Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge with us today Ryan. You’ve spear-headed Clear Channel’s digital billboard program, revolutionizing outdoor media by giving advertisers a way to reach their prospects with a much more targeted and timely message. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you landed this unique position?
I began my career with Clear Channel Outdoor in 2005 as an account executive selling traditional outdoor media. When Tampa Bay became only the fourth Clear Channel market to build a digital billboard network, they needed someone with a mix of sales, marketing and programming experience to lead the way. I couldn’t help jumping at the opportunity to be a part of such an innovative, exciting new medium, which I believe to be the future of outdoor advertising.
Outdoor media has been up against some serious challenges lately; new signage restrictions, environmental concerns and most of all, other less expensive forms of advertising. How has your digital billboard program helped you to keep outdoor media competitive with the other choices business owners have for advertising their companies?
Our digital products allow us to solve a much wider range of marketing objectives, which has brought in a whole new group of advertisers who have traditionally opted for more flexible mediums. Advertisers are no longer bound to using a single message for the length of their campaign. Now they can change by the week, by the day, or by the hour. Some of our detractors are starting to see billboards in a different light as well. With the ability to aid the community by posting Amber Alerts, wanted criminals and hurricane evacuation routes on our digital billboard network, citizens are realizing the advantages of incorporating the technology in our community.
What unique advantages would an advertiser benefit from when using digital billboards instead of traditional billboards?
The biggest advantage of digital outdoor over traditional vinyl billboards, is that advertisers have the ability to rotate multiple designs, and change their message as often as they like with zero production costs. This presents a world of creative possibilities. For instance, car dealers can rotate dozens of designs, each one featuring a car from their inventory with an updated price point. A restaurant could advertise choices from their breakfast menu in the morning, switch to lunch specials mid-day, and tempt people with their dinner offerings during the afternoon commute. We even have the ability to link elements of the design to the Internet, creating a live dynamic element on the board. For example, a news station could feature a headline that changes automatically as it changes on their website, or a radio station could show the song that is currently playing. We’ve had clients display countdowns to special events, live sports scores, current interest rates…The possibilities are endless.
Are there any disadvantages?
A common concern is that of having to share space with multiple advertisers. Conveniently, Clear Channel Outdoor has a variety of products and programs to meet a wide range of marketing goals. If a business wants to reap the benefits of outdoor advertising, but has no need to change their message over the course of their campaign, traditional vinyl billboards are still as powerful and effective as ever.
Most experienced marketers know that no one should rely on any single form of advertising, so in your opinion, what other forms of media best compliment digital billboards, and are there any that don’t work well with them?
Technology has changed the way we consume media, which has negatively effected most advertising mediums. Conversely, the two mediums actually benefiting from the digital revolution are outdoor and the Internet. When you think about it, the two make a nice pair. Digital billboard technology isn’t much different from online banner ads in that there are no production costs, and changes can be made quickly and effortlessly. By combining the two, it’s possible to reach people at home, at work, and everywhere in between with a marketing tool that’s powerful and pliable.
Billboards in general can be relatively pricey for most small businesses. What do you recommend as a starting monthly budget for that small business owner who wants to launch an outdoor media campaign?
When it comes to budget, the question used to be “How many billboards can I afford?” With the Digital Outdoor Network, the question becomes, “How many spots can I afford?” By changing the frequency with which your message appears, we can create programs so that advertisers with a wide variety of budgets can use digital outdoor. While national advertisers can spend hundreds of thousands on a digital campaign, we have programs starting at $500 per week that allow local businesses to enjoy the benefits of digital outdoor as well.