Vehicle wrapping ROI vs traditional advertising

By Richard Clark on Apr 27, 2022 1:19:06 PM

16 min read

We all love the idea of displaying our branding on company or promotional vehicles, but is it worth it? What is the return on investment (ROI) on a vehicle wrap really? Let's get straight into some numbers.

HubSpot Video


A single-wrapped vehicle, driving intercity, can attract up to 18 million views a year with a vehicle wrap costing 10% of the overall price of leasing and running a van – a mere 87 pence per day.*

That sounds great right, but what’s the catch? Well … nothing… no really there is no downside, your vehicle becomes the equivalent of a mobile billboard, promoting you at all times, wherever you go.

Ok you say, but how effective is vehicle wrapping compared to traditional forms of advertising: Digital, TV, Radio or Print? Whilst we can’t forecast the actual success rate of any advertising campaign, we can forecast the relative potential for success, and that’s where vehicle wrapping shines.

We don’t expect you to just take us at our word though, we are a vehicle wrapping company after all – so we must be biased! Price vs impressions or CPM is the most concrete comparable metric across these different mediums, so we will lead our comparisons with these numbers.


Price of vehicle wrap compared to traditional advertising

Below is the price per 1000 impressions of the forms of advertising covered in this article. For more specific information about the price of a vehicle wrap, check out our pricing guide.

Vehicle wrap ads are more than 100 times cheaper than Google ads, and 1000 times cheaper than television ads.

Ad Type Price per 1000 impressions (CPM)**
Vehicle Wrap £0.02
Google £2.15
Facebook £4.90
Twitter £5.50
Radio £6
Magazine £7.80
YouTube £7.44
Newspaper £16.34
Television £20

*This figure was calculated by dividing the average price of a wrap (£1,600) by the number of days a good quality vehicle wrap should last (1,825 days or five years).
** Figures taken from speedpro and 3M.

Where are you pulling all these figures from?

We’ve been throwing a lot of numbers around so it’s time to show our working, so you don’t have to take our word for it. The average vehicle wrap sold by us costs about £1600 and lasts about 5 years or 1,825 days.

1600 / 1825 = 0.87 meaning your wrap costs you about 87p per day.

Now according to a study conducted by ARD Ventures measuring the value of vehicle wrapping, a wrap can generate anywhere from 30,000 – 70,000 impressions per day depending on route. So if we shoot for the middle of that range and go with 50,000 let's divide that by the daily cost of your wrap:

50,000 / 87 = 574 views per pence.

However, CPM is measured by the thousand so let’s double that and you have your answer:

1149 views for 2 pence or in CPM terms: £0.02 per 1000 views.

Oh and before we forget, 50,000 views per day works out as 18.2m views a year.

50,000 x 365 =18,250,000


Digital advertising vs Vehicle wrapping ROI

Digital advertising is popular for a reason, it obviously works, but it requires a great deal of time, expertise and money to make it worthwhile.

This is not a problem shared with vehicle wrapping. Obviously, design expertise is required to create an effectively branded wrap, but the ad itself is passive; it doesn’t require constant maintenance or fine-tuning. It just keeps working for you, day and night.

The digital space is also very competitive. Online ads are more like a constant auction, you get seen by X amount of people if you pay X amount. For example, Google will constantly limit your audience in accordance with your budget and spend over time caps. This means that inevitably the fattest pocketbook wins.

This isn’t the case with vehicle wrapping, you pay a fixed price, for which you have the same chance of getting seen as anyone else. There aren’t any bidding wars here, all you have to do is drive.

Reaching a target audience is much simpler with vehicle wrap advertising, partially due to the sheer exposure and partially due to their inoffensive nature. For example, un-skippable ads on online videos are irritating, but passing a McDonald's sign is not.

In fact, if you are hungry and you pass a McDonald's ad, there is a good chance you will visit the restaurant. This is why the company spends so much on Out Of Home (OOH) ads, nearly $60m in the USA in 2020.

According to TACA Market Research featured in Outdoor Advertising Magazine (July/Aug 2002), Outdoor mobile media billboards have a 97% recall rate. That’s huge. The research also found that 96% of people believe mobile advertising is more effective than traditional outdoor advertising.

So let’s get specific: how do Google and Social Media ads compare to vehicle wrapping?



At just £2.15 per 1000 impressions, PPC may seem well priced, but you will pay per ‘click’ which doesn’t guarantee the quality of the leads coming in. You get charged regardless of whether that visitor becomes a client. 

People have an inbuilt radar that detects and resists perceived persuasion attempts. This is known as reactance, and is one of the primary pain points every business is fighting to overcome. This is why so many advertising strategies invest in repetition, hoping that through sheer persistence they can wear their target audience down.

