Media Comparison

Billboards are considered by most to be the cornerstone of a great marketing program.  No media should be considered in isolation as each has benefits and limitations depending on the purpose of a particular campaign.  For most small to medium sized companies, billboards provide the opportunity to reach and deliver a consistent message, at the lowest price in any market.

Broadcast TV

Broadcast TV viewers are a difficult to reach. Light TV viewers are younger, more active, and more affluent. Light TV viewers consume limited amount of television while DVRs enable ad avoidance. This 40% of the TV audience, spends under 90 minutes a day watching TV between 6AM and midnight.

Local TV is the core revenue source for local TV networks and they have faced a dilution of the affiliate brand as they rely more on online sites, digital platforms and devices to distribute programs as national networks sell programs to cable and digital media.

High capital cost, declining revenues, and tighter margins have become increasingly apparent among local TV stations and station owners are under pressure to modify their business models.

Television Benefits

  • Wide geographic coverage
  • Perceived broad audience reach
  • Perceived accountability
  • Relative ease of buying
  • Known for promoting mass consumer products

Television Limitations

  • Audience share is declining as audiences fragment
  • DVRs diminish ad impact
  • TV shows skew to older and lower income
  • High cost per showing
  • Rising production costs
  • Primetime is no longer preeminent
  • Increasing ad clutter

Television with Billboard Campaigns

  • Billboards reinforce TV messages when viewers are out of their homes during the day.
  • Billboards minimize wasted coverage to broad non-target areas.
  • Billboards improve a campaign by targeting ads locally.
  • Billboards improve the cost efficiency of expensive TV campaigns by by driving down the cost per showing.
  • Billboards better reach light TV viewers who are younger, mobile, and more affluent.
Cable Television

Cable allows advertisers to reach specific consumer groups by targeting their programming interests.   The average cable home has access to 120 channels with nearly 3,000 programs available each week.

Cable channel programming growth has lead to huge broadcast TV audience fragmentation.  Brands find it difficult to effectively reach TV audiences without excessive ad spending.

Satellite TV (Dish & Direct TV) has captured millions of subscribers, greatly reducing cable effectiveness.  Satellite TV has greatly fragmented audiences among cable operators.

Cable Television Benefits

  • Penetration of 90 percent of US households
  • Lower cost per showing compared to broadcast TV
  • Greater targeting capabilities compared to broadcast television
  • Programming available in all time periods
  • Original cable television programming comprises 67 percent of all content

Cable Television Limitations

  • Smaller audiences than broadcast television
  • Excessive fragmentation producing relatively small audiences for many channels
  • A greater number of commercials per hour compared to broadcast television

Cable Television and Billboards

  • The combination of Billboards and cable television offers advertisers similar benefits to the combination of Billboards and broadcast television. Billboards reinforce television messages when viewers are away from their homes during the course of daily activities.
  • Cable television delivers relatively small but targeted audiences compared to broadcast television. Billboards improve cable television’s delivery by improving the overall reach of a campaign.
  • Billboards offer localized media reinforcement of cable television advertising.

With varied station formats, listeners have a wide choice of options to satisfy their particular preferences. But, listener fragmentation requires advertisers to buy multiple stations and formats to accumulate a relatively large audience reach, offsetting the cost-effectiveness of radio.

The introduction of satellite radio and MP3 technology has stolen audience share from radio stations. While some technology has hindered the reach of radio listening, other technologies have enhanced radio’s appeal with consumers. Over 4,500 radio stations stream content online through local websites, providing a one-on-one connection with listeners.

Radio Benefits

  • Targeting capabilities
  • Inexpensive compared to other traditional broadcast media
  • Builds frequency quickly
  • Branded promotions offer advertisers appealing community involvement opportunities
  • No seasonal listener erosion

Radio Limitations

  • No visual component
  • Advertisers must buy multiple stations and formats to accumulate audience reach
  • Peak listening is during morning and evening drive times with relatively low audiences during other day parts

Radio and Billboards

  • The combination of radio and Billboards reach a mobile audience, offering a balance of sight and sound.  
  • Radio messages are susceptible to channel surfing.
  • Billboards can maintain the market presence of a brand featured on radio after listeners have switched stations.
  • Radio is considered a frequency medium and Billboards can increase the reach of a radio campaign by providing broad market appeal to radio listeners.

