Are Digital Billboards too Bright?


With outdoor advertising there is often the need to make advertisements brighter in order to grab the reader's attention while they are on the go. However, there is a line between attention-getting and distracting that must not be crossed due to the fact that it is potentially dangerous or even fatal to distract a motorist. In these cases it may be helpful to employ a light meter and an illuminance meter to ensure that digital billboards aren't too bright but at the same time are still effective at getting the advertiser s message across to the public.

Outdoor advertisements exist in a very competitive and noisy landscape. From other billboards and advertisements to motorists, street signs, and mobile devices, billboards have had to adapt to an increasingly competitive environment. To get the attention of passersby, many marketers have begun to convert their billboards into late, digital, screens which are not only capable of displaying bright, attention-grabbing graphics but, also, they can rotate the advertisements so that one billboard can be used for multiple clients. However, there is a very real danger in using these digital signs which must not be overlooked by advertisers: the threat of harm caused by getting - and keeping - a driver's attention for too long.

Outdoor, digital, billboards must be illuminated to achieve two primary goals: first, they must grab the audience's attention from a distance so as to block out competing ads and, second, they must be bright enough so as to be both pleasing to see and easy to read. These goals compete, however, with the goal of safety because, as one study conducted by Swedish researchers has concluded, anything that keeps a driver's attention for more than 2 seconds will dramatically increase the chances of an accident. Furthermore, there is the risk of dazzling drivers and impairing their night vision when these signs are illuminated at night. Thus, to better serve their target audience and, more importantly, to ensure that these digital billboards are not causing dangerous driving conditions, advertisers are employing light meters to ensure that their signs are easily read, visible and not distracting to motorists. There are several ways that advertisers can include light sensing technology in their outdoor advertisements and two very important use cases come from day and night conditions:

  • Use a light meter to calibrate a digital billboard for optimal brightness during the day. It may seem obvious, but most digital displays perform poorly in direct sunlight so it's important that light meters be employed during the testing phase so that billboards produce enough light so as to be visible when they are exposed to direct sunlight. However, as light levels go down in the late afternoon into the evening these settings would produce images that are too bright which create an unsafe condition for drivers. This situation also wastes electricity, cause unnecessary wear on the display due to increased heat and also make the sign unreadable.
  • Use light meters to properly calibrate the display for nighttime conditions. There are many factors that influence how much impact a digital display will have and among those are its brightness and illuminance. By being visible from a distance, even before a driver or commuter can read the sign, a bright, and vibrant billboard will catch the attention of the audience from further away. However, this brightness comes at the cost of distracting drivers once they are closer to the sign and a light meter can be used to ensure that the brightness of the billboard doesn't compete with the lights from other driver's cars and, equally important, with road signs and other safety or road hazard communication systems.

Regardless of the conditions and uses, a digital billboard must not only work as a cost effective means of promotion and communication but it also must operate within legally mandated safety guidelines. These guidelines exist to make sure digital billboards are operated safely and do not pose a threat to the safety of commuters. Light meters help digital billboard manufacturers and operators calibrate and adjust the brightness of their products so that their messages are clear and bright but do not pose a safety risk to the public.

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