Doing that on Google is possible, but it's very time-consuming and expensive. Most people who have grown up with the internet are very desensitised to digital advertising, and may even deliberately scroll past anything that looks like an ad in search results.

What do you think when you see an ad in Google search results? Do you feel more inclined to click, when you can see the result is "Sponsored"? Or do you scroll past to see which result made it to the top of the page without paying for it? Having to pay for notoriety often does not engender trust.

A wrapped vehicle on the other hand has the opposite effect: it makes a company look professional, respectable and competent. It's the difference between going to work in a suit or uniform, and going in your casual clothes - the former just looks better and is even expected.

Vehicle wrapping return on investment

Your vehicle has a much higher chance of being noticed than a Google Ad too, as long as it is wrapped with a high-quality and eye-catching design. This is because the human eye is naturally drawn to aesthetics, meaning your ad makes a much more concrete ‘impression’.

This is extremely valuable if you ply a trade or service because you become a case study in action just by doing your job.

Someone noticing you parked outside a neighbour’s house, for example, can literally see who it is that their peer trusted with their business. If they have a requirement for the same service, you are in their mind, and they can go check with their peer for confirmation of quality.

Google home mini vehicle wrapHeck, even Google themselves use vehicle wraps as part of their marketing strategy. Here is a wrap we did for them to promote the Google Home Mini.

Not convinced?

Let’s get down to some hard numbers.

Word of mouth (WOM) is still the most important trust metric that drives business, online and offline. However 93% of WOM brand impressions occur offline, so if you are only focused on the digital world, you are missing out. In fact, offline WOM conversations are 10% more likely to be positive than negative, 10% more credible, and 7% more likely to lead to purchase intent.

The average Click-Through Rate (CTR) on a Google ad is 1.9% for search and 0.35% for display, so out of those 1000 people that saw your ad between 3 and 20 clicked on it and 997-980 ignored you. And that’s just the people that clicked on the ad, not your conversion to actual sales. That will depend on your ability to craft a convincing ad and requisite sales pipeline, a difficult task that requires constant attention.

Google recommends spending up to £40 a day as a beginner to get results, and it considers that “small”. That’s £14,600 a year for about 7.3m impressions! Compare that to the £1,500-£3,000 it costs to wrap a van that can deliver 18.2m real-world impressions!

If you spent the same money wrapping a fleet at £2,000 a van that’s 7 wrapped vans delivering 126m impressions a year. There is a reason that giants like Sky wrap their entire fleet. With 2,500 vans on the road, Sky's rolling stock attracts around 19 billion views each year. That's around 300 views for every man, woman and child in the country!



Apart from the oversaturation of digital forms of advertising, there is one other major disadvantage we haven’t mentioned: AdBlock. If you aren’t familiar, AdBlock is a browser extension that allows users to control the amount of ads they see.

It only takes a few clicks to avoid seeing any online ads ever again. This is pretty devastating to a digital campaign when you consider that 42.7% of internet users globally use ad-blocking software.

Marketing pioneer John Wannamaker was famously quoted as saying, “Half my advertising spend is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.”

Well…now we do!


Social media facebook twitter youtube vehicle wrapping

Social media is primarily engaged with using mobile apps, which currently prevent AdBlock software. That, and their ability to hyper-target audiences makes them a viable strategy to reach new customers.

However, as with Google Ads, that takes expertise, which means either hiring an individual or team to monitor and finetune the advertising strategy.

If you are a large company, you likely already have a marketing department with the expertise to run such a campaign for you. But if you are smaller, you certainly don't have the time to do it yourself, and with the cost of social media advertising being many times higher than Google Ads, it's probably not cost-effective for you either. 

Advertising on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube costs, respectively, £5.50, £4.90 and £7.44 per 1000 impressions. For high-impact vehicle graphics, it's just 2 pence, with the average single-wrapped vehicle averaging 30,000 – 70,000 impressions per day.

So wrapped ads are literally hundreds of times cheaper for more than double the impressions per day, and you don't need to hire a social media-savvy marketeer to run the campaign for you.


Television advertising vs Vehicle wrapping ROI

TV advertising costs roughly three times as much as social media advertising, that’s about £20 per 1000 impressions but it is more effective.

A study from MediaScience found that a, “TV environment generated more visual attention as participants watched 71% of the ad, compared to just 30% of digital mobile ads — likely a result of the full-screen viewing experience versus the distractions inherent with the digital experience.”

When you consider advertising packages often run into the tens of thousands though, you have to ask yourself: Is it worth the price? A prime-time ad package on ITV costs £43,000 for example.

