The large American outdoor poster (more than 50 square feet) originated in New York in Jared Bell’s office where he printed posters for the circus in 1835.
In the beginning, American roadside advertising was generally local. Merchants painted signs or glued posters on walls and fences to notify the passersby that their establishments up the road sold horse blankets, rheumatism pills, etc.
In 1850, exterior advertising was first used on street railways.
The earliest recorded leasings of boards occurred in the U.S. in 1867. By 1870 close to 300 small sign-painting and bill posting companies existed. In 1872, the International Bill Posters’ Association of North America was formed in St. Louis.
In 1900, a standardized billboard structure was created in America, and ushered in a boom in national billboard campaigns. Confident that the same ad would fit billboards from Connecticut to Kansas, big advertisers like Palmolive, Kellogg, and Coca-Cola began mass-producing billboards for the national market.
By 1912, standardized outdoor service was at the disposal of national advertisers in nearly every major urban center.