Department Stores take Digital Out-of-Home Marketing to New Heights.

Every year millions head to New York City’s department stores to catch a glimpse of windows decorated with holiday scenes and embrace the spirit of the season. This December is remarkable in that shoppers are seeing windows adorned with more LCD screens and high-tech special effects, including computer-assisted animation, multimedia projection shows and interactive features in their window displays, all to draw in more consumers.

It’s clear that digital out-of-home marketing encompasses more than advertising in grocery store aisles, convenience store checkouts and pharmacies. The bright lights and animation of this year’s holiday window displays will help attract more foot traffic to department stores during a time when consumers are increasingly shopping online. And stores hope they will attract shoppers who have become used to colorful digital advertising on the internet, their mobile phones and increasingly on devices like the iPad, where bright colors and movement add interest and engagement according to studies like one from UM and Time Inc.

Macy’s, which has taken up the digital window displays along with landmark department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, estimates that, on average, 7,000 people per hour see their windows during the holiday season. Further, as department stores compete to offer the biggest wow factor, brand buzz will undoubtedly be generated on blogs and social networks.

According to Adcentricity, digital out-of-home is one of the fastest-growing marketing media in North America. A forecast by VSS predicts that total US digital out-of-home spending will reach $4.5 billion in 2012, up from $2.6 billion in 2009, accounting for more than 44% of all out-of-home spending. Worldwide, MAGNAGLOBAL forecasts digital outdoor ad revenues will reach $2.6 billion next year and $5.2 billion by 2016, a more conservative prediction.

Opportunities exist for marketers to use digital out-of-home far beyond traditional advertising. Creating window displays powered up by digital technology, retailers aim to attract the attention of a generation of consumers who are increasingly accustomed to the on-demand, interactive, and technically advanced capabilities of smartphones and videogames.

Still, while some consumers appreciate that retailers are incorporating new technology and keeping up with the times, others feel more nostalgic and say they miss the more traditional displays from years past. Nonetheless, these new tech-enabled windows are sure to capture the attention of consumers and create a significant buzz one way or the other.

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