Cisco Don’t Do Billboards But If They Did…

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

As the famous (at least in the UK) Carlsberg Lager advertisement goes, “Carlsberg don’t do holidays but if they did, they’d probably be the best holidays in the world” – can the same sentiment be applied to the likes of Cisco (and / or Stratacache) when it comes to large form factor, typically outdoor, ‘High Impact’, roadside etc. digital advertising?

What got us thinking about this? Well obviously CBS Outdoor’s well-documented (at least by us) problems with windoze reliability / BSOD on the London Underground – our general dislike of poorly thought out networks and generally the use of the wrong tools (and wrong architecture) for the job in hand.

So many of the outdoor media contractors’ deployments are akin to using a screwdriver to hammer in a nail – as we have oft repeated – the architecture is simply a bunch of ‘PCs attached to screens’ rather than a reliable network of high availability screens with the focus being on the content distribution!

Again at presentations our refrain is that DOOH is not a digital signage play but a content delivery game – hence our suggestion that at the very least, serious folks talk to the likes of Cisco and Stratacache who have been in the content delivery business for a long time!

Anyway we found an interesting article in the August 2008 issue of WIRED magazine entitled ‘The Hollywood Treatment’ pages 128 – 133.

Many of you will know that Cisco spends an awful lot of time with product placement in films and on TV – who could NOT have noticed all the Cisco equipment, especially the telephones with the distinctive ring tone in the hit series ’24’ – we think that Cisco actually has a ‘Hollywood Division’ that is full time on the task of product placement and support thereof, Ed

The WIRED article talks about the ‘Gemini Division’ – a US science fiction series of five-to-seven minute long webisodes (created by Electric Farm Entertainment) which went into production in March 2008 and launches online only mid-August – and how it has relied very much on product placement to date for financial support.

The author of the WIRED article writes “Cisco is key… those Gemini Division agents are going to wield some pretty cool tech, much of it – thanks to a deal brokered by CAA – actual products from Cisco”

The article goes on to say “a video surveillance system that sends an alert …. digital billboards that can be reprogrammed on the fly; TelePresence …. etc. ”

Of course all of the digital signage products used by the giant billboards can handle ‘reprogramming on the fly’ though most people would call that scheduling! Some products are better than others of course – hey some signage products that outdoor folks use don’t even handle ‘repel’ and ‘attract’ or any other form of attribute based scheduling.

The point is that ‘digital screens / billboards’ is NOT a signage problem, it is a content distribution problem. Outdoor networks have been looking in the wrong toolbox for the tool(s) to come up with scalable, resilient solutions that meet the needs of their business.

We are, as always, happy to stick our necks on the block and say that in the next 12 months we are going to see the majority of the large outdoor media contractors seriously reviewing the architectures they currently have in place (usually put in place either by a misguided strategy or via partnership or acquisition) for their digital side of the business!

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