We think it’s really amazing that, while Canada is something of a hotbed in the development of digital out-of-home and digital signage products, there seems to be so little importance given to the DOOH sector by the organizers of the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics  in Vancouver next month.
We can somewhat understand the lack of attention given the DOOH sector by the media consortium broadcasting the Games. It hasn’t purchased any DOOH space, but there is, at least, broadcasting on Bell Mobility  cell phone screens.
Back in Oct. 2008, Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games  (VANOC) purchased approximately $40 million in ad space from six major suppliers in an effort to assure that ad space in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland would be used by the Games’ official sponsors and not grabbed up by ambush marketers. Space purchased by VANOC includes properties owned or managed by Translink , Pattison Outdoor , CBS Outdoor , Vancouver International Airport , Canada Line  and Canada Storyboard . However, DOOH doesn’t seem to have been a priority.
We fully understand that VANOC wants some things to be a surprise. And maybe we’re wrong and there’s a lot more going to show than we’re aware of – but VANOC seems unwilling to discuss what’s even available in DOOH in the market.
While there is plenty of indoor DOOH inventory in B.C., (more about that below), there doesn’t seem to be a great amount of outdoor digital inventory in the Vancouver area. We know of a large screen outside Canada Place, the broadcast centre, and two screens outside the B.C. Centre, site of the opening, closing and medal ceremonies, that will carry live events, without advertising. These three screens (among nine managed in the region by Outdoor Broadcast Network ) have been commandeered by VANOC to support Olympic activities.
Astral Media Outdoor  only recently put up six digital boards (including several double-sided) on land owned by the Squamish Nation  – after much local controversy. These 10’ x 34’ boards are slightly smaller versions of the spectaculars Astral has erected in Montreal, and, while currently running ads from such advertisers as Air Transat , Grand & Toy , and Rogers , they are expected to include sponsors’ ads as well as non-competitive advertisers’ ads during the Games.
In addition, the city of Richmond has an Olympic Games celebration site where outdoor screens will be showing the Media Consortium’s broadcast coverage; some of the pavilions at Vancouver 2010 have indoor/outdoor screens that will also be showing Consortium coverage; and the Convention Centre has a giant screen where the public can view Consortium coverage. At these locations, we’re told that the Consortium’s full broadcast feed is being shown, including all commercials and promos.
Lamar  operates Vancouver Transit System ’s media spaces, and, at last report, its plans were to have 25 buses with 26” x 126” digital screens on curbside illuminated on the Vancouver routes 17-to-18 hours a day. Lamar Transit Advertising Ltd. also planned to have 46” LCD screens on every platform station of Vancouver’s existing 31 station Skytrain line and the city’s new nine station Canada Line subway.
But what else is out there in terms of DOOH to be seen by the thousands of visitors and 5,500 athletes and officials who will be visiting or participating at 15 state of the art sports venues?
Here’s a bit of a line-up, most of whom still have some advertising space available:
- Onext Media Corp. , which is part of RTN Media, has 32” to 40” screens in cafes, restaurants and grocery stores in about 100 locations, most with one screen each and many near Olympic venues where people will stop in to eat. The screens have a 60-40 split: 60% advertising and 40% mainly entertainment and weather with text.
- Neo Advertising  has screens in eight mall food courts, with an average of eight screens per location. It’s running advertising for such companies as B.C. Lottery  and Warner Bros.  movies.
- Fifth Window Media Inc.  has screens in bars, restaurants and recreational facilities, including Canlan Ice Sports , with eight rinks in Burnaby where 200,000 pass through monthly, seeing ads for both national advertisers such as Rogers and Popeye’s Vitamin Supplements  and local advertisers.
- ONTrack Network  is part of the 60-year-old company Telephoto. It has 66,000 LED screens broadcasting horse racing across Canada and the U.S., interspersed with advertising. In B.C., it has 24 locations, including 13 in the Vancouver region with 1,692 screens. In Vancouver, one of its most important locations is the new River Rock Casino  – not far from the Vancouver International Airport  – which currently sees 10,000 people a day. For advertising, it uses six different aggregators plus its own sales staff. Among ONTrack’s recent advertisers are Disney , Best Buy , CBS , Fox , Lowe’s , and Toyota .
- Pattison Outdoor  offers Digital Elevator Network in 115 office towers in Vancouver, It also has 4’ x 6’ digital verticals in six Ivanhoe Cambridge  malls in B.C.. WestJet  is one of many recent advertisers on the elevator network.
- Captivate Network  is in 15 Vancouver buildings with 98 display screens.
We haven’t listed them all, and we know there are also digital kiosks and, we’ve heard, some cabs with digital screens. So, rest assured, advertisers should be able to find DOOH screens in B.C. during the Olympics. However, those who are not official sponsors of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games are precluded from using the word Olympic in their advertising. Further, if one of the official sponsors is advertising on a network screen, it has category exclusivity.