Sightings: Video Wall In Toronto Union Station

June 21, 2012 by Dave Haynes

At the best of times, Toronto’s Union Station rail hub is a chaotic, decayed mess that is in wild contrast to the skyscrapers a few feet away that command some of the highest commercial leasing costs in the country or continent.

A local media company called IMA Outdoor has had the advertising concession in the station – or at least the commuter rail side of it – forever, and is known for slapping ads on just about any surface that could take the weight of a backlit poster. Then they do the support columns and even the floors with printed material. They’ve had digital signage in there for several years as well, and are adding more and more – even as the station finally undergoes a renovation/rebuild that will hopefully tidy it up.

I was through there today and caught side of a 3 by 3 video wall at the back of the passenger hall – some space either having miraculously been found or this taking the place of a backlit sign. There was a clutch of people standing right in front of it, completely obscuring the displays, but not looking at them.

When they moved off, I saw the thing was actually interactive, and supplied by Monster Media. It had a house spot asking people to play a low rent stop-the-dropping-balls arcade game.


Why invest the money in a video wall right at eye level, that is easily hidden by even a couple of people who decide to stand in front of it?

Why do interactive in an environment the great majority of people stream through on missions – rushing to work or rushing for trains? The only people dwelling are those people staring at the track assignment screens.

Why would anyone stop and play some arcade game in a dingy environment that is not even vaguely suggestive of fun?


Probably cost $40K, maybe more. Nutty.

I saw this same set-up in the Minneapolis airport a few months ago. Big video wall on a busy concourse. Once in a while someone would slow down and respond to the prompt to play. Ten seconds later they’d shrug and move on. Is a small percentage of bored, delayed travellers the target audience?

Video walls don’t work just because they exist. They need great positioning, great content and a strategy that includes context. Interactive doesn’t work just because it’s interactive. You still need to deliver some value, some reason for people to bother. To engage.

The only way this thing sells is if the media planner or brand never actually passes through Union Station. Or just sees it as yet another digital poster face.



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