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How Do Digital Billboards Work From Setup to Software

A digital billboard uses light emitting diodes (LEDs) to display bright, colorful, and, most importantly, eye-catching messages. Like their traditional static brethren, digital billboards are generally found on roadsides or the sides of buildings.

Digital billboards are fast replacing these traditional signs, though. BusinessWire reports, “The digital billboards segment accounted for a market share of more than 51% in the global digital [out of home] advertising market in 2015.”

Why are digital billboards, which are more expensive to manufacture, replacing traditional ones so quickly? Both allow for vivid designs, but only digital billboards allow you to place multiple advertising messages on the same billboard in one day. You’ll see your return on investment much sooner.

Working with a Manufacturer

A simple web search will turn up hundreds of LED display manufacturers. Many of these will be incapable of producing large digital billboards. Instead, their focus may be on the smaller digital displays you see outside of retail locations.

Choosing which manufacturer to work with after narrowing the list is a matter of deciding who has the best product for your needs and a team you enjoy working with. View our guide on this topic here.

Installing Your Digital Billboard

Project Management

Choosing the correct team to implement your project is essential to the success of your project. A great project management team works on your LED billboards from conception to completion; overseeing the fabrication, shipping, and installation of your LED billboards so you can concentrate on your business. Learn more about our exceptional project management services here.


Before your billboard completes manufacturing, you need to determine if your chosen location has the proper zoning for your digital billboard. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to either choose another location or check into changing the property’s zoning.

For locations zoned correctly, your installer needs to start applying for the necessary permits and licenses for installation. The permits and licenses needed differs based on local ordinances. The amount of time needed to get them to you varies, too, so this is a process that needs to be started as early as possible.

Day of Installation

After your billboard is manufactured, it’s parts are shipped out to the site. The parts are unloaded and assembled, then hoisted into place by a crane.

Your sign will be connected to the electrical and network once the hardware installation is complete. The network connection may be just like any other web-enabled device, relying on either cable, DSL, cellular data, WiFi, or fiber optic.

If not done at the factory, any software for your content management software (CMS) will be installed and set up so that you can begin entering content for the ads. Generally, though, your CMS will be installed on a host computer and controls the billboard through the network connection, so software installs should be minimal (if needed at all).


The ads on your digital billboard are controlled by the CMS, which allows you to:

  • Upload content for multiple ads
  • Control which ads show when, and how long each ad will be viewed before flashing to another ad
  • How the screen switches from one ad to another
  • Display content from social media or local alerts, such as severe weather or Amber Alerts
  • Schedule content to show at specific times

Selecting a CMS

Many CMS providers are available. Your manufacturer can guide you to ones that work best with your chosen digital billboards.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to select a CMS that is easy for you to use and can handle the number of billboards you have and the type of content you’ll be displaying. The CMS provider should offer training and support to show you how to use the software once it’s running.

Traditional vs. Digital Billboards

The process for installing and using digital billboards isn’t complicated. There are many similarities to traditional billboards in the installation process, but unlike traditional, digital billboards allow you to change out messaging from the comfort of your office.


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