A Whole Nationwide Network Of 3D Screens in Travel Plazas???

May 3, 2012 by Dave Haynes

Simple people like simple things, so a company that puts ad screens in highway travel plazas and calls itself Travel Plaza TV has a certain appeal to me. The approach, however, is another thing.

The company is launching what it calls the first nationwide 3D digital signage network in the U.S., reaching  more than 23 million travelers every month.

“This 3D experience, without glasses, is revolutionary. Customers will be amazed at what they are seeing and advertisers will reap the benefits. 3D is the future, and of course our system will display 2D content as well,” says Bill Botte, senior executive vice-president of Travel Plaza TV.

The company expects to have autostereoscopic 3D screens in 400 sites by the end of June.

Deployment of the 3D screens at over 400 travel plazas across the U.S. will be completed by the end of June. Most of them are going into the Pilot Flying J chain of road plazas, and the rest in Roady’s stops.

“The driver recruiting industry has been looking for an innovative, digital replacement for print advertisements for decades. The ‘reach out and touch’ digital technology is going to give advertisers and recruiters a unique edge,” says Ralph Head, a TPTV board member and 30-year industry expert.

That many people in a month is, in theory, a very nice advertising model. If the software can manage it you can fine-tune regional and state tourism marketing, and hospitality industry marketing. The driver recruitment thing is an interesting spin.

But why, oh why, do you need the added capital and ongoing content creation cost for the pure shoulder-shrugging gimmick of glasses-free 3D? Why make it that much harder to get national ad buys from agencies who won’t want to spend a nickel more for 3D?

Focus on the audience. Focus on the needs of brand advertisers and, in this case, government marketers (probably). I’m not aware of a loud cry in digital OOH about “If only there was more glasses-free 3D inventory!”

If this gets sales traction it will much more likely be because of the hyper-local ad targeting and the driver recruitment thing – which will not involve 3D images of HR people.

Too late for this, but for the next company with an angle on an untapped vertical: if you have the budget to do more than just regular screens, go bigger, get at eye level, and plow some money into measuring and validating your audience through a company planners know of and trust. THAT will get you to EBITDA positive a lot faster than french fries that OH MY FREAKING GOD! seemed to jump right out of that screen by the door.

This sector is somehow maturing and growing kookier by the week … at the same time.

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