it

The way to lose the ability to renew the advertiser is simply by doing the opposite of all the above steps. If you choose the wrong advertiser that the sign will not work for, and if you put in zero effort to make them a satisfied customer, they will go somewhere else when their contract expires.

Another way to lose the renewal is to increase the rent. I have always stuck with the policy that you should not raise rents on renewing advertisers as it breaks your bond of trust and makes them go back to the market to affirm that your sign is their best option.


Renewing signs is an extremely important goal. Don’t take it lightly. Do your work to make sure you find the right prospect and keep them on the billboard. It’s well worth the effort.

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.