Tiger Party’s CEO Revealing The Behind Scenes of The Biggest Event in The World; The New Year’s Eve at the Times Square
The new year is around the corner, every country has a certain destination to host such a public celebration, such as Trafalgar Square in London, United Kingdom, Puerta del sol Square of Madrid, Spain, and Arc de Triomphe of Paris, France. But the most exciting one for us is the NYE (New Year’s Eve) in Times Square in New York, USA… The crossroads of the OOH world hosting the NYE among the most innovative DOOH screens shaped in harmony to embrace thousands of celebrators on sites and almost one billion online.
We interviewed Rafale Chang, the CEO of Tiger Party, the operator of the NYE billboards in Times Square. We shared our readers’ interest in knowing more about the DOOH of Times Square, and how to manage a huge number of randomly shaped screens in absolute harmony and synchronization. We were overwhelmed by the generosity and passion of Rafale Chang, who was keen to share with our readers and followers all the tips and tricks to manage experiential brand activation and digital billboard management, let’s share them all with you as same as Rafale said:
Hi, it is always fun with INSITE Out-of-home media, it's nice to talk to you to introduce myself, I'm Rafale, CEO of Tiger Party, we have been running interactive campaigns in Times Square for the past 11 years, we have worked with multiple different brands like Kia, Volkswagen, ABC, Disney, Bank of America, and throughout the past 11 years, we have done New Year's Eve (NYE) interactive events, the video streaming across all the billboards in Times Square, and also synchronize the Ball Drop with the billboard countdown clocks.
Tiger Party’s History
We started as a hardware company, we have a lot of relationships with many different LED manufacturers around the world, we started building the ABC Supersign in Times Square from 2006 until 2007, then we continue to build off of the Bank of America sign, Disney store sign, and American Eagle sign in Times Square.
We started, like I said, as a hardware consultant and we worked with multiple different LED manufacturers, and then solely we also started to expand our platform and our support into the software.
We have started to get into the interactive event, to be able to engage with the audience. We have our own proprietary assistant GOTIGER, that we were connecting the billboard together, and synchronizing to playback the content, and since then, we have been running the billboard synchronization to the Ball Drop, the video wall synchronization, and music performance in Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration for the past 11 years.
Like you know in Times Square, this is an ever-evolving place, everyone wants to make their voice in here. We need to bring the latest, most exciting content or technology to the world, and the people. So, we are the first company who have executed the interactive campaign in Times Square. We had introduced the visual warping technology. As you know, the signage in Times Square is not standard 16:9 sizes, every sign has its own unique shape.
Some of the signs have curved surfaces or multiple ribbons. So, our system is able to warp the content dynamically, with 4k plus resolution or even higher, with ultra-high frame rate, 60 frames per second, with the lossless compression, like Apple ProRes 422, or even Apple ProRes 4444 XQ, and this is kind of new technology. It's what we have been pursuing and trying to push ourselves to go to the next level. So, we are pretty much the first company… We are the first company who has been engaged with social media or instant billboards, and also, integrate virtual reality with our billboard VR experience, and also now we are exploring the possibility of how to engage with blockchain into our digital signage system.
The Times Square Billboard Management
Well, we are a global company, which means we currently have two teams, one team in New York, the other team in Taiwan, and this covers our 24 hours time zone. So, in daytime Times Square, we have the team to run and maintain the system, and at the nighttime, the Taiwan team would take over and start making sure all the systems are running 24/7. As you know, that sign in Times Square is always running, and that's why this is the center of the digital world.
The GOTIGER system is our own proprietary system. We have been developing this system for more than five years. Like I said, at the beginning of the interview, we started as a hardware company and we worked with different hardware manufacturers where there's a lot of niche on the LED hardware. For example, we have knowledge in what type of LED we should use, what system to be embedded to support the hardware, what kind of power supply we use to be able to survive in the harsh environment, like the rain, the high temperature, the moisture, the snow, the wind, or maybe dry, we need to give the analysis on those different environments and then to be able sourcing the correct part for the LED. That’s what we have been doing when we first started the company and we still do that, but then we realized that having a very solid and reliable hardware is just the beginning of the digital out-of-home.
We need to have interesting content. We need to have fun engaging content with content with people. People need to have fun and feel the interests to be able to look at the sign, to actually have fun interacting with the signage. So, one of the campaigns that we have done was Pepsi’s; “Say It with Pepsi”. The campaign was a very simple concept. So, people will submit the headshot, through social media, like Twitter, or Instagram, with the hashtag #SayItWithPepsi and our GOTIGER system will basically content Q/A the uploaded media, and then give the approval, and once the content has been approved, we will overlay the headshot of the audience or the participant, on the top of the Pepsi logo. This Pepsi emoji campaign was really a successful campaign across the globe. Million people have been participating in this campaign run, and it was a very fun one through our many years of experience around different interactive digital campaigns in Times Square through our platform GOTIGER.
