Billboard Mastery Podcast: Episode 98

Out-of-home Is More Than Just Highway Signs

Billboards are only one segment of the “out-of-home” advertising industry, but the business model is the same in all of the options. In this Billboard Mastery podcast we’re going to review additional concepts to apply the billboard concept for continuous cash flow.

Episode 98: Out-of-home Is More Than Just Highway Signs Transcript

We call this The Billboard Mastery podcast, but the skills involved in billboards apply to many things even beyond outdoor signs. There's a whole world out there called the out-of-home media space, and billboards are only one component of that. This is Frank Rolfe, The Billboard Mastery Podcast. We're gonna talk about other media forms in the out-of-home family and how similar those are in the business model to billboards and why they're always worthy of consideration. Now, we all think of billboards as being the gold standard in out-of-home advertising, and that's probably because it's true. The billboard industry is the largest single segment of the entire out-of-home media space. But I know you've seen some other out-of-home media when you're out and about. I know you've certainly seen the signs at the airport. You go to get your bags off the carousel and there's a sign right there above the carousel trying to sell something.

Or maybe you've gone to a sporting venue and you've seen little signs maybe on the back fence of the baseball field or on the concourse, the rotunda when you go into the stadium. Well, that's out-of-home. And you've probably seen things like that at the grocery store either set in the floor of it or maybe over at the cash register. Well, that's out-of-home. So if you really get down to it, the out-of-home space is not just all about billboard signs, although they're the most dominant. But there's many other types of out-of-home advertising that you can do. And they all pretty much follow the same business model. You come up with the idea of where you can reach a lot of people. You figure out how to build the sign. You figure out if you need a permit. You cut a deal with the property owner to put the signs up, and then you go out and rent the ad space. Your basic job is to be the middleman between the property owner and the advertiser. And it's a very well-paid role.

Now, have all the out-of-home spots been taken? Have all the ideas been done? No, I was just driving down the road recently and I saw somebody who had kind of made their own home-built triangular signs, much bigger than I'd ever seen before, which they had cleverly mounted on the top of three cars. They were all driving in the same direction at the same time on a major thoroughfare right during rush hour, with advertisements on all three sides. And I guess the concept was that someone who saw this armada of three identically done signs on top of cars would get their attention. It certainly got mine, no doubt about that. So, no, there's new ideas popping up all the time in that arena. All you need is to figure out where do people go? Where can I reach a sizable number of viewers? And then what do I do to get there? Is it something that requires a permit? Typically there's no permit required unless you are on a city or county or federal road.

So the answer is typically no, you don't need a permit. And then how will you go ahead and create the media space? What size would it be? What does it get mounted on? How would that be built? And then, can you cut a deal with a property owner to allow you to install said ad space? And once you accomplish that, it's just all about renting that space. Now, the out-of-home world is pretty mature. The industry's been around for, at this point, nearly a couple hundred years, if you look at the earliest forms of advertising which were painted on barns. But nevertheless, America's on the go. It's always moving and shaking and changing. There's new venues being built. There's new things that people do. Heck, people didn't even know what a Topgolf was only a decade ago. So watch for those situations where you see clusters of people, where you see lots of eyeballs that can look out on ads. Where you don't see areas that currently have signs on them. I remember back when there was no out-of-home at all in shopping malls. And then suddenly someone had the bright idea, "Wait a minute, we could put billboards in the corridors of the shopping malls. They could get some revenue. I could make some money from it. The advertisers would be happy."

And lo and behold, the entire shopping mall out-of-home business was born. But you may have other ideas that you yourself see floating around from time to time and you think to yourself, "Hey, I wonder if that would work." You know, you really have nothing to lose in experimenting with that. Going to the property owner, figuring out the whole package, you'll be shocked how well received you may be when you make your pitch to that person to try and install some kind of advertising program. Everyone likes incremental revenue. On top of that, people get bored. They like to have things to read while they're standing in line moving about. Now, how do you learn how to do it? Well, of course, it's the exact same business model that we've been teaching now for decades on the billboard business. So it's not unusual, it's not customizable, it's not something totally different. But you need to always remember that there's more to life than just billboards. There are other forms of out-of-home out there just waiting to be found. This is Frank Rolfe for The Billboard Mastery podcast. Hope you enjoyed this, talk to you again soon.