Why Hospitals Use Billboards

Any business or organization that is trying to communicate its message to the public needs to focus on being effective.  When your mission and your message is about improving the health of your community, being effective is doubly important. We’ll examine why hospitals (and other community-focused organizations) use billboard advertising to engage communities with health messaging, yielding healthier populations, and better communities.

Northwestern Medicine bus 1 side 2_2.jpg

Study Shows That The Target Audience Receives Billboard Messaging Favorably

John Fortenberry (School of Business, Louisiana State University) sought to understand the effectiveness of billboard advertising for hospitals and conducted an experiment. Collecting perspectives from over 1,500 patients what he found was that:

  1. Billboard advertising is, in fact, being noticed by patients

  2. The advertisements are favorably viewed by the patients

  3. The advertisements were effective in increasing patient patronage

An expertly placed billboard in a specific neighborhood or community has a tremendous effect, John elaborated saying,

“Contextually, outdoor advertising firms seek to place billboards at locations with the highest traffic counts in given marketplaces as a means of increasing the exposure potential of the featured advertisements [18, 21, 22]. This makes high-density, urban areas top choices for billboard placements. While most of the audiences encountering billboards have only fleeting exposure (e.g., transiting by them as they pursue their ultimate destinations), those residing in close proximity to given displays face constant exposure to the associated advertising messages”


This effect was not just noticed in new patients that were led to the clinic, but also returning clients who became more aware by the campaign.

Sowa C-3665 Northwestern Medicine (1).JPG

Billboards are Effective in Targeting Specific Segments of the Population

A common problem with marketing in the medical field are the restrictions of laws like HIPPA that make it tough for digital marketing to target your specific audience. But, what John found is that the common misconception that billboards can only reach broad audience is not founded in data. He states,


“Although often viewed merely as a tool for reaching broad audiences with little regard for precision, billboards actually can be used somewhat surgically to connect with desired audiences. Its segmentation potential—the ability of a medium to be directed effectively to engage a group of individuals sharing common characteristics—actually is quite good and, in some cases, can be excellent, depending on the particular audiences sought.”


Billboards Drive Results For Hospitals and the Health of the Community

We know that communication is the key to change and that’s no different when it comes to advertisements. Bottom line: when you promote a lifestyle of healthy choices along with the location of medical centers in an area of a disadvantaged population, it raises the healthy choices of that population and community.

But, how do you most effectively communicate that message to an underserved population? Many avenues are expensive and have a narrow audience scope. But when you look at highly populated urban areas, billboards are extremely effective in getting a message noticed for their price. Billboard advertising, as concluded by the research, might be the best path for fostering a healthier community and better educated population. A true win-win.


We believe strongly in the power of billboard advertising for hospitals. But, it needs to be done effectively. That’s why working with local Chicago experts is the key to targeting your specific audience and driving new and returning patients. Our staff has years of experience working with hospitals along with a deep knowledge of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods.


Hospitals Infographic - FB Social Post.jpg