Latest on Octomom and Jon and Kate coming to a digital board near you

September 8, 2009 by Dave Haynes

We are starting to finally see a bridge between mainstream media content and digital screens that makes some sense.

For the longest time, and still these days, most of the stuff that finds its way to digital screens is reheated news from broadcasters or newspapers that is part of some content deal that shovels some stuff into the time gaps between ads. With the exception of weather, digital screens rarely take advanatge of dynamic capabilities and advance or promote a story. More often, screens in public places run clips from last night’s news or headlines from that day’s  paper.

But we have word starting yesterday of ClearChannel doing a program, granted as a media buy and not a programming plan, that has a little more logic and synergy to it.

Reports MediaWeek:

Digital billboards aren’t just for advertising anymore. As part of E! Entertainment Television’s new campaign to promote its weeknight news program, the net will air entertainment news alerts on Clear Channel’s national digital billboard network.

Launched Labor Day (Sept. 7), the news alert campaign created by MediaVest takes advantage of the digital format’s ability to change messages at a moment’s notice. For eight weeks, the news alerts will tease the breaking stories scheduled to be covered in that evening’s E! News program.

E! News’ alerts will be displayed on more than 125 digital billboards in nine top markets: Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, Phoenix, Tampa, Minneapolis and Cleveland. Collectively, the boards reach nearly 10 million people daily, several times the size of E!’s daily audience.

“This innovative use of out-of-home digital video is a bellwether for the future of the out-of-home medium. Leveraging RSS technology and the ability to instantly and regularly update content taps into the true power of the medium and advances how brands make meaningful, immediate connections with consumers,” said Norm Chait, svp and director of OOH investment and activation for MediaVest.

This isn’t the first time digital billboards have served as news and information sources. On election night, Clear Channel turned its digital billboards and taxi tops into an out-of-home news network, displaying real-time tally updates of the results. Last year, CC and the LA Times did a deal to display news content as part of the paper’s promotion of its Web site and print products. Digital boards are also widely used for Amber Alerts and to display emergency information.  

Using digital networks to drive people to watch something later on TV or pick up a copy of a paper on newsstands, as is the case with a new deal between Amscreen and the UK Financial Times, makes sense and can have an impact.

What it says about our culture that giant billboards will blast the latest on Octomom and Jon and Kate for someone else to rationalize (if possible), but using emerging media to help the old-school stuff boost numbers is a step in the right direction. 

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