Billboards line the highways and are placed on the sides of buildings, peddling products and getting out messages. Originally, billboards existed alongside. Later they replaced advertisements, painted directly on the sides of buildings or designed on roofs in shingle patterns. There are many kinds of billboards, including traditional, mechanical, digital, even mobile billboards.
Billboard media advertising is used to advertise national or global brands, particularly in more densely populated urban areas. Top three companies, advertising on billboards, in 2003 were McDonald's, Anheuser-Bush and Miller (according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America). Wireless phone companies, movie companies, cars manufacturers and banks are high on the list as well.
Chris Hunton, the deputy chairman of the brand's agency, McCann-Erickson, London, said: "Only great advertising is good enough to create sustainable long-term powerful brands." The task of billboard media advertising is not to create long-term powerful brands, but to create a memorable impression very quickly and to catch a person's attention. Billboard media advertising, presented in billboards, is designed to leave a reader, thinking about the advertisement after they have driven past it. They are usually read, while being passed at a high speed; thus, there are usually only a few words in a large print and a humorous or arresting image in a brilliant colour.
Sometimes billboard designs spill outside the actual space, given to them by the billboard, with parts of figures, hanging off the billboard edges. A humorous example in the United States around in the twenty first century were the Chick-fill-A billboards (a chicken sandwich fast food chain), which had three-dimensional cow figures in the act of painting the billboards with misspelled anti-beef slogans, such as "frendz dont let frendz eat beef."
Some of the most noticeable places for billboard media advertising are alongside highways. Passing drivers typically have little to occupy their attention; hence, the impact of the billboard media advertising is greater. There were approximately four hundred and fifty thousand billboards along the United States highways as in 1991. In Europe billboards are a major component and a source of income in urban street furniture concepts.
Many cities have high densities of billboards, especially in places, where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. A good example of that is the Times Square in New York City. Due to the lack of space in cities, these billboards are often painted or hung on the sides of buildings.
The hhighway billboard media advertising advertises local restaurants and shops. They are crucial for drawing the business in small towns that no one would stop at otherwise. One brilliant example is Wall Drug, which in 1931 put up the billboards advertising "free ice water" and the town of Wall, South Dakota, as it is known today, was essentially built around twenty thousand customers per day. Some signs were even placed in locations of a great distance away with slogans, such as "only 827 miles to Wall Drug, with FREE ice water." However, after the Highway Beautification Act was passed, the situation changed.