This article was published on billboardinsider.com on September 6, 2018 after Billboard Insider requested me to answer some of the most common questions for designing a billboard with an extension.
What is a billboard extension?
An extension is artwork placed outside the live area of a billboard. Depending on whether the structure has restrictions, cutouts are generally placed off the top, side or bottom. Extensions also work well when used in conjunction with embellishments, spectaculars, monopole and more.
Extensions are a unique benefit to help an outdoor advertisement stand out. They create a visual impact and gain attention. If your structure is allowed to have an extension, there are limitless ways to execute a visual for your clients and usually at a lower cost than 3D embellishments (depending on the project).
It does not take a significant amount of time for a billboard designer to provide concepts with and without extensions. Chances are, most clients may not be thinking about extensions or understand how they work and how much they cost. Providing options with an extension at the inception of a project could result in an up-sell.
Are extensions hard to design?
No, but if a designer doesn't have experience designing or scaling extensions they could possibly end up using a visual that isn't as good for outdoor. An extension should be a solid piece that can withstand elements such as wind, rain, etc. Knowing height restrictions and client budget also help expedite the approval process otherwise use your imagination and creativity to make an extension which is more than just a cut out.
For operations or installers, they could run into challenges based on different factors such as transportation if the extension is larger than normal, installing in a location that has obstacles getting onto or around the structure, etc.
Think about your operation team's time. A starburst with 35-star points could be time consuming to cut out versus a starburst with 15-start points versus using a circle.
In the "Denney Vision" billboard above and the "Beverly Hospital" billboard below, these extensions work well because the extended image is one solid piece. For example, I would not extend the antenna of a butterfly because they're too thin and delicate.
Which type of outdoor ads work well with extensions?
Extensions can work well for almost any type of advertiser. Here are links to examples of extensions I've designed.
The concept I designed for Cumberland Diamond Exchange has always been one of my favorite examples of how to incorporate an extension into a billboard's design. I scaled the couple proportionate to the billboard which led to using a bottom extension. By adding the couple's shadows and extending their legs and the flowers below the live area, the billboard gave the illusion that the couple were standing on the catwalk and, at first glance, could possibly be mannequins. To give you an idea of approximate cost, two mannequins would have been $20,000 but this extension would have been around $1,500 to install.
About Out of Home Creative: We are an outdoor advertising firm which designs billboards, digital campaigns, transit, and street furniture to any non-traditional out of home advertising. Based in Atlanta, Georgia we serve businesses, agencies, media buyers and out of home companies throughout North America. Melody Roberts is the Founder and CEO.