And now, more and more of those signs are using Light-Emitting Diodes or LEDs.
LEDs are super-bright electronic lights.
Imagine thousands of the brilliant little suckers flashing messages on a 30-foot-tall billboard outside your bedroom window.
That’s happening all around the Colorado Springs region: in Security; on Austin Bluffs Parkway near Barnes Road; along U.S. Highway 24 near Petersen Road; and on Powers Boulevard near Galley Road.
All five signs are owned by Lamar Outdoor Advertising, which spent upwards of $250,000 apiece for the boards.
Here’s a photo of a two-sided board on Austin Bluffs, towering over the Fabulous TNT’s strip club:
Neighbors are divided over the LED boards. Some hate the blinking every six seconds as the message changes. Others accept them, grudgingly, as a fact of life.
Here’s a look at one that stands along South Academy Boulevard, in near Bradley Road, in Security. Folks living in modest houses amid the trees behind the storage warehouses are not thrilled with the sign.
Lamar owns an estimated 150,000 billboards in 44 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Of its inventory, about 250 are LEDs.
Advertisers love them because motorists can’t ignore them. They can be networked nationwide. The message can be changed instantly for a single-day promotion. All with just a computer keystroke.
But more cities are banning them because they pose a danger to motorists, who can’t ignore them. And folks living near them object to the bright, blinking signs.
Denver and Colorado Springs don’t allow them. But they were permitted in El Paso County last year after a staff review.
Screen Magazine describes LEDS as an efficient, effective and ultrabright alternative to incandescent light bulbs.
A light emitting diode (LED) is an electronic light source. The first LED was built in the 1920s by a radio technician who noticed that diodes used in radio receivers emitted light when current was passed through them.
The LED was introduced as a practical electronic component in 1962 (See Wikipedia). LEDs are considered more energy efficient and require less maintenance than traditional lighting. They also boast a life of about 50,000 hours–more than five years!
If you’ve been to Freemont Street, seen below, in Las Vegas or Times Square in New York City, you’ve seen LEDs in all their glory.
These new billboards are light-years away the original billboards in the 1830s which advertised: “The circus is coming to town,” according to a history written by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Inc.
Electronic digital billboards go back about 10 years, again according to OAAA.
Of the 450,000 billboards nationwide, about 2,000 are LEDs but the inventory is growing by the hundreds every year.
The signs cost upwards of $250,000 or more, compared to $5,000 to $50,000 for a traditional billboard.