The rectangular glow: Auckland Airport and Westpac get new digital screens

Digital outdoor advertising again made its way into the media this week with the announcement that a gigantic billboard—the length of a football field and eight storeys tall—was about to be installed at New York City’s Times Square. The story was picked up by various mainstream publications across the world and once again served as a reminder of how hot digital screens are right now.    

Here in New Zealand, the adoption of digital screens has been slower, but over the course of the last year it has been picking up momentum, with APN Outdoor getting the green light from Auckland Council to add four digital billboards around the inner city. And the organisation has also announced plans to launch the country’s biggest digital billboard, a 94 monster called Apollo, at Auckland Airport in December.

In the lead up to the unveiling of Apollo, APN recently added two new digital billboards to the interior of Auckland Airport as part of its redevelopment of the advertising inventory at the location.

Located in the international and domestic terminals between two Flight Information Displays (FID), each screen measures 6×2 metres with a total screen resolution of 1920×384 pixels.

And the screens are already proving popular, with Huawei, Steinlager Pure, Skoda, Cigna, Tourism Asia, Vodafone, Stuff, and Corona all signing up to give their ads the digital glow. 

One of the main benefits of digital outdoor advertising is that it can be updated quickly, and this has seen Stuff.co.nz use its placements at the airport to keep users in touch with the latest news headlines.  

And Richard Hale, the business director at Vizeum, Huawei’s media agency, also trumpeted the adaptability of digital advertising, saying: “[The] innovative LED FID digital technology not only looks impressive but more importantly, enables the ability for Huawei to highlight multiple product features throughout the campaign period – a key reason for choosing this platform.”

Phil Clemas, the general manager of APN Outdoor, says that the screens are sold in two-week cycles and that the early demand for the screens indicates a promising future. 

“Both the international and domestic screens have sold out for the first two [two-week] cycles with much of the remaining rotations sold through to early 2015 as well,” says Clemas.  

APN Outdoor plans to complete its redevelopment of Auckland Airport by February 2015, and Clemas says that the aim is to give the advertising space a premium nature by de-cluttering it through the incorporation of the digital screens. 

But APN isn’t the only organisation that’s using digital screens to give a space a new look. Westpac also recently installed a five-metre, nine-panel LED video wall, which is flanked by 65″ touch screens, at the Westpac head office. 

“The digital screens are part of an area known as The Bridge,” says a spokesperson from the bank. “The Bridge showcases Westpac’s history, global uptake of new technologies alongside how Westpac is responding to new customer demands like iBeacon technology and state of the art ATMS. This allows our staff and other key stakeholders to engage with our strategy.”

The spokesperson added: “Westpac’s strategy is customer led and digitally backed. Banking is about relationships, and removing manual processes and enabling self-service has resulted in more meaningful personalised conversations between our bankers and our customers.”   

Notably, both APN Outdoor and Westpac have brought in digital media agency Ngage* as a technology partner, and this move gives them access to the Aerva software (which Ngage holds the exclusive licence for in New Zealand). 

This technology was previously used during a Vodafone campaign to enable users to interact with billboards via Twitter, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, RSS feeds, pic-to-screen, or text-to-screen, and more recently it allowed TV3 to feed live updates of the general election onto billboards in Auckland.    

In addition to this, the Aerva technology was also used at the New Zealand Media Awards through a giant digital screen that responded to attendees’ movements as they walked the red-carpet, mingled and danced. 

Over the last year, digital signage has already been used by advertisers in a variety of interesting ways, but the medium is still in its relative infancy in New Zealand. However, advertisers have already shown a willingness to experiment with the technology and this could result in some interesting creative executions as the outdoor industry continues to evolve.       

*Disclosure of interest: Ngage is part of the Image Centre Group that also includes StopPress.

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