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“These Are a Few of My Favorite Billboards…”

Once a week, without a squeak

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Once a week, without a squeak


by Nick Coston, U.S. Sales Director, The Neuron, pDOOH & OOH Specialist


“These Are a Few of My Favorite Billboards…”

Once upon a time, way back when I started out in OOH media, billboards to us back in Paleolithic Times, there was no programmatic buying, no digital units, no screens in taxis. Just big, static billboards dotting the landscape, along with 30 sheet posters and some transit. Basic, blue collar, hard working, hose ’em down billboards. When my cube mate, a wonderful fellow, we’ll call him Eric, since that was his name, would make cold calls he always started out by staying “hi, my name is Eric and I work for your local billboard company. Have you ever thought of using billboards to advertise on? Do you know what a billboard is”? Ok, I made that last line up. But it was basic, honest cold calls to get the conversation going. Of course they knew what billboards were, everyone did. Eric did very well with that icebreaking line. Once, during lunch time, Eric got up from his desk, told me he’d be right back, said  “I’m going to go get married.” He did just that and within 90 minutes came back, took his suit jacket off, hung it up and was now a married man. Ring and all. Went right back to work. Nothing too fancy for Eric. He was a true billboard man. That was 2009.

Nowadays you can just get married, programmatically of course, while never leaving your desk.  Heck, you may never even meet your wife. Just like you may not ever see the boards you just bought in person. Ok, I made the wife part up too. But in the old days of selling traditional OOH, we all would get in our cars and do what they called “circle marketing”. Yes we would drive circles around the vicinity of where our company’s  billboards were located and pick out the businesses that would benefit from advertising on them, call on the stores in person. Maybe have a spotted map and some board photos, or as they still call them, “photoliths”. Once when I was leaving a small business after showing the owners my “photoliths”, the wife said to her husband “that poor man, he has a bad lisp, did you hear him pronounce “photo”? That boy will never get married”.

That actually did happen. Voila, more cold calls. Worked every time.

message for Circle Graphics

But as my OOH buying and selling career transitions from circle marketing static billboards to working with clients, agencies and the OOH companies in the digital programmatic side of the biz, I still yearn for the days of seeing what you bought or sold in person, snapping that photo, maybe taking the client with. But we can still do that and we should do that, although not as prevalent as it once was nothing beats seeing a board or screen you had something to do with. A little tougher now that buying programmatically can be anywhere in the world and may be just run for one day.

Flexibility results in efficiency which results in easier ways to make media buys, get them running way sooner, move them around, swap that copy out with a flick of a switch. No more spotted maps that took 3 hours to print. Which leads me back to the title of this piece. My favorite billboards.





I’m not sure how these would look on digital screens, especially smaller ones that have all sorts of dimensions. But I think we’d find a way to make it work. So this weeks piece, as I cross that billboard rainbow bridge from traditional OOH to pDOOH, I have to give a big shout out to my favorite old school static copy pictured in this piece. But I’m not too sad, because everything you see on here has a place in the new way of doing business.

As for my old cube mate, Eric, he’s doing great, married for many years now with four handsome boys. A true billboard man.

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