News & Views

The next frontier in outdoor advertising

by Contagious Contributor


In 2017, Contagious interviewed the founder of Lightvert, a company that aims to revolutionise out-of-home advertising with a new AR platform, ECHO. In this article, the company's founder - Daniel Siden - highlights the incredible creative opportunities that this technology enables. 

We have just completed a project with Central Saint Martins, inviting students to develop concepts for our ground-breaking ECHO display technology. ECHO is new and it challenges creatives to think differently, so it seemed fitting to ask some of our brightest creative minds how they would develop content for this new experiential medium. The process was fascinating.

ECHO display technology uses the persistence of vision effect, so viewers see an image appear, as if by magic, for just a fleeting moment. It is not a static image, there for all to see at the same time, like traditional screens or posters. Instead, it catches your eye when you are least expecting it. Time and again, viewers tell us it is this element of surprise that appeals to them most.

We know the medium works, as we have watched hundreds of people actively engage with ECHO displays in cities around the world. We have also demonstrated that it creates an opportunity, by opening up a near limitless supply of premium advertising real estate. But, like all new technologies, ECHO presents a challenge: unlike creative concepts for traditional outdoor screens or posters, ECHO demands a wide-open mind - fresh, experimental thinking, free from client constraints and KPIs. That’s why we turned to the world class graphics department at Central Saint Martins.

We demonstrated the ECHO system to the students, asking them to experience it with fresh eyes and without pre-conceptions and then consider objectively their first experience with the medium and how that experience changed upon subsequent viewings. The students used their experiences and observations to identify the strengths of the medium. We provided them with small desktop prototypes to allow them to test their creative concepts quickly and easily. Prototyping like this is a powerful factor in helping any creative to explore the potential of their concepts.

Under the expert guidance of their tutors and course leaders, the students quickly and freely generated dozens of concepts for testing and refinement over a two-week period. During this process, they uncovered and demonstrated the strengths of the ECHO medium and its many applications, from promoting events and building brands to engaging audiences in social causes and nudging behavioural change.

Theme: Nudge Marketing / Felix Uff
Felix focused on the ephemeral nature of ECHO imagery and applied this to the well-established theory and practice of nudge marketing. He created a fictitious hot sauce brand 'El Gulpo' and developed associated content for the brand.This content was then displayed along prominent pedestrian thoroughfares to shopping locations where El Gulpo is sold. The combination of Felix's bold content simply displayed in areas with high footfall, at the entry points to where the product is sold, proved to be extremely effective for viewer tests.


Theme: Tease / Jann Choy

Jann also capitalised on the ephemeral nature of the ECHO medium to tease and intrigue viewers with adventure and the opportunity for discovery. Jann's simple concept is to align the ECHO medium with a well-known urban events brand such as VICE or RedBullMusic, and to use the ECHO medium to simply display post codes. Viewers could then choose to find the location of the post code in the city for the chance of an experience of a lifetime.


Theme: Social causes - Michelle Lim Xue Ying, Andrea Li and Julia Nowak

The team capitalised on the ability of ECHO to unlock new display locations unavailable to traditional media. They used ECHO’s ephemeral nature to raise awareness of the loss of trees within the urban environment. The team proved the powerful alignment between ECHO media and cause-related campaigns.


The approach taken by the students and the final concepts showed the power of openness and free thinking when exploring new technologies and mediums.  The creative industries, especially institutions such as Central St. Martins, know that this open and welcoming environment for experimentation is what fosters innovation. We, the professionals working in industry, with client constraints and KPI's, must not lose sight of this.

While we cannot expect ourselves to be fully objective, we can recognise our limits of understanding. This objective recognition of the ‘new’ is the starting point for innovation. Whether you're an accountant, a designer or a technologist, that first moment of exploration is a thread to be followed, just to see where it goes and what it means.

Hats off to the wonderful teaching staff and cohort of students that worked with us at Central St. Martins. The project undoubtedly succeeded in showcasing the ECHO opportunity but more importantly it shone a light on the enormous talent that will develop the content of tomorrow.