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How Can You Know If Your Billboard is “Catchy” Enough to Generate Leads in Today's Ever-Changing, Tech-Driven Market?

Adam Cellary
Adam Cellary, Founder of RealEye
8 min read

Billboards Are a $33.5 Billion a Year Industry

Although digital marketing is all the rage these days, offline marketing and traditional advertising media are still forces to be reckoned with.

According to Mikhael Marchenko, CEO and co-founder of StickerRide, “The Out-Of-Home (OOH) advertising market in the United States is $7.3 billion and growing.” He goes on to state that, “consumers have multiple encounters with OOH advertising every day, so for brands it is important to target in order to receive nationwide coverage and to increase brand awareness.”

Billboards are still one of the most common traditional methods to advertise a product or service.

Billboards have only been around for about 150 years (having their origins in circus sideshows like P.T. Barnum's “The Greatest Show on Earth”), first appearing in the United States and then quickly spreading like wildfire across all corners of the globe.

Now it's hard to imagine a world without them.

Marketers since the early 1920s have predicted the inevitable death of billboard advertisements - first with the appearance of radio, then decrying their soon-to-be waning popularity as television took hold, and then again with the advent of the Internet and the tech revolution.

But their dire warnings and predictions of demise have proven to be untrue and unfounded.

The billboard ad spend market is actually increasing in revenue, with projections for billboard advertisements to have grown 3% from 2017 to 2018. Out-Of-Home market (billboards represent 66% of OOH market) noticed consecutive growth for the past few years and a 35% increase in advertisement spend since 2010.

Moreover, billboards are expected to rise to a $33.5 billion industry by 2021.

Is it worth it?

It seems like a lot, but when looking at CPM index (Cost Per Mille - the cost for every 1,000 people who see the ad), it turns out that the average CPM ad cost for billboards equals about $5.22.

Billboards vs other media comparison


Only radio ads are cheaper...

What if you can find out the effectiveness of a billboard ad campaign BEFORE paying for it?

With, you can conduct your research before placing a billboard, and get all the KPIs and results you need (even as soon as the next business day) using our online eye-tracking technology. Just upload your creations and we'll send you actionable insights and engagement results provided by panelists from all over the world.

Eye-tracking enables you to learn first-hand what people see, how fast they are noticing the elements displayed, and what “catches” their attention the most.

RealEye engine for billboards in action

Those are key factors to implementing a data-driven, ROI-centered OOH marketing plan, particularly in advertising and UX/CRO markets.

The more attention the product gets, the more successful it becomes.

With RealEye eye-tracking you can check how your billboard performs compared to others.

So, how exactly does this work? provides the possibility to check your ads in two ways:

  1. It enables you to make A/B testing of your designs.
  2. It compares them with other designs from the worldwide billboard base (or your historical designs) and shows a percentage score.
  3. It enables you to check if elements of your design have attention grabbing potential in line with your expectations.

Simply put several of your ad designs (vertical or horizontal), and have actionable, data-driven results from your eye-tracking system even by the next working day.

Methodology and Process

Several groups of independent panelists will see a different combination of your designs put in different placements. Every image will be displayed for exactly 4 seconds.

The received data is taken from an AOI (Area of Interest) of every billboard in every placement, resulting in the final score based on the equation below.

Placement Score:

Placement Score calculated from AOIs
  • n ∈ [1; N] - given placement
  • N - number of placements
  • avg. time - average time per view is the total time spent by panelists on a given area divided by the number of panelists.
  • viewed by is a percentage of people who have seen the given area.
  • first view is the time that panelists needed on average to look at the given area for the first time (the lower the value, the better, so it's a denominator).

Score from every placement is averaged and presented as a percentage score in scale between the best and the worst billboard score in the current base.

Attention Score:

Attention Score calculated from AOIs
  • Snmin, Snmax - minimum and maximum values of ads at given placement (n)

Let's see how it works with 3 examples.

Here we have 3 ads: Samsung S10, Victoria's Secret and KCHC, a healthcare marketplace insurance company.

They were put in 3 different public placements, so 9 combinations were available, resulting in 3 tests altogether. Every one of them was then shown to another group of panelists.

You can see the results below:

Attention Score benchmark

Ad scores in every placement and summed up Attention Score

What do all these numbers mean?

Let's have a look at the Samsung ad on highway placement.

The score is 0.41 which gives a 63% scale from worst to best performing score for ads in this particular placement.

But summing up all scores for this billboard, we can say that the average score is 0.57, which gives it 67% in comparison to the other ads.

You can say that this ad is better than average.

An iPhone ad gained an average score (attention score) equal to 0.7, so 83% in comparison with the others.

Thus, we can conclude it's a very good ad.

Design Score:

There is one more thing that you may want to find out about your billboard - is the attention, that your design grabs, distributed in a way you wanted?

With RealEye it's now possible to analyze.

Let's see how it works on an example.

Here's an iPhone ad. Let's assume the designer wanted the brand name to catch 10% of viewers attention, sentence “Brilliant. In every way.” 30% and the visual 60%.

Then we can test our hypothesis by measuring the actual attention using eye-tracking data. The attention is expressed as an exposure time, which is a percentage of a total time that viewers spent looking at chosen area.

iPhone ad Design Score

A design score informs how close to assumed attention distribution is tested design. In this case the visual part was noticed as planned (60% vs. 66%, claim “Brilliant. In every way” got ~12ppt less attention than expected and the brand got only 3% of attention while the desired level was on 10%.

Potential improvements: brand and claim visibility should be improved by making it bigger

Summing it All Up

The OOH market is a huge and still growing market. Looking at the CPM index, it's almost the cheapest way to advertise your product.

But instead of getting less-than-stellar feedback about how your ad design performs, you can simply A/B test your designs and compare them with others in our global database before putting your billboards up live.

Also, you can test if your ad design fulfills your assumptions

RealEye enables you to check your designs and billboard ad campaigns:

  • Easily (just upload your images)
  • Extremely Fast (by the next working day)
  • Cost-Effective (you shouldn't have to spend an arm and a leg to get real marketing insights from your OOH campaigns)

So, what are you waiting for?

Send us your contact details and one of our representatives will be in touch with you shortly about how to get started with our innovative, eye-tracking technology.

RealEye. Real results.

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