DOOH Start-ups Partner On Ad Network Creating Projected Billboards In Windows

December 17, 2020 by Dave Haynes

From the everything old is new again file …

Many, many years ago there were a few media companies leasing distressed real estate in malls and on busy streetscapes to create what you might call pop-up, projection-driven billboards using window glass.

You’d see media campaigns replace windows that were papered-over, the spaces waiting to be leased. An NYC company – Inwindow Outdoor – has been at this for almost 20 years, though the company blends projection with printed vinyl graphics to fill big spaces.

Inwindow is still out there, but the “technique” kind of came and went – probably for a few reasons. The economy improved and empty storefronts that used to be cheap-ish in places like New York City grew expensive and hard to find. Projectors that were bright enough for the defined use were very expensive, and their lamps needed replacement within months. 

These days, projectors are brighter and cheaper, and they have laser light engines that last many multiples of the lives of projector lamps. And real estate is again distressed, with the business districts in some big cities being hollowed out by business failures caused by COVID-19.

I mention all this because of news that a Toronto startup that does the projection in windows thing, FrontRunner Technologies, has paired with the NYC-based digital out-of-home media company Lightbox OOH Video Network to market what they call WindowFronts in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Says the PR:

Lightbox, known for offering audio-enabled screens in shopping centres and other high-traffic areas in the United States markets at scale, will benefit from the addition of FrontRunner’s innovative WindowFront projection, audio and light recognition technologies, which can turn any retail window into a large-format, full-motion digital display.

“The windows of empty retail shops around the globe are quickly becoming immersive canvases, changing the future of public space,” says Nathan Elliott, Founder and CEO of FrontRunner. “Lightbox Unlimited, powered by FrontRunner Technologies, will digitally transform how we interact with new age media on a large scale, during this period of accelerated change. Together with the incredible Lightbox team, we look forward to providing unique windows of opportunity for advertisers, brands, landlords and retailers who are looking at consumer engagement differently.”

Lightbox says it has some 10,000 audio-available screens in shopping destinations, city streets, and WeWork locations across North America.

I’ve always liked the concept of filling big, high profile window spaces – that are otherwise sitting empty – with projections and graphics. Like a lot of technology things, it’s easier and cheaper to pull off today.

But some basic challenges remain. Projectors can be very bright these days, but they’re still going to lose a battle with daylight and even mall lighting, where the visuals will be softened and the colors muted. They can kick ass, though, when the lights go out.  

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