The Billboard Case Study You’ll Never Forget

In 2010 a Salt Lake City-based outdoor advertising company, Reagan Outdoor Advertising, commissioned Foster Research to conduct a simple study on the effectiveness of billboard advertising.

Foster Research conducted a phone survey of 300 residents in the Salt Lake City area and asked two trivia questions: “Who is the Lieutenant Governor of Utah?” and “Do you know the first word spoken from the moon?” The survey found that 5% of respondents could accurately name the sitting Lt. Governor (sorry, Greg Bell); and 1.3% (only 4 of the 300) accurately stated “Houston” as the first word spoken from the moon.  (Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Upon landing, the mission commander communicated to ground control “Houston, Tranquility Base here… The Eagle has landed.”)

Do billboards work?

Then Reagan Outdoor went to work using billboards to create awareness around the “Houston” message. Their hypothesis was that the percentage of the population who knew the “Houston” answer would rise significantly, while percentage of respondents who knew the Lt. Governor would remain unchanged.

30 days into the campaign 37% of the respondents answered the “Houston” questions correctly; after 60 days that number rose to a staggering 60%, and eventually to 65% after 90 days.   


The results were conclusive: billboard advertising had been very effective in creating awareness around a clear, simple message.



While advertising the answer to a piece of trivia proves a point, advertisers need to provide the answers that their market is seeking to questions like: “What’s the best hospital in my area?” “Where should I get my kids braces?” “Is there a realtor who specializes in selling properties in my neighborhood?”

Regardless of what you are advertising, you must understand who your audience is and what question you are giving them the answer to.

Sources:; Schwarz, Hunter "'Houston' First Word Spoken on Moon" Utah People's Post, May 4, 2010.