Passenger Experience

Leveraging Video Walls to Shape Future Airport Retail

Video wall at Vienna International Airport, April 2012 (Source: Anna Harrison)

Video wall at Vienna International Airport, April 2012 (Source: Anna Harrison)

Around the time the world stopped thinking about the Y2K crisis, I was involved in product design for a digital advertising company in the USA. During this time, we developed a blueprint for what we called the “Digital Signage Exchange”. In a nutshell, the Digital Signage Exchange was like an eBAY for buying, selling and customising advertising on a network of digital plasma screens.

An essential component of the Digital Signage Exchange was the existence of a connected digital signage network. Ultimately, this was a hurdle that AdSpace was unable to overcome at the time, as digital plasma screens were still prohibitively expensive and costly to maintain. The concept had to wait for digital signage technology to become cheaper and smaller, and for connectivity to become faster.

A decade later, Vienna Airport has unveiled their immensely cool video wall installation. The giant wall ushers travellers towards the security area creating a larger than life “mood of anticipation”. The really exciting thing about Vienna Airport’s video wall, however, is that it marks the time that the Digital Signage Exchange has been patiently waiting for: the feasibility of a large scale digital advertising network.

A digital advertising network could represent an interesting new way for airports to generate revenue. Drawing on the concepts of the Digital Signage Exchange, the digital advertising network could be utilised to remotely schedule fully customisable advertisements.

The customisation of advertisements was something that we had successfully implemented at AdSpace back in 2001. The clients’ digital advertisements were able to be remotely configured based on placement criteria. For example, it was possible to tune and schedule an advertisement (from an internet based control panel) to display prices in the local currency or language of the target digital display. This of course could take effect instantly, effectively reducing the roll out time of an advertising campaign to zero.

Since 2003, AdSpace, the company that the Digital Signage Exchange concept was borne at, has morphed into AdSpace Networks. The “Coolsign” technology which we developed to power the signage exchange is owned by Haivision Network Video. Today there are also a few more players in the digital advertising space, however, as far as I know, a large scale Digital Signage Exchange has not yet been rolled out.

With the trend towards new technologies such as OLED, powerful connected video walls, and fully digitised airport terminals, the infrastructure necessary to create an “advertising exchange” is in place. An advertising exchange represents an interesting component which could be leveraged to shape future airport retail… generating revenue while optimising terminal footprint, and concurrently contributing to a personalised passenger experience.


Harrison, J. and Andrusiewicz A. (2004), A virtual marketplace for advertising narrowcast over digital signage networks, Electronic Commerce Research and Applications.


One thought on “Leveraging Video Walls to Shape Future Airport Retail

  1. Pingback: The Osaka Experience | inplaneterms

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