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Screen time

By Mandy Cook

Marketing and Communications has joined the ranks of some other academic and administrative units using television monitors to deliver general information, news and events around the St. John’s campus.

The university’s communications unit has installed five screens in various locations to deliver a mix of campus and national news and events, weather and advertising.

The screens have been mounted in high traffic areas like pedestrian overpasses or common areas for maximum visibility while people move from location to location.

“As with any community, there is a percentage of the population that doesn't sit down and actively consume news by the web, print or e-mail,” said Ivan Muzychka, associate director (communications), Division of Marketing and Communications. “The screens are an effective tool in reaching that particular segment of the Memorial audience.

“In cases of urgent notices such as snow and building closures, the screens will be particularly useful for people who may be walking between classes and not plugged into a laptop or mobile device.”

The screens are located in the Arts, Science and Engineering buildings, the University Centre and the QE II Library.

The pilot project has been undertaken in conjunction with Explosive Media, a local advertising company. The partnership will result in a portion of the ad revenue flowing to the university. While allowing more advertising in an environment of higher learning may be considered contentious by some, Mr. Muzychka said the experiment with technology will be a cost-saving endeavour.
“The screens have been provided to the university free of charge, in return for them carrying some amount of external advertising in the content loop. But we retain the ability to program part of the loop to carry internal university information and emergency alerts. I think that students, staff and faculty will benefit from the addition of this highly visible channel to our co-ordinated communication strategy for emergencies,” he said.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Memorial University on this project,” said Lloyd Nash, CEO of Explosive Media.

Explosive Media provides external advertising at seven universities across Atlantic Canada.

“We know that this is a very elusive audience and that students demand prime time when they see fit. In order for this technology to work we need to engage students, and that is what we have done by partnering with Marketing and Communications.”

As for getting advertisements on the screens, Mr. Nash said, “We can update advertisements with the click of a mouse. The lead time is very low for updating ads, and our up loading process takes only seconds, giving us an edge over existing mediums.”

Mr. Muzychka added that the “mix of serious and light content” is meant to appeal to viewers.

“The more varied and less ‘official’, the more likely that a larger number of people will occasionally look at what's on our screens.

“A steady diet of just general info would be like reading the phone book,” Mr. Muzychka quipped. “There is a reason why newspapers have sections and carry a mix of heavy, serious and trivial and light ‘news.’”

In addition to the screens that are managed by the Division of Marketing and Communications, the St. John's campus also has screens that have been put in place by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the Queen Elizabeth II Library, the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, and the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and Services.

Mr. Muzychka also noted that urgent or emergency messages will always appear on all screens around the university, even those not directly managed by Marketing and Communications.

For more information about the screens, contact David Sorensen at