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150th Anniversary of the First Billboard

chi22board-sepiaSince ancient times, people have found ways to broadcast messages to the public. History traces the practice of billboards back to the ancient Egyptians, who used stone obelisks to publicize new laws. The invention of printing further enabled the spread of information; soon anyone could create a poster or flyer. This lead to the first rental of a billboard, 150 years ago in 1867.

We don’t know who owned the billboard, who paid for it, or what they posted, but we do know that they started a movement that has exploded into the complex business of advertising that we are a part of today. Within three years of that first sale, there were more than 300 companies that sold their services for painting signs and posting bills. It became an industry, and it quickly boomed.

As more and more companies were formed, the need arose for associations that could bring the industry together and oversee it. The first of these was the the International Bill Posters’ Association of North America, formed in St. Louis in 1872. The number of such agencies continued to grow. Today groups like OAAA, DPAA and Geopath help guide the OOH industry.

In 1900, the standard billboard was introduced, the one we’re all familiar with today, and the industry surged even stronger. New innovations continue to change the definition of a billboard, going from the simple signage to posters covering faces of entire skyscrapers and digital screens playing video.

As billboard technology continues to evolve, the legacy of that first billboard sale grows. 150 years worth of innovation and creativity have challenged advertisers to continue to come up with new ways to catch the eyes of consumers. The DOmedia team looks forward to being trusted partners through the industry’s next 150 years of growth.

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Destiny Jones

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