It’s a tight talent market, and strategic recruitment media planning is essential for companies. Capitalizing on the right media can help get candidates through the hiring funnel. Traditional media like TV, Print or Billboards are often overlooked as part of the media mix, however they are effective mediums to help raise awareness among passive and active talent alike.
As many companies know, a huge step to reach the right candidates is raising awareness – and a great way to do this is through billboard advertising. Billboards are an out-of-home (OOH) advertising method (i.e. any media/advertising that reaches people outside of their homes) used in marketing plans. OOH advertising is a great way to help generate awareness and spark someone's interest in learning more about a company or a role, and is 382% more effective at driving online activity than TV ads, according to data from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA).
If a company is interested in introducing billboards into their recruitment marketing initiatives, read on to learn the basics and some best practices when planning ahead.
How Are Billboards Beneficial?
Billboards are located in places that have high traffic, such as on highways or in cities, where they can be seen by the highest number of people. They require a “60 mile-per-hour message,” because the content and message needs to be quick, digestible, and memorable. Nielsen cites that 83% of people consciously read billboards when driving, which means they can be a very impactful advertising solution – if companies deliver the right message in the right place.
Also, billboards continue to be relevant during the pandemic, with 42% of Americans reporting that they notice OOH more now than they did pre-pandemic – and 85% of those who noticed OOH advertising have found the information useful, according to a 2021 study from OAAA.
Since billboards are a physical medium, the location is critical. For example, if a company’s target audience is nurses, then finding billboards near big hospital systems and routes where candidates are commuting to those hospitals is a great idea. The billboard needs to share a story or a call-to-action that’s interesting and memorable to candidates.
Tip: Billboards can be a very useful tool to increase awareness among a key audience, however recruiters have to do it in an intelligent way by creating a strategy – since awareness mediums need to be thoughtful and targeted to be effective.
What To Consider Before Implementing Billboards
If companies are considering implementing billboards into their recruitment marketing strategy, they should first understand what their goals are and what the strategies need to be to align with those goals. Any time hiring professionals are trying to recruit from a market that generally has low awareness, they’re going to have to tap into an awareness medium to help showcase to a candidate why they might be interested in working at the company.
In markets with a hyper competitive environment for talent, billboards can be a great way to set a company apart. A company can tout its benefits like great compensation or a flexible work schedule to sway the minds of candidates.
Best Practices When Creating Content
With a lot of opportunities for candidates in this current hiring market, it’s essential to answer why job seekers should choose a company over another. As mentioned above, this question needs to be answered in a “60 mile-per-hour message.” To do this, hiring professionals need to create content that’s highly visual and has fewer words. Also, with fewer words, the copy needs to be tight and attractive.
Companies should not rely on copy to get their message across. Even though many billboards include copy, it’s important to remember that many are located on commuter routes and people will be driving. Candidates will only have the opportunity to look up for a few seconds, read a few words, and take away the key message. This is why hiring professionals should plan for a more visual message with very tight copy.
Tip: To differentiate, companies could share compelling reasons to choose one company versus another, such as a sign-on bonus.
Adding URLs To Billboards
It’s becoming popular to add a URL link to a billboard. If a URL is used, it has to follow the same principles that are in place for copy – it needs to be very short and memorable. It shouldn’t be a Bitly URL because it can be hard to remember and is randomized. If possible, a URL on a billboard should be an even shorter version of the company’s website URL. This can ensure it is easily consumed, understood, and remembered by candidates – since they’re not going to take out a pen and paper or their phone to write down the URL while passing the billboard. An example of this would be www.company.name/jobs. This means the job seeker only has to remember the company’s name and “jobs” instead of a larger URL.
The benefit of adding a URL is that there's an ability to tie together the traditional and the digital mediums, because if companies use a short URL, it should redirect the candidate to a landing page or a destination on the career site. With the redirect, companies can insert tracking parameters which can help identify the traffic that entered the site from a billboard-specific URL. Remember: short and memorable = consumable.
Tip: It is not recommended to place a QR code on a billboard – so candidates don’t pull out their phone while they’re driving. With many billboards on highways, this can be a hazard. However, in other out of home media, like bus shelters or airport advertising, QR codes can be a great addition.
Is This Working?
One of the biggest questions talent acquisition professionals might be asking is if billboards work. Since billboards are an awareness tactic, it can be hard to answer. One way to measure its impact is to measure direct traffic to the career site or monitor organic search traffic for any increases. These are two leading indicators that an awareness investment is making an impact.
A lagging indicator is at the bottom of the funnel with application volume. However, any effort to increase awareness needs to be a sustained investment. Frequency is a measure of the number of times an individual is exposed to an advertisement or brand message. In today's over-stimulated environment, breaking through can be hard. There must be an investment over time to raise the frequency in which candidates are exposed to an ad to improve recall. It could take a minimum of three to six months to see the investment make an impact on lagging indicators.
For example, car companies advertise on billboards because they’re interested in growing their awareness (like job searching, people don't buy cars very frequently). But when they do, the car company wants to be top of mind and wants to be immediately in someone’s consideration set. So similarly, when recruiting candidates, having a billboard is a long term strategy and can help keep companies top of mind.
Tip: Media planning for billboards takes time because it’s very local and relies on supply and demand. The inventory is fixed (as in, there might only be 25 billboards on a highway) so it’s essential to plan ahead and look into different vendors. Billboards need to be thought out, well planned, and prepared way ahead of the time companies are seeking to advertise on them.
Billboards are a great way to raise awareness about a company. When added into a company’s recruitment strategy, it can be helpful to get in front of candidates and differentiate from other companies in the space.