The Magic of GOTIGER
Across Times Square, there are many different systems. Some systems have different operating systems; Some people run with Mac, some people run with Windows, some people run with Linux. So, it's very challenging to be able to synchronize, to connect all the buildings together. So, we have been trying to keep our technology to be on the top in the industry, we used a web socket to achieve this. Basically, we use a web socket to achieve very quick responses and very low laggings. So, we will be able to synchronize to and connect billboards together. During New Year's Eve countdown, you don't want to see that, the left sign, the left, counting down to, ten, nine, and then the sign on the right, you see nine, eight, seven… This could be just a fraction of a second or 0.5 of a second difference, but visually you can already see that in-synchronization happening, and we don't want to give this kind of experience to the people in the square. So, our system is able to synchronize the content accurate down to 1/60 second, and thus visually you would not even notice any difference.
Another advantage of our GOTIGER playback system is that we can go to really high resolution and lossless compression, and with 3D warping to fit into different billboard surfaces. In Times Square, you don't see the traditional ratio of the signage very often, every sign has its unique shape, and every sign stands out their own shout out on how their sign is designed to be. , In our GOTIGER system, we will be able to adjust the resolution and also be able to playback at 60 frames per second to bring the best experience, not only just in regular content broadcast on playback, but also when we're doing interactive campaigns will be really exciting fresh content.
The last NYE 2021
Last year was definitely a unique experience… I mean, a different experience to all of us. It was very challenging, we basically had a Times Square lockdown for the New Year's Eve, there are not many people were allowed to enter, a lot of things are changing in the last minute… the content, the sponsors, all the different media need to get uploaded, approved, livefire in a queue, at the last minute.
The system needs to be able to maintain the ultra-high quality of the content, for example, the lossless content that we have, as we use in Apple ProRes 422 to compress our content.
So, our content, for example, a 30-second 4k content is usually about, it could go up to 10G sometimes with even longer duration of the content can go to maybe 20G or more, this is not the 16:9 TV that you see in the supermarket. We want the sharpest, and the most detailed content, to be able to show and tell your brand story to the world.
This NYE 2022
Well, we are now all coming back from a pandemic, and last year we had something special, basically, we broadcasted a live interview with President Biden of the United States, on the billboard directly, this has never been done before.
This year is not set yet, as I mentioned, for New Year's Eve, since everything is always changing at the last minute, the schedule, the program, and the scripting… it's always changing. Our system, the GOTIGER, is capable of adapting to quick changes, and adapting to the new script, the new show, and to be able to queue and livefire instantly.
This year, we are thinking of letting the show NYE host Ryan Seacrest randomly pick the sign, and then we're going to have content directly shown on that sign, like his finger's going to be like a magic wand to point on the billboard, and then we just change the content accordingly. But this might change, you know, it all depends on what will be the final script, every scene that is on the move right now.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you who our billboard sponsor is this year yet, this is confidential at this moment, but it will be revealed soon on the event day. Usually, the confirmed sponsors don’t change at the last minute, but, you know, we might have last-minute sponsor coming in, that's possible, but usually, we don't have last minutes of sponsorship, I mean, we started the (sponsorship) conversation very early.t There will be a sponsor for the countdown clocks, there'll be a sponsor for a music app, there will be a sponsor for the general content, whatever the sponsorship that has been already signed up, the spot will be locked down, but it is possible that more sponsors are coming in.
After The Pandemic
Digital out-of-home or the out-of-home in general, we haven't seen the uptrend since 2019, and of course, the global pandemic 2020 had definitely gone poor completely like a dead, there’s no digital out-of-home or any out-of-home media, but it is going to rebound, and this rebound is really strong, as we can see, most of the advertisement spot, most of the sponsorship spot has been sold out in a very early stage this year. Also in 2021, we are seeing a lot more brands doing the Times Square takeover and it's becoming the trend, like this year I’ve seen Kia that I mentioned earlier, then I’ve seen the Tiffany, and then I'm seeing more fashion brands like an Alexander McQueen, I'm seeing more Trade show, and different brands, they are all coming into Times Square to takeover the Times Square to be able to work with this historical site, and bring a shout out to the world saying, “Hey, the pandemic is over!” or it's maybe ongoing, but either way, we are here to make their standout, this is very important for the brand to show to their clients and consumers, and I think Times Square is definitely, location for them to be able to create a story, to tell a story, and use this as an opportunity to take a picture, to take a video, and then to rebroadcast in their own channels on their own social media, to their audience.
The Brand/Audience Dialogue
Because there are many aspects and angles for New Year’s Eve, you can see this is a large event where you have hundreds of thousands of people in Times Square overnight to sing and dance together here, they are seeing and interacting with the billboard, it's not just the large canvas, people will put their interactive campaigns on the sign during the New Year’s Eve.
There is also a TV station ABC, they will also have their camera broadcasting the content, the image, the live video feed, to the entire world to showcase what we are doing in Times Square.
