USA Lagging Behind in Outdoor Digital Signs

Posted by: Richard Williams | Posted on: | 0 Comments

In the UK and Europe, outdoor digital signage is thriving. In the UK, for instance, digital not takes up 12 percent of all outdoor adverts and is continuing to rise, while along main highway corridors such as the M4 motorway into London, huge digital billboards display messages to motorists entering the capital.

Many of these are national campaigns too, with the big outdoor advertisers investing heavily on outdoor digital, with year-on-year growth on outdoor digital signs.

In the United States, however, things are a lot different. Out of about 60,000 outdoor billboards, only an estimated 2,700 of these are digital—less than five percent!

But what are the reasons for the USA’s reticence to outdoor digital? Well, there appears to be several factors:

Legal and Local Resistance to Digital

One of the reasons for far fewer outdoor digital signs in the USA is resistance. Many counties have banned them outright, while others have moratoriums in place preventing any new signs being erected. Campaigners against digital billboards often cite two reasons for their resistance:

Safety—a common reason for banning digital billboards is on safety grounds. Campaigners claim they are distracting to driver, with them even being compared to television on sticks. However, despite no study providing evidence for these safety concerns, this argument refuses to go away. But, if you look to the UK and Europe, where motorway systems have higher speed limits than US highways, no increases in accidents around roadside digital billboards have ever been reported.

Aesthetics—Scenic America and other campaign groups often cite aesthetics as another reason for prohibiting outdoor digital signage; however, in a nation where the roadside billboard has become part of highway culture, are digital signs any less aesthetic to look at than rickety old wooden billboards with faded and ripped signs?

Lack of Critical Mass

In a catch-22 situation, with so few screens, advertisers are being put off because they want national coverage. Of course, without the advertisers, new signs are difficult to justify with the initially high investments of a digital billboard. However, until there are more billboards, advertisers will be reluctant to advertise and vice-versa.

It is hoped falling costs for outdoor digital signage may improve the situation enabling more outdoor advertising companies to invest in outdoor digital, which should attract more companies to advertise.

Digital Billboard M4 London

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