Supergraphics and electronic billboards: Atrocity, menace, or outrage?

Today Clear Channel Communications lost its bid to block enforcement of a new L.A. city ordinance barring new digital billboards and supergraphics.

I’m far from being one of those right wing cheerleaders for business and marketing at any cost, but I just can’t get behind the outrage here. A digital billboard is like a giant LCD TV screen, often with several messages alternating every minute or so. Provided it’s in a commercial area, I don’t see the harm in having it there. It’s certainly better, in my opinion, than a standard non-digital sign, since the latter tends to have ugly hardware protruding from it, and the back side usually is tacky, weatherworn wood. A supergraphic is where the entire side of an office building may be sheathed with some kind of sales pitch; usually these are for movies. But again, until they start doing this to people’s houses, what’s the beef?

Nothing would make me happier than a ban on any kind of billboard. Those horribly tacky, phallic appearing homunculi into which air is pumped to make tham stand up and wave their arms–the inventors and users of those should be rounded up and re-educated. But to leave this type of advertising alone while ranting against supergraphics and digital boards just doesn’t make sense. In my (completely uninformed) opinion it can be likened to flyering versus more expensive marketing options. If you are trying to attract attention to your product or service, you may have to put up flyers anywhere you can get away with it. If you could afford a billboard or a TV commercial, you would probably be able to bring in more customers, and the collateral negative effect of your marketing effort would be considerably less than flyers tacked up on poles and shoved under people’s windshield wipers. Maybe supergraphics and digital billboards should be looked at in this light. A digital sign undoubtedly draws more eyes than conventional billboards in the same area. If advertisers are allowed to use more effective billboards, they might not need so many.

The one thing I wonder about these signs is if they contribute to traffic accidents. A static image seems like it would be less distracting than one that changes frequently, or is animated.

Sometimes it’s more like a giant LED dazzler blindy thingy that distracts your attention from the road even more than a couple three drinks and a cellphone conversation.
There need to be some standards set for maximum light intensity of the things.
I realize the signs sometimes need to compete with direct sunlight, but the amount of power required to do that is not eye-appropriate at 11 at night.

There is one of these in Queens. It is several stories tall and illuminates enough that it casts a shadow EVEN with New York City ambient light over a mile away. It reflects off of all the reflective surfaces in the area, meaning the skyscrapers, so it’s tough to look away if you are facing it in Long Island City.

I mean I guess if you want the daylight of moving pictures shining brightly into everything you do, then sure, no problem, we should just allow them, allow advertising space to intrude on everything everywhere. Everyone knows the freedom of commerce to do anything it wants to is sacrosanct and the freedom to sit and be calm without flashing lights all around you all the time is irrelevant.

Dude, you have no idea how glorious it actually is till you experience it. Drive around Vermont or Maine for a few days and take it all in.

(And I also found out Alaska and Hawaii also have billboard bans.)

Can’t argue against this if that was the reason. However, we have had tri-boards in my area for some time (don’t ask me if there is an actual name for them). They have triangular slats that rotate through 3 different advertisements.

There’s a difference between one of those tri-boards and one of the big electronic flashy signs. The tri-boards are more static and they don’t light up.

We have a couple of smaller LED signs and those things are a nuisance. I’ve come close a few times to rear-ending morons who suddenly slow down to watch the animation or watch the sign change.

I’m not about to stifle innovation, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have some restrictions on size, light intensity at night, and the rate at which messages change.

Mmmm. I AM about to stifle innovation.

It’s amazing how many ways advertising chips away at the quality of our lives. It intrudes into more places and activities every year. The idea that some kind of activity or business could so dominate the world around us that we actually can’t get far enough away from it to avoid its offense might never have occurred to our ancestors, who might find it hard to believe that even with multiple laws in place to moderate it, we still have to deal with it.

In fact, I’ve heard for years that one of the strategies in advertising is specifically to be annoying, because when you annoy people, you have their attention.

