Wednesday, March 05, 2008

LA Times tries out 8-second spots on roadside billboards

These are heady days indeed for the digital billboard market. Even AdAge is jumping in with some news to report:
Los Angelenos plagued by traffic delays or seeking a productive roadside distraction will be able to catch exclusive news via 10 digital billboards placed across the city by Clear Channel Outdoor. The Los Angeles Times is the first newspaper to use the company's digital billboards and web-based interface for news alerts and branding.
The editorial content will be comprised of mostly regional sports, politics and entertainment stories, as well as promotions for local events the paper hosts annually, like next month's Festival of Books. "You're not likely to see a story about some breaking news that happened in Iraq. We're definitely focused more on signature pieces, content elements, blogs, columnists, stories, products and events that are unique to us," Mr. O'Laughlin said.
An eight-second spot will be displayed on the 10 boards [in the L.A. area] 70,910 times per week, reaching a combined total of 455,300 people per day, according to audited Daily Effective Circulation estimates. Mr. O'Laughlin said the company will be working with Clear Channel over the next 10 weeks to evaluate results and determine return on investment, before tweaking the boards at the end of May to update them for the Olympics and, later, the elections in the fall.
We've seen lots of reports about using the digital signs to display Amber Alerts and accident-related news, but this is the first time I think I've seen the screens used to display editorial content, even if it is a not-too-subtle attempt by the LA Times to re-state their relevancy in an age when print newspaper readership is in a death spiral. It's certainly an interesting idea, and if the results prove favorable, I expect to see lots of regional players adopt a similar plan.

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