Digital Vs. Static Billboards: What Is Best for Your Business?

Digital Vs. Static Billboards

You might have encountered the digital vs. static billboards debate during your search for the best display technology for your business. These two billboards have various features that separate them from the other. This article highlights their differences to help you decide on the best choice. Read on!

Static Billboard Definition

When talking about early-age advertising, static billboards are among the earliest means of marketing and advertising. It allows marketers to display their content consistently for months or years without worrying about it going off or changing due to audience interaction. Manufacturers make static billboards from paper or vinyl and then fix them on a flat surface or screen.

Therefore they have a fixed display that cannot be changed within split seconds or minutes, except the advertiser unmounts it and replace the content with another display. Also referred to as traditional billboards, static billboards are so common you’d find them every day, almost everywhere, such as roads and other public facilities.  

Digital Billboard Definition

As the name sounds, digital billboards are interactive, engaging, and electric-powered advertising walls created using various digital technologies. People called them gigantic televisions on the streets when they were first launched in the late 90s and early 2000s. 

While that was a perfect way to describe them, the major difference was that the earliest digital billboards didn’t have antennas, and most used LCD screens to portray a single image.

However, digital billboards have evolved over the years, and most businesses now use LEDs, OLEDs, or other modern display technology to make their ad campaign more catchy and attention-grabbing. So it’s normal to see digital billboards showing multiple awe-dropping 3D videos and immersive displays.

Digital Vs Static Billboards Comparison

The following factors, including cost, customization options, location, and maintenance, will enable you to choose the best display between digital vs. static billboards:

1. Cost

Digital billboards are significantly more expensive to set up or display ads than traditional billboards, owing to their advanced infrastructure. They also have more complex installation procedures; therefore, you must work with professionals to help mount them if your manufacturer doesn’t offer installation in their packages.  

On the other hand, static billboards are less expensive than digital billboards because they’ve been on the market for up to 150 years. New display technology allowing businesses to be more flexible with their ad campaigns has evolved. Also, static billboards are cheaper since they only require a one-time investment in prints, papers, and mounting.

2. Flexibility

Businesses looking for ad walls that offer unmatched flexibility must opt for digital billboards. They can display different content according to the time of the day or in response to your changing events or promotions. The upside of this feature is that it enables you to change your ad message according to seasons and your audience, making your campaign effective.

On the flip side, static billboards offer limited flexibility because advertisers cannot display multiple ad messages rotationally or every few seconds. If you decide to change a static ad, you must remove the existing content before replacing it. This is challenging for advertisers as there is no room to display fresh content to meet the audience’s changing needs.

3. Types

The advertising market is saturated with various types of billboards built to meet various needs. Therefore, your business needs to carefully go through the various options to determine the right digital billboards or static billboards suitable for your display.  

The types of digital billboards include the following:

  • LED Billboards: These billboards use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display high-quality content. Opt for LED billboards if you need display technology with improved color reproduction and consistent display quality across various viewing angles.
  • LCD Billboards: These billboards use liquid crystal displays (LCDs) to display high-definition content. However, LED billboards have certain advantages over them, including energy efficiency and display quality.
  • Projector Billboards: With the invention of laser projectors, display technology greatly improved, making them a suitable option for displaying digital, movable ads.
  • Interactive Billboards: This relatively modern invention uses touch screens and other human-computer interactive technology that allows the audience to engage with your ad message or content.

The types of static billboards include the following:

  • Poster Billboards: Made from paper or vinyl, these billboards are quite small and are installed on a wall or any flat surface, displaying content to the audience easily.
  • Wallscapes: Unlike poster billboards, wallscapes are large and are made from printed murals. They can cover large walls and building facades.
  • Bulletin Billboards: Bulletin billboards are also larger than poster billboards but smaller than wallscapes. They are made from paper or vinyl.

4. Creative Opportunities

Creativity builds an emotional connection between the audience and the ad content. This connection is essential because it determines how potential customers perceive your brand and it also influences their buying decisions. 

Advertisers can use animations, images, graphics, and videos with digital billboards to create engaging ads. Aside from effective content-audience interaction, manufacturers can also stretch their creativity levels by creating mobile LED displays and billboards for digital banner ads. 

