In the era of print marketing, aside from newspapers and pamphlets, billboards are a huge part of marketing. Countless billboards are placed strategically in main roads, intersections and other high-traffic areas to allow maximum visibility. As technology advances and marketing shifted to digital, billboards also received an upgrade – digital billboards.
What is the difference between traditional billboards and digital billboards?
With the existence of digital billboards in addition to traditional billboards you might be wondering what is the difference between the two before making a choice on which one is more suitable for your advertisements.
The Mechanics of Digital and Traditional Billboards.
The main difference would be the mechanics of it. Traditional billboards are static and are commonly a large blank canvas where the advertisement will be pasted or painted on. The advertisements are commonly designed in studios on a banner or panels then will be placed manually on the billboards. Digital billboards in the meantime are in the form of monitors or LED screens connected to a computer. Digital billboards are normally managed using specific computer software or programs allowing more flexibility and an automated installation.
The Flexibility of Digital and Traditional Billboards.
The other difference between traditional billboards and digital billboards is the flexibility of the advertisements. Traditional billboards, as mentioned, are commonly static. The image is set in stone and will run continuously 24/7 during the whole duration of the advertisement. Digital billboards in the meantime can have not only animations but also countdowns, carousels and etcetera. The running time is also interchangeable and can be set on a specific time or day. This flexibility not only saves cost as the advertisements are run by slot but also allows you to strategize the perfect time or day for your target audience. This is commonly done when advertising television series.
How should you design your digital billboards advertisements?
One of the most important things when it comes to billboards or signages is the design. Design plays a huge role and can make or break your advertisement. While both traditional and digital billboards require designs that will not only grab the audience's attention but also encourage action, there are notable ways to achieve this especially for digital billboards. Traditional billboards due to their static nature means that the design must be final and unchangeable. This does not apply to digital billboards. The flexibility of digital billboards allows for a variety of designs.
Design-wise, here are a few design tips that you should take note of for digital billboards:
Don’t Overcrowd Your Digital Billboard.
When it comes to digital billboards, less is more. Limit the amount of text in your advertisements and filter your visuals accordingly. Most common word count is ten words or less including logo and tagline. Visual-wise, it is best to choose visuals that correlate with the message. It is also advisable for your visuals to be no more than three and to avoid scenic visuals unless your advertisement is centered around it.
Billboard and signage advertisement design is different compared to other design disciplines in that you are trying to ensure maximum visibility and response. As such, you must ensure that your digital billboard or signage design, above all else, must be practical and functional. Legibility and easy understanding are the most important features for any billboard or signage designs simply because your audience, most often than not, will only glimpse at it in a matter of seconds. As such it is advisable to also use a bigger font size, bolded text and avoid serifs on your text to increase legibility. Serif can make it hard to read at a distance and bolded text is generally more eye-catching.
Colour, Contrast and Background Choices.
While digital billboards give more avenues for designers to play around with colours, it is better for your advertisement design to be RGB. Your visuals also need to be at a higher contrast and best avoid a white background. Simply put, for digital billboards, it is necessary to remember that your designs will be outdoors and put under different lighting due to the weather.
Limit Your Messages.
You might have a lot of ideas you want to deliver to your audience but overcomplicating your digital billboard advertisements can be your downfall. The best way to ensure your digital billboard advertisement has a lasting effect in your audience is by having a recognizable, resonant message. Embed your digital billboard advertisement with simple, straight forward message and imagery.
Do a Test Run for Your Digital Billboard Advertisement.
It has been mentioned earlier that for digital billboards, billboards or signages that there is a very short window for visibility for your audience. It is advisable that you test your advertisement design among colleagues by displaying it at a distance to determine two things: either it is visible and does it capture their attention.
What is the Best Way to Utilize Digital Billboards?
Having a good design is not enough, you must know the best way to utilize them. This is increasingly important for digital billboards. The right timing, the right duration, all of these and other variants play a role to maximize your advertisements. Since billboards and signages in general are normally placed at high-traffic areas, your audience are mostly drivers or vehicle passengers. This would give your advertisement an average visibility of about five seconds.
