Issue: #410
                                                         September 9, 2016
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Here are the latest articles about the billboard industry.

 

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D.C. Sues Company, Alleging Large LED Signs Pose a Danger
The Washington Post
September 2, 2016

The District is suing a company that builds large LED signs in the city, saying the signs were constructed illegally and are a danger to the public.

The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday against Digi Media Communications and the owners of buildings where the signs were erected, says the signs "tower over and above pedestrians, causing substantial and significant risk to public safety."

The suit also said that the signs were not approved by the District's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and that they were constructed despite stop-work orders.

"Many of these sign locations are in the downtown core and in areas near metro stations and other high-traffic pedestrian ¬≠areas," the complaint read.  "Thousands of people pass underneath or alongside defendants' LED signs - which are not permitted or inspected by DCRA - causing a significant risk of death or injury if one of these massive signs were to fall on a passerby."

The suit identified eight locations in the District where the signs or brackets for the signs were allegedly constructed without proper permits. Permission to put up brackets was granted for the inside of the buildings, but the brackets went up on the outside of the buildings, the suit said.

The suit also claimed Digi Media "seeks to illegally blanket the city with 52 large-scale LED screens."

"The District has enacted building and sign regulations for reasons that include protecting the safety of our residents and preserving the aesthetic nature of our city," D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said in a statement. "The Office of the Attorney General believes Digi Media has unlawfully installed these signs, and we are taking action to enforce the law."

In a statement, Digi Media said the signs were not a danger.

"Digi Media complied fully with all applicable permitting regulations as those regulations have been consistently applied for years, and which have been used by others to erect numerous signs around the city in locations analogous to Digi's," an emailed statement from a Digi Media spokesman said. "All construction work related to the brackets for Digi's signs was fully permitted with DCRA. Digi's installations are carefully engineered and have never been the subject of any injury or accident anywhere."

As of Friday, a sign in at least one location named in the lawsuit had been removed.
  

Look Up: In the Digital Age, Billboards Are Far From Dead
The New York Times
By Janet Morrissey
September 4, 2016
 
When Axl Rose ended a 23-year feud with his former Guns N' Roses bandmates, Duff McKagan and Slash, and agreed to reunite with them onstage in 2016, the band unveiled its North American tour in an unusual way. There were no news conferences, talk-show chats or photo ops. Instead, flashy electronic billboards featuring the band's logo and famous song titles began popping up in major cities across the country.

The ads created buzz on social media, with fans posting photos of the billboards on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, and ticket sales for the band's shows took off.

"It's what we call a reveal, where you give hints that start to build excitement and questions, and with social media, these things have a tendency to catch fire," said Scott Wells, chief executive of Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, which handled some of the band's billboard campaign.

The billboard strategy seems almost retro at a time when much of the marketing world is focused on mobile devices and social media. But Guns N' Roses isn't alone. The Rolling Stones used a similar billboard approach to tease fans before the band's 2015 summer tour.

Big brands, including McDonald's and Comcast, have long used billboards to promote their products, but now even tech companies such as Foursquare, Lyft and Snapchat use them.

Some use humor. Chick-fil-A's campaign, for instance, showed cows on billboards with captions under them reading "eat mor chikin."

Indeed, billboard companies are not only surviving - they're flourishing.

Spending on so-called out-of-home advertising, which includes stand-alone billboards, ads on various modes of transit and airport ads, has risen for 24 consecutive quarters, according to Kantar Media and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. Spending surged to $7.3 billion in 2015 from $5.9 billion in 2009.

In 2015, spending on out-of-home ads in the United States rose 4.6 percent from 2014, while spending on TV ads fell 3.6 percent, radio ads declined 2.5 percent, newspaper ads slipped 12.8 percent and magazine ads dropped 12.7 percent, according to Magna Global. Spending on digital ads, however, rose 20 percent.

"Digital has been sucking media dollars out of press and radio, but our audience has been growing," said Jeremy Male, chief executive of Outfront Media, one of the biggest players in the billboard industry.

Why? Studies indicate that people are spending more time outside their homes, partly because of an increase in travel and commuting and also because smartphones keep them connected when they are away from home or work. And "you can't TiVo a sign," said James Goss, a managing director at Barrington Research, meaning that billboards can't be skipped over. "So they have a captive audience."
 
Of course, many of the billboard ads they are producing have moved beyond the old model, where static photos with simple captions stare back from a roadside perch.

Now electronic billboards are everywhere: along highways, on the side of buildings, outside bus shelters, on public benches, and in airports, elevators, subways and malls. Many are digitized, able to show videos, stream live events, display content from social media or change a screen's image every 30 seconds.

"We allow our customers to change their message instantaneously right from their desktop," said Sean Reilly, chief executive of Lamar Advertising, another prominent billboard company.

