An interesting advertising trend: digital billboards

The television landscape is constantly evolving. We said goodbye to the big television at the end of the 1990s. The flat screen evolved quickly and after the LCD TV and the LED TV, we have been looking at Full HD televisions for a while now. Digital technology was used in digital billboards, a form of advertising that is increasingly replacing traditional static billboards.

It’s becoming too much

Advertising has been part of our world for decades, on the street, in the written press and on television. Since the first advertising message was broadcast on television in 1967, we have been bombarded with advertising for mass products in our living rooms more and more emphatically and in original ways. Nowadays consumers find it a bit too much and are looking for ways not to be confronted with advertising all the time. On the street you can ignore the billboards, you don’t have to read the messages in newspapers and magazines, and you can zap away the commercial breaks on television.

As a result, the advertiser was forced to look for other methods to reach potential customers. He found that with ‘ product placement ‘ and he now finds it with digital billboards.

Inside and outside

We have already seen them on the street, in the football stadium or in a gas station, the digital signs with their advertising message, static or with moving images. Retailers mount the screen on a van or in the back of a truck and then park it in strategic places such as along a busy road or on a highway bridge to highlight their product. You also see LED screens popping up at the pharmacy, in the post office or at the station, but this time with more practical messages, sometimes supplemented with a weather forecast.

Outside, the large screens – often between 50 and 100 square meters – are placed on a meter-high pole. Due to the competition with daylight and sunlight, particularly high brightness is required. Its consumption therefore depends on the weather conditions: high in clear weather, less high in darker weather.

The benefits for the advertiser

  • Digital advertising has an impact on the consumer analogous to a television spot, with the difference that he cannot zap away or switch off his device, but on the contrary will be irresistibly attracted.
  • Both the static and the dynamic, moving versions attract attention from quite a distance because the screen brightness is between 50 – 100 times higher than a classic billboard with lighting.
  • The contents of the board can be changed from the computer and also adapted to local or climatic conditions.


The benefits for the provider

  • Although the investment costs for digital billboards are high, they can easily be recouped within two years because the returns are higher: the cost price for the advertiser is the same as for static billboards and you can allow several advertisers at the same time on the same advertising screen via a rotation system. that makes each message appear for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Maintenance costs are lower and you do not have to send staff out with newly printed posters. The content of the screen can be adjusted remotely via a computer.
  • You can electronically set which advertising messages are shown and when during the day and the sign can possibly switch itself off at certain hours or during the night.
  • You can adjust the speed of the number of advertising messages based on weather conditions or traffic information so that the consumer sees the maximum number of messages. For example, in traffic jams or rainy weather you can reduce the rotation speed.



In the United States, there are already more than 2,000 digital billboards installed here and there, mainly along highways. In the Netherlands, this new form of publicity would account for approximately 4% of the total volume of outdoor advertising. In England that is already 12%. No figures are yet available for Belgium.

Government information

In America, digital signs are now also used to transmit government messages: messages of general interest, traffic information or profiles of wanted criminals and missing persons. In the Netherlands they are moving in the same direction. In October 2011, digital signs were used for the first time to track down criminals.


Yet everyone does not enjoy using this new technology. In America, the non-profit organization Sceni America highlighted its ugliness. For example, real estate prices would drop significantly in close proximity to digital advertising screens.

The high energy consumption and the increased risk of traffic accidents are also objectionable to some. The screens were banned in the states of Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont. In Belgium, an analogous ban has already been imposed in the Aarschot district.