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Multiply Your Profits with Multi-Message Signage

Motional signage is gaining momentum and multi-message signage is perhaps the hottest form of them all. Find out how you can cash in on this medium.

By Jennifer LeClaire

Multi-message signage are easier than ever to install and offer sign makers the ability to generate recurring revenue.

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  • With a wildly successful college football program, the University of Oregon decided to give faithful Ducks fans something else to smile about ­ a facelift for Autzen Stadium.

    The university added 12,000 seats, elevators, new suites, a new concourse and new signage. On the signage front, the goal was to add more motion, according to Tim Roberts, regional manager, ESPN Plus, University of Oregon. The school turned to Jonesboro, Ariz.-based motion graphics manufacturer Action Graphix to provide rotating signs on its main scoreboard and added two more 6’ X 10’ Tri-Action signs on two unutilized walls around the Stadium Club. It also implemented four scroll sign systems to the mix.

    “We feel like we can better maximize revenues with the rotating signs,” says Roberts. “Additionally, the motion is eye catching and can lead to increased exposure.”

    Indeed, by choosing motion signs, the university added a total of 102 new faces to sell to sponsors and advertisers compared to only 14 that would have been available using static signs.

    Like the University of Oregon, more companies are looking to three-faced, motional signs to spark new life in their marketing efforts because they offer unique advantages over static or electronic signs. Multiple-message signs are gaining momentum in high-traffic areas where advertising space is limited, from sports venues and interstate billboards to point-of-purchase advertising. Experts say these eye-catching marketing tools are becoming more attractive to sign makers who are seeking recurring revenue.

    In part two of this three-part series on motional signage, we will take a closer look at three-faced signage.

    Triple for your trouble
    Trivision, also known as three-message, multi-message, tri-faced, Tri-Action displays and other similar nomenclature, are typically made up of three alternating surfaces, each containing a single advertising message. Like the sign itself, the benefits of this strategy are tri-fold. Advertisers can triple their square footage with attention-getting motional signs at the fraction of the cost of LEDs.

    “Tri-Action signs offer a couple of distinct advantages. For one, you triple your square footage,” says Jaye Playter, outdoor division manager for Action Graphix. “A lot of times companies run into square footage requirements and Tri-Action allows you to get more message out there.”

    Capital Communications Group set up a 10’ X 10’ Tri-Action sign inside the hall of a large shopping mall. The graphics used for each face were eye-catching and colorful, but completely unrelated. Capital interviewed nearly 1,000 people who passed the sign while it was not turning and only about 20 percent noticed it. Once the sign was put into motion, more than 90 percent noticed the sign and about 70 percent could recall what was on all three faces.

    Similar studies have been done to study outdoor signage.

    A study conducted by the Product Acceptance and Research measured consumer awareness and sales between static billboards, billboards utilizing scrolling motion and lighting, and no billboards. Forty-three percent of the respondents recalled the static billboards over no billboards. However, 94 percent of the respondents recalled the scrolling lit billboard and 80 percent recalled the specific advertisement. Of even greater importance, static billboards resulted in an increase of sales of 54 percent, but lit scrolling billboards resulted in an increase of sales of more than 100 percent.

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    Moreover, according to the Point of Purchase Advertising Institute, billboard displays using motion are the most effective for advertising in both product sales and consumer awareness. Further, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) commissioned a study to measure how consumers observe and react to outdoor advertising. Several hundred passengers were surveyed in major markets and results indicate that 95 percent of participants examined motional signage. It is important to note that these percentages are significantly higher than figures for traditional billboards.

    “It’s like you going out there and literally pasting up a new message 25 times a day,” says Myron Laible, vice president of regulatory affairs and operations, OAAA. “This is a way to help grow our industry without growing the number of structures. And it’s worked. The advertisers love the changeable message copy, the companies like it. It seems to be a big win-win.”

    Advantage: sign maker
    While three-faced signage offers multiple benefits to advertisers, it also offers multiple benefits to sign makers. First, adding multi-message signs broadens your product line.

    Secondly, you can make more money selling a multi-message billboard than a traditional billboard because it’s a higher revenue producer.

    Next, multi-message signs are no longer limited to outdoor billboards and trade shows, although this is a growing area of the market. The triangular panels come in all shapes and sizes ­ even circular ­ and can now be implemented in many different settings, including car dealerships, shopping malls, schools, museums, retailers, traffic applications, restaurants, and the list goes on. Tri-message signs are showing up wherever traditional signage is found.

    “The possibilities are endless,” says Ryan Lester, marketing manager for Clearr Corporation, a manufacturer of graphic display products in Minnetonka, Minn. “Tri-faced signs have been proven to work outdoors, they are getting more and more reliable and will be used in new and creative applications.”

    Last, but certainly not least, multi-message displays allow for more frequent recurring revenue possibilities. “There is a definite added advantage of increasing after market sales,” says Allen Raulston, international division Manager for Action Graphix. “Sign makers can teach their customers how to keep their messages fresh, unlike a back lit sign that basically stays the same. Tri-Action signs can be changed as often as they want to change them. They can create special even graphics or holiday graphics and it creates an increase in after market sales.”

    Entering the world of three-message displays
    Interested in entering the world of tri-message displays? There are plenty of manufacturers ready and willing to help you get started.

    Action Graphix ships sign companies Tri-Action signs fully assembled, so there is very little on-site work to do. The Back Truss System features a pre-assembled, hinged-metal sign support, complete with flex-face backing, plus mounting plates that easily attach to the structure. With these features, the Back Truss System reduces on-site assembly time, as well as lowering the amount of prep work required to install the sign. All this translates into lower up-front, out-of-pocket costs for sign owners.

    Jody Yountz of Carolina Sign & Crane says his installation of a 10’ 6"-by-36’ Action Graphix sign in Myrtle Beach, S.C. required three men working 3 hours, for a total of 6 man-hours. “The installation of the Tri-Action sign with the Back Truss System went perfectly,” Yountz says. “We took the sign off the truck, unfolded it, put the louvers in while the sign was still on the ground, picked the sign up by the metal tabs and then raised it. It was that simple.”

    Atlanta-based multi-imaging advertising company AdTech provides training to sign makers that are interested in adopting the technology. “Tri-Vision signs are less complicated than an electronic message sign,” says AdTech president Todd Heller. “Sign makers just need to gain some basic knowledge that’s readily available from any vendor in the industry and then get designers to design the Tri-Visions into their proposals. It’s about that simple.”

    Admitting the challenges
    Still, for all the progress tri-message signs have made over the past few decades, there are some remaining challenges. The cost to customers is more and mechanical signs do require a level of maintenance not necessary with static signs. But experts say if the overall value is effectively communicated, then there is much money to be made from peddling these products.

    “You have to sell the concept of Trivision as triple the ad space and that will dramatically impact your potential revenue generation,” says Lester. “There’s also people that bring up the maintenance issues because there are more issues than with a static sign but you can more than pay for any maintenance costs with the tripling of the ad space.”

    In part three of this series, we will look at an emerging trend in the sign industry: combining mobility with motion. Stay tuned for this exciting look at the future.

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