Your Guide to Advertising in San Francisco 

 September 20, 2022

San Francisco is the 4th largest city in California and part of the Bay Area. Famous for the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and steep streets, this city is also the setting of many popular shows. And, at long last, the tourist draw has finally begun to bounce back as we create a new COVID normal.


If you want to appeal to wide demographics of potential customers with your local marketing, why not consider Out-of-home (OOH) advertising? Billboards in San Francisco offer the ability to get in front of large audiences quickly. When you consider the commuter volume, over 200,000 people, in and out of the city each day you can get tremendous value.

Which is Better: Print or Digital Billboards?

When you’re choosing your billboard location in the San Francisco Bay Area, you need to decide if you want to go with print or digital. Printed billboards are the traditional static versions. They won’t change until they’re replaced and usually require longer commitments. Digital billboards, on the other hand, can be changed as often as you need to. And you can often rent the space for as little as a few days.


If you’re trying to decide which option is right for you, it can help to see a side-by-side comparison:


  • Printed Billboards
    • Static, printed image doesn’t change
    • Less expensive
    • Easier to produce
    • Longer rental periods
    • More set-up costs


  • Digital Billboards
    • Can be changed as often as you need to
    • Interactive capabilities
    • More expensive to rent
    • Minimal setup costs
    • More flexible rental periods

Where Should You Put Your Billboard in San Francisco?


Now that you know your basic options between traditional print and digital options for your billboard marketing. But where should you advertise? Most San Francisco billboard locations are placed near highways, major intersections, or primary arterials. You want a placement that offers high visibility for your target demographics. Let’s look at some of your options.


This iconic San Francisco neighborhood is the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. San Francisco’s Chinatown is already the home to many businesses. You can reach tourists and locals all in one go with this location. And, it boasts even more popular than the Golden Gate Bridge!

The Financial District

Are office workers your ideal customers? The Financial District, also known as The Embarcadero, is home to many businesses and is among the busiest areas in San Francisco’s Bay Area. But don’t mistake its name to mean your billboards will be seen by locals. The Financial District attracts tourists with Filbert Steps, multiple museums, parks, historical landmarks, and architectural buildings.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Do you want to reach the masses? Fisherman’s Wharf is among the busiest city destinations and is popular with tourists. And, if your offer will appeal to families, you can’t find a better location. It’s credited with having the most family-orientated and child-friendly activities.

Union Square

With great appeal to tourists and locals alike, Union Square is a public plaza that covers 2.6-acres. It’s an ideal location to reach many of your potential customers. And as a busy shopping district, visitors are already in the shop.

Other Areas to Consider Advertising Your Business

Sometimes the easiest way to choose your billboard marketing location is by interest demographics. If your business has appeal to locals and tourists alike, consider locations near tourist attractions: Pier 39, Alcatraz Island, or The Golden Gate Bridge. But if your ideal clients are sports or music lovers, you may want to advertise near arenas and sports stadiums: Oracle Park, Oakland Arena, Levi’s Stadium, or Cow Palace Arena and Events Center. You could even choose San Francisco billboard locations near airports, universities, and colleges.

How Much Does Billboard Advertising Cost in San Francisco?

The cost associated with your billboard advertising in San Francisco will depend upon several factors: size, location, side of the street, etc. Many of the locations can be previewed online using an interactive map from the San Francisco Planning Department.


The average print billboard rental cost is approximately $2,500. It sounds like a lot, but the average number of impressions such an advertisement will yield is estimated at almost 575 million. The lowest-priced option we’ve found, with a fraction of the reach, is $100.


Digital billboards cost more. The lowest price available is $500 but the average is close to $10,000. The average number of impressions is a little over 10 million.

Final Thoughts

Is San Francisco billboard advertising right for you? If your offer has wide appeal, it may be! Remember to research your ideal target audience to decide which locations will help your business reach them. And make sure your high-quality images will grab your viewer’s attention. Short, clear, and memorable writing will help your billboard make an impression and prompt them to act.

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