The Digital Giants Turn to Billboards: A Shift in Advertising Dynamics

April 5, 2024
Featured image for “The Digital Giants Turn to Billboards: A Shift in Advertising Dynamics”

In an era where digital media is omnipresent, a fascinating trend has emerged among the titans of the tech industry.

The world’s largest 25 tech brands, a prestigious club including Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Uber, have dramatically increased their reliance on one of the oldest forms of advertising: billboards. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), these tech behemoths are now among the top 100 users of billboards in the United States, signaling a significant shift in advertising strategies. Notably, Apple, a brand synonymous with innovation, increased its billboard investment by 17% in a single year. Even more striking, Google boosted its spending by an astonishing 108%, while Amazon, the disrupter of disrupters, escalated its outdoor advertising expenditure by 285%.

The Renaissance of Billboard Advertising

This resurgence of interest in outdoor advertising (OOH) among tech companies might seem paradoxical at first glance. In an age dominated by digital platforms, why are these digital pioneers turning to a seemingly antiquated method of communication? The answer lies in the unique advantages that billboards offer, advantages that are particularly appealing to brands vying for attention in a saturated digital market.

Unmatched Visibility and Impact

Billboards offer a level of visibility that is hard to replicate in the digital world. Positioned in high-traffic areas, they guarantee views by a broad audience, including those who might not be reached through online channels. For tech companies, whose products and services are designed to appeal to a wide demographic, this universal visibility is invaluable. Furthermore, the physical presence of a billboard—large, imposing, and unskippable—creates an impact that digital ads, which can be easily overlooked or blocked, simply cannot match.

uber ride share billboards

A Tangible Presence in a Digital World

For tech brands that exist primarily in the digital realm, billboards provide a tangible presence in the physical world. This physicality can lend an air of legitimacy and permanence to brands that are otherwise ephemeral in nature. By occupying space in the everyday lives of consumers, tech companies can foster a sense of familiarity and trustworthiness.

Complementing Digital Strategies

Perhaps the most compelling reason for the pivot towards outdoor advertising is the complementary role it plays alongside digital strategies. Billboards can serve as physical touchpoints that drive digital engagement. For instance, a billboard that features a hashtag or QR code can encourage on-the-spot digital interaction, effectively bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds.

The Big Spenders and Their Strategies

The increased investment by tech giants in billboard advertising is not a random splurge but a calculated part of their broader marketing strategies.

Apple: Setting the Standard

Apple’s 17% increase in billboard spending reflects its commitment to maintaining a visible brand presence. Apple’s billboards often feature minimalist designs that mirror the aesthetic of its products, creating a consistent brand image that extends from digital to physical spaces.

Google: Doubling Down

Google’s 108% increase in spending is indicative of its aggressive push to promote specific products and services, such as Google Home and Google Maps, directly to consumers in public spaces. This strategy not only increases product visibility but also humanizes the brand, making it more relatable to everyday users.

Amazon: The Disrupter Continues to Disrupt

Amazon’s 285% spike in outdoor advertising expenditure highlights its intention to dominate not just the digital marketplace but also the physical one. With billboards, Amazon can promote a wide range of products and services, from its Prime membership to its streaming content, reinforcing its brand omnipresence.

amazon billboard and website

The Impact on the Advertising Landscape

The shift towards billboard advertising by these digital giants has several implications for the advertising landscape.

Raising the Bar for Creativity

With tech companies entering the billboard space, the bar for creativity has been raised. Tech brands are known for their innovation, and they bring this creativity to their outdoor advertising campaigns, utilizing digital billboards, interactive elements, and creative visuals that capture public attention.

Driving Industry Growth

The increased investment in billboard advertising by the tech sector is contributing to the overall growth of the OOH advertising industry. According to the OAAA, this influx of spending from the tech sector is helping to revitalize the outdoor advertising market, making it more vibrant and competitive.

Encouraging Integration

The tech industry’s embrace of billboards underscores the importance of an integrated advertising strategy that combines digital and physical marketing channels. This approach maximizes reach and impact, creating multiple touchpoints with consumers.


The world’s largest tech brands are redefining the advertising landscape by turning to billboards, an old-school medium that offers new possibilities in the digital age. Their significant investments underscore the enduring power of outdoor advertising to create visibility, impact, and a tangible brand presence. As these digital pioneers blend the physical with the digital, they not only enhance their own marketing strategies but also invigorate the entire outdoor advertising industry,


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.