donderdag 2 juli 2015

Google backs scheme to put 10,000 screens on NY streets


Google is finally getting into digital out-of-home in a big way – but not through the much-anticipated launch of its own buying and selling platform.

Instead, the search giant is effectively taking over the LinkNYC project that aims to outfit New York’s streets with up to 10,000 communication hubs featuring digital displays for advertising and public service messaging, as well as touchscreen-based information.

Much more than on-street digital signage, the hubs will also provide free public Wi-Fi – perhaps likely to be their biggest attraction – as well as free phone calls and mobile phone charging.

Google’s involvement is at arm’s length. It is funding a startup called Sidewalk Labs, launched earlier this month by former Bloomberg CEO and New York deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff, which in turn is acquiring and merging outdoor advertising firm Titan and technology specialist Control Group to form a new company, called Intersection.

It is Intersection that will devise and roll out the LinkNYC network.

The happy couple

Titan, as an established outdoor firm, already provides sales, creative and technical services for a wide range of out-of-home media in public transportation and airport locations as well as on-street. It serves 31 North American markets which along with New York also include Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Seattle.

Control Group, meanwhile, has focused its work on interactive technologies that involve consumers, such as Wi-Fi and RFID deployments, as well as in-store media.

Spanning five New York boroughs, the LinkNYC network is expected to generate around $40m a year for the city and be funded by its own advertising revenues. The on-street units, known as Links, are being designed by Antenna.

Back seat, or driver’s?

It has long been speculated that Google might enter the digital out-of-home market by adapting to DOOH the technology which it successfully uses to sell and place online advertising. Such a venture might, for example, allow advertisers to buy screen spots on public displays in much the same way as they currently use tools like Google AdWords to book online inventory.

Despite the talk, however, no such system has been forthcoming. But it now remains to be seen whether Google will indeed apply its advertising platform technology to LinkNYC, opening up the opportunity to service thousands of small advertisers with a high degree of automation, or whether it will remain merely an investor.

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