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factfile1.4 Digital media for marketing


Digital media is often used to market products. The very first television advert was broadcast in the USA on July 1st 1941. The first commercial to be shown on television in Britain was shown on September 22nd 1955 and was for Gibbs SR toothpaste.

giibs toothpaste

Traditionally, video advertising was only seen on television or at the cinema and the advertising that you would see on the streets in shops or on public transport would simply be static posters.

More recently, many of these posters have been replaced with large flat screens which can display moving images. The adverts are very short since they have to get the message across quickly, as the audience is walking past, not sitting and watching.


Some shops now use LCD screens to make shoppers aware of special offers and new products. These screens usually hang from the ceiling, but can be built into shelf displays.

Gradually neon signs are being replaced with LED screens which can show a wide range of different advertisements. Some are very large, such as those at Piccadilly Circus in London.

Picadilly circus


A typical underground station contains hundreds of large posters. At the end of an advertising campaign, station staff have to replace each poster with a new one manually, which is very labour intensive.

Although digital screens are expensive to install, once in place they are a much more efficient way of managing advertising than posters. The screens are networked to a central server and a new advert can be pushed out to all the screens in a station, or even across the whole underground network, within minutes at huge savings to staff costs. In addition, a single screen can display several adverts in succession, thus maximising income from each advertising point.

The same screen could also show different adverts at different times of the day, targeting business people, for example, during rush hours; tourists or families during the middle of the day; clubbers and theatre-goers in the evenings; and football fans on match days at stations near grounds.

London Underground

At some London Underground stations, small video screens are located alongside escalators, with some adverts timed to follow passengers as they travel up or down. In other stations large screens are replacing the bigger posters. Other stations are trialling the use of data projectors to project video images onto the other side of the platform to show moving adverts and movie trailers. The projectors automatically switch off when a train enters the station.

Multimedia screens are also being installed on some buses. These usually show a 15-20 minute loop of silent programming, including news, weather and travel information. Within the loop there are breaks where advertisements are broadcast.

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