September 21, 2020 - Written by Eric Murr



Imagine you’re behind the wheel of your favorite car, cruising down a scenic back road with your best Spotify station on.

You’re relaxed.

You’re smiling.

There’s wind blowing your hair.

It’s not an exaggeration to say this experience ranks high in the minds and hearts of most Americans. There are songs about cruising down the highway. There are iconic roadways that evoke powerful sentiments of nostalgia, happiness, and stirring memories—From Rt. 66, to M-22, or Rt.1, down the California Coast. And there are plenty here in Central Pennsylvania as well. Trindle Road (Rt. 641), Lincoln Highway (Rt. 30), Molly Pitcher Highway (Rt. 11), Rt. 147, and Rt. 22, are just a few of the scenic Byways and commuter routes that cross mountains and valleys in the broader Harrisburg area.

Driving like this is very different from the high-pressure traffic jams, bottlenecks, jug handles, and rapid lane changes on highways in the major urban areas. Driving down beautiful country highways is an activity largely free from stress, and typically very enjoyable. In fact, a recent ABC news poll found that 71 percent of people who work in towns or rural areas enjoy their commute. This is 24 points higher than those in big cities.

Driving on rural roads actually can often put a person “in flow.” This is a term coined by psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura. When flow happens, Csikszentmihalyi says the mind’s usual chatter fades away, placing us in a non-distracted zone, as our brain is flooded with dopamine. What are the benefits? Concentration. Clarity. Awareness. Creativity. Feelings of freedom. Feelings of happiness.

Essentially, the flow state one achieves while driving, is an active, positive meditative experience.

Why does this matter to an advertiser?

The Swedish researchers, Mandy Hütter and Steven Sweldens, will tell you why: Evaluative Conditioning (EC). Evaluative Conditioning is when positive (or negative associations) rub off onto the other. EC is the reason so many brands rely on celebrity endorsements, or cute animals in their television commercials (e.g. Coca-Cola’s iconic polar bear spots). Advertisers have found that a quick way to win love for their product is to position it alongside something or someone people already love.

But there is another way to achieve Evaluative Conditioning.

Have your ads appear when your target audience is happy already.

Amid today’s ferocious sea of negative content accompanying most all advertising, the rural billboard is perfectly positioned to offer your business a powerful impression, smack dab in the middle of their window of joy—their daily commute, or Sunday cruise. This powerful impact happens at the optimal time in their overworked, scatter-brained lives.

With today’s exceptional mobile data insights available to pair with billboard targeting, by advertising on rural billboards you not only a get highly targeted, impossible-to-ignore, low-cost, super-efficient, super-valuable message to your customers and prospects, but you can deliver it free from negative content, with exceptional frequency…. the consumer is happy. Associate your brand with happiness. Happy impressions are worth more.

Simply put, “The relaxed mind is a receptive mind,” says Dr. Deitrick Gorman, the author of Relaxed and Ready.

Mental states matter: A recent study done by researchers at Columbia Business School found that a relaxed, happier consumer is not only a more satisfied shopper, but is someone willing to pay more for a product. Their research indicated 12% more, in fact.

"Relaxed consumers think products are worth more than less-relaxed consumers because relaxed individuals tend to think about the value of products at a more abstract level.” These consumers imagine benefits more easily, instead of focusing on features and price.

The combination of contextual value makes billboards a near-perfect medium. Perhaps this is why this medium has experienced (prior to COVID), 40 straight quarters of growth. That’s a decade of sustained growth in a digital age, if you’re doing the math.

Perhaps that’s why Apple now dedicates 25% of its advertising to OOH (Out of Home/Billboards). Perhaps that’s why Netflix bought a billboard company. Perhaps that’s why Google and Amazon are both top 10 OOH advertisers.


We don’t think so.

Before you run the same click and bounce heavy digital campaigns, ask yourself, are Ad Bots really your best customers? How much was your highest priced click this month? Negative content, real fake news blogs, escalating CPC bids and tCPA campaigns often do not hit the target effectively and efficiently.

With COVID affecting everything about how you evaluate your business, give this some thought: How many people do you know working from their lake house, hunting cabin, or rural home location? I’m doing it right now, here in my home just off Rt. 34 in Cumberland County. I can’t get to the grocery store or post office without driving past numerous billboards.

So, I encourage you to take a serious look at rural billboards in your area. They are super affordable at about $400-$800, and they each typically offer your brand 100,000 impressions or more every month. Rural billboards work--they showcase your brand at the right price, at the right location, at the right time.

Find a happy place for your ads.

Learn more at

Written by Eric Murr - September 21, 2020