Some billboard displays are interactive, containing sensors and codes that people can scan with their smartphones to take them to a specific destination online.

"While the digital age has to some extent been a threat to some traditional media, we've really embraced it," Mr. Male said.

For national brands, billboards are an easy and inexpensive way to grab eyeballs of all ages and demographics with a single ad.

Even tech companies are taking their ads outdoors. When Foursquare's Swarm app found that young New Yorkers tended to congregate and take pictures in Madison Square Park, the company chose to advertise on a billboard on the side of the nearby Flatiron Building, knowing it would show up in photos that were later shared on social media, said Kinjil Mathur, chief marketing officer at Foursquare.

But improved data analysis is crucial to the field's growth. "Advertisers want to be able to measure who is seeing their ads," said Brett Harriss, an analyst at Gabelli & Company.

Some companies have started adding small cameras to billboards to collect data on passers-by.

Clear Channel's Radar program teams up with several companies, including AT&T, to track the travel patterns of people passing by its billboards. The program uses mobile device data and other information to determine if people later visit a store or search their smartphones for the product. Some companies use geo-fencing, in which a billboard ad will pop up in an app on a mobile device.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, has called them "spying billboards" and demanded that the Federal Trade Commission investigate. "A person's cellphone should not become a James Bond-like personal tracking device for a corporation to gather information about consumers," he said in May, arguing that people needed to be able to opt out of being tracked.

Mr. Wells of Clear Channel defends the program. "The data is anonymous and aggregated - we're not looking at individuals," he said. Still, any government intervention could stymie the field's growth.

However, Mr. Reilly remains bullish on the industry's future.

"At the end of the day, if people are out and about, moving around," he said, "then we're going to be relevant, both to where they are and what our customers want to say to them."

Electronic billboards in Times Square. Billboard companies are flourishing, in part because "you can't TiVo a sign," said James Goss, a managing director at Barrington Research.
 


Westfield Launches Digital Media Network at World Trade Center
Screen Media Daily
By Staff Writer
August 29, 2016  
Larger-Than-Life Digital Screen Network Reaches 100 Million Visitors Annually at Westfield World Trade Center
 
 
NEW YORK, NY - Westfield Brand Ventures has launched a 19 screen digital out-of-home network at New York's World Trade Center. The screens, one of which is four-stories high and another that's more than 280 feet long, allow for a wide range of messaging including live video streaming, and can be run concurrently or individually.

Westfield Corporation partnered with ANC, a provider of integrated signage, design, and marketing solutions to sports, entertainment, retail and transportation facilities, to deploy 5,000 square feet of LED throughout the 16 acre Westfield World Trade Center Complex, which officially opened on August 16th, 2016. ANC will provide Westfield with content management, content creation, ongoing service and schedule all content for both display networks.

The World Trade Center could see as many as 100 million visitors passing through the location each year. More than 60,000 residents live in the surrounding neighborhood, and 300,000 commuters access the 13 subway and PATH trains as well as multiple ferry lines each day. An additional 15 million travelers converge through the space each year. Each day the screen networks will reach more than twice the audience of the three largest New York metro area stadiums combined, and generate nearly 285 million impressions annually, according to Westfield.

Westfield's World Trade Center includes more than 365,000 square feet of retail space and features more than 100 fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and technology brands such as Apple, H&M, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade and Sephora. Westfield is providing brand advertisers with cross-platform brand marketing opportunities along with category exclusive corporate sponsorships.
 
Current sponsorships include some of the world's most influential consumer, financial services, and automotive brands, including Pepsi Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Ford Motor Company. Under the direction of Westfield's Brand Ventures division, the company's "Premier Partnerships" at World Trade Center include multi-year product and vending rights, high-profile event hosting, brand showrooms, as well as digital out-of-home advertising exclusivity throughout the site's state-of-the-art DOOH media network.
 
"Our Brand Ventures marketing opportunities at Westfield World Trade Center will enhance the visitor environment by delivering powerful consumer experiences in a breathtaking setting," said Charley Delana, Westfield's Executive Vice President of Brand Ventures. "Whether through customized creative campaigns displayed on larger-than-life digital screens or exciting activation events, these brands will further Westfield's ability to serve as a cultural epicenter of Lower Manhattan and create transformative experiences for the vast audience of professionals, tourists, and residents who will visit the retail district each day."

Westfield Brand Ventures also manages The Fulton Center's digital out-of-home ad network in partnership with the MTA. The Fulton Center DOOH network includes  more than 50 state-of-the-art digital signage screens including 16 interactive On the Go! Kiosks.


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In This Issue
D.C. Sues Company, Alleging Large LED Signs Pose a Danger..
Look Up: In the Digital Age, Billboards Are Far From Dead..
Westfield Launches Digital Media Network at World Trade Center...
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