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Posts Tagged ‘Jared Bell

“I think that I shall never see / A billboard lovely as a tree. / Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, / I’ll never see a tree at all.”*…

Billboards date back (at least) to Egyptian dynastic times. They’ve become a staple of modern advertising– and like the rest of that field, are being redefined by technology…

As a concept, billboards are simple. They’re just a big board conveying a message. But their use requires a purpose and before the Industrial Revolution, only governments and rulers really had a need to communicate with large groups. Then Jared Bell had a need of his own.

The explosion of commerce in the 19th century resulting from the steam engine and other innovations created much of our modern world. But it was the invention of lithography in the 1790s by Alous Senefelder allowing for the mass production of printed color flyers and posters that allowed for modern billboards. Jared Bell was an event promoter in 1830s New York seeking to drum up business for the Ringling Brothers Circus. And that’s the story of how Jared Bell became the father of billboards

In any case, the idea quickly caught on… by 1900, “a standardized billboard structure was established in America,” allowing for national advertising campaigns from newly emergent national brands like Coca-Cola and Kellogg. And with the popularity of the automobile along with the reshaping of cities to suit roads, billboards became a staple of modern life in many countries or wherever market share was up for grabs.

The future is digital, in all fields but especially with advertising. Static billboards that need to be replaced by hand are giving way to digital displays that can be updated remotely. In some instances, this also allows for some pretty nifty interactive content. 

Smartphone apps are letting consumers directly participate with digital billboards, as seen in campaigns from Audi and American Eagle. A British Airways campaign from 2013 called “Look Up” used a massive video screen in London’s Piccadilly Circus to feature an ad with a child following real flights that passed overhead…

Advertisers are now placing big bets on digital alternatives with one research group expecting a 7.5 percent compound annual growth in the market until 2028. Currently, the digital signage market is worth more than $20 billion. With digital billboards representing just 4 percent of the outdoor advertising market, it will be quite a will before they have anywhere near the ubiquity of traditional options.

Advertisers focusing on billboards are especially bullish on digital technology because of increased competition for attention and consumer awareness. One advertising firm framed the issue almost like an existential crisis, “Today’s consumers are much smarter and well informed than they were 30 years ago; therefore, merely repeating a message to the average individual is not a viable strategy for return on investment. In 2021, along with a great website design, Google SEO, and content creation, advertisers will need to incorporate technology and customer preference in their advertising models to keep the spirit of advertising alive.” 

Like any good salespeople, this increased competition isn’t a problem but an opportunity to incorporate digital billboards into advertising campaigns because “experts also believe that out-of-home advertising is making a comeback because consumers are getting tired of the constant bombardment of advertisements on their phones.”…

The evolution– and the future– of the billboard, an object that very much tends to keep pace with the times: “Billboard Empire,” From Andrew Egan in @readtedium.

* Ogden Nash

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As we obey, we might recall that on this date in 1982 the #1 song in the U.S. was “Don’t You Want Me,” by The Human League (and “the second British Invasion”was underway).

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