For well over a century, advertisers have known that billboards are an effective way to get their product or service in front of consumers. But traditional signs have a serious limitation.
Because the message is printed on massive sheets of paper or vinyl, the display is static. Changing the message means going to the expense of printing a new sign and having installers go on-site to physically replace the old one.
The advent of digital billboards has changed all that.
Action Media has brought the flexibility of digital signage to this region. The first two digital signs were installed alongside Highway 11 last year – one on the northbound side near Gravenhurst, and one on the southbound side north of Washago. Additional signs have since been installed in Orillia and Lindsay, and more are planned for Barrie and Midland, as well as other communities.
Digital displays are made of an array of tiny LED lights, and designs are uploaded remotely. This means changes can be made as soon as the designs are completed.
It hasn’t taken long for advertisers to recognize the potential this flexibility allows. Realtors can create a billboard for a new listing, and then change it as soon as the house sells. Retailers can announce special events – a weekend sale, for example – or highlight different products as often as they like. Companies of any kind can advertise that they are hiring, and then change the sign once the positions are filled.
Because the signs change regularly – typically every six to twenty seconds, depending on the location – advertisers can even show several different signs on the same day. That’s particularly helpful to companies that carry a wide array of different products, as well as firms that can access co-op advertising dollars to help pay for their signs.
Of course, there are strict regulations to ensure the billboards are not distracting, rules which are usually put in place by the municipality or the provincial Ministry of Transportation. Video is not usually allowed, for example. Transitions between signs must be instantaneous, and there are defined maximum brightness levels for day and night, among other regulations.
Because the billboards are internally illuminated, light pollution is kept to a minimum – there are no bright spotlights pointing upward as are seen on some other forms of outdoor signage. And the highly efficient LED bulbs keep electricity consumption low.
TEXT A. WAGNER-CHAZALON | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN