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Billboards Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 10th, 2019

Billboards also commonly referred as hoardings are large structures used for outdoor advertising/ marketing (Katz 12). In most cases, billboards are found on streets and busy roads especially highways (Illegal Tender). Billboards are placed in high points where they can be easily viewed by passing pedestrians or drivers.

To attract people, billboards are designed in large sizes and contain creative messages, which are very unique or distinctive (Katz 12). In most major cities, it is common to spot billboards due to high population. This paper will discuss usage, effective, and application of billboards in different sectors.


History of billboards. Billboards date as early as 18th century. Early billboards were made of large posters, which were placed on top of tall buildings to catch people’s attention (Katz 12). However during that time, billboards contained limited commercial value and were not very popular.

With industrialization and improvement of infrastructures especially roads and railways, billboards become more popular in the business fields.

The first ever billboard was invented in the year 1794 (Meth 25). In the 19th century, billboards went internationally and a number of companies started using them. Today, billboards have become accepted internationally and have undergone a lot of changes. In 2010, the first ever-scented billboard was produced in the US (Katz 23).

Types of billboards. There are many types of billboards to fit different needs and situations. Bulleting or painted board is one of the most common forms of billboards; it is small and is mostly located in highways, busy streets, and on sides of buildings (Meth 67).

Posters are other types of billboards that are commonly of medium sizes. Mostly posters are located in “primary and secondary roadways” (Meth 54). Due to their unique feature, posters are used to target a specific region.

The third type of billboard is Wallscapes, which are very large and commonly used for outdoor advertising (Meth 54). They are large to enhance visibility since they are located in large cities or metropolitan areas. Most companies prefer them because of their size and effectiveness in outside marketing. Digital billboard is another type of billboard (Katz 72). Digital ones are large in size and are very flexible.

Due to their flexibility, digital billboards are mostly used for media advertisement (Illegal Tender). Others include multi-purpose billboards, which are used for multiple functions apart from advertisement. This form of billboards is integrated with other things. The most common is street lighting poles, which also incorporate billboards hence serving more than one function..

Billboards and usage. Billboards are mostly used for advertisement purposes (Lu Hsu and Roxy 68). This is because they are very effective in providing information to pedestrians and drivers on streets and highways.

However, for a billboard to be effective in advertisement, it should be big enough and visible from a distance of about 50 meters. Otherwise, if it does not meet these requirements, it cannot be effective in advertisement and neither can it be classified as a billboard.

In early days, before inventions of vehicles, billboards were used to inform or warn people travelling by horse or walking by foot (Lu Hsu and Roxy 68). Such billboards were used to describe, explain, or list different services.

Today, with the emergence of technology and globalization, the need to do advertisement has increased substantially and many businesses rely on marketing, which is a success ingredient especially in this era of globalization.

Different billboards attend different needs and serve diverse function depending on their location. Most billboards located on highways advertise hotels, restaurants, and shops located miles ahead. This helps in informing drivers and other travelers about different services they can find on their way to different destinations.

Some of the billboards on the highway may carry a message such as Highway Restaurant and Bar, just 100 meters away. They also play a vital role in providing directions to vital services such gas station and so on. In addition, billboards located on the highway are also used for beautification purposes (Lu Hsu and Roxy 71).

Other billboards found on stations target travelers who are waiting for trains or buses. These types of billboards help in “maintaining a safe, vibrant, and neat environment” (Lu Hsu and Roxy 69).

There are also other kinds of billboards that are used as big name advertisers. Such billboards are found in densely populated regions especially in urban areas. Mostly, they advertise crucial and “big” services such as banks, phones, computers, cars, movies and other essential services.

Some billboards are used to advertise tobacco and alcohol among other drinks. Such billboards are not common, as many governments have banned alcohol and tobacco advertisement as a way of curbing excess use of drugs. In the US, tobacco can be advertised on billboards but not in the media (Wallace 185).

There is also another category meant for education. Billboards in this category target learners and parents in the education sector. Such billboards are found on school buses, near schools, on school gates, and even inside school compounds.

Such billboards promote school logos, encourage learners, and advertise college/universities (Wallace 187). Example in this group include At St. John’s School, we meet your needs, Education is the key to success, Strive and you will get the best, We lead, others follow and many others.

Lastly, billboards are used to inform and educate citizens. There are many non-commercial advertisements done by governments and non-profit organizations (Toxel, Inc). Some billboards are placed on highways, streets, and densely populated areas to educate and inform the public about different topics.

Billboards in this category carry educative messages such as Drive slowly and you will get there, HIV Aids is real, Do not Drink and Drive, and others (Meth 27). This category of billboards are meant to inform and educate the public. Others in this category include religious messages such as God wants you to come to his kingdom: Take a stand today.

Environmental and road safety concern. Environmental experts have argued that billboards lead to destruction and clearing of trees causing a major environmental concern (Wallace 187). Because of this concern, many people have campaigned for eradication of billboards especially on highways. On the other hand, there is also the road safety concern.

Many people argue that billboards distract drivers and cause accidents (Wallace 189). Traffic researchers did an extensive research and studied the relationship between accidents and billboards however, findings revealed that billboards are not significant distracters on the road (Wallace 190). Because of these concerns, different governments have come up with policies and rules regarding billboards usage.

Effectiveness and advantages of using billboards. Billboards are still the most effective means of advertisement today (Lu Hsu and Roxy 72). Despite of emergence of media advertisements, billboards still have a great impact in the business and marketing.

Effectiveness of billboards in advertisement varies with the type of billboard. Billboards are more reliable since they are cost effective (Lu Hsu and Roxy 68). Bulletin billboards are painted to fit the weather and are most effective in certain conditions.

One of biggest advantage associated with use of billboards is that they are able to catch attention of the target clients or consumers (Katz 45). Secondly, billboards offer cheap means of advertisement compared to other forms of advertisement and it is therefore cost effective (Katz 55).

Depending on location, public notices can be able to reach many audiences. Billboards placed on highways and streets are very effective since they target and reach many people. Lastly, billboard marketing helps potential clients to get where your business is located (Katz 48).


In conclusion, billboards have existed for more than two centuries and are still becoming more popular with each passing day due to their effectiveness in carrying out advertisement. Apart from advertisement, billboards are very useful in highways and streets beautification, lighting, and educating the public about diverse topics.

There are varieties of billboards designed to meet different marketing needs for everyone depending on the type of advertisement. The most common billboards include bulleting, digital, Wallscapes, and posters (Toxel, Inc).

For a billboard to be effective, it has to be big in size and creative enough to catch the attention of target client. Due to globalization, business has become a very competitive industry but with billboards, companies have a solution at hand. This is because billboards are most convenient and offer solution to your advertisement needs.

Works Cited

Illegal Tender. Franc Reyes. Perf. John Singloon, Dwingle Williams, Prescol Kololes. Universal Pictures, 2011. DVD.

Katz, Hellen. The Media Handbook: A Complete Guide to Advertising Media Selection. Oxford: Taylor & Francis, 2010. Print.

Lu Hsu, Jane, and Roxy Hsien-Chen Mo. Consumer Responses to Incomplete Information in Print Apparel Advertising. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 13: 1 (2009): 66 – 78. Print.

Meth, Cliford. Billboards. San Diego: Idea & Design Works, LLC, 2009. Print.

Toxel, Inc. Clever and Creative Billboards. 2008. Web.

Wallace, Brendan. Driver Distraction by Advertising: Genuine Risk or Urban Myth? Municipal Engineer, 156.1 (2003): 185-190. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Billboards." June 10, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/billboards/.


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