How much does a billboard cost in Lagos? (2019 Pricing Guide)

Everything we learned while mounting Paystack's first billboards in Nigeria's commercial capital

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In August 2019, we put up our very first billboards in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital. In this post, I’ll outline everything we learned at Paystack about billboard advertising in Nigeria. I'll also share a detailed pricing guide for all steps of the process.

Why did we decide to put up billboards?

Every day, thousands of people encounter the Paystack Checkout Form for the first time. While many of them go ahead to complete the payment (we process over 6 million payments a month), many more hesitate. This is because Nigeria is a relatively low-trust environment, and online payments are still relatively novel.

We frequently hear from merchants that one of the biggest business challenges they face is this question of trust. During community events, our customers explained to us that while people are growing used to paying online, a lot of prospective customers reach out to them seeking assurance that nothing bad will happen if they pay online.

"Can you help educate customers that online payments are secure?"

In response to this, we decided to do something we've never done before - an out of home campaign with two goals.

Goal #1: To educate everyday people about the many safeguards in place to protect them when they pay online.

Goal #2: To make our merchants' customers more familiar with the Paystack brand, so that they recognize (and trust) the brand when they encounter it on our merchants' checkout forms.

The Paystack logo is a promise of safety and speed, and we wanted our merchants’ customers to feel secure when they see "Paystack” on checkout forms. And so began our very first experiment with traditional outdoor advertising, and a not-so-traditional microsite.

Selecting an ad agency in Lagos

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When we started thinking about billboards, we had no idea how to approach this, so we looked for an outdoor advertising agency who could help guide us.

We contacted and reviewed the billboard portfolios of about 30 agencies in Lagos, and whittled the list down to 7 companies.

Here’s a public database of the final 7 outdoor advertising companies. It lists

  • Photos of all their billboard locations
  • Pricing for all their billboards
  • Contact information
  • Website info
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After reviewing these agencies, we partnered with XLBillboards, an outdoor ad agency based in Ikeja, Lagos. Several factors such as the locations, types, and costs of their billboards led to our decision to choose them.

Shareable Takeaway
Here's a database of recommended billboard agencies in Lagos. Includes pricing, contact info, and photos of the billboards.

Drawing up a contract with the agency

Sometimes, ad agencies won’t proactively provide a contract for the engagement. You may request for one, or simply create one, and share with them. 

In our case, it was important that we have a proper contract, so I worked with our Legal team to create one. Here’s a template for the Service Level Agreement (SLA) we shared with our outdoor agency →

Shareable Takeaway
Here's a template of the legal contract Paystack uses with outdoor ad agencies.

How much did our billboards cost?

A number of things count towards the cost of a billboard in Lagos

  • Rent costs
  • Printing costs (if it's a static billboard)
  • A fee paid fo the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON)

The cost of a single billboard can vary wildly from ₦160k (~$450) to ₦2.5 million (~$7,000) a month depending on these factors, as well as the billboard location and type.

We spent exactly ₦5,039,750 (about $13,900) for two billboards for three months. Here’s the cost breakdown:

Billboard 1 - located at Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos

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  • Rent (3 months) = ₦2,000,000
  • Printing costs (4.6m by 14.5m) = ₦105,000
  • Sub-total = ₦2,105,000 (~$5,800)

Billboard 2 - located on top of the Ikeja Plaza building

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  • Rent (3 months) = ₦2,625,000
  • Printing costs (5.4m by 36m) = ₦225,750
  • Sub-total = ₦2,850,750 (~$7,860)

Vetting costs

  • APCON fees = ₦84,000 ($230)

GRAND TOTAL = ₦5,039,750 (~$13,900)

(Do you put up billboards often? What do you think about how much we spent? Did we get a good price, or did we overpay? Let us know at [email protected]!) 

Shareable Takeaway
This is exactly how much it cost Paystack to put up two billboards for 3 months each.

Choosing the billboard type

We needed to decide whether to go for a static billboard, or a digital one.

Static billboards are the traditional option, where you mount a printed fabric for a fixed amount of time. Digital billboards, on the hand, can display multiple images in a short period of time and can also display other media types such as video and animation.

Each billboard type comes with its pros and cons. Here’re the factors that informed our final choice to go with static over digital.

Some advantages of static billboards:

  • With a static billboard, we wouldn’t be sharing a space with any other brand. It would 100% be ours, day and night, till our rent expires, while with digital billboards, our ad would only be displayed for about 8 seconds at a time, once every 64 seconds.
  • Static billboards are a lot more affordable compared to digital billboards.

Some disadvantages of static billboards:

  • If we decided to modify our ad mid-campaign, it would require lots of effort to do this on a static billboard. It's a lot easier to update a digital billboard because there're no printing costs.
  • Static billboards only display static content, unlike digital billboards, which can display animated content such as videos.

Considering these pros and cons, we chose to share our message on static billboards. We wanted a dedicated billboard space to ourselves for as long as our rent was running, and we knew that it was highly unlikely that we'd want to change our ad mid-campaign.

Choosing the billboard locations

We evaluated dozens of locations before choosing the two we went with: one location on the Lagos mainland, and another on the island.

The mainland billboard was located on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way. This is a high traffic area which leads to Computer Village, a very popular market where people purchase electronics such as laptops, phones, come get their electronics fixed, and more. We assume that the proximity to Computer Village will expose the billboard to people who're slightly more familiar with technology, and that this group a lot more likely to encounter a Paystack checkout form, and slightly more likely to be willing to try out online payment.

The island billboard was located on Ahmadu Bello Way on Victoria Island. It's one of the major entry points to the island for many people who live in Surulere, Apapa, Mile 2, Ijora, and along Ikorodu Road.

Designing the billboard

We went through multiple design iterations over the course of many weeks before hitting on a design we were super pleased with.