Newspapers play a functional role by providing news and information. However, for more than 20 years there has been a consistent and steep decline in the number of Americans who regularly read a weekday or weekend newspaper.

Many consumers today use online sources to gather news and information rather than printed materials. Nearly 100 million homes have an Internet connection, offering almost everything found in newspapers, including national and global news, classified ads, opinions, entertainment, sports, comics and horoscopes. Many traditional newspaper advertising sectors, such as job ads and real estate, have also moved online.

Advertisers in big cities have plenty of options to reach consumers, and newspapers are one of the most expensive. Newspapers can charge as much as $25 for every 1,000 people who might see an ad covering a half page.

Newspaper Benefits

  • Broad reach within a defined market area
  • Newspaper offers targeting capability with regional delivery and special advertising sections
  • Geographic selectivity is available in small towns
  • Marketplace for competitive price shopping

Newspaper Limitations

  • Decreasing market penetration and readership with many newspapers reaching less than 50 percent penetration
  • Low younger audience (18-24) readership
  • Costly frequency medium
  • Some ad recall studies show less than 50 percent of newspaper readers recall noting ads
  • Ad clutter

Newspaper and Billboards

  • Billboards can resolve some of newspaper’s distribution shortcomings by offering selective targeting.  Billboards penetrate newspaper zones that are too large for reaching neighborhood target areas.
  • Newspapers have a short shelf life. Billboards can extend the life of a newspaper campaign by presenting ad messages in a marketplace 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
  • Readership rates are declining and will likely continue due to increasing numbers of alternate news sources. Billboards’ very nature is unavoidable and impacts consumers lost to other source options.

Internet advertising began in the mid-nineties and since then has been the fastest growing media segment. Nearly 100 million US households have Internet access today and over 90 percent of those households use broadband.

The average user spends over 25 hours online per week. As a result, the Internet represents one-third of daily media use, according to The Media Audit. While new Internet ad options continue to evolve, the value of traditional banner ads is debatable as click through rates stay low.

Individuals are using social networking platforms where users generally hold negative views of advertising and consider ads a distraction. It is difficult to quantify the value of Internet advertising based on traditional media measures, and viable integration of advertising within social networking enterprises has proven tough to achieve. 

Internet Benefits

  • Direct response and transactional opportunity are available to consumers in real-time
  • One-to-one marketing anytime and anyplace
  • Long-term reduction of transactional business costs

Internet Limitations

  • Limited frequency across millions of websites with users able to access only a fraction of sites available
  • Privacy and security concerns

Internet and Billboards

  • Internet and Billboard advertising reach similar audiences. Both market to a younger, educated, affluent, and mobile audience.
  • Billboards extend the reach and frequency of an Internet campaign when users are offline.
  • The brevity of Billboards’ copy is ideal for driving traffic to a website.

One of the core benefits magazine publishers can offer advertisers is the opportunity to use high production quality to influence core demographic audiences. But as more consumers are obtaining information from digital media platforms, more titles fold, circulation drops, and newsstand and subscription prices rise, the opportunities for advertisers to reach consumers through magazines are shrinking.

According to the Publishers Information Bureau, the number of advertising pages in top magazines has dropped 42 percent since 2000.

Magazine Benefits

  • High degree of selective targeting based on demographics, product affinity, or lifestyle
  • High production quality
  • Focused editorial environment
  • Regional editions offer localized targeting capabilities

Magazine Limitations

  • Specific issue audience data is not typically available
  • Magazines produce minimal short term (daily/weekly) reach
  • Broad market reach is difficult to achieve because of niche readership behavior

Magazines and Billboards

Billboards strengthen an overall magazine ad campaign by providing a constant presence in the marketplace.

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