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Digital brightens street scene

Advances help spike out-of-home market 7%

While newspapers and television continue to be turned upside down amid the tumult of the digital revolution, the most traditional of all media platforms, outdoor advertising, is using it to grab new market share.

Thanks partly to the emergence of new display technologies including LED reader boards and in-tunnel marketing, the out-of-home advertising sector saw impressive growth in 2007, increasing by 7% and accounting for $7.3 billion in total spending, according to the Outdoor Advertising Assn. of America.

Like advertisers in other industries, studio marketers now see outdoor as a means of combating growing audience fragmentation inside the home.

In a cultural landscape where consumers spend less time in front of their TV, outdoor can be more effective, notes Peter Corrigan, CEO of Submedia, the company behind in-tunnel marketing in such cities as Chicago and New York.

“There’s so much fragmentation going on in the media business, and the oldest medium has the ability to prevent that,” says Greg McGrath, president of Clear Channel Outdoor.

Tunnel vision

In-tunnel technology takes creative modified from TV spots and essentially uses movement to turn a light box with static images into motion pictures outside of a train window or on a wall as a consumer rides or strolls by.

“What has helped us out early on is that the medium is a phenomenon,” Corrigan says.

“We’ll take a repurposed TV commercial, and it’s the same creative that some kid at home with a TiVo is clicking right through, viewing (the ad) as an annoyance while trying to watch his show,” he adds. “But that same kid not only sees our display, he actually looks for it and is entertained by it.”

However, it’s not just the wow factor surrounding new technology that’s driving outdoor growth, notes Stephen Freitas, chief marketing officer of OAAA.

“Digital technology allows you to almost literally change content within minutes,” he says.

“When you turn a board into digital, you’re doing what we have not yet had as a medium, which is immediacy,” McGrath adds.

That immediacy includes incorporating technologies such as Bluetooth and SMS to create truly interactive outdoor advertising.

“Technology hasn’t always been kind to a lot of media,” adds McGrath. “This digital technology is actually a friend to outdoor.”

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