“How do you assess the product “lifespan” and update cycle of your devices that are in the field?”
For this question, I reached out to the expert at Lamar Advertising, Bill Ripp, Vice President of Digital Development. The first thing you need to know is that not all digital devices are created equal. Some displays will last longer than others. The key is to keep the image quality strong so the customers’ ads are always the focus of viewer attention. If the digital display image becomes a factor on certain ads (due to poor image quality), then the display is no longer serving its purpose.
There are two primary areas that control the useful life of digital displays: brightness and color uniformity.
- Measure the brightness of the display on a periodic basis. When the display is brand new, there is little urgency to do this. However, as the display ages, this becomes more critical. I recommend monitoring the brightness of the display on a full white image every other year starting around year five for LED displays. The display can be measured in Nits (candelas/square meter) using a luminance meter or nit gun. If you own several LED displays, you need to buy this equipment and learn how to use it properly. Brightness levels should be at least 3000 nits for most outdoor locations. If brightness drops below this or has a lot of brighter competitors nearby, think about replacing it.
- The uniformity of the display is another critical factor. You can think of this as the consistency of any one color. If the display has aged or has been poorly maintained, this issue will appear as a quilting or tiling effect on any large patches of a single color. The key to maintaining uniformity is to clean the display on a periodic basis (at least annually). Once the display is clean, calibrate the modules to a consistent standard for each of the primary colors: Red, Green, and Blue. If maintenance requires the replacement of individual modules or panels, do a spot re-calibration on the color each time a module is replaced. Displays are clearly impacted by exposure to UV light. Consequently, displays facing a southerly direction will age faster than displays facing north. Uniformity should have no more than 1 to 2 percent of modules or panels with a different color hue of red, green or blue. If the uniformity gets too far from the norm, you need to think about replacing the display.
- If the display has operated in a very hot environment, its life will probably be shortened over one that has been in cooler environment (Think Dubai v. Canada)
- If the display has operated very close to salt water, this may also shorten its natural life due to the corrosive effects of salt air.
- Last but not least, the market will also indicate when a display is at the end of its lifetime. Customers will stop buying it. While the display might still be okay for private business like Bill’s Bicycle Shop, it won’t command the normal rate and occupancy for advertising.
If you take good care of your displays, they should last 11 years or more. If you neglect them, you will get a much shorter life.