Billboards remain the most common form of out of home advertising.
There are subcategories of billboards, and one that has become increasingly popular in recent years is mobile billboards.
They’re exactly what they sound like: Billboards towed behind trucks, on flatbeds or placed on the sides of buses that tool around town, delivering your client’s message on the go.
Mobile billboards offer exceptional reach. They are visible to a lot of people in a small amount of time because they travel, and they can reach into areas in town where other media cannot.
But perhaps their greatest asset is their pop, the reaction they create with crowds when they pull into an intersection or arrive at an event.
Heads turn. People stare at their size and presence. What more could an advertiser ask for?
To compile the very best advice on buying mobile billboards for our ongoing series on out-of-home advertising, Media Life turned to our out of home advisory panel of media buyers, planners, sellers and others who have been in the field for years.
We asked them for their tips on buying mobile billboards.
They sent us back a wealth of ideas, and we have summarized their five best tips immediately below.
Below that we have included some of the best responses we received, edited for space and clarity. Media Life thanks all who contributed to this article.
Mobile billboard buying tips
1. Research the vendor extensively beforehand
There are a lot of vendors, but not all are reputable. You don’t have to go with a national one. There are many good, capable local vendors too. Make sure the vendor has:
* Vehicles they own and do not lease; it’s easier to schedule this way.
* A maintenance program for its vehicles to ensure they’re in top condition and look good when they arrive on the job.
* References you can contact.
References are particularly important. Check them out yourself. Do the legwork.
Don’t rely on the fact that a vendor is a member of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America or TAB. A lot of good companies don’t belong to either, and for any of a variety of reasons.
2. Tailor your creative message to the medium
Mobile billboards are smaller than traditional billboards. Figure the optimal viewing distance as being in the range of 20 feet or 30 feet versus 100 to 500 feet or more for highway billboards.
Creative should be in bold, contrasting colors. Keep the message short and simple, only five to seven words that can be read easily when the vehicle is in motion.
3. Pay attention to restrictions
Check out any local ordinances restricting mobile billboards in advance, of course. You are likely to find restrictions on parking in public areas.
But you should also be smart about where you send your mobile billboard.
Ideally, you are sending your billboard into areas where no other out of home message are competing for attention, say an urban neighborhood where billboards are banned.
So much of the value is in being in environments where people are not used to seeing advertising.
4. If possible go for providers with GPS Tracking
Insist on GPS tracking for your campaign. This will show where the driver goes during your contracted time.
Without GPS tracking, you really have no way of knowing whether the driver is on the route you agreed on or parked somewhere and catching some shut-eye.
Be very clear on the routes the driver will take and any hazards or problems the driver might run into along the way, such as a construction site where traffic is forced to a standstill. Sitting in traffic is time wasted.
Insist on a full explanation of what sort of reporting will be provided in terms of proof of performance, what will be included, and when it will be provided.
5. Negotiate in advance for price breaks
You can get discounts if you push, for example for multiple campaigns.
Request that the meter stay off until the vehicle has reached the starting point of the route you have selected. Don’t agree to pay for mileage from the vendor’s location.