Billboards remain a popular marketing channel, providing high visibility at a relatively affordable CPM. This comprehensive guide examines billboard pricing models, factors impacting costs, hidden fees to watch for, and tips for negotiating the best billboard rates.
Table of Contents
What Impacts Billboard Advertising Prices?
Many variables influence billboard pricing:
- Market Size – Major metro areas cost more than rural regions
- Impressions – Rate based on estimated views the board will receive
- Size – 14×48 foot billboards run higher rates than 10×30 feet
- Duration – Longer terms like 12 months are priced better than short 1-month runs
- Location – Placements along busy expressways or intersections command premium rates
- Design – Simple text copy is cheaper than complex graphics requiring production
- Inventory – Low vacancy rates enable billboard companies to charge more
Carefully weigh these factors when budgeting for an out-of-home billboard advertising campaign.
How Much Do Digital Billboards Cost?
Digital billboards enable rotating multiple ads on an electronic sign. Typical digital billboard costs:
- Hardware investment – $100,000 to $300,000+ for construction and screens
- Production – $500 to $3,000 per creative ad design
- Monthly site lease – $2,000 to $4,000 depending on traffic impressions
- Hosting fees – $100 to $500 per month for ad delivery software
Total estimated cost: $3,500 to $8,500+ per month
Rotating digital ads multiply visibility at a premium rate. Static billboard conversions to digital start around $185,000.
What is CPM for Billboards?
The CPM metric represents cost per thousand impressions:
- Say a billboard costs $1,500 for 1 month
- Billboard receives 400,000 impressions during that period
- $1,500 / 400 = $3.75 CPM
Factors impacting billboard CPM rates:
- Higher traffic areas equal lower CPM
- Longer term leases average lower CPM
- Special city placements hit above $20+ CPM
Compare CPM across different vendors and inventory when negotiating. Average billboard CPM runs $5 – $20.
Monthly Billboard Rates
Typical costs for leasing a standard printed billboard for a month:
- Rural highway – $200 – $700+
- Small town – $250 – $850
- Major city suburb – $500 – $1,500+
- Downtown metropolitan – $1,500 – $4,000+
Rates vary greatly depending on market size, exact high-traffic location, sizing, illumination etc. Get quotes customized to specifics.
Estimate Billboard Marketing Costs
Budgeting considerations when planning a billboard marketing campaign:
- $500 – $5,000+ – Design and production of creative assets
- $150 – $500 – Printing vinyl wrap or poster advertisement
- $100 – $300 – Installation and removal fees
- $200 per hour – Creative agency fees if outsourcing ad design
- $1,500 – $25,000+ – Lease for media space depending on market, duration etc
- +$500 per month – Any illumination or lighting costs
Factor in both fixed upfront and ongoing monthly lease costs when budgeting for an out of home billboard advertising program.
Hidden Billboard Fees to Watch For
Watch for less obvious fees when contracting a billboard:
- Agency Fee – % fee if using a media buying agency like 15% of total cost
- Production Fees – Charges for ad concepting, copywriting, graphic design
- Printing Fees – Physical production and vinyl wrapping charges
- Installation & Removal Fees – Costs for installers to mount and take down ad
- Illumination Costs – Lighting and operation fees if required
- Fixed Term Commitments – Requirements to lock into 6 month, 1 year contracts
- Makegoods – Free add-on months if the board underdelivers impressions
Read agreements thoroughly to avoid surprise fees. Ask about any additional costs beyond just the monthly site lease rate.
Long Term Billboard Pricing
Longer contracts typically offer lower monthly rates:
Landlords offer discounts for long term commitments ensuring steady rental income. Weigh against constraints of being locked into extended terms. Monthly billboards allow rapidly changing creative.
Top Factors in Billboard Pricing
Major elements impacting billboard rates:
High Traffic Locations – Placing boards along busy expressways, intersections or centrally located streets raise impressions and costs. Avoid filler fringe inventory with minimal views.
Major Markets – New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas demand premium rates given substantial visibility. Less inventory also lets landlords charge more.
Peak Circulation – Most impressions occur during rush hour and weekends. Maximum circulation drives pricing.
Demographics – Densely populated urban regions offer broader reach and deeper targeting options reflected in higher rates.
Duration – Long 12+ month terms secure lower rates but reduce creative flexibility. Month-to-month maximizes change options.
Carefully weigh visibility, impressions, and flexibility when selecting and negotiating billboard placements. Not all inventory is created equal.
How Location Impacts Billboard Advertising Costs
Where the billboard is positioned greatly influences pricing:
- High Traffic Roads – Placements along highways and busy thoroughfares receive the most views and highest prices.
- Downtowns – Central downtown billboards have strong pedestrian and visitor visibility for a premium.
- Transit Stops – Boards at central bus terminals and train stations expose messaging to large numbers of daily commuters.
- Turns and Intersections – Eye-catching angled sign placement on turns grabs attention at higher cost.
- Near Malls/Stadiums – Exposure to consumers drawn to retail corridors and venues justify rates.
- Rural Highways – While offering geographic breadth, more remote roads see substantially lower traffic translating to lower costs.
The right location should balance visibility with affordability depending on campaign goals and budget.
