Digital Outdoor Gets Real-Time -- At Last!

Could London finally be on the verge of getting the digital outdoor experience that commuters have long since been promised?

Regular readers will know only too well that I have been waiting for outdoor to come of age. It must have been nearly a decade ago that I had a showcase presentation of the projector technology that was about to break in to the mainstream on tube platforms, alongside digital screens lining the side of escalators. I still can't help but think that despite all the promises of real-time information breaking in to advertiser messages, all we were left with was digital screens showing what posters had done before. Wallpaper paste was replaced with video lead cables so different messages could run on the same screen, but that was just about it.

So it's very interesting to see that the new screens due to be launched this summer across fifteen zone one tube stations will feature live video feeds. It remains to be seen quite how they will be used but there are some pretty obvious applications that would help advertising to come alive. Zone one stations tend to have a mix of general brand awareness outdoor campaigns with a heavy focus on local retailers as well as a heavy focus on books, cinema and theatre entertainment. 

The most obvious added benefit will be the inclusion of social media to add reviews and comments. You can imagine a new show, film or book being advertised with a constantly updated stream of how "great" it is. You can also imagine pricing offers being made based around the time of day, day of the week, the weather and ticket sales. if it's a hot Tuesday and the matinee is looking a little thin on the ground, you can easily see how that data could launch a half-hour flash sale of musical theatre tickets through a code.

Video could be used extensively, of course, Any brand incorporating user generated video could choose to show latest clips and a few seconds of a launch could be added to earlier creative, or maybe some vox pops of the product or service being enjoyed could be added. 

It's going to be up to advertisers to adapt and make digital outdoor more real-time. 

All I can say is I hope it happens this time. Earlier technological revolutions in digital outdoor have been trumpeted as bringing real time feeds but have been very limited. They remind me of mobile network marketers who heralded WAP (remember that?) as the internet revolution brought to your phone. It was nothing of the sort, and it is only with 3G and more recently, 4G that the promise made a decade ago has come to fruition. 

Hopefully the same will be true of digital outdoor, which really needs to step up and deliver on the real-time immersive experience it's been offering for so long, yet failing to deliver. 

Come September, millions of London commuters will be waiting to be impressed -- let's hope they're not let down.

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