Consider it the latest wave in billboard advertising. As commuter traffic increasingly grinds to a halt, the $2 billion-plus billboard industry naturally looks to position itself as the advertising medium that all eyes are upon. Yet seeing is no longer the entirety of believing--not when "talking" billboards are beginning to stir up a marketing storm.
"As far as I'm concerned, putting sound to billboards is as obvious as putting it to movies," says Andrew Milder, president of Business Broadcast Systems in Los Angeles, which helps usher billboard advertisers out of the silent era. "You're not going to have 100 percent listenership like you do in movie theaters--but it's certainly worthwhile."
What exactly is a talking billboard? Through the use of text, these billboards direct commuters to tune in to a specific frequency on their radio dials. Generally effective within a one-mile radius, the FCC-approved frequency plays a commercial message that's 30 seconds to a few minutes in length. "It's not like a regular radio station," says Milder, who recently worked on a nationwide billboard campaign with underwear giant Joe Boxer. "We're not trying to get people to tune in for hours on end."
When people do tune in, they'll hear anything from daily jokes and entertaining skits to phone numbers to call for more information on the sponsoring company. Not only does Milder think talking billboards are effective for virtually any type of business, he also believes the advertising vehicle itself is gaining momentum. Assures Milder, "It absolutely will become more commonplace."