Do you provide digital out-of-home (OOH) marketing services? Produce or use digital signage products that help clients post live tweets, hashtag streams and other social media content at events, sporting venues or prime locations? It may be time to pay up to one firm: Monster Media.

That's the takeaway from a recent court case in which the Orlando, Fla.-based media provider sued another company, Aerva Inc., for patent infringement. This past week, Aerva settled for undisclosed terms. Monster Media immediately signaled its happiness about the win:

"The ability to engage with audiences and amplify a brand's messages across multiple channels has become a critical part of an Out-of-Home network's toolkit. Our intellectual property is a key enabler of that experience and helps us defend the strategic market position for our Monster Social platform," said Stephen Randall, EVP of Mobile and Social Technology, in a press release.

What It's All About

The patents in question — US 8,886,759, US 7,450,954, US 8,615,565 and US 8,880,649 — represent "the seminal intellectual property interactive out-of-home technology."

One in particular, 8,615,565, is for "automatic content retrieval based on location-based screen tags" —in other words, what makes it possible to display social media streams on venue signage, event big screens and other digital OOH opportunities, according to digital signage management consultant Dave Haynes, who wrote on his industry blog when Monster first declared these patents:

"This is about strategic M&A on Monster's part rather than patent trolling, it appears. The firm acquired the patents when it purchased Boston-based LodaModa in July 2013 (whose CEO and founder had been Randall, so he should know their significance)."

Speaking to CMSWire after the settlement, Haynes believes there will be minimal fallout because the digital OOH has had time to consider the impact — “as notice letters from Monster have been out to some companies for many months, and I know conference calls have been held,” he said.

In response, a “handful of companies like L.A.’s EnPlug” that market socially enabled digital signal are probably wracking up “some lawyer hours looking at where they stand.”

CMS companies with social media-streaming widgets may be decommissioning them. And others will be paying Monster Media for licensing. 

This Is Big

Don’t expect it to disrupt a hot marketing segment.

In its 2015-2019 global entertainment and media outlook, PricewaterhouseCoopers calculated the total digital OOH market to be $9.71 billion globally in 2014 and estimated an increase to $18.04 billion by 2019.

A "key part" of this growth will result from interactivity: i.e., apparently using Monster Media's IP (and other technologies) to allow real time social conversation between brands and consumers. Why? PwC cites the forecasted 3.85 billion smartphone connections and 1.46 billion tablet devices that will exist in the world by 2019.

In general, technologies (such as Monster's) allow marketers to increasingly provide relevant messages to population segments in ideal locations, and this capability will only increase, according to the trade group, Interactive Advertising Bureau, which cites the trend as a top five digital OOH development for 2015.

The IAB cites a study from Yule and IPG media that consumers are 41 percent more receptive to public advertising versus the bombardment they receive at home, and 16 percent more receptive at school or work than home.

Brands such as ESPN, Diageo, Tide and Levis have already used Monster Media to take advantage of that, using interactive digital OOH in prime locations like Madison Square Garden, the Orlando Citrus Bowl and the Verizon Center. Sports teams, such as hockey's New York Rangers, basketball's New York Knicks and football's Miami Dolphins, are also big customers.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by Hen_son.