3D Billboards are Making a Splash

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3D isn’t just for movies anymore, and you don’t have to wear funny glasses to enjoy these. 3D billboards are the latest innovation in the out-of-home advertising industry, and so far they’re living up to the hype.

With the plethora of messaging competing for our attention, 3D billboards literally stand out from the others. Featuring LED screens, holographic projection, and motion capability, these billboards make your message pop, and they do it in a new and innovative way. 

3D billboards made a splash when a giant cat appeared on a sign above a busy Tokyo train station two years ago. The cat could meow, lick its paws, and take a nap. People stopped to look. The 3D cat attracted crowds and even garnered global news coverage.

“Over the last 12 to 18 months, we’ve seen tremendous interest and growth in anamorphic 3D billboards,” said Josh Scharfberg, president at OOH firm, Clear Channel Outdoor of New York. The firm has helped create 3D billboards for Netflix, Balenciaga, and Paramount.

Sungeun Jang, who works on the overseas development team for OOH ad agency, Kesion, said approximately one out of ten of their clients now express interest in 3D billboard advertising. Luxury auto companies like BMW are getting in on the burgeoning trend. So has Google. But “we’re seeing it across all industries – everything from entertainment to high-end fashion to automotive,” said Jang.

One obvious drawback with the 3D billboards is cost, which is much higher than traditional billboard advertising, and goes up based on factors like complexity and location. Jang noted, “The return on investment is obvious, but you still have to have that kind of budget in your media plan.”

Another challenge is limited availability. As new as it is, there’s not a large inventory of 3D billboards, and they’re often only available in larger cities like New York or London.

But many in the industry are saying it’s worth the investment. Not only do 3D billboards have that wow factor that makes people stop and look. Observers do something even more valuable – they take pictures and share them online. Going viral is marketing gold.

When Nike rolled out a 3D billboard in China for Air Max Day earlier this year, a video of the billboard resulted in more than 50,000 views on TikTok. Similarly, a 3D billboard debuting BMW’s XM SUV in Times Square last fall racked up over 1.3 million YouTube views. Free advertising at its finest. As a result, many brands see the splurge as worthwhile.

Will the complexity and expense of 3D billboards keep them a rare curiosity? Or will we eventually see them popping up everywhere as the new standard in billboard advertising? Keep reading here.

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