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Out-of-home advertising is booming, thanks to the emergence of super high definition electronic billboards now commonly found on the nation’s highways. But can they be used to boost the fortunes of an industry that is not so booming: newspapers? That’s the question posed by marketing execs at the Detroit Free Press ( and MediaNews Group’s The Detroit News (

The papers, which operate under a Joint Operating Agreement, used electronic billboards along interstates 75, 275, 94 and 96 to provide breaking news about the travails of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. A series of four dayparted ads over two days urged users to get more information at the papers’ Web sites.

In a post on the Newspaper Association of America’s Digital Edge blog, NAA Circulation Director Robert Rubrecht said the campaign proved to be a real success. While it was a very hot story, with national attention, Rubrecht says “the influence the billboard had regarding Web page views is readily apparent.” The Free Press site jumped 48 percent from the previous week, while The News site jumped 16 percent.

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