Clear Channel launches out-of-home digital billboards

MediaPost broke a newstory that announced Clear Channels endeavor into the digital out-of-home space with the installation of hundreds of digital billboards. Read the full article here for full details. I think that this will have a very mixed reaction both from advertisers and from consumers. Digital billboards are a huge investment to make compared to the plain-ole’ canvas billboards that get put up and taken down by union workers before and after a billboard ad has had its time in the sun. Digital will have significant maintenance and repair costs, along with installation costs. The hope is that it provides a more interactive out-of-home advertising experience much like consumers have on the internet with dynamic ads versus static banner advertisements. It seems to me like they’ll be rolling out these digital billboards slowly to see how advertisers respond. My guess will be that some forward-thinking advertisers will throw some money at these new digital screens, but over time, interest will likely wan as they realize that the returns on digital (assuming that their ad-rates will be higher than for traditional screens) are no better than the old-school billboards. The outdoor media industry is an industry that desperately needs to get with the times and figure out a digital strategy. This is likely the closest thing they have come up with that will provide an interactive experience. I think that they should be thinking about mobile engagement and triggering mobile digital content based on passers-by of the traditional billboards with some basis location sensors, blue tooth and others. This would create a much lower-cost model with a digital bent that might likely appeal to advertisers more, and may appeal to consumers a whole lot less. Just food for thought…

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