L.A. Times Posts News to Digital Billboards

Daily to Target Commuters to Increase Awareness of Local News Content

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Starting today, Los Angeles commuters needn't have a newspaper, TV or a computer handy to get their latest Los Angeles Times headlines.
The Times will feature local elements from the paper on 10 Clear Channel Outdoor digital billboards.
The Times will feature local elements from the paper on 10 Clear Channel Outdoor digital billboards.

Los Angelenos plagued by traffic delays or seeking a productive roadside distraction will be able to catch exclusive news via 10 digital billboards placed across the city by Clear Channel Outdoor. The Los Angeles Times is the first newspaper to use the company's digital billboards and web-based interface for news alerts and branding.

Luring casual readers back
John O'Loughlin, Los Angeles Times' president-targeted media and senior VP-marketing, said the billboards are designed to reach the casual Times consumer, someone who reads the paper in print or online once or twice a week. "We want to prompt them and remind them and bring them back into the fold," Mr. O'Loughlin said.

The editorial content will be comprised of mostly regional sports, politics and entertainment stories, as well as promotions for local events the paper hosts annually, like next month's Festival of Books. "You're not likely to see a story about some breaking news that happened in Iraq. We're definitely focused more on signature pieces, content elements, blogs, columnists, stories, products and events that are unique to us," Mr. O'Loughlin said.

The billboards' content will rotate roughly every eight seconds, and can be updated at any time from the Times' digital newsroom. Additionally, Clear Channel Outdoor will have its own cameras in place at each of the billboards so the newspaper can perform maintenance and follow traffic in real-time. This is the first time Clear Channel Outdoor has offered such a service to a digital-billboard client.

"The Los Angeles Times stands out as a true innovator in the use of this new advertising medium, which not only expands awareness of the company's brands, but enables it to stay in up-to-the-minute touch with its readers and website visitors over the course of the entire day," Paul Meyer, president-chief operating officer of Clear Channel Outdoor, said in a statement. Although Los Angeles is the first market where the new technology is being deployed, Mr. Meyer hinted at the potential for more rollouts in the future.

8-second spot
An eight-second spot will be displayed on the 10 boards 70,910 times per week, reaching a combined total of 455,300 people per day, according to audited Daily Effective Circulation estimates. Mr. O'Loughlin said the company will be working with Clear Channel over the next 10 weeks to evaluate results and determine return on investment, before tweaking the boards at the end of May to update them for the Olympics and, later, the elections in the fall.

But so far, the internal reaction the billboards has been quite favorable at the Times, ever since the first spots began running on a trial basis Feb. 24 to coincide with the Academy Awards coverage.

"It's had a viral effect where everyone was thinking it might be kind of cool, but it's gone far beyond that," Mr. O'Loughlin said. "It's about getting us as an organization in a really crowded media marketplace, best served by making consumers and advertisers aware of the unique content can't find anywhere but with us. We have a lot of it, and we're telling our story much better. Not only for latimes.com but for the L.A. Times print edition."
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