Signs, signs, everywhere (digital) signs

Clearly, digital signage, both with and without sound, is the vehicle getting the most attention from advertisers right now. There are a number of independent networks up and running and in demand.

Clearly, digital signage, both with and without sound, is the vehicle getting the most attention from advertisers right now. There are a number of independent networks up and running and in demand.

Freefone is a targeted digital video with sound medium that is also a public courtesy telephone. It offers consumers free local telephone calls, 800 and 911 services and features a 15-inch video screen. Advertising runs in an eight-minute loop but the sound mutes when the phone is being used.

The units are located in high-impact environments such as retail stores, restaurants, and colleges and universities in both Canada and the U.S. In Canada there are Freefones in 18 Cadillac Fairview shopping malls and 218 Staples stores across the country.

Richard Bicknell, SVP of marketing for Universal Home Entertainment, signed a category-exclusive deal with Freefone through to the end of the year. He likes the targetability of place-based media and uses Freefone to support in-store promotions with mall retailers such as HMV.

‘TV is the number-one form of communication our consumers rely on for information about our product so it’s a big focus – but there’s a lot of clutter,’ says Bicknell. ‘The thing that really grabbed us [about Freefone] was the university and college sites. When we look at our research, 20% of our overall volume comes from the 16- to 24-year-old segment. They’re living at home or on campus and we’re going to be able to reach them with our spots and drive them to retail. So it’s very targetable.’

In the home-to-video category, Bicknell says there is really only a seven- to 10-day window to launch a product and make it successful. That window gets even smaller for new releases in the fourth quarter of the year. ‘Anything we can do to drive [customers] into stores is important for our retail and business partners, but clearly our success as well.’

Other digital sign networks include Vancouver-based Impulse TV Networks, which covers a base of 2.5 million viewers with screens in Canadian Tire, Foot Locker, Sport Mart, and Coast Mountain Bus Company locations.

Meanwhile, BrandView is a relatively new Toronto company currently installing 40-inch Toshiba plasma screens in 25 Treats Coffee prime office tower locations in Toronto, and eventually rolling out to about 100 across the country.