Video in Public Space by Joyce Schwarz


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This is a look at video in public spaces. It's a two part article that has been featured in dozens of trade magazines. If you want an update on VIdeo to go -- email: for a presentation at your conference or to your company. Joyce will send you her public speaking promo kit on request. And be sure to sign up for her quarterly newsletter and blog (more than 2000 posts on future of media) and 3/4 million page views at

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Video in Public Space by Joyce Schwarz

  1. 1. PUBLIC SPACE MEDIA: Stuffing Elephant Into Elevator : the newsletter for emerging media and entertainment includingpodcasts, blogs, online & offline electronic media.Digital Outdoor Post February 20, 2009Out of Doors, Top of MindBy Joyce SchwarzVideo streaming in public spaces is gaining ground, with airlines, soup makersand credit card companies all chasing the on-the-go consumer.How do you stuff an elephant into an elevator? Ask Captivate Networks Inc., the Westford,Massachusetts national news network that delivers digital advertising and programming to acaptive audience of more than 1.9 million educated, affluent consumers in the elevators ofpremier office towers across North America. The company’s advertisers include most of the topairlines such as American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, SAS and scores of other brandsranging from Amtrak to Volkswagen.When Captivate Network’s President and General Manager Mike DiFranza founded his firm in1997 after a flash of inspiration during an elevator ride, he probably never imagined that hiscompany would deliver 40 million impressions a month, be backed by international mediapowerhouse Gannett and broadcast to more than 6,200 wireless digital screens located inpremiere office towers in 21 North American markets. Captivate’s website brags that the firm“helps hundreds of leading brands transform downtime into Captivate Time”. Surprisingly, they dothis silently too — the visual dominates the screen. No longer can mainstream media promise the recall, ad effectiveness and purchase intentthat brands need to deliver bottom line results. Increasingly interactive marketers are turning tothese so called “captive audience networks” proliferating in a brave new world of narrowcasting.
  2. 2. Whether you call it “dynamic visual messaging” or slang it “the Outernet,” digital wireless medianetworks are increasingly popular for place-based media. In indoor and outdoor settings, digitalmedia streams dynamically to networked digital and electronic signage and LCD, Plasma andFlat Panel HD screens coast to coast and around the world. Audience fragmentation is not the only driver for these new media buys; advancingtechnology enables brands to deliver advertising or branded entertainment in ‘day parts’ (likeradio and television) or to complement and even displace traditional signage in stores, buildings,along highways or in a myriad of other public spaces. What’s making all of these options possibleare rapidly developing technologies such as wireless LANs and advanced wi-fi solutions thatenable networking, scheduling, content management and dynamic electronic displays from 15inch square elevator screens to 150 square foot video billboards to even more impressive 50 floorbuildings whose roofs and faces become streaming video canvases for brands on demand.To really understand the impact of this out-of home advertising and media revolution, go to TimesSquare in New York City. Stand at 45th and Broadway and you’ll be spellbound by the next-generation of visual merchandising. Some ad experts call the area the new “signature ofAmerica’s marketing and financial prowess.” The billboards there — many of them streamingvideo — are now among the most effective and most expensive in the nation.State of the art streaming is an increasingly popular choice for brands that want to impress the 40million annual individual visitors — roughly equivalent to 14 percent of the U.S. population — whoflock to Broadway each year. For example, the J.P. Morgan Chase sign at the base of theReuters building at 42nd Street and 7th Avenue features 10 times the resolution of the averageTV set, at a pricey investment said to be more than $10 million, (not including rental space).And consider this: Super Bowl commercials command about $2.6 million each for 30 secondspots and reach 80 million people. One Times Square draws 211 million viewers when the NewYear’s Eve ball drops, according to Brian Turner, the president of Sherwood Outdoor, which is theagent for more than 40 percent of all signage on Times Square.Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi and author of the new book “The Future On ScreenSISOMO: creating emotional connections in the market with sight sound and emotion, said in arecent speech: “Welcome to the attraction economy — where the winners will be those who get tothat emotional future first and fast.” He believes that companies must move from permission toattraction. “With permission you’ve got to ask the customer, with attraction they come to you.”Roberts’ book is getting some flack from bloggers who believe that he forgets about the power ofcitizen’s media and interactivity. But in some of the most popular out-of-home media, pedestriansbecome active and essential participants in the campaign. Viewers became players and literallydrove the outcome using their cell phones as remote controls last year when New York-based R/GA promoted Yahoo!’s new automotive website with a billboard encouraging pedestrians tobecome players in a video game broadcast on part of the 23 story tall Reuters sign.
  3. 3. At the Hershey’s Times Square store, for the small fee of $4.95, consumers can stream theirname or personal message in lights, the flashing LED message circling the building for 10minutes. On Hershey’s website, consumers can simulate the experience for free. Across the pond in London, in Piccadilly Circus, a giant 99-foot neon colossus of abillboard lets people respond to the weather and interact with it by looking up from the ground.Also in London, one of the most popular promotional vehicles for the London 2012 Olympicscampaign was a giant screen in Trafalgar Square. To most Londoners, the screen was justanother billboard, but to tourists it was a giant promo visible from taxis and public transport blocksaway. Peter Irwin, the president and CEO of Toronto, Canada’s Outdoor Broadcast Network(OBN), believes that humongous, interactive video screens are both the logical evolution of cavedrawings and state of the art 21st Century communications mediums. His firm’s high-resolutionvideo ‘media tower’ at Toronto’s Eaton Centre measures 7,200 square feet, features fourseparate screens and 40 scrolling panels, and is viewed by 700,000 people per week. Accordingto Irwin, his tower’s advanced technology makes it the first true synchronized multimedia venue inthe world — syncing on-screen content with real-time events. An example is a campaign forToronto radio station Q107 where the video screens reference whichever song is playing on theradio at any given moment. Last year when the temperature dipped really low in Toronto, astreaming image of a bowl of Campbell’s soup steamed up the screens.Interactivity on big screens is not only the Holy Grail but also the hot button for interactivecampaigns, which demand both call to action and measurable metrics. Nokia used the EatonCentre media tower to nab prospects and film them with their newest mobile cam phone and thenproject their images above their heads under the animated slogan “Picture Yourself here.”Joyce Schwarz is an author, Hollywood columnist and futurist. She wrote many of the earliest articlesand books on new media and now edits and writes HOLLYWOOD2020 that goes to 5,000 new mediaexecs daily with more than ½ million page views. She also writes for BUSINESS 2.0, (where she has written more than 40 columns on new media and blogging andonline content) and she speaks at such major conferences as DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD. She haspublished more than 200 articles on new media & emerging entertainmentSCROLL DOWN FOR MORE ARTICLES:
  4. 4. Sample articles by Joyce Schwarz in industry publications