Billboards will be removed in Rotterdam

December 19th, 2016 • By: Fred Kuhlman Uncategorized









The year 2016 will be remembered as a commercial good year in the Dutch OOH industry. The growth of advertising euro/2m2 format continues and digital developments are going faster than ever. Yet there is a dissonance: THE BILLBOARDS. In recent years, the turnover of this medium has already dropped dramatically, also resulting in a dramatic decrease in interest to exploit these objects.

In 2015 billboards were removed from the city The Hague. One of the largest operators of billboards, Exterion Media, will remove all billboards from Rotterdam by the end of 2016. In recent years, the number of billboards has been greatly reduced (from 85 to 40), but the last 40 will now disappear completely.

The reasons for the decline in the billboard market are diverse:

  • Until the crisis of 2008/2009 were the largest advertisers automotive and financials; these advertisers have greatly reduced their spending and it proved very difficult to find alternative advertisers
  • the success of advertising on the size 2m2, with the portrait format fits existing digital communications
  • advertisers want to sit closer to the point-of-sale (and billboards are still there usually further from)

Although the outdoor research shows that billboards score well (big impact with high range), it appears that emotional considerations also play a large role in the choice of media.

Only a few digital billboards are placed in the Netherlands at this moment. Operators and advertisers are enthusiastic, so we expect that a conversion will take place in the coming years from analogue to digital.

Hi-tech Citybeacons will give Eindhoven digital lead in street furniture

September 9th, 2015 • By: Fred Kuhlman Market developments











In the beginning of 2016 in the centre of Eindhoven, a new generation of intelligent street furniture will be installed: Citybeacons. The approximately four-meter high ‘City beacons; connect security, information and communication via an intelligent platform with the residents, visitors and businesses of the city. The Citybeacons will be a replacement of the advertising information display units (mupi’s) that stood in the centre until a few years ago.

With the arrival of 15-25 Citybeacons in the city centre of Eindhoven, residents, visitors and businesses will get access via the digital platform to a number of digital and interactive functionalities.

The idea for Citybeacon comes from the current proliferation in the physical infrastructure of a city. In every city there are cameras, billboards, road signs, antennas, ad space and video screens. The different functions of these facilities are brought together by the placement of the Citybeacons. Citybeacons deliver functionalities in the areas of security, communication and information:

A digital screen at eye level with:

  • Interactive maps with city information and routing
  • City promotion
  • Event info
  • Social media
  • Interaction: through the post and via smartphone
  • Digital note board

Two digital screens (approximately 3 meters):

  • Advertising (exploitation by City Beacon)
  • City marketing (events)
  • Amber Alerts

General features of the Citybeacon:

  • A strong wifi mast
  • Observation cameras:
  • Crowd control
  • CCTV
  • Measurements of passers numbers
  • Environmental measurements (eg air quality)
  • Streetlights

The City Beacon is developed by a new Dutch start-up. The founder of this company, Mr. Arthur van de Poll, took part in the tender of the city of New York for the replacement of 10,000 public telephones (2012). Although Citybeacon did not win, the product is developed and prepared for a major (inter) national introduction. The initiative in the Netherlands for this project came from the city marketing organization Eindhoven365. The manager of Eindhoven365 calls it “a communication asset to the city, a unique opportunity to discover the city in an intelligent way.”

The Citybeacons will be placed (depending on the permits and infrastructure available) from the beginning of 2016 at different locations in Eindhoven city centre.

The Citybeacon platform is also open to external parties. Cities can share relevant city information. Citybeacons generate user data such as air quality, traffic, social media data and for instance visitor numbers. The platform offers social features such as sending (public) messages facilitating a city tour or various game elements that relate to an event.

Citybeacon reports that after Eindhoven several (inter)national cities will follow. Each city can choose which functionalities should be operational. The platform acts as a distribution point for collaboration with content providers and creative community that can respond to the opportunities and possibilities of this city landmark.

Pay phones will become Wi-Fi hubs (NYC)

December 12th, 2014 • By: Fred Kuhlman Uncategorized












New York City plans to turn its lowly public payphone network into what it claims will be the biggest and fastest free municipal Wi-Fi network in the world. City leaders revealed the $200 million plan, called LinkNYC, on Monday at City Hall. The project will replace the Big Apple’s thousands of payphone installations with thin, sleek, 9.5-foot-tall hubs providing unlimited Internet access at super-high speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

A consortium called CityBridge won the bid to develop the project, though several city boards now need to approve the plan before construction can start. The group includes mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, which will help with connection technology, and outdoor advertiser Titan, which already has the largest contract in the city for maintaining and advertising on city payphones. Titan will be charged with turning some 9,000 aging and largely irrelevant pay phones into 10,000 ‘public communications structures,’ complete with Wi-Fi and digital advertising screens.

