Do tweets on digital billboards make sense

January 11, 2010 by Dave Haynes

I was just reading a post on outdoor giant Lamar’s digital blog (as spotted by DS Today) about how the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is working with them on a trial program with a couple of big digital boards around that city.

The billboard comes with its own unique set of challenges, notes Lamar’s Adam Kirby. Conveying a coherent, meaningful offer via Twitter’s 140-character limit is challenging enough, but Lamar limits its billboard messages to only 100 characters. Complicating that is the fact that, while Twitter aficionados may understand the site’s jargon and shorthand, the billboards are read by countless people who have no idea what is being said. 

I don’t think the 140-character limit is the problem, but more so that it can take 140 characters. The spots only run seven seconds. That’s probably waaaay too much text, as good billboards have very tight word counts.

If people rolling by quickly in their cars also have to mentally decode abbreviations that are often part of tweets, it’s that much harder to absorb the message.

Twitter, particularly when it is visually juiced up as Locamoda does, can work well in places where people stand around and stare – ie Times Square in NY. But for billboards along the side of roads, I’d need a lot more convincing that it makes sense. That stated, it’s great that someone is trying it and conceding they’re not sure it will work well.


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