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Billboard Recruiting

Today’s talent war is heating up. Have you noticed some of your competition using billboard advertising to post job openings? You may wonder if it is really that effective and if you should give it a try. Before you jump into a billboard advertisement campaign, let’s look at what you need to know.

What Is Billboard Recruiting?

Billboard recruiting is when a company rents billboard space—which has traditionally been reserved for sales ads—to run a job opening advertisement. Sometimes these advertising campaigns showcase that a company is growing and hiring in general, and sometimes they promote a specific job opening.

Why Is Billboard Recruiting Used?

Talent markets can be fiercely competitive. Even in a climate where unemployment rates are high, we still see surprisingly sharp competition for hiring open positions.

To combat talent shortage, many companies look beyond traditional hiring means to get an edge on their competition. In other words, many companies change the way they attract and hire talent in order to keep pace with their goals in a challenging hiring market.

Billboards are traditionally reserved for business advertisements. Whether it’s business-to-business or business-to-consumer, billboards have traditionally been used to advertise a good or service quickly to a massive audience. Think fast food—we often see fast food advertised on billboards, and many of us have probably gotten off the freeway to get fast food based on seeing one.

In this same ad space, companies can advertise their company or specific open jobs to create awareness and drive up qualified job applicants.

The Pros and Cons of Recruiting with Billboards

Billboard recruiting has its own set of advantages, as well as a few drawbacks. Let’s go through a few of these strengths and disadvantages.

Advantages of Billboard Recruiting

  • Billboards provide a quick and simple call to action. Successful billboards hook the viewer at a glance and compel them to take a simple action.
  • Billboards can be set up in a way that their effectiveness can be accurately tracked, using a unique hashtag, phone number, URL, text-only number, or an advertisement not posted anywhere else.
  • Billboards are unique in their ability to easily geo-target.  Geo-targeting is a method of marketing in which the selected content is delivered to only a specific and targeted geographic location chosen for its distinctive and strategic advantage.
  • Billboards target potential employees. Since billboards are placed along roads, they target a demographic that is able and ready to travel. Many people driving past billboards are travelling to and from their current place of employment, so billboards also specifically target the employed, which is a valuable hiring demographic. Since those driving past billboards are driving (or using  public transportation), it is generally assumed that billboards are seen by people who have the means to reliably get to and from work.
  • Billboards provide broad reach. Depending on the area, billboards can potentially be visible to hundreds of thousands of new individuals per month.

Disadvantages of Billboard Recruiting

  • Billboards can be costly; you could be looking at multiple thousands of dollars per month, and you may want to run multiple billboards at the same time, which would multiply the cost.
  • Tracking the performance of a billboard, and therefore tracking the return on your billboard recruiting investment, is limited without the use of additional marketing analytics tools. (These tools will vary depending on the end point of your call to action. Google Analytics is a typical tool for measuring website traffic. If you’re driving traffic to social media, Facebook and Instagram offer their own analytics tools. There are also many different analytics software tools on the market.)
  • Billboards have a very limited exposure time. On average, the amount of time a consumer is exposed to a billboard advertisement is under 10 seconds.
  • Unlike digital ads, billboards do not have any way of involving interaction. Even if you add a URL or a website, a consumer can’t actually click or tap on the billboard ad like they could on their laptop or mobile device.
  • With such a limited exposure time, the amount of information that can be added to a billboard is minimal. Billboard messages have to be very simple, which can make them difficult to master.

Types of Billboards

Do you know there is more than one type of billboard? Deciding which will suit your needs the best is one of your first steps.

  • Physical. This is the traditional type of billboard. An ad is physically printed on a banner and placed in the billboard space. On a physical billboard, your ad will be the only ad there for the duration of your contract.
  • Digital. Digital billboards are often located in larger cities. They function like a traditional physical billboard, but instead of being a blank sheet where canvas ads can be pasted, they are digital LCD screens. They can accommodate more than one ad, so instead of owning that physical space for the entire length of the contract, your ad will flash for a specific number of seconds in a rotation of dozens of other ads. There are a few implications to this: the longer you want your ad to be visible, the more you will have to pay, and if you want your ad to circulate during peak traffic hours, you will also likely have to pay a higher premium.
  • Mobile. These types of billboards are printed on moving vehicles—typically public transportation services like buses or trains. You may have seen an ad plastered on the side of a city bus, or inside them. These types of billboard advertisements physically move around and can therefore gain more exposure.

How to Create a Successful Billboard Campaign

Here is a step-by-step guide to successfully setting up a recruiting billboard advertisement.

Step 1: Generate the Marketing Content

Generating the marketing material is the first and most important step because of how short the consumer interaction is and how limited their interaction is.

Work with the stakeholders that will sign off on the final product to get clarity on the message and brand voice you will use. Some companies will be fine with something funny, and others will want a more serious approach. Make sure to understand the brand voice that your company wants to express.