“This is going to be a critical step towards more access,” said Maya Wiley, counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who added that the hubs will be important for lower-income New Yorkers, who rely especially on mobile signals to connect with city services and the Internet.

LinkNYC comes despite a mixed history of municipal Wi-Fi projects, with cities including New York, Philadelphia and dozens others throughout the US trying — and failing — to create and sustain such services. Cities have claimed these kinds of projects can help spur economic activity and narrow the digital divide between those who can access the Internet and those who can’t. Yet many of these projects were scraped or scaled back over the years after cities and developers butt up against financial, competitive and technical challenges. Several current municipal Wi-Fi networks are available only in downtown areas and for a few hours a day for users.

“LinkNYC will fundamentally transform New York City and set the standard for responsive cities for years to come,” said Colin O’Donnell, chief operating officer of Control Group, a member of CityBridge.

The first 500 CityBridge sites will be available by late 2015 to early 2016, with the construction expected to go on for six years. The contract would last for 15 years.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the “LinkNYC” system “the fastest and largest municipal WiFi network in the world.”

Up to 10,000 terminals will provide free Internet access up to 150 feet (45 meters) from hubs, which will be phased in across the city’s five boroughs beginning in 2015.

Free domestic phone calls can also be made from the stations, which feature a touch-screen interface, a cell phone and tablet charging station, and provide access to emergency services.

Digital advertising displays will finance the project “at no cost to taxpayers,” de Blasio said, adding that the hubs are expected to generate more than $500 million over the course of their first 12 years and create 100 to 150 jobs. “We’re taking a critical step toward a more equal, open and connected city — for every New Yorker, in every borough,” de Blasio said. CityBridge will share 50 percent of all its revenues with the city, and will provide minimum payments starting at $20 million annually regardless of sales. Comparatively, the payphone network in the latest fiscal year brought in about $16.5 million to city coffers.

Meaningful Marketing with Urban Value Partnerships

January 24th, 2014 • By: Fred Kuhlman Uncategorized











This article is about connecting and inspiring brands, governments and citizens. Urban Value Partnership is a new phenomenon in the Out of Home (advertising) market.

There’s a new evolution in marketing that’s about improving customers’ lives. It’s called meaningful marketing or marketing with meaning. Meaningful Marketing is marketing and communications with a focus on authenticity and content – from broadcast to connect. Sending messages alone is no longer enough; people decide what appeals to them and what is not. Marketing is changing permanently – a beautiful movie about the changing relationship between the advertiser and the consumer can be found via this link. A movie that is already six years old, but still relevant.

Urban Value Partnerships plays in the development that brands are more social, governments are more open to commercial partners and citizens take more responsibility. A portion of the advertising budget can be spent on developing, improving and better managing our environment. Improvements immediately bring benefits to public space; the people who use them and the partners are contributing.

Mr Thijs Verheugen of Posterscope is convinced that Urban Value Partnerships will have huge impact for brands and the society in the future. He even expects this will be one of the most important developments for the advertising industry for the next ten years. This article is based upon a symposium organized by Posterscope in December 2013. Concepts were presented about providing a direct service to the ‘public domain’ via brands.

Thijs Verheugen is not only active in this business, but he is also an entrepreneur. CleanPicnic supplies picnic rugs to use in parks. The advantages are obvious:

  • Makes clean-up easier and more fun;
  • Produces less waste and clean-up costs;
  • Creates a cosy picnic atmosphere;
  • Keep parks clean.











Peter Vos, park manager of the Vondelpark in Amsterdam says the following: “It works! Visitors respond very positively to the rug, and the next day the bins were filled with used CleanPicnic waste bags. I am very enthusiastic about the initiative.”

80 % of the surface is printed in the desired corporate colours. The other 20 % is reserved for commercial usage. CleanPicnic responsible for the design, production and delivery of the rugs.

Maurice Constable – District Administrator District West / Westerpark: ” Due to the rugs I have fewer staff in the park. That saves me a lot of money on an annual basis.”

Adopted Square (Arnhem Bartok Park , in collaboration with Burgers Zoo)

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Burgers Zoo, a massive sculpture was donated to the city as a celebration as well as a sign of the strong commitment of the zoo to the city. See picture on the first page.

