• Comstor installing 1st digital billboard

    Insider is running a series on one independent out of home company’s experience installing its first digital billboard.  This article will talk about pre-permitting and vendor selection.  Future articles will talk about the installation and post-install sales.

    Comstor Outdoor owns over 400 faces in Ohio and Indiana.  The company is in the process of installing it’s first digital billboard.  Insider asked Comstor Marketing Account Executive Eddie Saunders Jr. to talk about the process.

    Which of your locations did you decide to convert to digital and why?

    Brand new location. Our development team acquired a restaurant building, refurbished & reopened the restaurant to be functional, and we’re now replacing the restaurant’s physical sign with a double sided 10×22 digital unit on the most travelled road in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

    Proposed location for digital billboard.

    Whose digital sign will you use and what played into your decision.
    We used Watchfire. We toured Watchfire and Daktronics. Watchfire just provided more references when it came to their happy customers that were having great experiences with their digital units. I called a ton of digital owner/operators to pick their brains. Daktronics also built a great case and it was a very close call. At the end of the day, Watchfire was chosen, but I would highly recommend either. Both great companies.
    What was permitting like?
    It’s going in the parking lot of a busy restaurant on the most travelled route in the city so as you can imagine…there were hoops and red tape galore. Our work was definitely cut out for us, but we were able to partner with some strong local voices and get all the approval we needed. We are part of a small team that really invests a ton of time, resources, and efforts into our downtown. So when word got out that we wanted to really “light up the city” the energy carried us the rest of the way. I love that they don’t just hand out billboards to people though. Makes owner operators really earn it and saves deep pockets from diluting our industry with signs all over.
    What do you know about digital billboards now that you wish you knew before your started the process.
    With us being essentially a 2 person operation we wear many hats. I was tasked with the digital project and let me tell you…it’s been a long year of homework, trainings, research, and late nights talking with other owner operators. I’m sure I’ll learn a million things as we go along, but I’ve really drank from a firehose on this project. The biggest thing that I wish I could fast forward to knowing is the perfect pricing & rate packages. I’ve spent more time on that than anything by far. We’re going from 15 years of pricing just statics and with a digital the possibilities are almost endless. I can provide my clients so many different prices levels based off their needs so once I have a complete grasp on what serves my market best I’ll be more at ease. Nonetheless, I’ve learned a ton and can’t wait to turn it on.


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    One Comment

    1. Dave,
      This is a truly excellent article on a path many of us will go on in the future. Thanks for taking the time to report on this and on the future of this project. I do find it interesting that so many independent operators were contacted prior to purchase. Do you know if this was done thru a trade organization or contacts provided by the potential sign vendors or thru personal contacts. more on this would be of interest. Also an article or two on how to register or get an invite to a trade show with educational sessions would make a great article in the future. Thanks for what you do.
      Cory Brown w/ Cat Bird Media