In contrast, static billboards don’t provide the same creative opportunities as digital billboards. The most you can do with static billboards is an engaging graphics design with brilliant color choice. 

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5. Ad Rotation

Digital billboards can display multiple ads in rotation, reducing message fatigue risk. It offers advertisers multiple ad-rotation options, including time-sensitive, user-triggered, and priority rotation. 

On the other hand, static billboards do not offer ad rotation advantages. However, you can print multiple linked versions of your ad message and place them strategically in various locations. Some static billboards are triangular, allowing you to upload one design on each side of the structure. 

Each side of the triangle typically faces different directions of a busy road. While this is not rotational, passersby would see different ads depending on their viewing angle.

6. Real-time Metrics

Static billboards cannot provide real-time updates on ad performance and audience engagement to help advertisers tweak their campaigns to suit their audience. But digital billboards provide real-time metrics on audience engagement and ad effectiveness, allowing you to optimize your campaigns on the go.

7. Maintenance

Static billboards require a one-time investment in printing and mounting. They require less maintenance than digital billboards, and frequent cleaning and dusting will keep these displays looking as good as new. 

Contrary, digital billboards require more maintenance than their counterpart because they rely on electronic components, power supply, a certain level of technical know-how, software, and connectivity. Combined, these affect the overall cost of running and maintaining digital billboards.

8. Visibility

Businesses that use digital billboards for advertising usually use display technologies like LEDs and LCDs, which are often brighter and more visible than printed papers, vinyl, and printed murals. Digital billboards are visible in various locations and situations, including low-light rooms, at night, and under severe weather conditions, like heavy downpours, fogs, and even during eclipses.

On the flip side, static billboards rely on ambient light to display content. So, they are less likely to be visible at night or in dark rooms. Severe weather conditions like rain can soak and tear the printed material, and prolonged exposure to sunlight may fade your display message.

9. Energy Efficiency

Static billboards are among the most energy-efficient display mediums since they require zero electrical or mechanical energy to operate, making them perfect for advertisers that want to minimize their carbon footprint. 

Contrary, digital billboards require more power to operate than static billboards. They require electricity to light up the LED lights and lamps for projectors to display content.

10. Location

Digital and static billboards can work in any location. They find applications in urban areas, massive gatherings, high-traffic locations, rural areas, transportation hubs, shopping malls, restaurants, and other out-of-home advertising scenarios. However, it would help if you use digital billboards in smart cities like New York for the best results.

11. Regulations

Regulations for advertising wall placement are essential because they aim to achieve a midpoint between the interest of advertisers with the needs of local communities and their privacy. Regulations guiding the applications of digital and static billboards vary by state or region, so advertisers need to research the local regulations and ensure to comply.

12. Lead Time

The lead time for producing and installing static billboards is shorter than for digital billboards. Static billboards do not require complex production; once the print is ready, advertisers can easily install them by hiring any licensed professional. 

On the other hand, digital billboards are a more complex technology requiring a certain level of expertise during production and installation. The time for content production may also take longer than static billboards. 

Let’s say you are creating an animation or shooting a video for your ad campaign. After production, it will still take a while to edit and publish the content. An advertiser creating static graphic content would spend far less time and undergo a faster review than the digital billboard counterparts.

13. Audience Engagement

In the digital billboards vs. traditional billboards debate, digital billboards are a clear winner in the audience engagement battle. People tend to engage better with digital billboards because they feature life-like interactive moving objects. A recent study shows that digital billboards capture about 400% more views from people than static displays.

Some features they use to build a deeper emotional connection with the target audience include touch screens, QR codes, social media integration, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) experiences.

Digital Billboard Statistics

Digital billboard statistics

14. Targeting

Digital billboards are also the best choice for effective audience targeting. With this display technology, advertisers can use data and real-time updates to target specific audiences based on their interests, ages, activities, or locations. 

On the flip side, static billboards have a limited or stagnant audience reach. Once you install your ad wall, you can’t make any targeted changes or any changes at all.