And that's just the cost of the time slot, not the cost and the time investment to find, hire and manage an advertising agency capable of creating an ad that truly captures your service or business in a way that isn't off-putting to potential customers. That can easily cost another £30,000 or more. 

Breitling vehicle wrap

With an average price range of £1500 – £3000, ROI-wise vehicle wrapping is far superior. According to the Department of Transport, in 2016 light commercial vehicles averaged 12,811 miles each year and travelled a combined 48.5 billion miles on the UK’s roads. Going by a conservative estimate of 600 views per mile, for each vehicle, puts the total number of impressions, UK-wide, at a staggering 30 trillion!

TV also suffers from the same problem internet ads do: you don’t have to see them. With the rise of services like Sky Plus and Virgin Media, consumers can fast forward through ad breaks, drastically reducing their impact. 86% fast forward through ads according to YouGov, so despite them remaining effective, only about 14% of viewers actually see them.

And of that 14% a study from Sharethrough found that during a commercial break, 64% of viewers will grab their phone, 21% will change the channel, and 15% will leave the room to do something else. Just think about it; do you actively watch TV ads? When was the last time you sat through an ad when you didn't have to?

There is also another issue: TV viewership is declining. In the UK the average daily viewing time decreased from 242 minutes in 2011 to 183 minutes in 2019 – very nearly a whole hour less per day!

This can be attributed to the rise of competing services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, all of whom do not run ads.


Radio advertising vs Vehicle wrapping ROI

Radio costs about £6 per 1000 impressions, so once again vehicle wrapping is much, much cheaper. Radio is also one of the most challenging mediums conversion-wise, making it difficult to ascertain true ROI.

Radio suffers from the same internet competition faced by television. These days drivers can connect their favourite music platforms, such as Spotify or Apple Music to their car speakers for a more personalised auditory experience. The drop-off is particularly high amongst 15-24-year-olds, falling 29% between 2010 and 2018.

This means that radio ads are likely to be more effective when targeting older audiences, and less effective the younger you go.

Naked Chips vehicle wrap yellow van

A 22-year-old driving along the M25 is therefore less likely to hear a radio ad, but there is nothing stopping them from noticing an eye-catching van wrap design.

Say this van gets seen just 10,000 times each week (a very conservative figure), that’s roughly half a million times a year. If just 1% of the people who see it get in touch, that amounts to 5,000 potential new enquiries coming your way each year. Just for driving around.


Vehicle wrapping vs traditional advertising: hidden benefits

One other major advantage is that vehicle wrapping can be used in offline and online campaigns, killing two birds with one stone. Known as offline to online marketing, only OOH advertising can transcend the digital and physical world simultaneously.

If you wanted to drive online engagement for example, you could add a hashtag or QR code to the side of a vehicle as part of a campaign, encouraging online interaction with the vehicle in a fun and friendly way. Check out our offline to online marketing guide to learn more.


So which form of advertising should you choose?

We have broken down the benefits of mobile advertising compared to other mediums, the biggest factor being price. Yes, we will say it again, vehicle wrapping is by far the cheapest form of advertising.

But that doesn't mean it's the only form of advertising you should use. Most companies use a multi-medium approach spanning, digital, social and offline strategies. In an ideal world, each strategy is linked to the other.

A high-quality wrap sends prospects to your website, whilst social media campaigns may use the branded vehicles for PR or brand awareness campaigns. Similarly, PPC ads may feature imagery of your branded vehicles. Collaboration not competition, together these strategies synergise into a powerful marketing weapon. 

Vehicle wrapping is the easiest and cheapest form of advertising, so it's a great place to start, and definitely something you should consider if you are already investing in other forms of advertising. 

While we would love a vehicle wrap to be part of your next advertising strategy we respect that ultimately, it is your decision. If you got this far then you've heard a lot about vehicle wrapping from the perspective of a vehicle wrapping company, but not an actual client.

That's why I encourage you to check out Big Wipe's story. Marketing Director Nigel is a man who truly understands the power of high-quality branding, and I just know he would love to share his passion with you.


How can I maximise my vehicle wrap ROI?

If you are interested in vehicle wrapping you might be wondering how to get the best out of a wrapped vehicle ad and how you can actually measure your return on investment. Don't worry, we got you!

Check out these 5 steps to maximise your vehicle wrap ROI. You will learn how to use your wrap design, strategic route planning, smart parking, presentation and data analysis to maximise your return on investment. You will also learn how to track vehicle wrap-related ROI. 


Looking to learn more about what vehicle wrapping can do for you? Check out our ultimate guide to vehicle wrapping!


Richard Clark

Written by Richard Clark

Founder of Raccoon, a graphics company launched in 1992. Still working hard to help businesses and brands connect with their target market!