For those of us in the digital display business, it's easy to understand why things like dynamic and conditional content are revolutionizing the outdoor advertising industry. I can talk at length about the unique features of digital signage over static, and I know that the revolution is just beginning.
But rather than have you "listen" to me talk about the innovative features that are energizing digital outdoor, I'd prefer to share real stories from the field — operators and advertisers who are working together to move the bar on what advertising can accomplish. Digital billboard operators are using their boards and software in ways that increase branding, visibility and traffic for their customers — and, in the end, that's what successful advertising is all about.
The power of social media
Tri Outdoor Inc in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, recently collaborated with Penn State Lehigh Valley for an award winning "Onsite Tweet Penn State" campaign. Utilizing the power of social media on Tri Outdoor's digital billboards was an exciting way to engage the Penn State Lehigh Valley community. Students, friends and families used the hashtag #psulvgrad to have their content featured on billboards during the school's commencement activities. Host accounts were used to control which posts appeared on the billboards to prevent hashtag hijacking and to prevent inappropriate content.
In addition to allowing the public to become a part of the commencement festivities, followers of the University's social media accounts jumped 10 percent during the campaign and personal feedback was 100 percent positive. The campaign was especially important in promoting Penn State Lehigh Valley's brand as a forward-thinking, community-minded university campus that is proud of its students and graduates.
One special day
In Peru, the digital outdoor advertising field is becoming increasingly interactive. Punto Visual, a leading billboard operator, involves consumers in creative and innovative marketing campaigns centered around major holidays like Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. Using a dedicated website, the public can upload photos based on the holiday theme. Those photos are scanned for appropriate content and then displayed on one of Punto Visuals' many digital billboards.
The campaign highlights the importance of family and has become very popular with the public. The key to this campaign's success was first investing in high quality LED digital displays that offer dynamic software capabilities and are manufactured to maximize uptime.
"When a campaign is focused on one special day, everything has to work perfectly," said Cova Gonzalez, head of marketing for Punto Visual.
When it comes to increasing sales, evidence suggests that advertisers who use digital displays to communicate timely, relevant marketing messages see their advertising have an impact on revenue, and are more likely to renew their billboard contracts. Some might think this requires constant monitoring of conditions and content, but with today's sophisticated software, that isn't the case.
Driving digital signage
Fink's Used Cars in Zanesville, Ohio, regularly receives new inventory. As new vehicles are entered into stock, the Vehicle Identification Number is scanned and sent to an RSS feed. Using their digital billboard's software, the billboard operator, Barnes Advertising, is able to extract a portion of the RSS feed and display it on a digital billboard within a content page designed especially for the campaign.
This method allows vehicles recently added to inventory to be immediately advertised to the buying public. With automated content changes and consumers inquiring about the ever-changing vehicle offerings each time a new vehicle is scanned, Barnes' billboards have increased traffic for the dealership, which has experienced great success with this customized campaign.
Whether it's the ability to keep track of real-time updates — like World Cup Soccer scores or tracking the medal counts for Olympic teams — changing content engages consumers.
What's next? National campaigns are beginning to customize content to individual drivers who pass digital billboards. Check out this campaign by Chevrolet that utilizes vehicle recognition software to compare passing vehicles to Chevy models.
The good news is that a new generation of consumers, the millennials, seeks exactly this kind of personal advertising experience. New innovations are developed every day and, as an industry, we are at the forefront of some revolutionary campaigns.
Use the comments below to tell us about your favorite digital campaigns. How are these changing the face of digital out-of-home advertising and your success in the digital field?
/ Darrin Friskney is director of Danville, Illinois-based Watchfire Signs, which has been manufacturing outdoor electric signs since 1932. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.