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What is a 3D Billboard?

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A 3D billboard, also referred to as a three-dimensional billboard or a 3D anamorphic billboard, is a type of OOH advertising display designed to use LED technology to create the illusion of a three-dimensional appearance on a two-dimensional surface.

How do 3D Billboards work?

An illusion that relies on forced perspective.

The way that you create an Anamorphic Billboard is that you take the desired final image that you want and then project it back onto the screen.

image projection on screen contours

Project onto screen contours

So, wrapping around the contours like a piece of cling film that follows the curve. Then, if you flatten that out, it looks like this.

flattened 3D Anamorphic Billboard perspective

Flattened 3D Anamorphic Billboard perspective

A bit strange and distorted, but looking at it from the desired sweet spot on the ground, everything comes together to create this illusion. To really sell it, you want to use the existing geometry and the right angles of the environment where you can.

Then the real wow factor comes when you’re actually crossing over the border and comes right out at you.

3d content crossing over border & comes right at you

You see a lot of PR about this new 3D billboard technology. In reality, there is nothing very new about the forced perspective.

There are paintings available from as early as 1533 that used this same technique.

Today, 3D billboards are often used in urban, high-traffic areas, such as city centres, shopping districts, and major highways, to grab the attention of passersby. They’re a bit of a novelty in the current wave of outdoor advertising.

These ads use a combination of specialized software like Unreal Engine or Unity and sometimes interactive elements to bring objects to life, creating an immersive and captivating experience.

Hyper-realistic 3D OOH ads have been stunning passersby on busy streets in China, South Korea, the US, Japan and the UK recently.

What are the challenges with 3D OOH Billboard?

3D billboards create a lasting impression on the audience and generate buzz around a brand. However, there are some challenges associated with 3D billboards, which include:

  • The Cost of 3D Billboard Advertising: 3D billboards can be expensive to create and install. The cost of creating an advertisement in ‘3D’ is very high. Then, almost all 3D billboards around the world, at present, are located in upscale urban areas, so it become expensive to purchase a spot on the billboard. This cost adds up exponentially relative to the marketing budgets of brands. Unless you’re a brand with deep pockets, the cost factor tends to limit a brand’s ability to deploy 3D Billboards.

    The cost of a 3D Billboard reaches up to as much as – $2000 – $8,000 for designing the 3D ad campaign, then another $10,000 – $50,000 for the billboard spot. Bear in mind that this cost will depend on:

    • Billboard location 
    • Total traffic in the area 
    • Duration for which the Billboard (or Hoarding) be up for 

  • Technical skills: 3D DOOH requires technical skills and expertise like projection mapping and building out 3D models to ensure that the ad displays properly from the prescribed viewing area.

    Also, all the experiences have to be fine-tuned based on the technical specifications of the various LED billboard screens and their viewing areas.

  • Viewing area: As explained above, a 3D Billboard’s viewing area is limited because of the nature of illusions. 3D and other anamorphic displays have an optimal viewing angle; from other angles, the creative will appear distorted, which may limit the overall effectiveness of the advertisement.

Benefits of 3D Billboards

3D billboards are not just ordinary billboards. They are immersive, interactive, and impactful. They can create a wow factor for your audience, produce a lasting impression, build an emotional connection, and offer a distraction-free transmission of your promotional messages. Some benefits of 3D billboard are:

  • Easier to get the message across and create a pause and refresh moment: 3D billboards can convey complex or abstract concepts more effectively than 2D billboards, as they use depth and movement to create a more engaging and interactive experience. They can also offer a break from the monotony of daily life and provide a moment of wonder and delight.

  • Better audience retention and brand identity: 3D billboards are designed to capture the attention of viewers and create a memorable impression that will stick in their minds long after they have seen the advertisement.

  • Add a ‘WOW’ factor to your campaign – One of the benefits of 3D billboards is that they can add a ‘WOW’ factor for campaign virality. This means that they can generate a lot of buzz and word-of-mouth among the audience, who are likely to share their experience with others through social media or other channels.

    3D billboards are very popular on social media, as they can showcase lifelike visuals, animated effects, and interactive features that leave a lasting impression. People often take videos or photos of 3D billboards and post them on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc. This can increase the exposure and reach of the advertisement, as well as the brand awareness and reputation.

    For example, Google’s 3D billboard in Times Square was immensely popular on Twitter, with many users sharing their awe and admiration for the display. Similarly, Balenciaga and Fortnite’s shoe advertisement on a 3D billboard in Paris attracted a lot of attention and engagement on social media, as people were amazed by the realistic and futuristic design.

  • Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly: 3D billboards use LED technology, which consumes less power and emits less heat than traditional billboards. They also have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance, reducing waste and pollution.

Usage of 3D Billboards

3D billboards can be used for various purposes, such as:

  • Launching a new product or service
  • Creating brand awareness and recognition
  • Generating buzz and excitement
  • Enhancing customer engagement and loyalty
  • Increasing sales and conversions

3D billboards can be used in different locations, such as:

  • Highways and roadsides
  • Airports and train stations
  • Shopping malls and cinemas
  • Stadiums and arenas

3D billboards can be used by different industries, such as:

  • Automotive and Transportation
  • Fashion and beauty
  • Entertainment and media
  • Technology and innovation
  • Education and health

Commonly asked questions around 3D OOH Billboards?

Are 3D Billboards real?

Yes, most of the 3D billboard videos you see on social media are real but those videos might not be real-world recordings. Brands usually post the rendered clips from Unreal or Unity on social media rather than recording them in real-world scenarios. One of the reasons most 3D Billboard examples look out of the world.

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