One of the most challenging parts of the design process was deciding on the copy which would be displayed on the billboard. We needed something which was short enough to read quickly (the billboards would be displayed along busy highways) while also driving home the core message of the campaign - security.

We ultimately hit on "Pay safe. Pay fast. Paystack" It's only a few short words, which makes it easy for the eye to scan, and there's something about the rhyme that helps it linger in the ear.

Here's how the design progressed.

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This was a very first attempt to visualize the idea and make some decisions about narrative, placement and colour. The hand is a repeating motif in various aspects of our brand expression and it makes another appearance here. We decided there were too many elements at play.

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The introduction of the singular illustration on the right hand side helped with structure. The halo around the card was meant to signal an idea of a shield, but when we presented the image to people we found that most people didn't get it.

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We started to wonder if we were emphasizing the message of security enough. This took us down the path of exploring having more descriptive text. We also bumped up the size of the URL because we were going to create a bespoke interactive experience at that link and wanted people to notice it.

We quickly realized that more text made the billboard way too wordy. Since the billboards were going to be displayed against busy highways, the message needed to be succinct enough for someone speeding in car to get it in a few sentences.

We missed the simplicity of "Pay safe. Pay fast. Paystack."

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We went back to the original copy and explored a different strong visual element, in this case a mouse cursor hovering over a large pay button. This felt too cold. The Paystack brand is a promise of warmth, and this felt like it was too much about the machine and not enough about people.

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A hand completing a payment on a mobile phone provided the perfect balance between introducing a human element, while also signalling the link to technology.

Now that the main elements were done, we explored colour and a few finishing touches.

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One last round of revisions to draw more attention to the URL. We ultimately went with the hand emoji because we currently use a lot of emojis in our brand communications, and it fit in well in context of the mobile phone (most people use emojis in the context of mobile messaging)

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Final design of the island billboard
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Final design of the mainland billboard

And here're the final designs above!

You'll notice two differences between the assets - different dimensions, and different URLs.

The different sizes were because the billboards had different dimensions, and we displayed different URLs because we wanted to track if there was a difference in traffic between the two locations.

Creating the microsite

The billboards are part of a broader campaign to assure everyday people about the safety of online payment.

To compliment to the billboards, we created an interactive microsite - paystack.com/security - which takes customers behind the scenes and explains what happens when they pay online. 

The site will live beyond the billboard campaign, and our hope is that the next time a customer asks a Paystack merchant whether its safe to pay online, the merchant will simply send the Secured by Paystack page to the customer to help build trust.

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Instead of a wall of text, we opted for an interactive, animated experience which invites the visitor to insert themselves into the narrative. We're betting that this engaging experience will incentivize more people to read through to the very end.

The site also allowed us to leverage numerous testimonials we've received from both merchants and their customers as a form of social proof.

While the primary URL of the site is paystack.com/security, we created two additional variations of the URL to display on the billboards. The reason we did this is because we're curious to see how traffic differs between both locations. Early results show that the mainland billboard is driving six times the number of views as the island billboard.

Shareable Takeaway
In an A/B test of two billboard locations in Lagos, the Paystack mainland billboard drove 6 times as many website views as the island billboard location

APCON Billboard Vettting

APCON is the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria. According to their charter, they’re dedicated to “promoting responsible and ethical advertising practices in Nigeria.”

By law, they review every outdoor ad before brands can publish and promote them. This helps to ensure that ads shown to the public aren’t misleading or offensive. Only registered advertisers can submit ads for vetting, so we worked with our partner ad agency to share the design with APCON for approval.

APCON has a publicly accessible Vetting Guideline that explains what they look out for. Some of the major red flags that could get your ad rejected include:

  • copy that includes profanity
  • making false or exaggerated claims
  • featuring non-Nigerian models (if it did, we’d have had to make a case for it, and also pay an extra ₦500,000 vetting fee.)

We had 2 slightly different versions of our ad, so we submitted both via our partner ad agency to APCON for vetting. There’re 3 vetting options to choose from:

  • Regular vetting (2 weeks): ₦25,000 per ad
  • 16-hour expedited vetting: ₦150,000 per ad
  • 8-hour expedited vetting: ₦280,000 per ad

For our billboards, we chose the 2-week vetting option, and paid 50,000 NGN for both variations of our ads to APCON. Additionally, we paid a service charge to our partner ad agency for rendering this service to us.

Shareable Takeaway
All billboards in Nigeria must be approved by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria. The approval fee costs between ₦25,000 to ₦280,000 per ad, depending on the turnaround time.

Printing the billboard

Both billboards were printed on flex material using a 10 foot-long Challenger flex banner printing machine.

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For really large prints such as ours, the printing press, Poster Print Limited, first split our ad design into smaller sections in a process called tiling.

For the 36m long billboard, for instance, the design was split into 12 tiles which were printed separately. After a 4-hour printing process, all 12 tiles were then sewn together, and transported to the billboard site.

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Because of the continued exposure to harsh weather, the billboard's flex materials are subject to wear and tear. To minimise damage, it’s important that your ads are printed on high-quality flex material. In our case, we used the 550 grams specification.

Shareable Takeaway
When a billboard design is sent for printing, it's printed into distinct units in a process called tiling, and then the different parts are sewn together.

Mounting the billboard

The billboard on Ahmadu Bello Way was mounted on a unipole, while the one on Ikeja Plaza was mounted on a tall building’s roof slab.

On average, the process of mounting takes about 5 hours to complete, but in the case of the 36m long billboard in Ikeja, it took about 12 hours because the workers were interrupted by heavy winds.

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Conclusion

I hope this overview of our first experience with billboard advertising was helpful!

If you’ve got questions, or ideas on better ways we could have done this, please reach out to us at [email protected]!