Billboards are everywhere – even in the middle of nowhere by the side of a major road. Businesses around the world use them as a way to advertise their products and services to potential customers. Whether it’s advertising the latest soft drink or the newest musical on Broadway, billboards have been around for a long time and have an interesting history.
Also called Out-of-Home advertising, or OOH, billboards are one of the most popular methods of advertising. Other OOH methods include play-based media, transit ads, digital displays and mobile vehicles. Because the average person spends 70 percent of their day away from home, these methods of advertising are just as vital as the ads you see during your favorite television programs. So how did billboard ads get their start? How did people discover how effective they are? Keep reading to find out.
Billboard Lights Get Their Start
The use of billboard advertising dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. Obviously, the world didn’t have electricity then so the first billboards were not illuminated in any way but these first users understood that to get the word out, height was an advantage. Ancient Egyptians used tall towers to advertise the latest proclamations, laws and treaties. This allowed all to see them, both near and far.
From there, the invention of movable type in the 1450s and the lithograph process in 1796 added to the effectiveness of such ways of publicizing important information. At some point during these years, printed flyers melded with signs that were built high into the air, creating what we now know as the modern billboard.
Billboards in the 1800s
Sniping was quite a common practice in the early 1800s. This was the practice of placing small signs on fences or trees along country roads. Sniping began to die out as billboards advanced, eventually dying out as local laws made the practice illegal (bill stickers will be prosecuted!).
The first billboard was officially leased in 1867. During the 1800s, billboards were painted or drawn by hand. The advertisements were most often used to showcase wares at specific stores, but also directed customers to their location. They were often stuck to the sides of adjacent buildings or on wooden installations along the roadside leading to the store or business. In 1872, the International Bill Poster’s Association of North America was formed and the billboard industry took off.
It was in 1892 that the world saw the first illuminated billboard. It appeared over Madison Square, New York paid for by Long Irland Rail Road, with the message “Buy Homes on Long Island”.
Billboards in the 1900s
In 1901 the standardized billboard was created. From then on, big name companies began producing mass numbers of billboards. Brands like Kellogg, Model T and Coca-Cola began showcasing their products via OOH advertising. In 1913, the use of billboards for public service messages began to be used. This included support for public awareness campaigns and war efforts. In 1925, the first outdoor advertising company was registered on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1931, a major advertising milestone was reached with Coca Cola’s Christmas billboard campaign which introduced the contemporary interpretation of Santa Claus.
Billboards in the 2000s
In 2005, the first digital billboard was released. These billboards can now be programmed to change images on a cycle and the illuminated graphics and messages attract attention from miles away. If you think about places like Times Square and the Las Vegas strip, you’ll know that billboards are an effective way to show off products, shows and services to the millions of people who see them each and every day.
Data measurements find that digital billboards may be the most important part of a brand’s advertising campaign. Digital media is so important in today’s society. As more and more people use social media and rely on their devices for many aspects of their life, using attention grabbing advertising methods like billboards remains vital to the survival of many companies.
How to Get Your Name in Lights
Billboard advertising is important for many brands and companies. If you want to give it a try for your business, the experts at LED Pros World Wide can help. Getting your name in billboard lights may be just what it takes to see your revenue go up and your customer base continue to grow. You’ll be amazed at its effectiveness. Call us today to understand the options.