Making Room for Billboards: “A giant tree in Miami waterfront park was chopped down by the city — without city approval”

Making Room for Billboards: “A giant tree in Miami waterfront park was chopped down by the city — without city approval”

Photo: Jose A. Iglesias,

“A 35-foot tall ficus tree thought to be among the oldest in Maurice A. Ferré Park was chopped down by the city of Miami without any advance notice or a removal permit. What will take the beloved tree’s place? The city claims an oak tree will go there. But downtown residents who use the park daily dread the planting of an invasive species — a 300-square-foot electronic billboard blinging ads…

Photo: TJ Sabo, Courtesy of TJ Sabo

Billboards are coming to the park Billboards will indeed be the newest objects in the park, Carollo acknowledged last Friday — one on the north end and one on the south end, both facing Biscayne Boulevard, on the east side of the sidewalk. While it’s unclear if one of the LED signs will be placed on the exact spot where the tree stood, it will be close by, and unobstructed by the tree’s 40-foot-wide canopy as some 100,000 motorists pass by each day…

Although a proposal to put 45 digital billboards in Miami’s core was recently defeated by commissioners because of a public backlash, the placement of LED billboards in Ferré Park, Bayfront Park, Virginia Key Beach Park and at Miami Off-Street Parking facilities was approved Feb. 9 by a 3-1 vote, with Manolo Reyes opposed — warning, ‘we don’t want to look like Vegas.’

The two in Ferré Park — on monument bases and up to 400 square feet in size — will generate $800,000 in annual revenue from outdoor advertising companies…”

— Linda Robertson, Miami Herald

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Giant Billboard In Miami

Giant Billboard In Miami

Photo: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald – A view of a 10-story LED billboard being constructed next to the Pérez Art Museum Miami on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, in downtown Miami, Fla.

“…Outrage over a supersized digital billboard rising on Miami’s waterfront may spark a rewrite of the city’s sign rules, leaving commissioners to decide which of the lucrative new advertising platforms will survive.

On Thursday [In February], city commissioners narrowly agreed to advance legislation repealing a 2023 rule change allowing a billboard company to build an 1,800-square-foot digital sign for the Perez Art Museum of Miami.

The 100-foot-tall billboard under construction off Interstate 395 has outraged some residents, while PAMM calls it a stylish addition to the area that will generate millions of dollars a year for the tax-funded museum.

‘It completely changes the skyline,’ Nicole Desiderio, a downtown condo resident, told commissioners ahead of the vote. ‘We are not Las Vegas. We are not Times Square.’

Meanwhile, new digital billboards are in the city permitting pipeline for public spots outside the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Miami’s Bayfront Park. Those were areas singled out in last year’s redo of the sign rules sponsored by then-Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla before his arrest on unrelated bribery charges and his subsequent reelection loss.

His legislation allowed digital billboards in those areas to be more than double the local size limit of 750 square feet, and now commissioners are arguing over whether to let PAMM and others finish building what’s currently allowed under city code.

Along with allowing supersized billboards in a few places downtown, the 2023 law extended permission for smaller billboards at other locations, including city property within the Omni and Overtown redevelopment districts and the city’s Virginia Key Beach Park…”

— Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald

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Legal: “Federal appeals court upholds Madison’s billboard rules”

Legal: “Federal appeals court upholds Madison’s billboard rules”

Photo: John Hart, Wisconsin State Journal

“A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit by Adams Outdoor Advertising that claimed the city of Madison’s sign ordinance is unconstitutional.

The city and Adams have been battling in court over the city’s sign ordinances for decades, with the newly decided federal lawsuit filed in 2017. Adams owns and operates many billboards in Wisconsin, including about 90 in Madison.

Adams’federal lawsuit began as a sweeping First Amendment challenge to the city’s sign ordinance under a legal standard set in a previous U.S. Supreme Court case involving another municipality. It also challenged the city’s distinction between on- and off-premises signs as well as regulation of digital signs.

