Friday, May 12, 2006

Publicis Groupe and Simon Properties to launch in-mall digital signage network

So it's official... Publicis Groupe looks like it will be the first of the major media conglomerates to embrace digital signage as a new medium. And here I thought it'd be WPP getting behind it in a big way first.

I first saw the big news at VisualStore, who noted (in this article) that:

Simon Property Group (Indianapolis) is joining forces with Publicis Groupe SA (Paris), the world's fourth-largest advertising agency, to create the OnSpot Digital Network.

The new venture will sell commercial time on screens to be placed at or near entrances, food courts, escalators and corridors of Simon malls across the country. A network has been tested at Roosevelt Field Mall (Garden City, N.Y.) since 2004, carrying programs that are being sponsored for the test by brands such as Cingular Wireless, Coca-Cola, Garnier, Nintendo and Visa, and such retailers as Aeropostale, E.B. Games, Gap, PacSun and Subway. The Coca-Cola Co. (Atlanta) has already agreed to become a regular sponsor of OnSpot.

The content on the OnSpot screens will run in eight-minute loops. Four minutes will be devoted to news and features about fashion, entertainment and lifestyle. The remaining four minutes will be commercials.

The screens are to be in two sizes: 50-inch and 126-inch diagonal screens. The network will initially be installed in 17 Simon properties in the Chicago, Los Angeles and New York markets. Then it will be rolled out to 33 malls in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Orlando and Tampa.

Shortly afterward, I came across similar articles here (New York Times) and here (Yahoo! Business).

There are obviously quite a few interesting/noteworthy takeaways here, and many questions to be answered, but the one I'm curious about is what demographic tells them whether to install digital signs or not? Simon has well over 100 malls, but only about 50 of them will start off with the network. Will these be their most affluent malls? Those with highest foot traffic? Those with the greatest number of Boomers, Echo Boomers, Gen-Xers?

Fascinating stuff, and with huge implications for the industry. Let's hope they don't screw it up :)

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