Updated: Piccadilly Circus will be home to "most technically advanced" screen in the world

New single 783 square metre screen will feature facial and vehicle recognition technology, providing advertisers with targeted marketing opportunities and maximum brand exposure
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New 783 square metre screen will feature facial and vehicle recognition technology, providing advertisers with targeted marketing opportunities and maximum brand exposure

A brand new state of the art 783 square metre digital screen is set to go live in Piccadilly Circus for the first time this month, with the firm behind it hailing it the "most technically advanced" on the planet.

Piccadilly lights in London, one of the most iconic advertising sites in the world - attracting more than 70 million people a year, fell dark in January (2017) after the decision was made to replace the six existing displays with a single one in a move designed to help raise revenues whilst enhance exposure for advertisers.

The project has been managed by large-format digital out of home specialists Ocean Outdoor, who commissioned South Dakota based manufacturer Daktronics to build the new screen, which is made up of more than 5,500 individual LED panels.

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Equal voice

The screen allows all brands (Hyundai, Coca Cola, L'Oréal, Samsung, Ebay and Stella McCartney/Hunter) to receive equal exposure, with ads changing locations every 90 seconds. This is in contrast to the old design, which saw six individual displays, each of which were managed by separate companies.

“Before we took over, it was six screens, six contracts and six different prices," Ocean Outdoor head of design David Tait told AVTE. "Each brand had its own location, with some locations deemed to better than others and the price reflective of that.

“The idea of the new screen is that it still has the six different advertising spaces, but unlike before, they all switch around. So, whilst the six screens have become one, the traditions of Piccadilly Circus have remained intact. It’s a constantly moving and changing screen and every brand has an equal share 24/7.”

From a revenue proposition point of view it makes complete sense, and from an advertisers point of view it means they have an equal share of voice

Richard Malton, the group-marketing director of Ocean Outdoor, added: “By levelling the playing field it meant we could sell it in a more efficient way and maximise exposure for every brand. From a revenue proposition point of view it makes complete sense, and from an advertisers point of view it means they have an equal share of voice.”

A smarter way of advertising 

In addition, the screen now features a number of new camera technologies, including facial recognition and vehicle recognition, which help to provide advertisers with more targeted marketing.

Facial recognition software (Look Out), built in-house is capable of counting the number of people in the area, but also distinguish if those people are male, female, their age (to within five years), if they have facial hair, are looking at a specific ad and even judge their mind-set – i.e. if they’re happy or sad.

For vehicle recognition, the technology is able to determine what cars are being driven, including their age, model and whether they are diesel or petrol.

The data received from this information can be used to automatically determine and select what type of ad should be displayed by a specific brand.

“If you’re a brand that has a male product and a female product, the system is able analyse the average make up of those in its sights before making the best decision,” said Tait. “If the answer is, say, 70 per cent female, then it can play the female ad. The more triggers you can build into your artwork, the better.”

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“Advertising can make assumptions about people based on the value of the vehicle they’re driving. If someone is driving a Porsche, you can probably make some assumptions about them."

Molton concluded: “It's the worlds biggest smartphone. The opportunities for advertisers are huge and we’re working with them on some very exciting and creative content."

Details on the launch date and time are expected to be confirmed in the coming days.

A full interview with Ocean Outdoor discussing the Piccadilly Lights will feature in our next issue of AV Technology Europe magazine, which goes out next month.

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You can also follow us on Twitter @AVTechnologyEurope or contact our editor Michael Garwood directly via email: mgarwood@nbmedia.com

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