If you live in Michigan, which we do, the sight of billboards dotting the highway is a familiar one. Car dealers, health clinics, pet stores, hotels, even the billboard owner tout the merits of this kind of advertising. In fact, Lamar, owner of a gazillion billboards, uses one to say: “83 percent of drivers say they read billboards.”
I don’t know how Lamar arrived at this statistic, but it’s really not relevant. It doesn’t address how many readers actually purchase the product due to billboard marketing.
The thing is, other states have fewer billboards. We saw none in New York, Pennsylvania, or Ohio, and only two lone sentinels in Indiana. Of course, it could have been the particular routes we traveled. But these are among our country’s most populous states, so you’d think the Interstates would be rife with advertising.
I decided to see which states actually ban billboards and was surprised that there are only four: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont. I couldn’t find information on which states have the most billboards – perhaps it’s not something to brag about – but there are about two million of them in the United States today (This according to Google®).
I can’t speak for everyone in my generation, but Earl and I agree that we look to billboards to provide information about hotels and restaurants when we’re on the road. Especially if we haven’t made a reservation in advance. I suspect younger generations rely on their apps for the same thing. Which makes me wonder if the billboard will eventually become an endangered species.
Perhaps in some areas, it already has.