- Term Papers and Free Essays

Digital Billboards

Essay by   •  March 25, 2011  •  1,684 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,077 Views

Essay Preview: Digital Billboards

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

Digital Billboards: This time more means less.

Robert McAfee

BMGT 581: Spring 2008, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga


Technology has changed the global face of business from an industrial economy, paper-dominant process model to a real-time, information-rich digital model. These advancements have created and cannibalized many types of industries and businesses. The obsession with accurate and timely information continues to feed the tech revolution. For example, the cell phone has nearly driven the payphone into extinction. In 1998 there were 2.6 million pay phones in use, today there are less than a million. The commercial- free appeal of satellite radio along with I-pods continues to diminish the captive audience for traditional radio. E-businesses such as Amazon and I-tunes have wreaked havoc on traditional music and book stores. Internet search companies continue to drain advertising revenue from the newspaper industry and DVR and TiVO allow consumers to ignore endless commercials. The struggle for real-time information and consumer attention has caused major shifts in advertising expenditures and is now revolutionizing an unlikely medium, the billboard. The next big fight for survival could be “out of home” media. The formal definition of Alternative Out-of-Home Media (AOOH) sector includes “advertising vehicles developed or upgraded over the past decade through new technology and methods in an effort to target more mobile and captive demographics in less cluttered locations outside the home.” The lion’s share of this growing sector belongs to Digital Billboards (DBBs.) In the United States there are 410,000 static or traditional billboards and 400 digital billboards, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Inc, and it is projected the number of DBBs could swell to 4,000 within 10 years. Based on the above examples as the DBBs market matures and economies of scale evolve, static billboards will become less profitable and less attractive to the industry. Opportunities will arise for advertisers, businesses, and communities to negotiate and design a leaner and greener network of billboards that both enhances our natural landscape and improves public safety.


Most opposition groups site two main points, visual pollution and driver safety. First, the debate started in 1965 when The Highway Beautification Act was passed, limiting the number of new billboards. During the last four decades billboard companies have threatened lawsuits over unfriendly ordinances and bribed civic organizations with free billboard space advertising upcoming community events. By the late 1990’s many surveys were conducted to demonstrate the country’s mass disapproval: 10 to 1 margin, Floridians favor reducing the number of billboards; 81% of residents of Houston, TX favor their existing ordinance banning new billboard construction; 9 out of 10 Michigan residents feel the state has too many billboards. The fight resulted in a stalemate and during the six year silence, the digital billboard was born. DBBs are getting the same resistance from environmental groups and municipalities that claim digital signage is distracting to drivers and diminishes the attractiveness of cities for homeowners, workers, and businesses. The state of Omaha united and voted not to allow digital billboards unless the billboard companies offer to remove multiple conventional signs for each digital sign. More states are sure to follow this strategy as the debate moves from larger metropolitan cities into smaller communities. Secondly, beautification groups argue that DBB are visually distracting and threaten highway safety. There is insufficient evidence to support or negate such a theory however research has proven an overwhelming correlation between driver safety and cell phone usage. Actually, the content of the digital advertisements does not flash, scroll or feature full-motion video or animation. Advocates point to the greater good resulting from having a mass network of digital signage. Local governments welcome the technology, as it affords transportation agencies, police departments and the Office of Homeland Security with the ability to instantly post important public safety messages, such as severe weather conditions, highway closures, traffic accidents, and “Amber Alerts.” The capability of instantaneous public safety messaging has already earned the technology a “Letter of Support” from The Philadelphia Police Commissioner. DBBs were once again effectively employed in the Twin Cities area during the chaotic aftermath of the I-35W Bridge collapse, warning motorists of the dangerous situation and rerouting them to safe, alternate routes. The FBI unveiled its first billboard in the Philadelphia area in September 2006 with crystal-clear images of eleven of its most wanted fugitives and one month later two were captured as a direct result of the publicity. State and local agencies should negotiate with billboard companies to consolidate existing static billboards into more strategically positioned DBBs to minimize the visual impact to our landscapes, while maximizing public safety.

Hands Off

The reoccurring cost of labor will also contribute to the diminishing returns and contracting population of billboards. Traditional billboards are created from a vinyl sheet material that is actually glued to the billboard. When an advertiser wants to change the billboard’s message someone actually climbs onto the billboard and glues multiple new panels to the board. Manufacturing and installation costs prohibit frequent rotation of messages. Hence, when advertisements are not changed frequently, they typically fail to attract as much attention from consumers. Unlike static billboards DBBs can be connected to the Internet, enabling advertising companies to instantaneously change a particular billboard’s message with the click of a button. Remote computers control the content and rotation of the ads and programming will begin to move in-house thus eliminating the high cost of materials and physical labor. Ads can be formatted as static JPGs, sent to signs via a DSL connection and scheduled via user-friendly software. Companies are experimenting with WiFi transmitters and Bluetooth technology that would send messages directly to your phone as you pass by their signs. Businesses can export CRM data to the ad agency and quickly design a digital presentation that is timely and accurate. Digital signs are sold more like TV commercials than traditional billboard signs. Advertisers can buy



Download as:   txt (11.4 Kb)   pdf (130.3 Kb)   docx (13.3 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 03). Digital Billboards. Retrieved 03, 2011, from

"Digital Billboards" 03 2011. 2011. 03 2011 <>.

"Digital Billboards.", 03 2011. Web. 03 2011. <>.

"Digital Billboards." 03, 2011. Accessed 03, 2011.