What this means to you is that it is best if you utilize those few seconds properly for your digital billboards.
These are some of the best approaches to take when using digital billboards for your advertisements:
Create Hype Using Countdowns.
Any good advertisement needs to be able to emote a certain kind of response in their audience. Excitement is one of the most sought often responses for any marketers as it would lead to action. A way to do this is by including countdowns when applicable to your digital billboard advertisements. As a result of digital billboards being a display over monitors or LED screens connected to a remote computer software, it is entirely possible for this to be done.
If your advertisement is tied up to an event such as Year End Sale, 8.8 Sale or other similar time sensitive deadlines, having an automated countdown attached to your digital billboard advertisement can create a sense of urgency in your audience. If you’re having a product reveal or a launch, a countdown can create excitement. This will make your audience more likely to take action.
Use Scheduled Advertisements
As stated earlier on, digital billboards have a lot of flexibility due to being tied up to a computer software or program. One of the best perks of this flexibility is the ability to time your advertisement and the duration of it. By using digital billboards, as a marketer you have day parting capabilities which allows you to do day-to-day scheduling and within-day scheduling.
Day-to-day scheduling lets you change or showcase your advertisements according to days of the week and within-day lets you change or showcase advertisements at a specific time of day. This lets you pinpoint your advertisement to a specific audience and increase response. The best example of this is a restaurant dinner advertisement timed after office hours.
Social Media Co-Respondents.
Another perk of digital billboards is its ability to be synced up with social media. This creates an avenue that traditional billboards and signage cannot do – audience interaction. How you can utilize this is first by creating a digital billboard advertisement with a call to action to submit contents to your social media accounts. Next, you can create an advertisement that showcases the submitted contents. If the agency permits it, you can even make your digital billboard advertisement update the submitted contents every other day or weekly.
Create Advertisements That Respond to the Weather.
A weather triggered signage is also an interesting way to talk about your advertisements. If you are promoting a food and beverage venture for example, you can create separate advertisements that respond to common weather conditions. You can advertise cold beverages or desserts when the weather is sunny and advertise hot dishes or beverages during rain. This feature on a digital billboard can increase response and action taken by your audiences. The example given gives a clear view on the notion of demand and supply, the basis for any marketer.
Include Traffic Updates Whenever Relevant.
It has been repeatedly mentioned that your audience for any type of billboards and signages are drivers, first and foremost. As such, including traffic updates to your signage whenever relevant is something that is bound to catch your audience’s attention. Say your advertisement is about an establishment, you can create an animated advertisement showing your location with traffic updates of the routes involved. This will not only make your advertisement eye-catching but also practical for your target audience.
All in all, these methods of utilizing your digital billboards advertisements are merely suggestions. The nature of digital billboards allows you to keep on experimenting with how you market your advertisement.
What are the Pros and Cons of Digital Billboards?
By taking into account the best ways to utilize digital billboards, you can have a glimpse on the advantages of using digital billboards for your advertisements. However, that does not mean it does not have its own disadvantages.
The advantages of using digital billboards include:
- Specified Target Timing: the flexibility to set a specific time for advertisements. This can increase the number of leads for your advertisements.
- Flexible Advert Changes: the ability to make changes to artwork or add new ones in real time. This ability is a must if you are planning for a large campaign and it is also helpful for fixing up any occurring mistakes on the advertisements.
- Ease for Larger Campaigns: easy to plan a large campaign featuring serial and connected advertisements. Digital billboards can be set to show your serial advertisements on your preferred interval either by day to time of day.
The disadvantages of using digital billboards include:
- Pricier Cost: due to digital billboards having a lot of slots for other brands, price can be high based on location and number of slots.
- Missed Message: for serialized advertisements, it is easier for the audience to miss the previous advert because of the different slots or run time.
- Reduced Exposure and Exclusivity: most digital billboards work on slots and rotating advertisements that reduce your advertisements exposure as well as exclusivity because of the shared space with other brands.
