In a world of internet and SEO, it may seem that the only form of advertising for business today is through advanced technology. But there are some things that the new tech age just can’t match. In this Billboard Mastery podcast we’re going to review the old-fashioned strengths of billboard advertising that reign supreme over all competitors.
Episode 42: Carving An Old-Fashioned Niche In A Technology World Transcript
Technology dominates all discussion of marketing today, but there are things that billboards can do that the internet simply can't. This is Frank Rolfe with the Billboard University Podcast. We're gonna be talking about how billboards, despite all of the modern technology advances, still win using old fashion tactics. So what can a billboard do that the internet can't? How can a sign beat SEO? Well, the first thing is that billboards, unlike anything the internet can ever do, are very point of purchase. So when you're driving down the highway and you're approaching an exit and there's McDonald's there, there's a billboard that will tell you, "Hey, it's time to pull over and get a McDonald's breakfast," or it'll tell you, "Hey, there's a gas station ahead, you need gas for your car," or, "There's a motel coming up soon, and you probably need a place to stay for the night," because it's able to know, geographically based on where you are, that you probably are thinking about that product and it's let you know, "Hey, it's right near us". Internet can't do that. Some of it can. Sometimes your phone can track where you are using all kinds of Google Analytics, but for the most part, most advertisers have the complete incapability of letting you know where something is when traveling at high rates of speed down the highway, but a billboard can do that. And a billboard can tell you how to get there as well.
Sure, your phone can tell you if you put in a direction of how to get to point A to point B, but a billboard can tell you these two magical words that are so very strong, and that's simply "Exit now." So when you're driving down the road and there's an Arby's, that Arby's can tell you, "Get off now to come to the Arby's," and the internet can't do that. And so that's, again, a way an old fashioned billboard can beat the internet. Then of course, it's simply hard to read technology while you're driving. You're not supposed to do it legally. And we all know that the size of the phone screen, which most people use to get their internet data, well, it's very difficult to hold that in one hand, balancing it and reading that while driving an automobile. In fact, in some states it's down right illegal. In all states, if you were to have an accident doing that, you'd be in big trouble. But the billboard is a giant, typically 14 by 48 object there on the side of the road that doesn't require you to do anything illegal. So just from a legality standpoint, the billboards have the internet whooped because you are actually totally legally able to drive your automobile and look at the billboards as you go. And that's, again, a big advantage.
Also, there's no competition for viewership when you're driving down the road. Billboards have a complete monopoly, there's nothing else to look at. You can look at trees and you can look at clouds and you can look at other cars, but when it comes to advertising material, the billboard stands alone. It's the only thing there that you can read while you're driving. You don't have to worry, unlike on the internet where people are constantly looking at all different kinds of websites and you're trying to churn out perpetual content. We all know that Americans today are so into short videos and fast action and TikTok, it's really hard to hold anyone's attention. But the billboard has the customers hostage. They have nowhere to look other than the sign. Now, all of this has not been lost on advertisers. But remember, the billboards typically work better for old-fashioned businesses too. Who are the number one users of billboards in the United States? Well, it's always been fast food and hotels and those kinds of users, not things like Tesla, and not things like Bitcoin, not things based on technology, but the simple, basic things that we all need and we all use. So when it comes to basic industries, that's where billboards do their best. It's all about brick and mortar for the most part.
Sure, there are some people who sell goods and services that don't have brick and mortar stores that they can direct you to. But by and large, the old-fashioned billboard is the darling of old-fashioned businesses. But the deal is those old-fashioned businesses still service the bulk of our US economy. Our economy is not really all about technology and SEO. Although there are lots of tech companies on the stock exchange, the bulk of the companies on the stock exchange, or the bulk of the value, are not in that arena. The bottom line to it all, is that billboards have a wonderful future simply because all those old-fashioned businesses will need old-fashioned billboard advertising well, well into the next millennium. So when you think all the time, "Well, gosh, billboards, that's not a very attractive thing for me to be involved in, it's not really cutting edge, it's not new wave, it's not part of the future," well, that's really not entirely correct because advertising has nothing to do with being part of the future or being part of the past, it has something to do with being part of the now, selling products, being profitable, making money for the advertisers.
And that's one thing that billboards have always excelled at. On top of that, you have the learning curve. Many of your small businesses and large businesses, they understand billboards. Billboards have been around for over 100 years. So most companies understand the benefits, they understand how to use the media, and they're happy to pay for it. So it's a very easy sell to a lot of businesses, unlike forms of internet advertising that they are very unfamiliar with and don't exactly understand how it will benefit their business. Most businesses, thank heavens, understand billboards and all the benefits that they can give the business. The bottom line to it all, old-fashioned things still work in modern era. Old-fashioned things are very attractive to old-fashioned business. Billboards have been old-fashioned for about a century or more. They're not going away. They're not being replaced by the internet. There definitely is a place for internet advertising for businesses, but in the same vein, there's definitely a place for billboards too. This is Frank Rolfe, the Billboard Mastery Podcast, and we'll talk to you again soon.