Billboards have long been a staple of outdoor advertising. We see them everywhere, from highways to the tops of buildings. While people often walk past them on a day-to-day basis, very few wonder how the advertisement actually gets onto the billboard. Who does it? How much does it cost? If you’re an advertiser who’s looking to tap into the outdoor market, it is crucial to learn how to get a billboard. After all, you don’t want to be limited to handing out flyers on the street (although that has its benefits too). Most advertisers want something big and bold. Something that’ll be witnessed by a large audience.

Here are a few easy steps to getting a billboard.

Step 1: Get a Vague Understanding of What Your Billboard Will Look Like

illustration of people brainstorming

How to Get a Billboard

This is the first part of the planning stage. Within every creative medium, there must be a dedicated period for brainstorming. Without knowing the size and location of your future billboard, it is impossible to set your design in stone. However, without having a rough concept of what things will look like, it’ll be difficult to find that perfect billboard for you.

Designing a billboard is much like brainstorming for a commercial. You must ask yourself these basic questions:

  • What is the subject matter of my billboard?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What will the personality of this ad be? Will it be funny? Emotional? Informative?
  • What is the purpose of this ad?

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Step 2: Research Types of Billboards, and Decide What’s Right For You

Coca-cola billboard and poster

How to Get a Billboard

When picturing a billboard, many people think of a large, rectangular bulletin on top of a tall building. Usually with a painted-on, or attached picture. This indeed is what most people see when driving to work or walking by. However, there is much more that goes into crafting these giant signs. Contrary to popular belief, there are many types of billboards to choose from;

  • Classic Billboard: These are also known as Bulletins, and are most likely to be seen on a daily basis. Known to be very large, classic billboards are designed to capture the attention of both pedestrians and traffic. 
  • Vinyl Billboard: Similar to classic billboards, although they have a much brighter appearance. They are long-lasting and consistently spread with UV defensive paint. Vinyl is the most popular material to use for billboard ads.
  • Painted Billboard: A billboard advertisement that is hand-painted instead of printed on. While these tend to have a lot of detail, they require more effort– and often more money. Painted billboards have been going out of style in recent years.
  • Poster Billboard: Think of these as mini billboards. Normally used to advertise local products and services.
  • Junior Posters: If posters are mini billboards, then junior posters are the fun-size billboards. Used for getting your ad close to where people are already purchasing your products.

Step 3: Scout Locations To Get A Billboard

a map

How to Get a Billboard

Location is the most important component of a billboard. It is crucial to target high-traffic areas, with the demographics of your target audience. If your company makes products for teenagers, for example, it is a good idea to place your billboard near a mall. If you’re marketing to a general family, placing your advertisement near a school or a grocery store is a great way to go.

While driving through your targeted city or town, it may seem as though all the billboards are filled up. If you’re lucky, you may find the perfect billboard that says “place your ad here.” Unfortunately, few can say this has worked for them.

There is no need to worry; thousands of billboards go on the market each day, and you don’t need to drive in circles to find them. This is where the beauty of the internet comes in. Every existing billboard is owned by a company. You’ll usually find that they are owned by a major establishment such as:

In addition to these brands, you can also find local companies that have their billboards in specific areas. When researching billboards, you should still visit the listed location. This will give you a coherent idea of what your billboard will look like, and what the view will be.

If you do happen to find an available billboard while out and about, you can normally find the owner’s contact info on the skirt of the sign, or just below the actual ad. 

Step 4: Find A Deal That Works Best For You

man counting money

How to Get a Billboard

After finding the owner of your chosen billboard, you must negotiate a rental agreement. Once you confirm that the spot is indeed available, you can exercise your communication skills. Professionally conduct yourself while asserting your wants and needs. 

Some companies may not offer discounts unless you ask, so don’t be afraid to ask away! Be sure to ask if you can get a discount when taking a longer lease, or when purchasing more than one of their billboards.

If your billboard is in clear view from multiple angles, and in a location with lots of traffic, it is likely in high demand. These billboards may need to be snatched up quickly, and with little negotiation. 

Depending on the billboard you wish to rent, they can cost anywhere from $750 to $14,000 a month. To give a more concrete idea: it’s $750 to $15,000 in rural areas and $1,500 to $2,000 in cities. If you’re looking at larger markets, then you may get charged a whopping $14,000. It is critical to communicate wisely to get a billboard that suits your budget. 

Step 5: Choose Your Materials And Installation Process

A billboard being replaced

How to Get a Billboard
From Billboard Insider

Most billboard companies will take care of the ad installation for you. Though it is always wise to shop around and find the best deal for your vision. Depending on what type of billboard you’re creating, and whatever restrictions the owner may have, you’ll need various materials, like plastic, vinyl, or paint.

Some companies will raise prices if you’re not purchasing materials from them. So if you’re getting things from somewhere else, try to keep it on the down-low.

Step 6: Create Your Official Design

A large billboard advertisement

How to Get a Billboard

If there’s one fun aspect to getting a billboard, it’s designing your ad. There are three main things to consider when crafting your billboard advertisement; size, impact, and memory. 


First things first; you must calculate the exact size of your purchased billboard. Your billboard provider will supply you with this information, though in case you need a rough estimate on how to scale your ad:

  • Bulletin Billboard: 14ft x 48ft
  • Poster Billboard: 12ft x 24ft
  • Junior Posters: 5ft x 11ft

While sizes are sure to vary depending on location or provider, these general measurements can be used when brainstorming.


Let’s be real for a second, people generally don’t care about the advertisements they see in passing. People skip YouTube ads, ignore salespeople, and pass by billboards without giving them a second thought. That is why a good advertisement works to grab the attention of its audience before hooking them with a message.

It is always a great idea to use bold, complementary colors, along with distinct typography. Furthermore, you’ll want to use equally daring and colorful imagery. 


Finally, your design needs to be memorable. Even after an onlooker glances at your billboard and moves on, you want your ad to stay with them. Memory is the thing that turns a target audience into potential customers. 

There are many ways to make a lasting impression. Adding a good call to action tells the reader exactly what to do when they encounter your brand. You can also use a slogan, a mascot, or just an interesting visual in general.

A billboard ad from Nike

How to Get a Billboard

You may want to hire a graphic designer or get input from one. Nobody wants to drop thousands on a billboard ad, only for it to look sloppy and unprofessional. Most people need to take design classes to create the billboards seen on their daily strolls. 

While getting a billboard can be a time-consuming endeavor, it is very profitable and rewarding for any marketer.