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Did you know?
Mobile billboard advertising offers a 97% recall rate. Compare that to 19% retention rate for static signs.
Mobile billboard advertising generates 2.5 times more attention than a static billboard according to Perception Research
Billboard Advertising; Then & Now
Ourdoor advertising is the oldest form of advertising of all.
It all started with Egyptian merchants who chiseled sales messages on stone tablets and placed them along public roadways.
As early as the mid 1800s, billboard posting companies started popping up, including John Donnelley in Boston (1850), Thomas Cusack Company in Chicago (1875), and O.J. Gude in Brooklyn (1878).
The large American outdoor poster, which was more than 50 square feet, originated in New York in Jared Bellís office where he printed posters for the circus in 1835.
By the 1870s, developments in color lithography added new and creative possibilities for advertising design.
Posting "bills" on wooden boards in the late 19th century led to the birth of the term "billboard."
The outdoor advertising industry as a whole made its first organizing efforts in 1872; subsequent organizations eventually became the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), which still is the main industry association for outdoor advertising today.
Technological improvements in printing made it possible to print larger sheets that could be mounted in several pieces to create much larger posters. Circuses and theaters were early users of this form of advertising, which often was posted willy-nilly on fences and buildings.
As business owners and marketers posted their "bills" everywhere they could, it became evident that some level of standardization for an acceptable and consistent method for posting advertising was needed. The standardization issue was first resolved in 1900, with the design of a structure that could hold varying numbers of poster sheets each 42" x 28" in size. It was an important step toward the billboard's acceptance as a responsible advertising medium.
After the war, the outdoor advertising industry flourished. More and more Americans were buying cars, and as author James Fraser has written, "The automobile was the essential element for billboard expansion."
In February 1934, the industry established the Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB) to provide advertisers with data to determine outdoor audience size. In 1958, Congress passed the first federal legislation to voluntarily control billboards along Interstate highways. The law was known as the Bonus Act because states were given bonus incentives to control signs.
On October 22, 1965 the Highway Beautification Act was signed into law by President Johnson. It controlled billboards on Interstate and federal-aid primary highways by limiting billboards to commercial and industrial areas, and by requiring states to set size, lighting and spacing standards and requiring just compensation for removal of lawfully erected signs.
Today, digital technology has transformed the industry yet again. Hand painted billboards are replaced by computer generated outdoor advertising.
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