Pricing Factors for Digital Billboards
Digital billboards cost more considering additional variables:
- Hardware investment – $100,000+ for sign and tech
- Production – Each digital ad needs individual design
- Data usage – Bandwidth required for content delivery
- Operations – Technician monitoring and maintenance
- Electricity – Powering displays and cooling systems
- Scheduling – Match high value dayparts and placements
Limited inventory and greater production demands increase digital board pricing. Evaluate campaign return on investment.
How Billboard Size Impacts Pricing
Standard billboard sizes and relative costs:
- Bulletins – Large 14’ H x 48’ W displays. Typically $3,000+ per month in metro areas. High visibility and impressions justify premium rates.
- Juniors – Smaller 10.5’ H x 36’ W billboards. Around $1,500+ per month on average. Cheaper but reduced presence.
- Wallscapes – Custom oversized displays covering sides of buildings. Prices starting at $10,000 per month. Dramatic visibility.
- Mobile – Truck or vehicle mounted displays. Around $1,500 for cross-metro routes. Flexible targeting.
Scale messaging and investment to audience reach needed balancing visibility and budget.
HowPRODUCTION IMPACTS Billboard Costs
Basic design vs complex production impacts pricing:
- Design – Simple text + logo layouts around $500-$1,000. Most affordable option.
- 2D Production – Building custom graphics adds $1,000-$3,000 depending on complexity.
- 3D Elements – Steps production to $3,000+. For extensions, relief, specialty materials etc.
- Video – Animated content played on digital displays adds substantial production costs.
More elaborate physical productions translate into higher one-time fees. But can improve engagement and recall.
Estimating CPM by Market
Typical billboard CPM rates for different metropolitan market sizes:
|Market Size||Average CPM|
|Rural||$2 – $7|
|Small Towns||$5 – $10|
|Major Suburbs||$10 – $20|
|Top DMAs||$12 – $25+|
Factors like higher circulation and steeper production costs in major cities push CPM rates higher. Contrast rates across markets when budgeting out of home campaigns.
Negotiating Lower Billboard Rates
Tips for negotiating better billboard pricing:
- Bundle multiple boards for higher volume discount
- Propose longer 12+ month locked contracts in exchange for lower rates
- Offer enhanced production like elaborate creative or 3D extensions to stand out
- Trade additional static boards to dilute costly digital board fees
- Buy during low season months like December and January
- Point out competitive boards with better rates in the same viewing radius
- Highlight other marketing support driving impressions and awareness
Savvy media planners negotiate discounted inventory by trading benefits. But avoid getting overextended committing budgets long-term upfront.
Cost Saving Tips for Billboard Advertising
Keep these budget management tips in mind:
- Control creative costs – Simple text and logo visuals are cheapest to produce. Have existing assets?
- Minimize change frequency – Fewer changeouts by locking longer terms reduces production and labor.
- Watch impressions – No need to overpay for supersized boards if audience reached suffices. Right size ad to goals.
- Compare inventory – Billboard companies may own multiple boards in an area. Shop around.
- Leverage out-of-home networks – Bundling through a larger OOH provider like Lamar or Clear Channel could score deals.
- Perfect placement – Find ideal locating balancing views and costs for objectives.
Align campaign scale to audience reach goals balancing impact and budget. Avoid overpaying for excessive impressions or creative.
Billboard Advertising Pros and Cons
|High frequency and impressions||Creative limitations due to static nature|
|Very low CPM compared to other media||Long lead time for ideation to production|
|Geo-targeting flexibility||Ad fatigue from sustained exposure|
|Visible impactful medium||Limited audience targeting and attribution|
|Creative standout potential||Lead generation and conversions difficult|
|Rates can be negotiated||Contracts may require long-term commitments|
Compare the visibility and engagement of OOH billboards against ability to attribute conversions for your goals.
Out of Home Advertising Costs Beyond Billboards
Beyond billboards, consider other OOH formats:
Street Furniture – Transit shelters, kiosks, benches. $100 – $3,000 per month.
Tradeshow Booths – 10×10 exhibit spaces. $1,500 – $6,000 per show.
Vehicle Wraps – Covering car, bus, trains in branding. From $750 – $6,000 per car.
Storefronts – Renting visible vacant retail sites for large graphics in windows. $1,000 – $15,000 per month.
Murals – Painting branding across multi-story building facades. $5,000 – $100,000+.
Compare engagement and impression metrics across alternatives against your campaign goals and positioning.
Key Takeaways on Billboard Advertising Rates
- Rates based on marketplace, duration, traffic, and production needs
- Long term 12+ month locks offer lower costs but reduce flexibility
- Consider impression frequency needed to calculate cost efficiency
- Compare various vendors leasing boards in the vicinity
- Negotiate bundled deals across multiple months and boards
- Add high visibility enhancements like creative extensions to pricing packages
- Analyze production requirements balancing visibility and budget
Carefully project rate factors and get market-specific quotes when budgeting for an out of home billboard campaign.
Billboards deliver lasting brand visibility to target audiences, but require thoughtful budgeting to maximize value. Leverage this pricing guide to discern realistic costs based on market conditions and board specifications aligned to campaign goals. With an accurate budget and savvy rate negotiations, advertisers gain an impactful channel to reinforce messaging and engage audiences.