Aug. 27, 2013
Some roadside rest areas in the Buckeye State are getting digital signage kiosks intended to help generate revenue for the state.
VitalSigns digital signage kiosks from media production firm Mills James have been deployed to 10 Travelers Information Centers alongside highways throughout Ohio. The nearly 6 1/2-foot-tall digital signage displays are part of a program by the Ohio Department of Transportation to generate advertising revenue for road projects, according to Mills James.
The VitalSigns kiosks feature 46-inch displays with space for news, local weather, sponsor promos, advertising videos and information on area attractions. The units are constructed with commercial-grade public information display monitors and are encased in floor-standing housings to deter vandals and thieves. The displays are networked through Verizon Wireless so the content can be easily updated from a central location.
Mills James developed the displays for Triad Communications, working under Travelers Marketing. ODOT signed a contract with Massachusetts-based Travelers Marketing to run an advertising, sponsorship and naming rights program for the rest stops along interstate highways in Ohio, according to an announcement on the Mills James website.
Ohio's 10 Travelers Information Centers (read: nicer rest stops) see more than 13 million motorists each year, according to the TIC Ohio website, and Triad Communications Media Specialist Adam Mullen said in a recent interview that the TICs used to have human attendants to hand out flyers and information to visitors. Since the rest stops are no longer staffed by people, however, now there's a need and an opportunity for additional information and advertising.
The kiosks are distributed through eight counties, mostly along major entry routes into the state. In two counties, two kiosks have been deployed, to catch both northbound and southbound traffic.
While the kiosk deployment missed the heaviest traffic during the summer vacation season, Mullen said the project is gearing up for next summer, and advertisers seem to be excited about the opportunity to reach travelers. The project also has reached out to local convention and visitors bureaus in an effort to give each location a more local flavor.
"I think one of the biggest benefits [the kiosks] offer is the same as most out-of-home advertising, a big traffic number and a lot of people seeing the advertising," Mullen said. "But these are located in a non-commercialized and undisturbed setting — the audio from the ads would be the only sound in the centers — so the ads aren't competing with other advertising."
The displays are interactive, with QR codes for mobile interaction, but aren't fitted with touchscreens, Mullen said. With frequent traffic rushes at the centers, allowing the displays to become essentially single-person ad centers was considered to not be the best use for the displays, he said.
The displays feature several zones for short 30-second ad spots, with the duration designed to allow the average visitor to see or hear all of the ads during a normal pit stop visit to the rest area, estimated to last about 10 minutes on average, Mullen said. "We wanted to make sure that every advertiser's ad should appear once to every average potential visitor."
Calls to ODOT and Mills James for additional comment were not returned before press time.
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