The True Cost of Large Format Advertising in the 21st Century

Large format advertising is one of the most popular types of traditional marketing and it’s near-guaranteed to give your business the boost in visibility and brand awareness that you seek – particularly in this uber-competitive digital era. But if you want the best results from your advertisements, there are various costs you need to take into consideration and they don’t just include financial. Here’s what they are.


If you want to successfully roll out a large format advertising campaign, you need to consider the following, which have their own costs attached:

  • Financial Costs
  • Turnaround Times
  • Whether the Visual Solution Aligns with Your Branding
  • The Importance of Not Outsourcing and Choosing a Reliable Large Format Printing Specialist
  • The Importance of Checking Every Last Detail Before Sending to Print

Financial Costs

The most obvious cost of advertising is the financial cost – that can’t be denied. It’s easy to assume that large format printing will be more expensive than standard printing techniques. And of course, when you’re printing visuals to the scale of building wraps, hoardings and gigantic banners that hang down the side of skyscrapers, you’re going to need more ink, more material and a specialist printer that can manage the large scale of the product.

However, this isn’t necessarily the case. The actual financial cost of large format advertising and whether it’s more expensive than standard printing techniques depends on a variety of factors. These include:

  • The materials used – some luxury stock can be just as expensive as the materials needed for a large format visual solution.
  • The impact of the ad – large format ads offer instant visual impact and 24-hour exposure due to their sheer size. Often, it’s difficult to ignore a giant hoarding (for example) while it’s easy to look past a leaflet or brochure.
  • Overall return on investment – large ads obviously have a greater visual impact than smaller ones and are more likely to give you greater short-term ROI.
  • How many ads were made – more often than not, you will never need as many large format products as you would need smaller ones.
  • The reusability of the ads – most large format solutions can be reused over and over. For example, promotional skins can easily be changed while the light box frame stays intact and pop up stands can easily be reused for another exhibition – all without spending any money. With standard-size printed products, once they’re printed, that’s it. You need to redesign and reprint if you want to reuse them for another promotion. And that means more investment.

Turnaround Times

As the saying goes, time is money. And this certainly applies to the advertising industry. The time that you spend waiting for a printing company to produce and present your visual solution is time that could be spent targeting your audience. That’s why it’s important you choose the right printing specialist who can deliver on time.

If you don’t choose a specialist who can deliver in a timely manner, you could risk going round in endless circles with a printing specialist and having to wait until the last second for them to hand over your product. It could get worse – your products might not be printed on time and that means everything in your project timeline can be knocked back, putting extra stress on your team’s plate. And no-one wants that.

Avoid that by carefully selecting your large format printing specialist:

  • Read client testimonials and reviews.
  • Speak to your chosen printing company about your project. Are they able to commit to a turnaround time? Are they prepared in case of the unforeseeable?
  • Ensure the company has a professional approach to printing and can produce what you need themselves without subcontracting to another provider.
  • See if the company responds to communication in a timely, organised and helpful manner. The project or account managers should be able to take you smoothly through the printing process, from start to finish, without either of you breaking a sweat.

As well as this, ensure that you factor in any potential slip-ups in your project timeline. Give you and your team some leeway because you can never be sure when something might go wrong.

Spending Time Ensuring the Solution Aligns with Your Branding

For a business to run seamlessly, it’s important that all of the different activities associated with it match its purpose and eventual goal. For example, you wouldn’t hire an employee if you didn’t think they would fit in with your company. Similarly, advertising should also align with your company’s goals and overall branding.

As well as the type of solution, the actual design and message of your ad also need to be in line with your brand. You have a target audience and you want to resonate with them in the right way. Unique and creative visual solutions might get your company noticed and remembered, but ideally, you want to achieve that aesthetic without straying too far from your signature branding and core values.

Brainstorming ideas is a great way to approach this, but it can be a time-consuming task for your team. Or in some cases, more than one team in your company. However, it’s worthwhile because if the large format solution doesn’t match your image, you risk not hitting a mark with your customers – current as well as potential – and losing them in the process.

The Importance of Choosing a Direct Large Format Print Specialist

There are many printing specialists who may not have the printing capabilities that you require, despite everything else being seemingly perfect. For instance, they might not have specialist printing presses designed for large format printing. This means they’ll have to outsource.

Although outsourcing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to miscommunication or problems in trying to talk to the right person – simply because there are more people involved in the printing process than there needs to be. As well as this, it can add to your financial costs as you’ll be paying for the intermediary company a fee when you could just be going direct.

That’s why it’s better if you find a printing company who specialises in large and super-large visual solutions. That way, you can cut straight to the chase and deal directly with the people you want to be talking to. But there are particular factors you need to consider when choosing a reliable large format printing specialist, including their range of solutions and services, and balancing product quality with turnaround times.

The Importance of Checking Every Last Detail Before Sending to Print

Attention to detail is important for anything that’s visual, but this is even more relevant for products which are as huge as large format solutions. One error can negatively impact your whole campaign and in most cases, take longer to fix than something for a normal sized printed product. After all, it’s so huge.

That’s why it’s important that you properly prepare your files for large format output before sending them to the printer. For example, you need to make sure you:

  • Optimise the images for the height and distance you intend for your ads to be viewed at.
  • Calibrate your monitors to CMYK and ensure they match the printer’s to avoid images being printed and looking different to what you expected.
  • Convert fonts to vectors to ensure any typography you’ve used isn’t replaced by default ones if the printer doesn’t have them – but good comms throughout the process with your supplier will help ensure this doesn’t happen.
  • Save the file in an appropriate format as recommended by the printer.

Time Could be One of the Biggest Costs in Large Format Advertising

Although financial costs obviously play a major role, time also adds considerably to the true cost of advertising. For example, if you don’t check your images before sending them to the printer, products can be misprinted which can lead to you having to redesign and resend them back for reprinting. This can delay your entire printing project, causing you to lose money. It’s better to spend the time checking twice more than starting again due to an error.

Ultimately, it pays to be prepared if you want your large format printing project to run as smoothly and successfully as possible.

Want to Read More on Large Format Printing?

When it comes to sourcing a large format printing visual solution, the true cost of advertising is one thing to consider but there’s so much more you need to know. For more information on the different types of large format printing and their benefits, plus how to execute a successful printing project, head over to our one-stop resource page, or download our free brochure by clicking on the button below.