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Highway Billboards: Dinosaurs of Advertising

Scott and I have an incredible opportunity to drive to Atlanta for a SEO and SEM seminar presented by Google. Google will be speaking to internet marketers and businesses about how to make the most of Google’s product’s, Adwords and Analytics.

Sunday afternoon Scott and I take off for what should be about an 8 hour drive. As we settled into the drive, we started talking about projects that we’re currently working on and ideas of how to manage and grow our business. Just a few miles beyond the Florida/Georgia border as the landscape begins to change we saw something unexpected… and its not the trees or the license plates. We begin to see billboard after billboard that had been wrapped with advertisements for advertising ON billboards. Dozens of them! One after another. Then as we traveled further into GA, the billboards shifted to old signs. Faded and out of date. The companies that owned the billboards didn’t even bother to pull down the old displays because there probably isn’t anything to replace them with. The progression continued, in the next few miles faded billboards became empty ones. Weather had taken its toll and there didn’t appear to be any interest in posting anything new in there place.

I’m positive that there are many reasons why businesses are abandoning spending their budgets on billboards… but I do know at least some of the reason. Roadside billboards since the invention of roads, have been an incredible way for local business to grab travelers for their convenience stores, restaurants, hotels, attractions, etc. But as vehicle navigation, smart phones and other devices evolve and are incorporated into our lives, travelers are depending on them to help find the next gas station, restaurant or attraction. Passengers have become navigators, assisting drivers determine if they can make it to the next gas station. When passengers (especially children) get hungry or need to stretch their legs, we grab our smart phones and plot out the destination, completely ignoring the large roadside signs. The evidence of this is all over the landscape.

Advertising is only ever worth spending the money if it creates a return on investment (ROI). It MUST make you money. Businesses need a more cost effective way to communicate with their customers (especially if they don’t know who they are). The great news is that the internet is an incredible way to advertise and grow your business, plus many of these techniques are FREE! They just take a little elbow-grease to setup and manage. If time or know-how gets in the way, there are also wonderful people (like those guys at BlackTie) to help you out along the way 🙂