Why Billboards survived The Internet Attack

The internet has destroyed newspapers, magazines, radio and television advertising. They have reduced once-strong networks into struggling enterprises with depressed stock prices. Yet billboards stand alone as the only one of the old-fashioned advertising methods that seems free from disturbance from an on-line marketing world. Why is that?


Billboards have one unique feature that no other form of advertising can match: the ability to be “point-of-purchase”. There’s no way that an ad on a laptop can hit you right as you pass a McDonald’s – but a billboard can. The words “exit now” are extremely powerful and can make or break many advertisers: especially those reliant on highway traffic as their customer base.

Does not require content to make you look at them

One thing that killed newspapers and magazines was that you had to pay money to get them, but the internet is free. Without paying customers for their content, nobody sees the ads. Billboards, however, do not require content to thrive. You are stuck with them as you drive down the highway and they don’t have to provide any great articles to get you to look.


CPM stands for “cost per thousand exposures” and the lower the CPM the better, as it measures the cost of how much the advertiser pays to reach 1,000 viewers. Billboards have always had the lowest CPM of all advertising types, mainly because of the high levels of road traffic vs. an overall low price. If you look at a standard billboard on a major freeway with 100,000 viewers per day (pretty standard) at an ad rate of $1,000 per month (pretty standard) the CPM is $10. The CPM of pay per click on the internet, by example is $1,000 (assuming $1 per click).

Capture an audience that is stuck and bored

One great thing about billboards is that they are on the right side of the traffic in America trend of longer commutes and greater congestion. This gives billboards a lot longer exposure to customers and this fact is not lost on advertisers. While the internet ads have to fight for attention from a sea of competitive ones, billboards sit there by themselves with nothing but bored folks looking on.


Billboards are a terrific value and have held up well under the pressure of the internet. At this point – a couple decades since the internet took over – they have proven their place in the marketplace, and are a safe zone for investment in a rapidly changing world.

By Frank Rolfe

Frank Rolfe has been a commercial real estate investor for almost three decades, and currently holds nearly $1 billion of properties in 25 states. His books and courses on commercial property acquisitions and management are among the top-selling in the industry.