• Four Tips For Buying A Digital Billboard

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    Here are Insider’s four tips for buying a digital billboard based on our experience financing digital billboards and talking with billboard operators who’ve installed digital billboards.

    • Buy American.  Maybe it works if you’re Outfront, but Insider hears lots of horror stories from independent operators who’ve tried to buy direct from China.  Talk to Rodney Driggers of Driggers Outdoor or Dave and Chad Harris of Las Vegas Billboards.  Most digital billboard manufacturers buy their LED’s from Japan or China.  The US manufacturers, however, put a tremendous amount of resources into identifying a quality source for LED’s and they assemble the signs in the US and provide maintenance and support for the sign within the US.   Bad signs burn out or burn up.  Maintenance and support are impossible when you have to make an international phone call.  This applies to other products besides digital billboards.  Insider owned a Trivision manufactured in Norway.  He had to send kroner to Norway any time he wanted parts and then wait forever for parts to arrive.  Lesson learned.
    • It’s not just hardware.  A digital billboard is more than hardware.  How much assistance will you get during the planning, development and permitting process?  How easy to use is the sign software?  What pre-construction and post-construction training do you get?  Will the manufacturer assist you with digital ads?  How will the sign manufacturer monitor your sign and communicate with you concerning outages?  Who provides support and maintenance?  Where are replacement parts shipped from?
    • Consider all the costs.  It’s easy to focus on the capital cost of the sign but your decision should be based on the total lifetime costs of the sign.  What are the sign’s projected electricity costs?  What does the warranty cost?  What maintenance and support is covered after purchase and what will you have to pay for?  What is the estimated useful life for the sign modules and what will it cost to replace them?
    • Avoid T-Rex Exposure.  T-Rex is suing outdoor advertising companies which use a computer to send ads to digital billboards.  Broadsign has challenged T-Rex’s claims in court but the case is waiting trial.  Don’t buy a digital billboard unless the manufacturer has a licensing agreement with T-Rex or agrees in writing to pick up your legal costs in the event T-Rex sues you for patent infringement.  Here’s a list of sign makers who have a T-rex license agreement:  Daktronics, Formetco, Prismview, and Watchfire.

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