sign nothing without reading it


The Town of Aurora’s electronic signboard at the South West corner of Yonge and Aurora Heights has been an eyesore for over a decade.

Almost a year ago I posted on how the tacky 1970’s Red LED watch looking board had fried.

The aging technology that contributed to delivering our town’s exceptional quality of life was deemed too costly to fix, so it was replaced and now that the brand new sign is up and running ( likely at a cost into the tens of thousands of dollars) it’s great to see the town’s communications department using it for maximum effect.


I captured the entire set of content here:

The copy on the sign refers viewers to the town’s website flashing a trailing url that no one in passing is going to take the time to remember or record.

It is curious that that the PingStreet mobile app was not mentioned, given the Recreation guide was one of the pieces of content used to promote its launch back in 2014.

What really screams out is the decision to reserve multiple slides to feature exclusively the town’s logo:


The same logo that is a permanent fixture on the sign immediately above the digital board that was updated back in 2013

But if that level of redundancy wasn’t sufficient to remind viewers where they were someone also felt it necessary to include a slide that just reads “AURORA”:



Did anyone on staff stop to remotely consider user engagement before rubber stamping this steaming pile?

I do not believe it is an unreasonable expectation for the Town to craft a digital signage strategy and revise it regularly so it aligns with best practices of other municipalities.

It may even result in consideration to leveraging it as a means of advertising revenue.

Back in 2010 when the City of Ottawa was exploring a pilot project to do with digital billboards it recognized advantages such as Affordable advertising options to the business community as charges can be by the minute.

The same report also outlined feedback from Toronto indicating revenue for the City can increase from the use of LED screens three to four times.

One has to expect the retailers in the strip mall on the corner the sign occupies (which include Shoppers Drug Mart, Royal Bank, a restaurant, deli, and pizza place) would be interested in using it to attract business.  Hell, even Royal Bank has their logo underneath the sign so it already appears they are jointly sponsoring the content on the screen above.

There is no evidence that this sign is self-sustaining via a solar panel/battery set-up so I assume it is another always on appliance that draws on the grid adding operational costs to the equation.n

In this October 2014 AVNetwork piece Lyle Blunn tackles the question why digital signage fails

Most problems are operational, but the seeds of failure and strife are sown in the planning stage.  Plans that do not adequately contemplate communications impact and link value to investment is destined to be the runt of the digital signage project litter.

With so little value or impact the only planning that appears to have gone into signing a work order for this street T.V. is the hope that no one notices the very thing whose sole purpose is to be noticed.


Watts on your mind?

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