Whether you canvas the opinion of marketers or the human race as a whole, you quickly identify a growing obsession with the digital realm. This is particularly noticeable in the fields of marketing and advertising, however, as while the popularity of digital channels continues to grow UK newspapers reported a £155 million decline in print advertising revenues last year.
Before we start sounding the death knell for traditional print advertising, however, it is important to keep two things in mind. The first is the need for an integrated marketing strategy, and one that combines the unique advantages of both on and offline channels to optimise the reach of your brand.
Secondly, we must evaluate each marketing technique according to its individual merits, as in some instances traditional print tactics offer considerable advantages over their digital alternatives.
Traditional paper billboard advertisements, even in today’s market offer significant benefits over digital alternatives, and here’s why.
- Paper Billboard Ads Can Provide an Exclusive Marketing Outlet
One of the central aspects of any billboard advertisement is location, and regardless of the precise channel that you use you will need to invest in the prominent positioning of your ad.
There is a clear distinction between digital and paper billboards, however, particularly in terms of the value that you receive for your investment.
While digital boards represent shared spaces that will feature multiple brands simultaneously (the industry average is six slots per board running for 10 seconds each), for example, paper adverts are sold on an exclusive basis to individual businesses for the maximum exposure.
This means that you paper ad is always visible, which optimises the impact of your message among your chosen audience. In contrast, an ad on a digital billboard may only run for 10 seconds every minute, meaning that it is inaccessible to customers for 80% of the time.
- For Now, the Price of Technology Remains Too High
There is no doubt about it, digital media is becoming a mainstream commodity in the consumer and business markets. This means that the price of this technology is falling on an incremental basis, creating a far greater value proposition for digital advertising.
For now, however, it is fair to say that the basic cost of securing a digital billboard advertisement is disproportionately high.
This is a significant barrier that prevents many small and independent brands from embracing digital ads, particularly when you consider its limitation in terms of accessibility, driving brand awareness and optimising your ROI. In this respect, digital billboards continue to be the preserve of larger brands and corporations, who use this medium to augment existing campaigns.
It is also important to note that paper makes a cheaper and more profitable alternative for smaller brands, so even as the cost of technology continues to fall traditional billboards are sure to remain competitive.
- Paper Billboards are More Accessible and Affordable
The accessibility and affordability of traditional billboard ads is an interesting topic, so let’s consider this in greater detail.
We already know that paper adverts are naturally more affordable that digital alternatives due to the underlying cost of associated raw materials , for example, while traditional ads are also cheaper to construct.
Brands within the traditional billboard space have also made moves to reduce the cost of paper ads further, with outdoor advertising company Airoutdoor offering a relevant case in point.
By minimising the cost of materials and discounting prices for longer-term agreements of up to 12 months, they have created an extremely attractive value proposition for smaller brands who are looking to invest in outdoor advertising but have restricted funds.
By combining this type of competitive pricing with access premium locations throughout the UK, traditional billboard brands can deliver a viable package to clients that helps to drive down costs, increase engagement and achieve a desired ROI.
- The Maintenance Cost of Digital Ads and Sites is Considerably High
We have already touched on how digital billboard ads remain relatively expensive, despite a gradual decline in initial costs.
It is also important to consider the impact of installation and maintenance costs, however, which can inflate the price to the client and increase their long-term, financial burden.
In terms of hardware, for example, various vendors are known to supply similar but incompatible products which make it difficult to comparison shop.
These components can subsequently be hard to purchase and difficult to install, which in turn consumes a great deal of time and incurs even greater costs over time.
The we come to maintenance, as digital billboard hardware can be particularly costly to replace, operate and in some instances replace.
It is also fair to say that some of these costs are hidden, but they must be factored in to your budget as part of your financial plans.
This will enable you to calculate your marketing spend and expected return, and in some cases you may decide to abandon your digital billboard campaigns.
This is particularly true when you consider that the initial cost of securing digital billboard space can be twice as expensive as the paper alternative, particularly when you target larger, LED displays.
- Traditional Paper Billboards are More Eco-Friendly
No, we have not made this up; when all things are considered, traditional, paper billboards are actually more eco-friendly than digital alternatives.
To understand this further, we must look beyond concepts such as raw materials and consider the environmental cost of installing and maintaining various types of billboard.
While traditional ads may incur a higher environmental cost in terms of materials, for example, the advent of recyclable paper has cut this considerably.
Paper adverts also have a limited impact on the environment once they are being installed, and when the time comes to replace them the material can be reused for alternative purposes.
Contrast this with digital billboards, which constantly consume energy for as long as they are switched on.
While brands are able to negate this to some degree by using LED billboards (which are more energy-efficient and last ten times longer than standard electronic displays), these also come at a significantly increased cost that clients are often unable to afford.
Over time, digital ads can consume a huge amount of energy and ultimately take a more exacting toll on the natural environment.
The Bottom Line
While it is tempting to be consumed by the prevailing obsession with digital media, there are some instances where traditional alternatives remain arguably more beneficial. Paper billboard adverts are a prime example of this, and something that can deliver considerable advantages to your business.