David Weinfeld

Exploring the Convergence of Media and Technology

Digital Disturbia at the Fashion Show Mall

After spending a week in Las Vegas for the Digital Signage Expo, I came home with a number of takeaways from my trip. While many of them center directly on DSE itself, some bubbled up organically from my time in the Nevada desert.

When you walk around Sin City, it’s hard to miss all of the digital signs and billboards that paint the iconic scenery. Since the last time I visited the city almost three years ago, I’m certain that the digital signage in Vegas has at least quadrupled. From mammoth digital billboards that glow between casinos to screens at the edge of gaming tables, the sights around the city captivate the senses. When looking at these digital executions, there are instances where the digital signage is positioned and planned well and others where strategy is clearly absent.

My Issues w/ the Digital Billboards at the Fashion Show Mall

The digital billboard array at the Fashion Show Mall spills vibrant images across the Strip. While the digital displays are beautiful from a technical standpoint, they fail to live up to their promise as a complete media solution. The problem isn’t with the technology. The problem is with Clear Channel Spectacolor, the entity that controls the billboards.

During my weeklong stay in Las Vegas, only two commercial spots ran on the digital billboards at the Fashion Show Mall. The advertisements were for Mountain Dew and Apple. Don’t get me wrong. The ads were eye-catching. They utilized vibrant imagery to capture the essence of each brand. The experience, however, of being within ear shot of the billboards was nothing short of mind-numbing.

The Apple iPod Touch advertisement that aired on the display looped the same audio over and over. Not only did the ad play the same song, it cycled the same segment of the same song (Asteroid Galaxy’s “Around the Bend”) endlessly. Since the billboards only ran two spots, you would hear the same snippet of audio every minute or so. Sound terrible? It was.

The outside dining tables near the mall were conspicuously empty. This scenario illustrates why media companies should always put themselves in the shoes of the consumer before executing a campaign. It’s laughable that Clear Channel would be so short-sighted. The company probably has no idea what’s going on. That’s the problem in a nut shell.

Digital signage does not fall into the Ron Popeil category of “SET IT and FORGET IT.” You always need to be aware of what’s running on a digital sign and its impact on its surrounding environment.

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