Outdoor digital noticeboards are making their mark in French-speaking Switzerland.The new era is already here!

Exclusive interview with the key founders of Extramedia, the first multi-channel, ethical outdoor digital advertising network in Switzerland.

Mokhtar and Lobna Rekhis have many years experience in their sectors within the vast world of media and communications, which is what first brought them together. Mokhtar has worked for over 25 years in "glocal" marketing and regional economic development. Lobna has spent 20 years in one-to-one communication and information and communication technology. Their paths converged when they worked on economic development and development support for SMEs. With the support of major investors who share their vision for the future for the sector, they have developed Extramedia, a unique display network in Switzerland which can be brilliantly adapted to the smart cities of the future which are already in place. These two entrepreneurs, who are both passionate about their vision, answered our questions.

Where did you get your motivation to create a new urban billboard network - totally different from existing models ?

The existing models on the market are a hangover from methods of communication dating back to the 16th century with posters stuck on walls, something which happened quite randomly until the 19th century, when the sector began to be regulated. This method was undoubtedly very effective in the past, offering a service that reflected the companies of that time. However, it is clear that with research and new technology, societies all over the world and in all areas of life have evolved enormously since then. Audiovisual communication is one of the sectors most impacted by this development. It is very likely that putting up posters with brief messages in text will no longer have any place in the clean cities of 2030. Slogans and frozen images, enhanced with depictions of preternaturally perfect humans, miracle products or politicians no longer have any resonance in our society, which is constantly riding the wave of information and all kinds of content (commercial, cultural, political, humanitarian, etc.) using increasingly innovative and attractive media. Our motivation comes from our belief that the silent paper poster is of no interest to a large part of society. The recurring vandalism of billboards all over Switzerland and especially in the canton of Vaud is a regrettable demonstration of this. The young people of today - who are the adults of tomorrow - have made their position on this subject quite clear. They don’t want to share their common space with an antiquated concept (from the 16th century!) in the age of new technology.
Consumers themselves have, in a way, "chosen" digital street signage, because it suits their lifestyle. It’s in step with the times and will be able to support future generations. Society is now ready to welcome ethical outdoor digital signage.

What are the tangible benefits of this type of advertising for society ?

Unique in Switzerland, and fully protected (in terms of design, content and purpose) against any attempts at plagiarism, Extramedia is a digital display network focused on regional promotion for all types of business. As an inter-regional concept, it allows the inhabitants of region X as well as tourists to get to know about local businesses as well as those in region Y, and to get in touch with their various operators in a few clicks. In practical terms, it also gives partner towns and municipalities the opportunity to save taxpayers' money usually invested in promoting tourism at a national level. Indeed, the partner towns and municipalities benefit from free distribution of information and promotional content at the terminals installed in their area – and this content thus becomes visible throughout the network. For example, the municipality of Rolle, by gaining visibility in the cities of Bern, Gstaad or Montreux, saves itself the cost of outdoor poster campaigns, estimated at several million francs per year.
Extramedia is an ethical billboard network because it is designed so that a single terminal can replace 3,000 fixed billboards, thus making it possible to visually clean up the landscape. For users who don’t have time to linger in front of the terminals, or those who are worried about the hygiene of screens touched by several individuals, and also for the convenience of everyone, the free Entreprises de la région app allows mobile access to the content available at the terminals. In this way, the partner municipalities once again save colossal amounts of money, intended for the creation of mobile apps for tourism and business advertising, as they save the costs of promotional campaigns for these apps. In addition, people who don’t want to fill up the storage space on their mobile devices can consult the content available in the app via the web portal www.entreprisesdelaregion.ch, which has excellent cross-referencing. This is a site which in turn allows public bodies to save on online advertising costs. The Extramedia ethical urban digital display is an intelligent and efficient tool designed so that each party can find what interests them, users, local businesses and public and private partners.

Classic billboards carry advertising. What’s on the Extramedia display screens ?

Extramedia terminals are multi-purpose, which is what makes them smart and inimitable. Their size allows them to offer several types of content at the same time (from 55’’). Part of the screen offers dynamic content such as adverts, another part offers useful informative content for users through tactile re-direction buttons. Other content can be scrolled and also allows re-direction.
The various businesses in the region are also represented in different ways, without the user feeling assaulted by their presence, since they can choose the content they wish to access. This means they don’t feel they are being pushed into consumption. They can also interact with members via their social networks in the mobile Entreprises de la région. version. All of this moves users away from their role as a passive consumers, which they are challenging through their rejection of conventional display advertising.

How big is your network today and what are your goals for the future ?

We will launch our 15th site in French-speaking Switzerland at the beginning of October 2022, which proves that change is underway. The opening of sites in mobile format will progress more quickly, from autumn 2022, building on the faith our members have shown in us. We hope to be represented in the 26 Swiss cantons by 2030, so that the inter-regional nature of our network will benefit all our partners and members at a national level.
Our aim is to be part of the landscape without polluting it and we want to install our terminals only in tourist and/or highly frequented sites. As users can comfortably take advantage of web and mobile formats, we don’t need to install terminals in every street to achieve our objectives.
Internationally, we are in talks to set up our network in economically dynamic capitals in the near future, which would represent unprecedented advantages and inestimable added value for our local partners.

“To exist, is to be wanted”, Octave Hamelin (French philosopher, 1856-1907)