End of the road for ads on digital screens?

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

I haven’t had a letter published in a magazine since I was a school boy, when I wrote to Modeling Magazine about an Airfix kit that I had trouble making so let’s see if that changes with the letter I just posted (okay, emailed – it doesn’t sound the same when you say ’emailed’) to Marketing Week…

“Messrs Rosie Plunton and Paul Chivers have got completely the wrong end of the stick in their letter to you last week entitled “End of the road for ads on digital screens?”

It’s not ‘novelty’ that is driving digital out of home – true, some people in marketing and far too many technology people have got all excited about screens, interactivity, bluetooth and the such like but the real point of digital screens is the ability not to do things that are clever but to do things that are simple.

A poster that reacts to its environment, changing (automatically) what it displays depending on the time of the day, the day of the week or what is happening in the environment around it; (a) doesn’t need to be over complicated in the way that it displays its message / tells its story and (b) doesn’t have to be (and I would argue in many instances never should be) anything more than an animated poster.

Digital display faces will earn 6x the revenue of a traditional poster or billboard – not because they are novel but because they can react. That’s the reason to be excited by digital screens”.

The original letter – 17.01.08 page 19 of Marketing Week was as follows: –

In response to recent letters regarding interactive outdoor media, we would like to take a different tack.

We understand the benefits of this new technology and the fact that digital can be engaging and interactive. But what about in two or three years when this technology is commonplace? Will its novelty have worn off?

With content becoming increasingly available on mobile phones for download, we anticipate that ads placed on digital screens will not fulfill their potential as being the most “interesting format of the next ten years”.

Modern-day individuals have become increasingly sceptical towards advertising, coupled with their busy lifestyles, will they really engage with these outdoor formats?

Will this interaction be enough for advertisers to get a return on expenditure?

One Response to “End of the road for ads on digital screens?”

  1. Unabashed Opportunist Says:

    Certain digital signage may indeed live up to the hype.

    Outdoor media has competition: nature, pedestrians, other signs, and other drivers. In-store media does not have competition. There is no TiVo, iPod, or XM radio to separate customer from message. Add to that the training capability – it’s much easier for an associate to watch an expert in action than to become one from a magazine – and it’s easy to become optimistic about the prospect of better service.

    The question of success lies as much in the content and location as in the device for delivering it.

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