"High Speed Technology Gives Lift to Billboard Industry"

Excerpted from the Boston Globe

In the early 1990s, critics who derided billboards as visual pollution had reason to gloat about the medium's imminent demise, and few would have predicted that industry would see a steady gain in revenues and growth well into the 21st Century. One reason for this gloom and doom was the Internet, which threatened to divert ad dollars away from billboards on real-world highways to banner ads on the Web's information highway.

Even more ominous, the tobacco industry, once the industry's biggest client, was spending less and less on billboard advertising every year. But thanks to high-speed technology, the industry is on the rebound - even though tobacco companies stopped all cigarette advertising on billboards last year as part of their historic settlement with state attorneys general.

Being able to put up new billboards so quickly has brought the industry a host of new clients from fashion houses such as the Gap to Hollywood studios promoting new movies. Even dot-com start-ups have been turning to a medium that debuted in the mid 19th century by putting signs up along railway lines. By one estimate, dot-coms spend over $100 million annually on outdoor advertising, using billboards to drive traffic to their Web sites - or to catch the eye perhaps of a venture capitalist zipping by in a Mercedes or a Lexus. This ability to get new billboards up quickly has created new opportunities for billboard advertisers.