.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Monday, May 30, 2005

Billboards: Altering the space-time continuum

What do a seedy motel room and billboard space have in common? Both can be rented by the hour--all thanks to the wonders of digital technology. Dynamic digital displays are breathing new life into the outdoor industry, creating new revenue streams for a marketing sector beset by sluggish growth.

New LED (Light Emitting Diode) screens are enabling outdoor companies to change their messages with the push of a button and sell to multiple advertisers on a same day. Kind of like the old hotdog on a chain routine.

Clear Channel Outdoor
has launched a pilot project, placing seven large ProStar(R) full-color light emitting diode displays in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

"The technology offers the capability for the clients of Clear Channel Outdoor to quickly create and display messages and graphics on the electronic billboards, allowing advertisers to better target their content to the audience at a particular location or certain time of day. Digital billboards also increase the available inventory of advertising space, by allowing multiple advertisers to share time on a single display."

"We're moving from selling space to selling time," says Michael Hudes, executive VP for Corporate Development at Clear Channel Outdoor.

Coca-Cola claims the largest curved LED display in the world. Built by Streetvision, Coke's Flagship display lords over the other digital screens in Piccadilly Circus in London, Great Britain. The installation comprises more than 800 thousand pixels and its specially designed panels achieve a completely smooth curve without color distortion. It changes its message based on external input, such as weather conditions or people waving at it.

The latest technology on the market is digital ink. It can be programmed to change color, yet consumes no energy.

Digital billboards, like their printed or painted counterparts, are not immune to graffiti artists. Or hackers. Someone hacked into the New York subway computer system and switched one of the electronic signs at the W. 4th Street station to read PRETTY GIRLS DON’T RIDE THE SUBWAY.

As you might imagine, power failures are like Kryptonite to digital displays. Click here for Times Square during the 2003 New York City Blackout.


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