We spend a lot of time staring at screens each day. I don’t have to list all the items that have one. You know what they are and you know you’re guilty. Even those screens on the side of the highway count. LED (light emitting diode) billboards or, known affectionately to some, “the digitals”, have really wormed their way into our landscape just like everything else with a lower case “i” in front of it.
Our technology makes it easier for us to work Harder Better Faster Stronger* and we expect our advertising to do the same as marketers AND as consumers. Networked LED billboard locations have given advertisers the ability to “be everywhere” with just a few clicks of a mouse. Imagine if Krispy Kreme could (if they wanted to) turn on all the “hot now” signs for all their locations at once. Now imagine those signs as 672 square feet of brilliant high resolution. Anyone using a digital billboard network has this kind of immediate, widespread reach and impact.
I have been hearing from outdoor companies lately that media buyers shouldn’t be measuring the cost effectiveness of purchasing one or multiple slots in a rotation on a digital billboard against other out of home metrics, including those of traditional “static” outdoor billboards. The industry would like marketers to be measuring efficiency and effectiveness of their digital outdoor programs in the same vane as broadcast, and radio. After all, people, these are :08-:10 second spots!
This might be an easier pill for advertisers to swallow if they started treating the channel itself like they would a broadcast or radio buy. For one thing, you can daypart it, folks! Make the message timely. We’ve been using this strategy over the air for years: cereals and Alka Seltzer ads in the morning, anti-anxiety-sleep aid medications, cosmetics, and dating services at night, holla! Many are already getting it right – lots of QSR’s quickly realized this is the space for them. If you look at your local LED billboards, see if you notice the major players who are selling coffee switching between hot and iced ads. They are doing it, and they make the change as the temperature fluctuates in real time.
Even if you are already using LED billboards, it’s easy to become complacent and fall victim to the “traditional” method of leaving outdoor creative up long term – and I’m not without blame. It’s important to remember that the rest of us who aren’t QSRs can use the LEDs just as dynamically. With all the flexibility that is simplified through the digital outdoor platforms, there is no excuse to not to use these tech-tools to your advantage so that your consumer receives your message in the most meaningful way possible. Consumers expect more from digital OOH. Integrate social media, change the product message based on real-time news/weather/temperature changes, create a scoreboard, use countdowns, and bring us all a live update. Make it the iBillboard.
*Gratuitous Daft Punk (not a Kanye) reference. Learn more about one of the greatest YouTube videos of all time here (ok, that was a Kanye reference): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2cYWfq–Nw