I don’t like all digital advertising

Posted by on Jul 6, 2011 in DOOH, Industry

It’s time for a piece of my mind. Here at the digital signage blog, I often go on and on about all forms of digital out-of-home advertising. This is mostly due to the fact that we’re in that industry and I feel somewhat akin to promoting it–at least in a small way. However, there are instances when I do not feel so akin to different forms of OOH–whether traditional or digital. The following information will discuss some parts of out-of-home that annoy and disgust me.

Of all the many feeds I follow, there are several which are not–as they say–friendly to our kind. Perhaps one of my favorites is a non-profit org out of California called Ban Billboard Blight. Their about us page states the following:

The Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization representing groups and individuals committed to defending the urban landscape of Los Angeles against billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising that blight our public spaces.

Our mission includes education, outreach, and political and legal action to protect citizens’ rights to walk and drive their streets and congregate in public areas without a constant assault of advertising messages. We welcome all forms of support—money, volunteer time, letter-writing—to help us in this fight. The visual landscape of the city belongs to everyone, not just the advertising companies who want to use it as a canvas for their commercial messages. Please help us protect and defend it.

There are non-profits to promote DOOH and those that wish to destroy. While digital ooh is simply a growing segment of traditional out-of-home, they are still in the same advertising category if you take an advertising course from any university professor. The last statistic I heard, which has been some time ago now was that out-of-home equated to 1% of total advertising revenues. That is not a very big piece of the pie, but for those who use OOH for their bread n’ butter for revenue, it’s an important segment of advertising.

Bigger Does not Always Equate to Better

The larger an advertising billboard, the more effective it can be. This is just a simple fact–especially if it sits in a very highly trafficked locale. At the same time, such large format displays are sometimes distracting and obnoxious–especially when placed outdoor. Much of the inventory on these displays is often left untouched as well. This was certainly a problem during the Great Recession over the last couple of years. I saw many outdoor billboards whose message was something like the following:

“I am working to support business.” –Billboard   or…..

“Millions of cars drive by the sign every month.” Call 555-5555

You know the type. If they have something relevant or nothing of impart on them, there are many who will be annoyed. When it comes to outdoor advertising, you’re damned if you do and your damned if you don’t. I’m all about advertising outdoors, but I would much rather see the signage kept small and intimate. Unfortunately, it’s those kind of signs that don’t generate revenue–they’re simply not large enough to attract the eye-balls and generate the CPM rates.

Bigger + Digital = Worse Still

Studies have been performed which show that large-format LED displays on the side of freeways do not distract individuals from functioning a vehicle. Companies with money to do so have fought this battle numerous times in cities across the country. I am personally, not a fan. Large-format LED displays placed on the side of the freeway are an eyesore to me. They take away from landscape and are a bigger detraction from the beauty that is the outdoors.

On the other hand, the small form-factor counterpart of the large outdoor digital displays are less of a detraction, do not product an exorbitant amount of light pollution and–because of their size and ability to capture a more captive audience–can be even more effective than large outdoor electronic signs if implemented correctly. Large stuff is appropriate for locations like Time Square, but is annoying to many who live in suburban America. I will keep advocating and implementing small form-factor digital signage for as long as I breathe, but will probably always believe large outdoor electronic billboards are done in poor taste, but that’s just me.

DISCLAIMER: This is my opinion. I know there are those in this industry who make a great deal of revenue from many of the things I’ve just slammed.

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