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MagicINFO & Digital signage - A sustainable alternative to OOH

MagicINFO & Digital signage - A sustainable alternative to OOH
4 min read

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising offer dynamic and visually stunning displays. It also provides a more sustainable alternative to OOH advertising. In this article, we will compare the environmental impact of DOOH with that of out-of-home (OOH) and online advertising.


Digital signage Industry - Impact on the environment

Traditional OOH advertising relies heavily on paper, vinyl, and other materials, which require frequent replacement and contribute to a significant amount of waste. Moreover, the production of OOH materials requires significant energy and water consumption, leading to a substantial carbon footprint. On the other side, digital signage displays can be reused and repurposed, and thus, significantly reduce the amount of waste generated by advertising.

For example, a billboard made of vinyl can take up to 1000 years to decompose in a landfill. In contrast, digital signage uses screens and other electronic equipment that can be reused and repurposed, significantly reducing the amount of waste generated. For instance, a US family-owned business, Burt Brothers used Samsung’s digital signage displays for their new location as part of the rebranding effort and noted a positive impact.

Benefits of DOOH advertising

DOOH offers several benefits over traditional OOH advertising. It is easier and faster to update content, providing more timely and relevant messaging to customers. DOOH also offers greater targeting capabilities, allowing advertisers to tailor messaging based on location, time of day, and even weather conditions. Finally, DOOH is more cost-effective in the long run, as there is no need for frequent replacement of physical materials. According to Wildstone, a UK outdoor advertising agency, using a standard digital signage screen can save:

  • 91 trees
  • 16,900 miles
  • 6.2 tonnes CO2
  • 5 tonnes paper

With Samsung's MagicINFO, businesses can quickly update and customize content, leading to more timely and relevant messaging. For instance, Duty Free Americas opted for MagicINFO Cloud to get a fresher, more modern look and to allow its vendors to have visibility into the in-store ad performance.

DOOH compared to traditional OOH

When it comes to sustainability, DOOH significantly outperforms traditional OOH advertising. The latter generates a considerable amount of waste and requires a significant amount of energy and water for production, while the former can be reused and repurposed, significantly reducing waste and energy consumption.

There are between 2 and 8 million billboards in Europe at any given moment. Nearly 6 million sq m of billboard waste is discarded every fortnight. The bad news is that the paper is not recyclable because the ink is not environmentally friendly, and poisonous glue is used in the process.


Cost of DOOH advertising

While the upfront costs of DOOH may be higher than traditional OOH advertising, the long-term cost savings can be substantial. There is no need for frequent replacement of physical materials, and content can be updated quickly and easily, reducing production costs. Moreover, companies can save trees, water, and electricity, thanks to the sustainability of digital signage

However, that’s not to say there aren’t environmental and socio-economical costs of DOOH advertising. In 2022, 86 digital out-of-home (DOOH) billboards in Manchester's city center were discovered to use an average of 11,501 kWh of electricity annually, according to a freedom of information request from The Guardian. That is equivalent to about 345 households. In a time of energy crisis, many would deem this unnecessary. Nonetheless, these spaces generate £2.4 million in annual rent in addition to 2.8% of ad income. This is money that would go directly to the local government and presumably be used to benefit the locals.

DOOH CO2 emissions versus those of traditional OOH

The carbon footprint of DOOH is significantly lower than that of traditional OOH advertising. Static billboards and other promotional materials require a significant amount of energy and water for production, leading to a high carbon footprint. In contrast, DOOH uses screens and other electronic equipment that can be reused and repurposed, significantly reducing the carbon footprint.

We’ve established that the traditional static billboards and signage cannot be recycled due to the toxic materials used in the creation process. That’s not all.  After being produced, these billboards are driven from the location of manufacturing to the installation site, a trip that burns fossil fuels (most likely) and emits carbon emissions.

To make matters worse, print billboards are often only utilized once before being moved to landfills, where the components rot for up to millennia. Moreover, printed billboards typically need to be lit up at night to be seen, which uses a lot of electricity for conventional lighting.

There have been 9,396 fewer 48-sheet billboards than there were in 2015 (18,090). The digitalization of OOH has directly contributed to the decline in billboards. It also decreases visits to sites for posting and maintenance by about 85% annually, resulting in a significant reduction in vehicle miles and associated carbon emissions.

DOOH CO2 emissions versus those of online advertising

Compared to online advertising, DOOH has a higher carbon footprint due to the energy consumption of screens and electronic equipment. However, DOOH offers the advantage of being more targeted and engaging, leading to higher levels of customer engagement and satisfaction.

A study by Cavai estimates that the carbon emissions from a single online ad impression are equivalent to driving an electric car between 0.4 to 9.65 meters, watching a 40-inch 4K OLED TV for 1.5 to 35 seconds, or having an LED light bulb on for 30 to 700 seconds. 

The energy consumption of a single impression ranges from 0.14Wh to 1.93Wh, which may not seem like a lot, but when considering the sheer volume of online advertising, it adds up quickly. In fact, programmatic tech handles 2,000 times more bids than the New York Stock Exchange on any given day, which likely adds 28% to the annual carbon footprint of every person in the UK.

In comparison, digital-out-of-home (OOH) advertising serves one ad to many people at once and can also serve as a public message board for community announcements and public health messages. While the DOOH sector may have a smaller footprint than online advertising, it still has an impact. 

Recent technological advancements have made it more accessible and affordable for local businesses to embrace. SMEs and large companies can take advantage of digital signage software like MagicINFO to easily publish, schedule, and replace content from one location. Clear Channel estimates that there are around 30,000 DOOH panels in the UK, a small fraction of the 100 million video screens (e.i. smartphones, tablets, computers, etc.).



We hope to have answered all your questions regarding the costs of digital signage and traditional OOH in our article. If you're interested in learning more about how our MagicINFO solutions can help you take advantage of the benefits of DOOH advertising, we invite you to schedule a meeting with our experts.

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