A blind spot in the centre of Arnhem has been transformed into an icon for the city. A piece of National Park “De Hoge Veluwe’ with a gigantic aardvark (an image of the famous artist Florentine Hofman) form a vibrant place where until last year was a vacant lot bordered by fences. Initiated by landscape architect Harro de Jong this formerly desolate terrain made way in 2012 for a pop -up park. They came up with this branch of the National Park in the city centre. One thing led to another. Burgers Zoo was in 2013 100 years and donated Arnhem visual art of Florentine Hofman. He had his eye on the Bartok Park. It is therefore doubled in size in 2013 and refurbished to suit the aardvark. A quarter acre Hoge Veluwe is literally transplanted to the city. Nature comes in Bartok Park so very literally into the city, and at this bed of heather and white sand is the 30 m long party aardvark to rest – a spectacular playground for young and old.

Through this park Burgers Zoo manages to strengthen its relation with the city. Nowhere do we see prominently the name of Burgers Zoo, but almost every inhabitant will associate it with the zoo and the Hoge Veluwe.

Dog poo provides relief (Sparks Park Project, 2010)

(source:, author: Olivia Solon)












Artist Matthew Mazzotta is using dog feces to power lampposts in a park in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mazzotta’s Project Park Spark, which was funded through MIT and created in partnership with the City of Cambridge, comprises a special “methane digester” that converts freshly scooped poop into methane.

Dog owners collect their dog waste in a special biodegradable bag and throw it into the digester –- an air-tight cylindrical container, where the dog feces are broken down by anaerobic bacteria. A byproduct from that process is methane, which can then be released through a valve and burnt as fuel. In this case it is being used to power an old-fashioned gas-burning lamppost in a park.









The artist is keen to make sure that the energy is used as the community wishes, and so in the next couple of weeks the Park Spark project will be a holding a number of design meetings to gather ideas from the community for how to best use the flame. Suggestions already include a shadow-projection box, a popcorn stand and a teahouse.

Currently when organic material (including dog waste, food and plant matter) goes into landfill, it releases methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is approximately 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

When it’s burned in the presence of oxygen, it separates into carbon dioxide and water vapor, so businesses can actually earn carbon credits from burning off excess methane. As a result, the digesters are a good way to collect and use the volatile gas as a fuel.

As far as known to us, there are currently no commercial parties involved, but there are plenty of opportunities for this.

Dog poop (poop bags Pedigree bus shelters, 2012)





















For the month of March (2012), dog walkers did not had to worry if they forgot to bring poop bags to Trinity Bellwoods Park, in Toronto, Ontario, thanks to Pedigree® bus shelter campaign. To help promote Pedigree® Proximity BBDO in Toronto developed the first-ever bus shelter ad that also dispenses poop bags. The idea was simple: When it comes to healthy digestion, the proof is in the poop. People walking their dog can grab a bag and put it to use. Most importantly, they can also give some thought to the quality of their dog’s “back end performance” while doing so.

It’s a great reminder to not forget using low technology media vehicles as part of your creative and media strategies.

IBM Smart ideas for smarter cities (2013)

Billboards are everywhere, so why not have them do something useful? That’s the thinking behind IBM’s new “Smarter Cities” campaign, which modifies the regular billboard shape to perform a secondary function. As shown in a promotional video created by the ad company responsible for the posters, a simple curve at the top or bottom of a billboard can create shelter or seating for passers by, while a ground-level protrusion can form a ramp to help people climb stairs.











The ads are supposed to spark people to join in with IBM’s People For Smarter Cities initiative, which looks for citizens’ ideas on how to make cities a better place to be in. Of course, the billboards are just a PR stunt, but after being viewed online by over 50,000 people in a matter of days, they’re a highly effective stunt.











IBM believes that infrastructure, operations and people make a city, that a city is an interconnected system of systems, and that smarter cities drive sustainable economic growth and prosperity for their citizens. As demands grow and budgets tighten, solutions also have to be smarter and address the city as a whole. Plus, the better the health of a city’s citizens, the stronger is its economic vitality.











It was interesting to read an online comment: “I feel like an advertiser improving a public space is totally different than an advertiser buying ads against improvements in public space.”

The idea has won Ogilvy and Mather a Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions Festival; the billboards were located in London and Paris.

Dial Direct Potholes (South Africa , 2011)

According to Dial Direct Insurance the increasing number of potholes, which are growing in size as fast as they are multiplying, are firstly a safety hazard and, what many people don’t realise is that even the slightest encounter with a pothole can knock the wheel alignment out, causing unpleasant consequences further down the line.












