Big Lights Will Not Inspire You

The city council approved a moratorium on electronic billboards Tuesday while it figures out what to do with them.

Not surprisingly, representatives from a billboard company opposed this law:

But billboard company representatives said a moratorium would hurt businesses — theirs and their clients’ — and possibly infringe on free-speech rights.

That’s the argument I would have expected from company reps, but it raises the question: do electronic billboards actually work? Is there any data either way? I know I’ve never been persuaded to do anything based on an electronic billboard — or any billboard — nor do they seem to be particularly influential in the lives of my friends and family. I don’t hate them, they just blend into the background.

But questions about effectiveness matter because if electronic billboards aren’t quantitatively helping local businesses – as opposed to a big corporation that generates few jobs and barely any local revenue — there’s really no reason to allow them at all. (Unless, of course, we just like the way they look; some big cities have exciting areas filled with electronic billboards.) The also article cites the electronic billboard at the Riverwoods, which I find to be among the more garish examples of the genre.

But in any case the city shouldn’t just blindly accept the assertion that banning electronic billboards will hurt anyone in the community.

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Filed under Development, economics

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