The Digital Out-of-Home Revolution

Traditional static billboards like those found along highways across the U.S. have been around for almost 200 years, and in the 20th century they began dominating the world of out-of-home (OOH) advertising.

But times do change. With more versatile LED display technology becoming more attainable than ever, media companies are increasingly making the switch to digital.

Digital OOH advertising is a rapidly growing sector of the out-of-home industry, and attention-grabbing large-format digital is no longer reserved for busy destinations like Times Square. Local governments across the U.S. are relaxing regulations for digital platforms and as a result are seeing a rise in LED video advertising platforms, ranging from traditional billboard sizes to screens the size of a football field. Paired with good content, the digital billboard is an effective medium to create lasting impressions for people on the go.

Likewise, architects, designers, and developers are increasingly working directly with consultants, media companies, audio-video integrators, and LED display providers to incorporate digital display technology into new development designs. This has led to new revenue streams and a boom in digital creative.

SNA Displays has been at the forefront of the digital out-of-home revolution, working with some of the world’s top advertising and media creation companies to bring DOOH projects to life. Some have even helped shape entire skylines. While DOOH displays can take on a myriad of shapes and sizes, here are some of the more popular use-cases.

Curves and Corners

Anamorphic/3D content is getting more and more attention as advertisers continue to seek new ways to stand out in a digital medium. This art style, based on the creation of an optical illusion when viewed from a sweet spot, has been around for hundreds of years but has recently seen a resurgence in popularity with its marriage to video display technology.

While anamorphic creative is certainly possible on flat screens, some configurations lend themselves particularly well for eye-popping 3D content. The forced-perspective experience found on large-format LED screens is arguably most effective when the digital canvas has two opposing surfaces with a midpoint, providing a change in the physical canvas. In other words, a display that wraps around the corner of a building, either along a smooth curve or at a 90-degree angle, can produce amazing 3D visual effects when viewed from the proper vantage point.

The enormous outdoor video display at The Moxy & AC Hotel DTLA at the intersection of S Figueroa St. and W Pico Blvd in the heart of downtown Los Angeles exemplifies the power of large-format LED screens as a visual medium. The award-winning 50-foot-tall LED mega-spectacular is roughly the length of a football field and features a smooth, wraparound corner ideal for 3D DOOH. Premier OOH media company Branded Cities owns exclusive rights to market and sell advertising on the curved video screen, the largest continuous digital canvas in the highly coveted DTLA neighborhood.

Another prime example of a curved display offering high-quality 3D advertising is the iconic 20 Times Square LED mega-spectacular. Located at the north end of the Times Square bow tie, this 17,000 square foot DOOH platform became one of the largest continuous exterior displays in the world upon installation. Featuring an 8 mm pixel pitch, a curved screen, and an 8K content palette, 20 Times Square regularly features next-generation video content, often showing 3D/anamorphic creative to the hundreds of thousands of people who pass through the area every day.      

Mega Brand Advertising

The visual spectacle that creative content offers when it makes the viewer feel like they can reach out and touch the product is a valuable tool, but it is far from the only one available to DOOH media companies. Brand advertisers have long understood that going BIG is a value in and of itself.

Mega brand advertising is a major factor of why LED spectaculars and mega-spectaculars exist to begin with. Here, DOOH can impress with sheer size alone, and SNA Displays has been proving itself in this market since the beginning.

With numerous examples to share, it’s tough to pick our favorite LED spectaculars. However, The Reef rooftop mega-spectacular is high on the list. At 41,000+ square feet, the LED video display mounted at the top of The Reef’s 12-story building in downtown Los Angeles is the epitome of mega brand advertising. As the largest DOOH platform on the West Coast, The Reef’s digital canvas is a significant piece of the LA skyline, demanding attention through its size alone.

The 56′ x 750′ display system wraps around two corners of the building and faces three different downtown streets. Los Angeles-based consultancy Consumer Experience Group (CEG), which specializes in experiential display systems, oversaw display technology specifications, the procurement process, the media partner selection process, and project management for both The Reef and The Moxy LED mega-spectaculars.

Another behemoth DOOH screen is at Circa Los Angeles, adjacent to The Moxy and just steps away from Crypto.com Arena, L.A. Live, and the LA Convention Center.  This three-screen installation comprises more than 18,000 square feet of digital display canvas and processes more than 17 million pixels. Its unique design mirrors the unique convex and concave architecture of the parking structure it covers. For the millions of visitors the area draws each year, such a huge advertising platform is impossible to miss.

Multi-Platform Networks

Obviously, mammoth-sized screens with mesmerizing content are sure to generate buzz, but there are other ways to create memorable advertising experiences. Take American Dream Meadowlands, for example. While the giant retail and entertainment destination venue certainly has large-format digital signage on the premises (with more to come in 2023), the bulk of its advertising power rests in the scope of its digital display network. SNA Displays has supplied more than 36,000 square feet of LED display technology across the American Dream property (40+ individual LED screens), in addition to dozens of interactive LCD kiosks. The various platforms can all run independently, allowing for a wide variety of retailers to advertise their wares, but are also capable of dramatic, campus-wide takeover moments that can briefly immerse guests in DOOH content. 

Of course, multi-screen networks don’t have to be quite so extensive as American Dream’s. For example, NOHO West is a retail and entertainment destination in North Hollywood that uses three EMPIRE™ Exterior LED displays and 10 double-sided LCD screens quite effectively for DOOH advertising. The trio of screens are positioned at key points in the property to maximize viewing time, draw guests to onsite attractions, capture motorists’ attention off of 170/Hollywood Freeway, and communicate to visitors already inside the interior of the open-air mall.

Finally, the LED spectaculars at E Walk Retail and 661 8th Avenue in Times Square demonstrate what happens when advertisers choose to go big and go multi-platform. These large-format DOOH displays sit across from each other at the corner of 8th Avenue and West 42nd Street in one of the busiest intersections in New York City. Individually, they offer impressive advertising real estate, but when synchronized they create nearly 13,000 square feet of digital canvas to run DOOH experiences that command attention from the entire intersection. Out-of-home media company BIG Outdoor owns and operates both digital assets, managing all media sales and content scheduling for the pair known as the “42nd and 8th Domination.”

Style with Substance

The last major use-case for DOOH displays focuses on custom engineering. Giant screens, sprawling digital signage networks, and artistic content are all useful pieces of the DOOH media tool kit. But another important consideration for the out-of-home sector is simply standing out with something different – a custom configuration. Here, Dallas-area destination venue Grandscape offers a good example of how to do just that. From a visual perspective, the highlight of the North Dallas destination shopping and entertainment center is the custom-designed Stylon™ LED display. Built into a reflecting pool, this double-ellipsoid LED screen is one of SNA Displays’ more distinctive and ambitious projects. And others seem to agree as the more than 3,000-square-foot display has won several awards.


For more DOOH project examples check out our portfolio and stay tuned for upcoming announcements about massive installations.  

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