In April 2017, Adams submitted 26 applications to the city seeking to modify or replace existing billboards, including raising the height of structures and installing digital sign faces. In June 2017, then-city zoning administrator Matthew Tucker denied 25 of the 26 permits, citing ordinance provisions the proposed modifications would violate. The next month, Adams filed the lawsuit in federal court.

In April 2020, a federal judge dismissed the challenge, saying there’s no constitutional problem with Madison’s sign ordinance. ‘Whether the Capitol Square should look like Times Square is a decision that Madison city government is entitled to make,’ U.S. District Judge James Peterson said at the time.

Adams appealed that decision.

Now, on Jan. 4, in a 16-page decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, upheld the federal district court’s dismissal of Adams’ claims.

‘The city is pleased with this outcome,” Assistant City Attorney Lara Mainella said. “It supports and reinforces our understanding of the law. The city has always been careful to enact and enforce its sign regulations in a way that honors the First Amendment speech rights of those who wish to display signs in our city…'”

— Dean Mosiman, Wisconsin State Journal

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“You can rent a massive billboard in New York’s Times Square for $150” Or just photo shop whatever into your selfie for free?

“You can rent a massive billboard in New York’s Times Square for $150” Or just photo shop whatever into your selfie for free?

Photo: Credited as “provided” as seen on New York FOX TV

“…People can now post their own photos on a massive billboard in the heart of Times Square to be displayed throughout the day for $150…

The project, called, was launched by Miami-based lawyer Jaime Suarez and began with the idea of helping local brands advertise in Times Square at an affordable price. But the project took an ‘interesting turn’ when Suarez then had the idea of letting regular people post their own pictures, directly from their phones, according to a press release.

…Slots can be booked at, where people can pick a date, upload a photo, and pay $150. The photo will then appear on the billboard for 15 seconds once an hour for 24 hours on the date they selected.

‘We will send you your exact hourly time slot to the email you provided while booking at least one day prior to your display date,’ the website states…”

— Kelly Hayes, New York FOX TV

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“Turning Used Billboards Into Vinyl Backpacks”

“Turning Used Billboards Into Vinyl Backpacks”

Photo: Rareform

Image: Rareform

“What happens to billboards at the end of their advertising lives? One company in Los Angeles makes eco-friendly bags from billboards. Alec and Aric Avedissian, co-founders of Rareform, saw the need to recycle the vinyl from billboards into something more useful.

“Upcycling is going full speed ahead. From lending products a new lease of life to creating new, quality items starting from used materials, the approach affords multiple opportunities. And it is appealing to consumers. With this in mind, Californian brothers Alec and Aric Avedissian created Rarerform, in 2012. Formerly an analyst, Alec Avedissian began by manufacturing surfboard bags from vinyl advertising billboards.”

— News

Watch Video on Great Big Story Youtube Channel

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Energy Sign Protests: “Is the climate cost of digital billboards too high to justify?”

Energy Sign Protests: “Is the climate cost of digital billboards too high to justify?”

Photo: The Drum article by John McCarthy

“Outdoor or out-of-home (OOH) ads are modernizing, ditching static paper and paste formats for ever-changing illuminating digital screens. Media owners are locked in an upgrade race, but with climate crisis anxiety heating up, is the sector’s savior tech compatible with the sustainability needs of society?

Earlier this month, Greenpeace tweeted a vandalized Clear Channel six-panel, which read: “This ad uses the same electricity as three average households. Global heating machine.” It was posted as a video of parkouring teens turning off overnight street signage did the rounds on social, while Europe hit all-time high temperatures. The Drum investigates…

Is the writing on the wall?

Are OOH units ‘global heating machines’? The answer is complicated. The device you’re reading this article on is technically a global heating machine. Everything uses energy – the question is whether the sector’s use of energy is irresponsible.

