How big is the outdoor advertising industry in the U.S. in terms of revenue?
According to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), outdoor advertising companies earned $8.6 billion in 2019. That figure dipped to $6.07 billion in 2020 but climbed back to $7.09 billion in 2021.
How many billboards are there in the U.S.?
The Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) reports that there were 343,606 billboard sign faces in the U.S. in 2020. Scenic America’s 2021 research has found 439,711 billboard sign faces throughout the U.S., and as many as 20 percent of these may be nonpermitted, nonconforming, or illegally modified. This estimate is derived from data reported by state outdoor advertising associations and other official sources.
How many digital billboards are there in the U.S.?
The OAAA estimates that there were 10,100 digital billboards in the U.S. in 2020. While this figure seems low compared to the total number of billboards, the statistic is misleading because it does not account for the fact that each billboard may display up to 10 messages, often on more than one side, accounting for thousands more advertising impressions than a traditional static billboard. More recent information from state agencies indicates that there are at least 7,000 digital billboards reported in state records, with even more digital billboards being permitted by county and municipal governments.
What are the largest outdoor advertising companies by the number of billboard faces?
- Lamar Advertising (161,300 billboard faces)
- Outfront Media (42,125 billboard faces)
- Clear Channel Outdoor (40,382 billboard faces)
- Adams Outdoor (10,000 billboard faces)
- Reagan Outdoor (9,300 billboard faces)
Source: Billboard Insider: The Top 20 US Bulletin/Poster Companies Ranked by Faces | Billboard Insider™
What companies are the top users of billboard advertising?
Top billboard advertisers in 2021 included McDonald’s, Apple, Geico, Amazon, American Express, Coca-Cola, Allstate, Google, Walt Disney Pictures, and HBO (source: OAAA).
Do billboard companies help the community through Amber Alerts, PSAs, etc.?
Billboard companies often claim that their platforms help the community by providing free advertising for causes. Such contributions are generally limited to unsold advertising space and are offered to curry favor with local officials.
Donated ad space cannot compensate for the threat to public safety or the aesthetic harm done by digital signs.
Alternatives exist for emergency communication along highways. Existing government-operated digital highway signs, as well as television, radio, and online sources, already provide systems for emergency communication.
Converting Traditional Static Billboards to Digital Billboards
The profitability of digital billboards provides a powerful incentive for companies to put up as many as possible. With their changing message displays, digital billboards allow companies to sell ad space to as many as ten times as many clients as static ones. They also allow advertisers to change their content more frequently and at little cost.
To help convince local officials to allow digital billboards, sign companies often propose to remove a certain number of static signs in exchange for each new digital sign. This approach is a tacit acknowledgment by the billboard industry that billboards are undesirable, and that reducing their overall numbers is a way to bargain with communities. If communities accept a compromise like this, they should only allow the largest possible ratio. For example:
- Kansas City, MO, considered a proposal for an equivalent 7-to-1 ratio
- Gulfport, MI, negotiated a 6-to-1 conversion ratio
- Tampa, FL, negotiated a 10-t0-1 ratio
- St. Petersburg, FL, negotiated a 13-to-1 ratio
May my city prohibit new billboards?
Most likely, yes. Time and again, courts have affirmed the rights of communities to ban billboards based on safety and aesthetic concerns.
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