German drivers who take a break from the autobahn have had a new audiovisual experience since the summer. Tank & Rast, Germany’s premier operator of motorway service areas, has installed more than 3,000 digital signage displays at 360 locations throughout the country, creating the largest digital signage network in Germany at motorway service areas, and the largest anywhere on Europe’s road system.
“Tank & Rast used to display conventional printed advertisements, but the company wanted to switch to digital to increase its advertising revenues,” says Marius Marschall, group managing partner at Intelligent Service Solutions (ISS), the specialist AV company that planned and installed the system and will manage it for the next three years.
“Tank & Rast expects to make a much greater return from selling advertising space on digital signage than it did from conventional poster sites,” he adds. The eye-catching displays are located in entrance halls and retail and catering areas, enabling digital advertising to be targeted where it will be most effective.
Content creation and distribution is done by Tank & Rast’s advertising agency. All the content is scheduled from a single control centre by ISS. Each screen can have a unique playlist of adverts that are carefully tailored to suit its location and the time of day.
“By timeslicing the adverts, Tank & Rast is effectively multiplying the space available,” says Marschall. A study by Germany’s Centre for Consumer Research has already demonstrated the effectiveness of the digital adverts.
Tank & Rast is now considering installing more screens in the restaurant areas to display menus that change at different times of day, and even photo frame-sized units in the toilets. The initial rollout consisted of 3,200 42, 32 and 22-inch high resolution LCD displays. All the 42 and 32-inch models, almost 1,600 in total, were supplied by ISS’s vendor of choice, Philips Public Signage.
“We’re responsible for the entire system for the next three years and are contracted to provide more than 99 per cent up-time, so we have to rely heavily on our partners,” says Marschall. “That means we need a fully professional product and professional after-sales support, so there are only a few companies we’re prepared to partner with.”
The technical specification of the Philips monitors met Tank & Rast’s exacting requirements, including being bright enough to compete with the high lighting levels inside a motorway service area. Availability was a major issue, and not all the monitor vendors ISS considered could have supplied the large quantities required.
Philips’ pricing was also very competitive, and the low energy consumption of its displays means that the lifetime cost of ownership – as well as related carbon emissions – will be below average. Finally, what impressed ISS was the sheer professionalism of the people from Philips. “We had confidence that they’d be as helpful after the sale as they were before,” says Marschall. “I’m more than happy that we did the deal with Philips, and in future I would definitely prefer Philips over other display vendors.”