If at all possible, partner with your marketing team, brand team, and product team. If those teams are not available, then here are a few basic guidelines:

  • Keep the text to a minimum.
  • Use clear, bold fonts that contrast sharply with the background.
  • Make the message simple and clear.

Step 2: Set Up Metrics

Metrics help you measure the success of your billboard. Again, this could be a unique website, hashtag, text code, or other such unique measure to track the performance of your billboard. If you don’t know much about marketing measurement, see what reporting tools the billboard company has to offer.

Step 3: Location, Location, Location

You may not be able to get the exact location you want, but get a general sense of the area, or several areas, that your target audience is likely to travel in, and look for billboards there. If you look closely, you will actually notice that every billboard has the name of the company that owns it at the bottom.

Step 4: Negotiate With the Billboard Agency

There are likely to be several companies you can work with, so don’t be afraid to shop around. Look up local billboard agencies to negotiate the best rates and find what specific locations they have available. Ask them about analytics they can share or guarantee, like monthly impressions.

Step 5: Produce the Image

Once you have nailed down which agency you will be working with and the location of your ad, you need to get them the image at the specifications they require. On physical billboards, you won’t have to worry about printing the ad; the billboard company will take care of that.

Step 6: Enjoy

Drive by the finished product and be proud of your first billboard ad! Make sure everything looks right and matches what was agreed upon. Share the location with your company so they can enjoy seeing their organization promoted and spread the word.

Step 7: Evaluate

Evaluating is a very important step in the process because this is the step that will show you and your team how successful your billboard has been and guide future decisions.

There are several ways to measure a billboard’s success.

  • Number of hires. This is the absolute easiest and most straightforward way to measure the efficacy of a billboard. To calculate this, divide the total amount you have spent on the billboard by the number of hires you made from that source. A good benchmark to use to determine if the amount you spent was worth it is to compare the amount you would have spent per hire to your other sources. If the amount you spent per hire through a billboard advertisement is equal to or lower than what you are spending per hire on other sources, then you have made a great investment.
  • Brand reach. This is a little less straightforward and slightly harder to track, but it can still be an effective way of measuring your investment. The idea of brand reach is that while you may not have directly influenced the main metric you were hoping to drive—hires—you may have still affected your company in a positive way. The billboard company will be able to give you an idea of how much traffic your billboard will see. Say 10,000 people see your billboard each month. That’s 10,000 people that have gained exposure to your brand, and that positive experience could make it more likely to gain conversions in the future.

Examples of Effective Billboards

Here are a few real life examples of clever and effective recruiting billboards.

Example 1: Good Design

This example uses a very simple font in a color that sharply contrasts with the background color so it is easy to read from far away. It contains the minimum information it needs to be successful, has a tagline, includes which roles are open, and gives a short URL.

Example 2: Humor

This ad is catchy because it is humorous. It is using an obviously poor example of graphic design to highlight their needs for a good graphic designer.

Example 3: Rivalry

This example uses rivalry to make it catchy. As an audience, we know which competitor the ad is referring to, but they have done so without actually naming the competition. This example showcases a great way to differentiate yourself from a competitor.

Example 4: Storytelling

This example leans in to their brand and uses the specific role as part of a unique pitch. Though this example is niche, this is a good concept. Come up with something creative for your industry, company, and role.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Billboards Recruiting

Who is billboard recruiting right for?
Billboards are a great tool for companies that want to expose their job openings to a broad array of people and get a lot of exposure quickly. They can be especially effective if there is a billboard in a geographically significant region to your business. Ultimately, you will have to have a conversation with your team about your goals to determine if a billboard is the right move. If your open job position and company message can be simply expressed and understood within a few seconds, then a billboard can be a great tool.
How expensive are billboards?
The price of a recruiting billboard advertisement can vary greatly. At this writing, classic billboards can cost as little as $250 a month for lower-trafficked and rural areas, or as much as $14,000 a month in urban areas. Digital billboards get a little more complicated because the cadence that the ad shows can be adjusted. Digital billboards are still usually more expensive, ranging from around $1,500 a month up to $15,000 a month.
How do we know if our billboards are working?
The answer to this question is completely determined on the way you structure your billboard advertisement in the beginning. In order to know if your billboard advertisement is working, you will first have to define success. In other words, what measurement are you going to look at to determine if your ad is successful, and how are you going to measure it? For example, if you have set up a unique URL, you can run analytics on visits, clicks, and conversions. Billboard agencies will offer you general statistics on potential views and impressions per month. With digital billboards, they may be able to get more specific on the ad exposure time your ad has had, but these will be general numbers and will not directly answer how effective your billboard advertisement is.
Tyler Fisher

Tyler Fisher

Empowering Recruiters, HR business leaders, and key stake holders to develop and execute talent acquisition strategies. Igniting the talent acquisition process through: developing an engaging employer brand, driving creative talent sourcing, and fine-tuning recruiting team effectiveness.

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