Reinventing the Billboard (Part 1)

Reinventing the Billboard (Part 1)

History of Billboard

If you think about it the idea of advertising must go back quite a way. In essence, it is a form of broadcast that is designed to get your message to someone who isn’t here right now. Or perhaps you are not where they are right this minute. If you go back a fair way you could see Egyptian hieroglyphics, or the pyramids themselves to get across a message. Even further back sending up a smoke signal may pass as advertising, or even further still traditional tattoos or rock art.

Modern day techniques

None of which are particularly useful today.

Today when you think about creating new customers, creating new engagement paradigms or more simply building pipeline, you are now faced with a pretty comprehensive list of tactics.

Day #1 who is our customer or what do we want to say? What content or message or asset do we need to build? How are we “advertising” that message? Through which channel?

Given the options of social, media sites, EDM’s, PR, videos etc. marketing and associated ideas of broadcasting your message is as one website described it, is a “bouillabaisse of methods”.

The biggest challenge of this bouillabaisse (and I encourage you to use that word now wherever you go) is that it presumes a one-way dialogue and is predicated on assumptions of potential interest. Those assumptions are based around data collection and big data, and for the most part, few companies can afford the sophistication or expense of such needle-in-a-hay-stake personalisation of their messaging.


So, we look to a new form of personalised communication such as merchandising, which hopefully the consumer takes home with them and hopefully reminds them of who we are when we are not there. The big challenge with merchandising is currency. Most merchandise has a half-life of about a day. Further, it is not personalised beyond what was a momentary connection at the time of merchandise handoff.

So, you say to yourself, who looks at merchandising these days anyway? The truth is, like tattooing, some techniques may have been around for a while, but we still use them. There are many businesses offering tailored mugs, t-shirts, golf balls and wine glasses. Furthermore, product placement and associated merchandising from movies keep this part of the industry very much alive.

But we are still not there yet, are we? We have still not connected our products to the consumer in a way that speaks to them. We still pick at the edges of creating engagement beyond the brand. Which is what makes the in-home device trend quite fascinating.

How are you interacting with your customers? is it a two way street or a highway with a billboard on it?