So. While specific cases might deserve some consideration, in general, I favor as many legal restrictions as possible against advertising.

When I drive in Montreal at night I find illuminated, changing billboards to be distracting and confusing.

In addition to the tri-board I mentioned I’ve seen what looks like a large TV for a billboard in town but I can’t remember where. I don’t know if that’s what people are referring to. The problem, as I see it, is that some displays are more distracting than others and there is no way to gauge this. This is a different argument than brightness or light polution which is something that can be measured.

Probably the best regulation I can think of for Video capable displays is to limit the display to so many frames per MINUTE so it doesn’t involve continual viewing to absorb the message. You don’t want viewers watching a commercial. How you would reconcile that to patterns that move in order to draw attention I’m not sure. Another option would be to limit viewing to specific traffic lanes and tie it to red lights. Only people in one direction could view it and then only at red lights.

Foolishness! No, blasphemy!

More LEDs! More!

Our technological works are a sacred manuscript and should be illuminated!

I will not rest until I have a light emitting diode supergraphic technicolor dreamcoat!

I find them especially distracting when I’m trying to hunt down replicants.

Opposition to them as a potential traffic hazard has some merit, but I don’t think that’s the primary motivation. In Los Angeles, in my opinion, it’s more of a San Fernando Valley/Daily News anti-urbanization ethos, the same one that opposed the Red Line subway even though the Valley has, up to this point, ended up being better served by the Metro than any of the other outlying areas like the West Side which desperately need mass transit. A lot of the opposition to the signs comes from the same people who decry the increase in density as population growth and traffic problems force a change in the way we live. To hear some of these people, you’d think the only acceptable housing would be single-family homes with back yards and orange trees. The irony is that the historic low-profile skyline of L.A. plus dependence on automobiles is what made this such a fertile ground for billboards in the first place.

I actually like billboards. I have no problem with them. One of the things that makes Times Square so exciting is all the advertising. Hollywood is getting like that now, and it really gives the area a neat feeling. And it hasn’t done the neighborhood any harm, Hollywood is THE place to be now in LA.

I kinda like the traditional billboard along roadways. It’s a piece of Americana. It’s not like a tree or farm field is something special to look at. It’s monotony personified. I can understand a city setting guidelines along a busy boulevard to maintain decorum but not out in the country.

Last night, I was about to go to bed when my darkened living room started flashing with bright blue and white lights. I mean the whole room was lit up.

Holy shit, I thought, there must be a fleet of squad cars outside my apartment!

I strode across the room to the window. There in the street, a bus rumbled past, with an ad screen on its side bright enough to warn off ship traffic on Lake Michigan.

Aw dammit, I thought. Then I went to bed.

No real damage done, except for my disappointment at not seeing anything exciting. But I could see how such a sight could be annoying.

Last summer, I took a trip to suburban Philadelphia, and was amazed to see these full-motion billboards all over the place. I have always taken note, when traveling outside of Vermont, of the existence of billboards all over the place, and am always glad to get home where such things aren’t around. BUT, those big LCD video screens all over the place made me long for a couple of packs of C-4. Truly, video billboards are the Devil’s own invention.

Has anyone got any idea of how much juice those billboards use?
An 800 X 1000 array of 100 mW LEDs would require 80,000 watts, more than many radio stations.
Surely they’ve a cheaper, greener way to power the things?

i can’t even imagine how dreadful the drive through south dakota would be without the hundreds of roadside billboards to let me know how much further to wall drug.

There’s one on the Garden State Parkway around MetroPark that you saw when traveling south. It used to be unbelievably

IEven without any moving message it was incredibl distracting. They’ve toned it down, now, and it’s not bad. I’ve seen lots of stable LED billboards, which are no more distracting than ordinary billboards. But i think that if they were animated and/or BRIGHT! they might constitute a hazard.

I don’t mind the ones in Times Square, or slowly moving ones elsewhere, but I do think that some restrictions are called for in the name of safety.