In the interest of public safety and urban pride, Dial Direct’s Pothole Brigade is proactively filling potholes in South Africa using an innovative technology. Dial Direct is all about providing simple, smart insurance solutions and the Pothole Brigade follows suit by offering a simple, smart solution to a problem that affects us all. This initiative could also eliminate unnecessary claims on motorist’s car insurance policies and save motorists money in the long run, says Dial Direct.

Green walls

A green wall is a wall partially or completely covered with vegetation that includes a growing medium, such as soil. Most green walls also feature an integrated water delivery system. Such walls may be indoors or outside, freestanding or attached to an existing wall, and come in a great variety of sizes. As of 2012, the largest green wall covers 2,700 square meters.








Green walls are found most often in urban environments where the plants reduce overall temperatures of the building. The primary cause of heat build-up in cities is insolation, the absorption of solar radiation by roads and buildings in the city and the storage of this heat in the building material and its subsequent re-radiation. Plant surfaces however, as a result of transpiration, do not rise more than 4–5 °C above the ambient and are sometimes cooler.

Living walls may also be a means for water reuse. The plants may purify slightly polluted water by absorbing the dissolved nutrients. Bacteria mineralize the organic components to make them available to the plants.

Living walls are particularly suitable for cities, as they allow good use of available vertical surface areas. They are also suitable in arid areas, as the circulating water on a vertical wall is less likely to evaporate than in horizontal gardens.

The living wall could also function for urban agriculture, urban gardening, advertising, or for its beauty as art.

Bus shelters

This Urban Value Partnership was not mentioned at the conference, but should be considered in our view as the most important development of the last 50 years.

In 1962, French outdoor company JCDecaux introduced the bus shelter. A popular outdoor venue since its debut, bus shelters are built at no cost to municipalities and rely on ad revenue for their upkeep.

Bus shelters were once boringly functional affairs, built solely by local councils. Some were iron-and-glass edifices covered in peeling municipal green paint; others were made of brick; some in rural areas even had thatched roofs. The ads were displayed in “6-sheet” panels whether they adorn shelters or other places like supermarkets and motorway service stations.

Bus-shelter ads really started to boom in the 1980s. Market research revealed an impressive awareness of this imaginary product among the public – and since it could only have come from bus shelters, it proved the value of advertising in them.

Sponsored roundabouts









A unique, green and cost-effective way to promote your business to tens of thousands of people – all day, every day. Sponsoring a busy highway roundabout will help you:

  • Stand out from your competitors
  • Enhance the local environment for residents and visitors alike
  • Generate media interest and get the whole area talking

An exciting initiative. Sponsoring a roundabout is an effective marketing tool and also helps to improve the environment says Nick Rushton, Deputy Chairman, Leicestershire County Council (UK). “We help Local Authorities”:

  • Promote the benefits of sponsorship to local businesses
  • Provide sponsors with the best location depending upon their needs and budget
  • Improve the appearance of their local highways environment

Money raised is used to maintain the roundabout and make other environmental improvements


Urban Value Partnerships are developed in more and more areas: companies work together with public organizations to solve a particular problem or improve the environment. Companies are able to communicate with their target groups and governments in a new way to reduce costs in creative ways. It is one of the most important developments in the media world as Thijs Verheugen expected? We are for sure that there are countless opportunities.

Digital billboards & traffic safety

January 15th, 2014 • By: Fred Kuhlman Uncategorized












For many years the debate is going on about the effects of digital billboards on traffic safety. At this moment two studies claim opposite opinions. A good reason to look into this matter. It will become clear that (as always) research funded by the industry is not supported by the views from anti-billboards organizations (e.g. Scenic America).

SWEDISH RESEARCH: digital billboards distract drivers

(sources: Traffic Injury Prevention and Occupational Health & Safety)

A study by Virginia Tech for NHTSA (2006) found anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for more than two seconds greatly increases the risk of a crash. That study found nearly 80 percent of all crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds of the crash.

Swedish and German researchers have published (January 2013) a study in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention in which they found digital billboards attract and hold drivers’ gazes longer than a threshold that previous studies have shown to be dangerous. The study found that drivers looked at these colorful, rapidly changing billboards significantly longer than they do at other signs on the same stretch of road – the digital versions often took a driver’s eyes off the road for more than two seconds.

“Bright, constantly changing signs on the side of the road are meant to attract and keep the attention of drivers, and this study confirms that is exactly what they do,” said Mary Tracy, president of Scenic America, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit organization advocating for preserving the visual character of America’s communities and countryside. “This study validates what is common sense when it comes to digital billboards”.

