Bilboard Layout - design tips for effective campaigns

I have seen too many outdoor campaigns destroyed by their own visual message.


I am in outdoor advertising business since 2004 exclusively dealing with large format advertising signs. Even if nothing really changed during past 12 years regarding billboards visibility, I collected my favorite rules for creating a layout sutable for unipole signs. If this page does not contain any new information for you, maybe this page is not exactly for you. It could be for your boss.


Simple Layout

I presume that we all agree with this: make your message clear and simple.
I will not say more about this rule.

Text is Good (but be brief)

Text Copy is strong and you should use it's power. A lot of great photos are effective on web sites, indoor print, magazines but could easily loose their magic power when exposed 100 - 200 meters away from you. Your message could fade into a mixed blur wasting your budget. Big and clear text could do much more. Add details or product images on Internet, not on your billboard. Exposing LESS information will reward you with much MORE people noticing your Ad.

Large fonts and readable fonts

Large and realable fonts will allow people read your message from a longer distance while driving their cars. Motorways usually offer high traffic (10.000 to 50.000 vehicles / day) but you have to be very clear and visible if you really want to convert this traffic into an effective advertising campaign. If you still want to use some smaller size words that have the chance to be read closer to the sign, you have to understand that only people very interested in your main message will get them. You may also need to use multiple signs to reach higher frequency.

Careful with that image

Use solid color background for your images. This will offer a readable shape of your image. Don't forget that not every image has a readable shape. As long a an Apple could be a readable shape, a fridge is almost a rectange and so is a laptop, a smart phone or a book.
A picture is worth a thousand words - IF YOU ARE ABLE TO SEE IT PROPERLY.

Large scale billboards should be different

Targeting pedestrians or incity traffic is different than targeting highway drivers. Some signs may offer 30 seconds up to a few minutes reading time for 1000 readers / day using 1 - 20 m reading distance. Large format signs can deal with 100m or even 1000m reading distance and 10.000 up to 50.000 vehicles / day.
Do not waste your budget using the same strategy for all OOH Signs!


Spectacular advertising signs on motorways in Romania

Readable image shape (the bottle) and a strong text copy. Unipole sign exposing two 14m x 4m faces. 2007 - 2009 Campaign: Ursus. King of Beer in Romania.


Adapt your strategy to each outdoor media format

Our recommendations mentioned above may be suitable for Bulletin Boards (14x4 unipole signs) included in a roadside advertising campaign. Take time to adapt your communication strategy for each OOH format (bus shelter, football stadium advertising boards, pillars, roadside billboards).

Writing this list of recommendations, I couldn't help to add a link to this nice article titled: My Recommendation: Stop Making Design Recommendations by Johnny Holland

Thank you!
Bogdan Dimitriu


14x4m billboards roadside advertising in Romania
The most effective format for major roads (Romanian highways and motorways) is 14x4m unipole sign.
Roadside advertising billboards and spectaculars in Romania
Large scale advertising sign. Spectacular 14m x 14m megaposters are mounted on 3 x 14x4 decks (3 bulletin boards on a single pole).
Autdoor Billboards audience (circulation)
Bilboard audience estimation for DN1 (Bucharest - Ploiesti) near Corbeanca / Balotesti