Billboard Industry Overview


The number of billboard companies in the United States is continuing to shrink through a flurry of acquisitions and mergers.  The billboard industry is now dominated by just THREE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR CONGLOMERATES:  Eller Media Company (reputedly the largest billboard company in the world, and a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications), Infinity Outdoor, Inc. (reportedly the largest billboard company in the United States, and a subsidiary of media giant Viacom), and Lamar Media Corp. (which acquired billboard giant Chancellor Media Whiteco Outdoor Corporation)

Note:  Lamar Media Corp. also owns most of the U.S. logo sign companies (logo signs were originally intended to be an alternative to billboard advertising).

Some of the nation's largest billboard companies have been acquired or merged into one of these three giants.  Among those companies that have disappeared through merger or acquisition are:  Outdoor Systems, Universal Outdoor, Gannett Outdoor, Martin Media, Whiteco Outdoor Advertising, National Advertising Company, Gator Outdoor, Naegele Outdoor, Republic Media, and Donrey Media.

Some of these billboard giants are involved in other forms of offsite advertising, such as bus shelter advertising and giant wall murals.

The industry associations, both nationally and at the state level, are dominated by these same giants.  In 1992, members of the Florida billboard industry formed a corporation by the name of Scenic Florida, Inc. (a true misnomer), and according to its 1999 annual report this misnomer's four directors are composed of representatives of these same three billboard giants:  Walter LaBorde (Lamar Media), Bob Sorenson (Chancellor Media Whiteco, now part of Lamar Media), Shawn Ulrich (Clear Channel/Eller Media), and Patty Blass (Viacom/Infinity Outdoor).

These three giants (Clear Channel/Eller Media, Viacom/Infinity Outdoor, and Lamar Media) now appear to control over four-fifths of the billboards in Florida, over two-thirds of the billboards in North America, and over one-half the billboards in the world.