A short time ago CBS Outdoor, the digital billboards entity was released from its parent company, CBS. CBS Outdoor announced that the company had entered into an agreement with Van Wagner Communications to purchase its outdoor advertising arm. Van Wagner Communications has outdoor signage in Times Square, New York, and also on buses in Nevada running on the famous Las Vegas strip. The digital billboard technology sold for $690 million in cash.
According to CBS Outdoor, 1,100 large-format billboards, having a total revenue stream of $206 million in 11 U.S. Markets in 2013, are included in the transaction. Jeremy Male, the Chief Executive Officer at CBS Outdoor, explained many of Van Wagner’s billboards are in prime locations that will add exceptional value to CBS Outdoor billboards. Van Wagner had approximately 1.5 percent of its billboards digital technology equipped, about the same percentage as CBS Outdoor.
CBS Outdoor plans to convert some of the units purchased from Van Wagner Communications to digital billboard technology. Currently some of CBS Outdoor clients include, Sony Corp., Apple, Inc., and McDonald’s. The purchase of Van Wagner’s billboards will be subjected to a regulatory review, with the deal to close in the early portion of 2015.
There are a total of 329,100 displays for CBS Outdoor, in America and approximately 26,100 units divided between Latin America and Canada. CEO Male also announced some Van Wagner employees will be hired by CBS Outdoor, though the number is not concrete at this time. The blimp business and its sports consulting arm will be retained by Van Wagner. The sports consulting firm currently works with around 200 U.S. college and professional teams.
Digital billboards have rotating ad messages which display for several seconds before a different advertiser shares the same slot at the same location. Usually six to eight advertisers occupy the same space for their ads. This type of billboard offers maximum exposure in high impact areas and provide excellent advertising for a wide range of clients. Technology in commercially viable billboards using digital displays practically sells itself in the current market.
Many digital billboards retain the same size and shape as conventional billboards, as the current units are slowly replaced by their electronic counterparts. Digital displays have the option of a specific location, or a network of different locations. A business may arrange a contract with a digital billboard company for a week at a time or for several weeks.
Electronic signage is a format with great flexibility. In the past, paper signs were usually pasted on the billboard and lasted according to the length of the contract with the billboard company. Advertising messages may now be changed daily, weekly and on an hourly basis. A creative story may be told using multiple design layout formats. Content is adjusted corresponding to a client’s website, with the HTML source directly linked to the billboard. Updates can then be adjusted when a client changes the source of the content. This type of sign may also be used to alert drivers to road conditions, accidents, Amber Alerts, and other important news.
A person can basically think of a digital billboard as a giant computer screen with several different companies sharing the same digital space and competing for the electronic space equivalent to pop-up ads in many web browsers. This may work as an advantage for more creative ad presentations. Electronic billboard owners however, sell the same space to many advertisers. Quickly rotating ads diminish the amount of time an ad is seen, thus limiting the amount of time available for an ad to catch someone’s attention.
Many communities also have safety concerns in the use of digital billboards. The light emitted from this type of signage is very bright, and in some cases may be seen miles away. If located near a housing area residents may complain or legislate to have the signs toned down or removed. Safety is also a factor in placement of this type of billboard. Some drivers may be distracted by the message on the digital display, and may be especially dangerous if the sign is close to a busy intersection or a curve. One other consideration is the use of energy. A digital billboard uses electricity day and night, a regular billboard does not. However, digital billboards and this technology are great sales aids for companies who desire the attention in strategic places.
By Andy Towle