CBS Outernet Won’t Confirm Or Deny Grocery Death

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

How interesting! And confusing – especially since this was one event that we didn’t attend in person.

We received a press release this week about Screen Forum USA’s kickoff Breakfast Briefing that attracted many top tier DOOH advertising specialists for its transport-focused half-day session on ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’.

But did the speakers say what the press release quoted? Possibly not – at least in one case.

We wanted to know more about a comment attributed to Richard Ament, senior vice-president business development, displays division, CBS Outdoor, who also oversees CBS Outernet.

To quote the release, “Rich Ament talked about CBS’ high profile digital outdoor sites all across New York” and in particular “how transport is the platform on which they intend to build their whole digital strategy’.”

If that’s the case, that’s NEWS and we wanted to know more. Unlike my esteemed DailyDOOH colleagues in Europe my bent is to double and then triple check these things and I tracked Ament down in Los Angeles this week but all he said to me was that “he doesn’t recall saying any such thing”.

“I discussed our Urban LCD Panels across New York’s subway stations,” he told us. “In transit, we also have our 1,200 small-sized screens in cars throughout the MARTA (Atlanta’s) transit system. I also said that if you are going to build a transit business, you must have a wide reach to make it effective. And I agreed with other speakers in that you have to have your financial backing figured out if you want to be effective.”

Okay, but while we had Ament captive, we also asked him about CBS Outernet which, we heard, had ALREADY killed off its grocery business – but that topic was off limits.

“I can tell you that Outernet is going strong with 4,000 GameStop stores, but I don’t want to discuss the grocery business,” Ament said.

Hmmm! That sounds an awful lot like confirmation to me of what we originally wrote back in July 2009 when we said ‘CBS Outernet To Kill Its Grocery Business’.

Jointly hosted with the Digital Screenmedia Association and held at The Crosby Hotel in Manhattan’s SoHo district, the event pulled in many decision makers who had been watching The Screen’s reputation in Europe (built up over the last few years) – and who apparently were interested or, if nothing else, curious.

The NY audience represented executives from mass transit authorities and big outdoor companies, key consultants and creatives, and a selection of vendors from both Europe and the USA. We hear, however, that there were few people from the agency and client sides.

Besides Ament, speakers included: Eric Bottema, director of Kinetic’s Aviator North America; Denise Macdonell, general manager digital signage, Harris Corporation; and Lou Giacolone, ex-of-Titan and founder of software provider Coolsign.

Leave a Reply