One 2010 study claimed a 48-sheet digital billboard (6.096m x 3.048m) consumes about 30 times more energy than the average American household in a year.

2019 research from Adblock Bristol showed that a much smaller but double-sided digital freestanding unit from Clear Channel used more electricity than four homes each year. Meanwhile, a large JC Decaux billboard was found to consume the equivalent of 36 homes ‘if it was running for a full year at maximum output.’ These are thirsty machines.

This year, a freedom of information request from The Guardian found that 86 digital out-of-home (DOOH) boards in Manchester city center each use an average of 11,501kWh of electricity every year. That’s roughly 345 households’ worth. But these units deliver £2.4m a year in rent, plus 2.8% of the revenue from each ad. That’s well in excess of £6,956 per ‘household.’

In cities all over Europe, tens of thousands of these units consume several homes’ worth of energy each year… so is it worth it?

Outdoor industry responds

Media owners have been cleaning up their act as they transition from analog to digital real estate. Their involvement in urban architecture is dependent on the public’s permission, therefore it must demonstrate utility and be receptive to their needs.

Tim Lumb, insight and effectiveness director at Outsmart, the trade body representing UK OOH, issues a defense saying media owners have been seriously reducing their carbon impact, prioritizing energy-efficient suppliers and supply chains, buying renewable energy and offsetting carbon. Anything from adopting non-fossil fuel fleets to ditching plastic coffee cups is on the table.

Richard Kirk, chief strategy officer at media agency Zenith, believes OOH is bearing the brunt of a wider anti-ad sentiment because it is ‘highly visible and very physically tangible,’but adds that the sector has a ‘much better sustainability story to tell’ than other channels.

Agencies are now calculating their carbon footprint across the entire media ecosystem in a bid to offset their impacts. They know consumer sentiment is turning hostile toward the biggest polluters, but right now the tools lack sophistication.

Research from Cavai estimates that the average online ad impression emits the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere as driving an electric car between 0.4 to 9.65m, watching a 40 inch $K OLED TV between 1.5 to 35 seconds, or having a LED light bulb on between 30 and 700 seconds.

The energy consumption of a single impression is between 0.14Wh and 1.93Wh. Meanwhile, Ovo estimates the average annual UK household electricity consumption sits at 3,760,000Wh per year, the equivalent of a mere 26,857,142 ad impressions. This sounds like a lot, but a study from Good-Loop estimates that programmatic tech handles 2,000 times more bids than the New York Stock Exchange on any given day – 8tn transactions all in the name of targeted advertising. That’s a lot of online impressions. Furthermore, advertising likely added an extra 28% to the annual carbon footprint of every single person in the UK in 2019. So the OOH sector might be the tiniest tip of the melting iceberg of advertising’s damaging impact.

So with the wider context laid out, as Lumb points out, OOH doesn’t ‘just’ deliver advertising but serves as a public and community message board too. On billboards, advertisers formed coherent pandemic advice before the government, encouraged the public to clap for the NHS and – increasingly – issue weather warnings during periods of high heat. You’ll also see them try to rejuvenate the high street, with local businesses often embracing the tech now it’s more accessible and affordable than it was in static formats.

When considering the energy expenditure of OOH, it’s worth remembering that it, like TV, is a broadcast media – it serves one ad to many people at once (unlike ads on your mobile or computer, which are targeted and rendered on each individual device at a greater energy cost). Clear Channel reckons the UK hosts 30,000 DOOH panels – a small share of some 100m video screens in the UK…

One study [not named] claims that a 14×48m digital billboard with LED bulbs uses only twice as much power as a static billboard, and adds that LED lights use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs (although you need way more of them). Other studies have digital using as much as 13 times more energy.

Comparatively, a digital site will always use more energy than a static one – but if correctly implemented, media owners could meet advertiser demand with fewer sites.”

— John McCarthy, The Drum

More detail on the positioning of the industry is in the full article which can be read here