Mobile billboard trucks are included in the Transit category of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, which also includes a number of non-conventional out-of-home media types. The first mobile billboards apparently appeared in New York City in the 1980s, making billboard trucks a relatively new invention.
Others claim that Texas and Southern California are where they first appeared. Several participants in a recent conference call among executives from mobile billboard companies, which was organized and moderated by the OAAA and in which this author took part, estimated that there are only 500 or fewer mobile billboard trucks operating nationwide in the United States.
Mobile billboards are employed for a wide range of marketing initiatives. They are uniquely equipped to target a particular location to promote the Grand Opening of a retail store or a restaurant because they can drive almost everywhere. Unfortunately, given the state of the economy, billboard trucks are increasingly appearing to be tasked with advertising retail store bankruptcy and close-out sales.
Like any effective marketing message, getting the public's attention and getting them to respond to the message depends on the creative component. Advertisers are encouraged to follow the maxim that "a picture is worth a thousand words" when using outdoor advertising and to prominently display their brand, an illustration that captures the message's concept, a call to action, and a piece of contact information. In fact, it is this final component that has constantly changed. In the past, advertisers were essentially confined to a "800" number, but more recently, the creative has included a website URL that potential customers may access whenever they want to learn more about the business and its products before making a choice to buy.
Since 1999, many companies have been carrying out advertising campaigns for their customers. Such Mobile Billboard Advertising has worked with a wide range of businesses, from large Fortune 500 companies to relatively small grassroots organizations like a fan club protesting the cancellation of its members' preferred vampire TV show by a major TV network, from the streets of New York City to sunny Southern California.