Entertaining in Elevators: Digital Signage in “The Shaft”

Posted by on Oct 13, 2011 in Advertising, Displays, DOOH

Posting relevant information inside an elevator is nothing new to those accustomed to traversing in elevators. Anyone familiar with large cities knows elevators can be boring places. Thanks to organizations like Muzak, there is at least something going on in there at least part of the time. However, dynamic messages can prove an even greater benefit than standard “elevator music” which is the norm in most corporate offices. Here are a few of the benefits and issues of installing digital signage in elevators.

Target a Captive Audience

Have you ever had a meaningful conversation on an elevator? Not many people have. Generally people just stick to their own business, at least in the United States and Europe. If you’re visiting Latin America, the culture dictates differently there. Even in a crowded box, the elevator is most often quiet with persons looking forward at the lighted marquis, waiting for their particular floor to arrive.


Elevators can be a long trip. The Bank of America tower on 5th Avenue Plaze in downtown Seattle is a place I used to frequent as I had a family member who worked in the building. In fact, I used to visit their observation deck anytime the Blue Angels were in town to watch them from the 75th floor. It doesn’t get any cooler than that for a 12 year old kid. Because the building is 76 floors tall, it requires two separate elevator shafts. About half-way through your elevator ride up, you have to get off one elevator and switch to a different set of elevators which take you the rest of the way. This is becoming more of a regularity as skyscrapers get closer to scraping the sky.

For those who work on floors numbering 40+ their elevator ride generally last several minutes each day, both for up and down. This means they have time on their hands where they are generally not doing anything–at least for a few moments. What a perfect time to target such visitors!

Information Can Be Relevant

Because elevators are generally located in buildings where demographics of elevator passengers are readily known, it makes targeting those individuals much less difficult. Perhaps the building’s food court could use a quick sales lift. Or, maybe there are announcements that need to be distributed generally where an email just wouldn’t have the impact. Whatever information you would like elevator users know, the signs in the elevator shaft can act as a great means of getting various types of information distributed to building tenants.

Since demographics are known, the digital content can also be extremely relevant to the specific passengers that might occupy the building. This is as true of advertising as it is of corporate information, local news and national headlines. Using the displays to get out relevant and extremely targeted information can be huge. Even emergency alerts can be pushed directly to the remotely managed set-top boxes.


Doing digital signage in elevators may not be a new idea, but it is certainly just as effective today as it was ten years ago when it began. Generally, the digital signage players need to have a solid-state hard drive because it is being used in a elevator car that is moving up and down. If it’s not solid-state, you run the risk of damaging the hard drive and losing valuable time and resources in replacing it. Another general issue that comes with any elevator implementation is connectivity. Because it is difficult to impossible to get a wired connection in an elevator shaft generally the units must be connected by some type of over-the-air signal. This could include 3G cellular and 802.11x. Cellular signage can be a bit more expensive, but also more reliable then trying to run an elevator sign off a building’s internal WIFI signal. Also unique to elevators is the size of the digital display. The LCD screen is generally no larger than a standard desktop or laptop computer screen, mounted above the elevator’s control console in a small box. Other than some general “non-standards” elevator digital signage is an area where growth is potentially very large.

Large hotels, corporate offices and even small-time buildings are all equipped with elevators, but how many of those elevators are equipped with a means to advertise digitally? Digital signage can be a great way of complementing the natural ambiance of an elevator with digital art and/or advertising.

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