Start Up Road Runner Plans 1,000 Ad Screens On The Backs Of Commercial Panel Vans

The digital OOH startup that sees a business model in putting high bright LCDs on the backs of commercial vehicles has done a substantial deal to put screens on panel vans owned by the smart infrastructure firm Siemens.

Road Runner Media had run a trial with Siemens on 16 vehicles in 3 markets during 2019 and 2020, and now plans to have “1,000 Road Runner screens activated on vans used by service technicians by the end of the first year of the contract.”

The rollout would be bankrolled by a piece of Road Runner’s recently announced $62.5 million in growth financing.

“Safety is of paramount importance, as an average of 2,500 Siemens technicians are on the road each day across the U.S., servicing our customers,” says Dana Soukup, President Solutions & Services Region Americas, Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “During the pilot phase, we experienced the ability of Road Runner’s patented technology to create safer travel conditions and reduce accidents. We are looking forward to bringing that capability to more drivers and vans across our national markets.”

The safety aspect of this refers to Road Runner’s patented Vehicle Operational Indicator (“VOI”) technology – which in simple terms makes the 46-inch display on the back an extra, big-ass brake light. The screen also syncs with turn signals, flashing big arrows for things like lane changes.

“The VOI integrates with the driver’s cockpit to allow the connected screens to act as a 46” high-resolution, LCD Digital Brake Light, alerting surrounding drivers when the vehicle operator brakes, selects turn signals, reverses, or activates emergency flashers.”

“The Samsung ruggedized screens are highly visible day and night. When vehicle operations are not displayed, the screens can display a wide range of content, from brand advertising to Amber Alerts or any other critical public safety information.”

“The commitment Siemens has made to significantly expand their fleet of Road Runner-equipped vans is a tremendous validation of our network as we continue to scale and expand,” says Chris Riley, Road Runner’s CEO. “With Road Runner digital screens installed and operational, Siemens will help enhance their own drivers’ safety, and road safety in general, reducing insurance costs for the company while also sharing relevant and timely messaging with the traveling public. We are excited to have the opportunity to extend and advance this global strategic partnership.”

Interesting. The screens on vehicles thing has been done a bazillion times, and there’s been lots of, ummm, roadkill. But I haven’t seen one that ties in with vehicle equipment. It’s a little amusing to see the company presenting itself as a “Digital Out of Home and technology company working to resolve approximately 500,000 commercial vehicle accidents” when you know, absolutely, this network was created and funded with ad dollars in mind, not traffic safety.

It’s a bit like LinkNYC and some of the smart city street furniture display networks out there that were marketed as making cities smarter and safer by bolting touchscreens and IoT sensors on the units, making them “smart.” Those screen networks would not exist either if the ad model wasn’t really front and center.

All that said, it will be interesting to see how this goes. 1,000 screens is a good deal for Samsung, if it full rolls out, but 1,000 ad screens across all of the U.S. is probably not even close to the critical mass needed to get in national media plans.

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