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15. Branding

Regarding branding between digital vs. static billboards, there’s no huge difference between them as advertisers can display consistent messages across various locations. 

Still, digital billboards may offer an easier way out because, once installed, advertisers can be away from the billboard but still switch their content easily. But for static billboards, you must proceed to each billboard to replace the content. 

16. Perceived Value

Static billboards have existed for over a century, while they are relatively old compared to digital signage, they still offer incredible value. Still, some advertisers and the audience may see it as outdated. On the other hand, digital billboards have only been around since the late 1990s, and their applications greatly increased in the early 2000s

They are more modern and continue to embrace technological advancements to stay on top. Therefore they may be seen as cutting-edge and more high-tech than static billboards, and this perception enhances the perceived value of the advertising message, the display, and the brand in general.

Number of billboards in the US

Number of Billboards in the US from 2016 – 2022

Tabular Comparison of Static Billboards Vs. Digital Billboards

Billboards are an essential part of out-of-home advertising, hence the record of over 350,000 billboards in the United States only. While many businesses use billboards for their advertising needs and other requirements, knowing the difference between static vs. digital billboards before you purchase any of them is key to making the best decision:

Parameters Static Billboards Digital Billboards
Cost Low High
Maintenance Cost Low (requires cleaning with any cloth) High (requires professional expertise)
Visibility Low High
Audience Targeting Impossible Possible
Display Time Static  Dynamic
Impact High Higher than static billboards.
Flexibility Low High
Realtime Updates It is impossible to track real-time updates with static billboards. Possible
Power Consumption Low High
Audience Interaction Low Digital billboards use modern technologies allowing audience-content interaction. 
Environmental Impact Low  High 
Ad Rotation Impossible Possible 
Reach Low High 
Real-time Data Collection Unattainable Possible 
Measurement of Ad Effectiveness Impossible Possible
Ad Frequency Static Dynamic
Placement Static  Dynamic 
Lead Time Shorter  Longer 
Creative Opportunities Low  High 

The Bottom Line 

The kind of billboard you use for advertising in a specific location can make or break your advertising goals. However, by comparing digital vs. static billboards, this article highlights the unique features of these two display technologies. 

Visit NSELED for all your customized mobile billboards,  LED billboards, and other display technology needs. Our team of professionals will walk you through the process.


1. Are Digital Billboards More Effective Than Traditional Billboards?

Digital billboards are more effective than traditional billboards because they use modern technologies like LEDs, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), and surface-mounted displays (SMDs) to produce high-definition resolution (HDR) displays that highlight your product’s features and benefits. 

Aside from their display quality, they also use modern interactive technologies to display moving objects so the audience can interact alongside enjoying a hands-on experience. Their targeted ad feature also allows advertisers to tweak their advertising message according to audience behaviors and interaction, allowing them only to display content with high engagement levels.

2. Are Digital Billboards Profitable?

Various available data show that digital billboard investments are significantly profitable for businesses that use them to showcase their products and services. For instance, 80% of onsite shoppers have patronized vendors due to their billboard advertisements, and the digital signage market is expected to reach $45.50 billion by 2031. 

Although it’s often expensive to run, you have a high probability of getting a high return on investment if you invest in creative content and high-quality display technology, and place your ad in high-traffic locations.

3. Are Digital Billboards Cheaper?

Digital billboards are more expensive than static billboards and other older display technologies. However, they are relatively cheaper than most modern walls. Still, their price will always vary depending on the model of the display, the pixel pitch, the manufacturer, etc. We have a comprehensive guide on how much LED screen cost check it out to learn more.

4. What Is the ROI of Digital Billboard Advertising?

With the growth of the digital signage market and consumers engaging actively with digital billboards, your ad is expected to yield a return of five dollars for every dollar you spend, especially if you also invest in quality and engaging content, great display technology, and find a good location to place your ad strategically.

5. How Many Ads Are on a Digital Billboard?

The amount of ads you place on a digital billboard relies on the screen size, your goals, your budget, and the promotion platform you use. Generally, you can opt for split advertising, where you display multiple contents in at least three different sections, all displaying unique videos, images, graphics, or animations.

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