How Are Aerial Billboards Used In Marketing?

October 11th, 2012 by admin Leave a reply »

My first visit to Canada some years ago brought to my attention a stark difference in highway travel from the US. Besides everything being measured in metric, I was struck by the absence of billboards. At first it was a pleasant change. But I found after a while that I missed the information they present as I travel.

We all know what billboards are, huge signs supported by a structure mounted on some rented piece of property like a farmer’s field. The more traffic on the highway, the better. The billboard will hopefully grab the attention of passers by. But imagine this: the billboard flies off the stand and floats over a huge crowd of people who all look up and read it. That is not fanciful; it is the essence of advertising using an aerial billboard.

Aerial billboards have several differences from standard roadside billboards. First, while the roadside billboard is stationary and awaits the moving people, aerial billboards are moving while the people are stationary. Second, the roadside billboard may be read by some traveling by, but the aerial billboard will be read by virtually everyone over whom it is flown. The roadside billboard will probably take a long time to be read by 100,000 people, while the aerial billboard could be read by that many in a matter of minutes.

The aerial billboard is not a banner though a streaming banner is sometimes dragged behind the billboard to give an additional message. Most aerial billboards are made of nylon. Some are dyed with a sun inhibitor for protection while others are painted. Aerial billboards could be as large as 50 feet tall and 100 feet long! The message they display may be the name of a product, a photo, a logo, or just about any message you see on a roadside billboard.

This huge billboard is supported in the front by a lead pole and weighted on the bottom so it stays upright. A bridle is attached to the lead pole and that attached to a 250 feet rope. The pilot gets airborne, then circles around and tries to hook a loop of rope attached to two poles. This loop is fastened to the tow rope. The hook is attached to the bottom of the plane. As the pilot passes over the banner and catches it, he immediately banks upward, causing the billboard to be pulled upward, away from the ground.

Though the billboard is made of lightweight material, it is still quite a drag on a small plane. In fact, strong winds could cancel a flight or at least prohibit them from adding the extra banner message at the end. When the pilot has finished, he gently drops the billboard at the airfield where it can be stored and perhaps used again.

The size and shape of the message trailing behind the plane is the only real difference between an aerial banner and an aerial billboard. Clients might include restaurants, products, special events, ordinary people with congratulatory messages, wedding proposals, directions, information like a web page where they can get further details, special sales, local businesses, movie promotions, and many others. Billboard messages include just about anything people want to get to the word out about.

The good news is that the cost of a billboard or banner ad is a lot less than some TV or printed ads. Generally, companies charge from $2500 up to design and prepare the billboard itself. The charge to pull the billboard is usually $400 to $500 an hour. If it is done right, companies using this method of aerial advertising can be confident that the billboard will bring in revenue equal to several times this cost. It is an investment.

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