Method: a total of 41 drivers were recruited to drive an instrumented vehicle passing 4 of the electronic billboards during day and night conditions. A driver was considered visually distracted when looking at a billboard continuously for more than 2 seconds or if the driver looked away form the road for a high percentage of time. Dependent variables were eye-tracking measures and driving performance measures.

Results: the visual behavior showed that drivers had a significantly longer dwell time, a greater number of fixations, and longer maximum fixation duration when driving past an electronic billboard compared to other signs on the same road stretches. No differences were found for the factors day/night, and no effect was found for the driving behavior data.

Conclusion: electronic billboards haven an effect on gaze behavior by attracting more and longer glances than regular traffic signs. Whether the electronic billboards attract too much attention and constitute a traffic safety hazard cannot be answered conclusively based on the present data.

USA RESEARCH: digital billboards do not distract drivers

(sources: DAILYDOOH and The Hill)

A study released in January 2014 by the Federal Highway Administration (Department of Transportation /DOT) concluded that drivers are not more likely to be distracted by digital billboards than stationary signs. The study surveyed drivers in Richmond, Va., and Reading, Pa., and found that the average length of time drivers spent looking at digital billboards was 379 milliseconds, compared to 335 milliseconds for standard signs. Results were both well below the currently accepted threshold of 2,000 milliseconds, the study said.

On average, the drivers in this study devoted between 73% and 85% of their visual attention to the road ahead for both digital and standard billboards. This range is consistent with earlier field research studies. In the present study, the presence of digital billboards did not appear to be related to a decrease in looking toward the road ahead.

Nancy Fletcher, president of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, translated this: “The longest glance in the direction of a digital billboard was 1.3 seconds, well below the safety threshold established in 2006 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The 2006 report from NHTSA said risk of accidents/near accidents increases with glances in excess of two seconds.”

“The results did not provide evidence indicating that digital billboards were associated with unacceptably long glances away from the road,” the new DOT study says. “When dwell times longer than the currently accepted threshold of 2,000 milliseconds occurred, the road ahead was still in the driver’s field of view. This was the case for both digital billboards and standard billboards.”

The results were (of course) welcomed by the OAAA, which has pushed the transportation department to relax its rules regarding digital billboards. “Studies have long shown that digital billboards do not cause distracted driving,” the OAAA said in a statement. “The new federal study released on Dec. 30 comes to the same conclusion.”

Discussion about the results of the FHWA/DOT study

(source: article by Myron Levin from FairWarning, NBCNews, January 15, 2014)

Today, of more than 400,000 billboards in the U.S., estimates of digital displays range from slightly more than 2,000 to as many as 3,200. The industry has been adding hundreds of the more-profitable signs each year. Billboard companies are moving aggressively to plant digital signs along U.S. highways and city streets. But debate persists on whether the eye-grabbing displays, which typically change messages every 6 to 8 seconds, pose a risk to traffic safety.

According to records obtained by FairWarning under the Freedom of Information Act, expert reviewers have told the FHWA that the study appears to have been botched. The key findings vary so wildly from previous research that, as one reviewer put it, they “are not plausible.”

Combatants in the billboard wars – including local and state officials under industry pressure to permit more of the lucrative signs – are eager for a study by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). They have hoped that the much-anticipated study, launched in 2007, would help clarify some key safety questions.

Yet the politically sensitive research, which was supposed to have been wrapped up in 2009, remains cloaked in mystery. All the FHWA has said, time after time, is that the study is under review.

Almost impossible

In the FHWA study, recorded glances were so brief that none came close to 2 seconds or even 1.6 seconds. Only about 1 percent were above three-quarters of a second. In fact, the average was slightly below one-tenth of a second – a number both expert reviewers considered almost impossible.

“The reported glances to billboards here are on the order of 10-times shorter than values reported elsewhere,” one reviewer wrote. “The pattern of results certainly raises questions over the quality and legitimacy of the underlying data.’’ The other said, “The data reported as average glance durations are not plausible.” Two other experts contacted by FairWarning confirmed that the data was highly suspect.

Alison Smiley, president of Human Factors North, Inc., in Toronto, said the glance times were “extremely short’’ and substantially at odds with her own studies.

Paul A. Green, a research professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Institute, said glances so brief would mean the drivers “never really looked’’ at the billboards. “It’s a flaw in the data,” Green said. “You wonder, if they made this mistake did they make other mistakes?”