It is important for you to understand the pros and cons of digital billboards so that you can make an educated decision on the best route to take for your advertisement.
How Does Digital Billboards Work in Malaysia?
The mechanics and basis of digital billboards in Malaysia is similar elsewhere. What makes a difference is the capacity of the agency to provide additional features for the billboards themselves as well as the services offered. Malaysia has seen an insurgence of digital billboards over the last decade especially in city centers. In Malaysia, one of the common advertisement choices are through media and publications such as television advertisements as well as newspapers. The use of billboards and signages are normally of the traditional kind. These agencies are normally subsidiaries of media giants such as Astro or Media Prima Berhad.
However, as advertising in Malaysia evolves with time and technological advancements, more and more agencies are established specializing in different forms of advertising principles. Agencies for digital billboards in Malaysia are included in this. Most advertising agencies in Malaysia would offer solutions and services empowered by partnership with Malaysia’s media companies. Such a route is different for agencies specializing in digital billboards and outdoor advertising.
There are different forms of digital billboards offered by Malaysia’s agencies as well as ways to approach them.
Static Digital Screen Advertising.
What this means is that the digital billboards placed in various locations in Malaysia are set in a predetermined sequence to show a slideshow of different brand advertisements. This means the digital billboards in question do not have the real-time capacity that can be expounded with digital billboards.
Static digital signages as such can come in many forms such as wallscapes, unipoles, overhead panels and the trademark billboards. Each form is selected based on the locations within Malaysia’s city centre and chosen based on the targeted leads type as well as amount required by the client.
In Malaysia, these digital billboards would have around 10-12 slots for different brands each looping for 240 times (12-hours) per day with each slot amounting to 15 seconds. The timing for each slot needs to be planned beforehand. Ads based on weather and traffic conditions are also premeditated. This is done by studying traffic patterns at different times of the day and checking the weekly weather forecast.
Network Connected Digital Screen Advertising.
As the name suggests, this type of digital billboards allows real-time capabilities to change artworks, include new advertisements and etcetera via a network connection. When it comes to this type of billboards, not many agencies in Malaysia are providing them as of yet as this requires a different set of softwares. For agencies able to provide this kind of digital billboards, there needs to be constant communication with the agency’s in-house team and may incur additional costs.
Engaging with Malaysia’s Digital Billboards Agencies.
When it comes to engaging these agencies, companies in Malaysia would normally approach them with a product or services. These products or services might come with a completed campaign by the company themselves or they are looking for the agency to provide this for them. It is not unheard of for a digital billboards agency in Malaysia to multi-task providing campaign ideation, design and execution along with the platform. Another way is the agencies themselves making a proactive approach by reaching out to potential clients.
It is important to note that most companies that seek out digital billboards in Malaysia are mostly medium to large companies. Famous brands and franchises are the most common ones utilizing digital billboards in Malaysia while startups, small businesses normally go for traditional billboards. This might be both due to the costing or lack of exposure to the full potential of digital billboards. It could also be a premeditated decision since as mentioned, choosing between traditional billboards and digital billboards are a matter of which one is more suitable for your advertisements.
This approach will in turn increase the presence of digital billboards in Malaysia. A takeaway that needs to be emphasized is that digital billboards agencies in Malaysia normally work within the state they are with because they not only screen the advertisements but also build the billboards themselves.
Should You Be Investing in Digital Billboards in Malaysia?
Digital billboards and signages in Malaysia are still in the development phase especially outside of Malaysia’s main cities. As such, you might think that it is not worth investing in particularly if your company is based in the more rural states. Bear in mind that while most active digital billboards agencies are based in Malaysia’s main cities, there are local agencies in each state that can provide a variation of the services attached to Malaysia’s digital billboards.
What it boils down to is whether or not digital billboards and signages are the best option for your campaigns or advertisements. There are a lot of factors that you should consider before investing in it most of all in regards to cost, your marketing capabilities, your campaign objectives and your target audience.