Guest Post: The Ripple Effect of Dead Screens

August 23, 2010 by Dave Haynes

Two of my friends who live near me in downtown Toronto are media buyers for different agencies.  I usually meet them a couple of times a month for drinks after work.

These guys are typical young “suits” –  ambitious about growing their careers – and they definitely never miss a moment to point to TVs in a bar every time a commercial, that they bought for one of their clients, is broadcasting.

I feel their sense of enjoyment, as well the competitiveness they have amongst other planners.  When I ask them details on how that campaign was conceived beforehand, it usually involves them getting the maximum number of eyeballs for their clients on broadcast TV and OOH billboards.

I’m in the DOOH business, so I am tempted to talk to them about my own network of DOOH displays, but I don’t. I don’t go out with my buddies to pitch them.

Toronto’s is Canada’s biggest agency hub and there are a lot of young guys and women who live downtown and work and play hard in the media industry. Between launch events and schmoozing and just being 23, they tend to get out – a lot – to bars and clubs. So they see a lot of DOOH networks.

In fact, a big part of their understanding about DOOH media is derived from the displays they see in these local hotspots.

So here’s the problem – a lot of the screens aren’t working.

I know. Stuff happens. But when it does, it has to be fixed very, very quickly. Instead of seeing great creative in a perfect environment, media guys like my buddies are seeing flawed executions that deliver bad impressions instead of ad impressions.

Just last weekend, I was in a bar that has screens on the washroom walls. One screen was completely black and the other one was in bad shape, flickering from black to white like it was in a lightning storm.  My friends saw them, as well, and talked about how they couldn’t afford to take risks with clients on technology that may or may not deliver as promised.

Media networks WANT to have their product in front of media planners. They WANT to be top of mind to these young folks who control six and seven figure ad budgets. A good experience – with screens that are delivering as promised whenever anyone checks – will lead to renewed and new business. There’s a ripple effect.

But the same holds for screens that are black or damaged. DOOH networks hurt the industry as a whole when their product is down or showing problems. It causes another kind of ripple effect none of us want.

Raji Kalra is the Managing Director of Planet-Tek Systems, which runs vendor-driven networks in the health and wellness sector.

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