by Theodore Coutilish, Published November 16, 2010
YPSILANTI — Marketers are discovering ways to use new digital billboard technology to stand out from competitors in an increasingly cluttered marketplace.
The need for eye-catching digital content has driven Eastern Michigan University to explore real-time messaging, which is more engaging and personalized than static messages. During its football season, EMU has been using several different LED displays made by Daktronics to communicate with key audiences, including
• Eagles Text Message Trivia Contest, where fans are asked to text in an answer via their smart phone to a football-related question on the stadium scoreboard during games. Each winning answer receives an EMU-branded giveaway.
• Eagles Tweets, where two chosen fans share their thoughts via Twitter on four campus digital boards, the stadium scoreboard and two Adams Outdoor Advertising digital billboards on I-94 and US-23 before, during and after games.
• Eagles Game Countdown, where the days and times are counted down to the start of the next home football game on the I-94 and US-23 digital billboards.
Digital billboards, as opposed to static vinyl billboards, are ideal for fine-tuned consumer targeting, marketers believe. In this case, the university targeted EMU students, employees, football fans, students’ families and alumni to spark ticket sales, game attendance and excitement.
Results have been impressive.
In addition to other new EMU athletics marketing initiatives and a focus on grassroots and direct marketing, the new digital board technology efforts have helped EMU to increases of 50 percent in actual gate attendance and 36 percent in actual ticket sales during its first four home football games in 2010 compared with the previous season.
Daktronics has taken notice. The global manufacturer of electronic signs is developing a case study to publish on EMU’s efforts.
“There is another stadium looking to do the same feed possibilities as EMU,” said Mike Murdy of Daktronics Live Events, who trained the EMU staff. “Working on this project has brought me work on other similar projects.”
Adams Outdoor Advertising also had a positive reaction.
“Daktronics is always excited to see our technology used in creative and dynamic ways,” said Jill Krogman, Daktronics account manager for Adams Outdoor Advertising. “EMU and Adams Outdoor Advertising really scored a touchdown here. Future digital possibilities are endless.”