The audience is not just limited to Times Square, but also to the entire world, so, people will see what kind of brands are doing what? And everyone of course has their own social media, people will take a picture, and they want to upload their picture onto the billboard. You know, they want to showcase to the world, then they will take a picture of that to share it on their own social media.
For New Year's Eve, the content on the billboard, the platform, and the playback system is not just a large canvas, we're not doing one-way image or one-way conversation to your end-user, but it's more like a dialogue, you interact with the pedestrian and then the entire conversation will be broadcast throughout the world, that's why it's very important to have more than layers of the active digital signage system, and that's how we involve our system to become.
We are happy to participate in New Year’s Eve for the past eleven years, every year is very special to us because every year we try to do something different and something new, of course, there are always new situations going to be around like we all know pandemic happened, and this year it's pretty new to us, we’re coming out of a pandemic and I am sure as we have usually for the past few years, the boundaries, or the restrictions quarter is from 42nd street all the way to 50 street and from 6th avenue, to 8th avenue. But this year, from what I understand and know, the entire quarter is going to increase all the way from 5th avenue to 9th avenue, on 77th street, all the way to 58th street or 57th street.
So again, I want to say post-pandemic is still ongoing, they will always be a challenge to have a successful event, and I think flexibility is what I'm trying to say here, the signage system, and our services, how the content consultant or event consultant, to be able to adapt, adjust according to the latest situation, and then to bring the best result possible.
Future of the DOOH
I think for the future of digital out-of-home it's going to emerge with the current hot topic, which is the programmatic, digital programmatic out-of-home purchasing, and the future will be… Yes, they are multiple different environments like everyone has their own system, but also you will be able to purchase them through, as a pack or a programmatic purchase in them, and while at the same time, you can also do a direct purchasing, I think those two will coexist, people who want to purchase through a programmatic site and to purchase the signage based on a different exposure, a different strategy, but this the direct purchase who wants to do a massive Times Square take-over, this is one trend of where the digital signage and Times Square is going.
That's I think it's slowly will be a coexistence between programmatic purchasing and direct purchasing, and in the end, all of this is going to be a next level where we're going to start to see a trading of the time spots, for example, I might purchase a spot for the next year’s NYE, for example, the variable time and prepay I'm purchasing right now, and then I might be able to sell this spot to the next highest bid seller. So, this is all possible verse or the digital world and involves income.
Also, one new technology, the emerging coming on technology like blockchain, which is we have been heavily investing and involved into this new technology. I believe this blockchain is going to be a really big impact, and not just because of the programmatic the OOH scheduling purchasing but also to do with trading with playback content to be able to lock on the blockchain and all of this is going to, yeah, evolve this industry rapidly, and, it's going to happen very soon.
An Advice for the DOOH Providers
I mean the one key scene that is very important is you want to avoid doing a mass deployment, on your channel, of course, this depends on your strategy, but you don't want to have your screen on every supermarket or every coffee shop or every gas station, because it then bringing down the value of your channel. If you have your TV in the supermarket, in a gas station or a convenience store, or a coffee shop, people are not going to look at it.
People are not going to pay attention to it, and whoever advertises on those channels, they're going to bring down the value of their brand. Instead, I see it as essential to bring, experiential, or experience to the pedestrian, to the fields, to the audience. Where they feel like, oh, wow, this is unique signage. This is the total landmark. And I'm here because I want to see this new structure. So, instead of trying to build all my TV is in a gas station, or my TV is on hundreds taxis or my iPad is on all the tables in the restaurant.
I think digital out-of-home needs to be a signature, there's a value to your signage where it boosts the brand, affecting this, like people will feel, oh, this brand is on this signage, this brand is in this location, they have been showcased in this new location, this new zone, and this will bring value to the brand, and the brand and people will feel like, okay, I want to engage with the brand in this signage, I mean, would you want to engage with the brand in a supermarket? I mean, when you see one of the TV giving you a coupon, are you going to feel excited about it, and then, try to take a picture about it?
So, that's my advice. We should focus on building the uniqueness and the signature for creating a landmark for, digital home in the MENA area.
Tiger Party-Based in New York, Working globally
Definitely would love to walk everywhere in the world, and we do not only have the experience working in Times Square, but we also have in working in Chicago, and we have worked in LA, we even have been working with the water museum in Dubai. We have global experience in doing portrait execution, and we definitely have a team capable of taking on such a task, and we're looking forward to working with the people or project in the MENA area, and so certainly that’s in our next plan.
Well, it's nice to be able to engage with the audience of the MENA area, looking forward to building a more exciting project with you in the near future.
That Was All…
A practical integrated DOOH solution to apply in Times Square from a man with 11 years of industry experience in how to create, manage and develop innovative brand campaigns and experiential DOOH activations. Moreover, how to build a commercial spectacular and exciting advertisers content that entertains the audience and holds their attention.
Words cannot express our gratitude to Tiger Party and Rafale Chang for the warm hospitality and precious fruitful time and experience.
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