Is your brand wasting money on that billboard ad? 81% of Nigerians say…

The Issue

In today’s world, advertisements are everywhere. Every day, the average person is exposed to 6,000 to 10,000 advertisements. While digital advertisements account for a large portion of those ads, traditional ads such as billboards continue to capture a significant amount of our attention. If you’ve ever driven on a highway or taken a stroll, you’ve probably noticed the billboard advertisements that line both sides of the road. Billboards are so commonplace that they are now used as landmarks for directions.


But even though so many billboards are scattered along our everyday routes, and perhaps many unconsciously view them, is billboard advertising a truly effective strategy for brands?


Outdoor media advertising is still one of the most effective ways to get consumers to take action. According to a survey conducted by Arbitron, 71% of Americans admit to looking at billboard messages while driving. A total of 28% of the billboard viewers jot down the service provider’s contact information, usually the website address. Furthermore, 26% use the direct contact number that is advertised on billboards. These figures demonstrate that drivers are still willing to respond to a billboard message despite being focused on the road. According to the Arbitron research, 32% of drivers visited a business advertising on a billboard at some point throughout the week. Half of the respondents said the billboard ad had given them directions to a given business.


A Nielsen survey also found that most people who see a billboard will glance at the message at least some of the time. Those who view it are roughly half as likely to strongly engage with the advertisement, meaning they’ll remember it and act on the billboard’s call to action.


These statistics show that billboards are an effective means of advertising and can be used to draw a consumer’s attention to a brand. However, do these numbers translate to the Nigerian market as well?

The Question

Outdoor billboards are intended to increase or reinforce brand awareness and enhance the advertiser’s image, not to provide excessive information. An advertisers’ ultimate objective is to increase brand recall and make their brand a household name. In a study published in 2019 by an associate professor of marketing, Jusuf Zekiri, it was stated that, “consumers agree that billboard advertising is important and has an impact on consumer purchase decisions.”


However, billboards in Nigeria can be extremely costly. The pricing range for each size is decided by various factors, including circulation, demography, and impressions. The volume of traffic passing by the billboard is used to determine its circulation. The number of individuals who saw the advertising is used to calculate impressions. This is determined by the billboard’s visibility from the road, size, and the speed of traffic on the nearby road, all of which are determined by the billboard’s circulation. Billboard pricing will be greatest in locations with high revenue areas, high traffic, and visibility.


In addition, the hassle of getting a billboard advert is quite tenuous. A brand is expected to contact a media buying agency, set out a contract, pick the billboard type, location, design, get it authorised by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), print, and ultimately install the billboard.


In Nigeria, the cost of a single billboard can range from N160k ($450) to N2.5 million ($7,000) each month, depending on the location, type of billboard, and the other criteria listed above. Depending on the turnaround time, the vetting charge might range from N25,000 to N280,000 per ad. Considering all of these factors, as well as financial concerns, no firm wants to invest so much money, and effort and not see a return. 


A case study in Ethiopia declared that billboards are the most preferred advertising medium in developing nations. The reasons for adopting billboards include tangible reaction, media efficiency, location, and exposure. However, the report does not go into detail on how citizens react to billboards. Does it leave an impression? Do Nigerians remember such ads? Should businesses still invest so much money on billboards?

Consumers agree that billboard advertising is important and has an impact on consumer purchase decisions.
Jusuf Zekiri

What The Streets Are Saying

Among our national focus group, 48% of Nigerians said they occasionally looked at billboards, 33% said they pay much attention to them, 12% said ‘no’, and 6% said ‘maybe’. Interestingly, most individuals (42%) indicated they would not be more likely to buy a product if they saw it advertised on a billboard. If they saw a billboard advertisement for a product, 33% indicated they would be more likely to buy it. However, 24.3% of respondents indicated it might depend on the billboard’s content and message.


When asked how well people recall billboard advertisements, most Nigerians (59.4%) said they remember them only if they see them numerous times. A total of 25% of those polled said they remembered the brand and product, but not the advertisement message. Only 3% said they remembered the advertisement’s message. Additionally, 3% said they remembered the brand but not the product, and 3% said they had no recollection at all.


The majority of Nigerians (68.8%) believe that powerful graphics are the key to creating a memorable advertisement. A total of 53.1% mentioned ‘readability’, 53.1% said ‘clever and creative’, 50% mentioned ‘message clarity’, and 46.9% said the billboard’s ‘location’ makes it a memorable billboard advertisement for them. Only 6.3% indicated that a memorable billboard ad for them was due to ‘name recognition’. Furthermore, a staggering 81.8% of people declared that a billboard ad is an effective way to promote a brand. Only 12.2% of those surveyed said ‘no’, with 3% saying ‘maybe’.

These responses demonstrate that billboards are equally as powerful as other kinds of advertising, if not more so. The main advantage that this form provides is that customers are unable to close or block advertisements. While drivers may turn down the volume or subscribe to an ad-free channel, they jeopardise their safety by diverting their gaze away from the road. With little else to keep them occupied, they’re likely to spend a few seconds staring at a billboard.


Billboards also give brand repetition and exposure. As seen by the questionnaire responses, it is clear that repeated exposure will ensure that Nigerians recall the advertisements. It’s also critical that your company develops a billboard that people can’t miss. People are more likely to pay attention to your brand’s ad messaging if you create a memorable experience through your billboard design and messaging. As a business, make sure you are advertising your brand in a distinctive, unique, and consumable way. You only have a few seconds to make an excellent first impression; therefore, every second matters.


Media buying strategist, Adzufeh Mse, explains that “billboards or general out-of-home adverts are effective for the top of mind because they are usually huge and catchy. If a billboard consistently appears on your normal route, that’s what sticks in your mind.” She confirms the results of our survey, stating that “the type of advert a brand places is what makes it effective. 


“It’s always better if a brand has a billboard mounted for a long period. For example, a static billboard should be up for at least three months to achieve maximum effectiveness,” she adds.


Above all, your brand must understand what it’s trying to accomplish with the advertising. If you want to raise brand recognition for your business, billboard advertising might be a fantastic method to do so. However, as our analysis shows, it’s preferable to stick to other types of advertisements if your brand is expecting to improve sales.


  • AbdulRoheem
    July 7, 2021 at 7:50 am

    I like the last paragraph best… Billboards may be better for brand recognition and other forms of advertisements maybe better with improving sales… 👏🏾👏🏾

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