Look, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s … A Smart Billboard!
Just like the Wright Brothers’ aircraft was once considered a flight of fancy, billboard advertising that is aware of its surroundings, and adapts to your activities also seems far fetched, at first glance.
Smart Billboards are becoming the norm, and cellular technology allows them to deliver ads that are geared to those watching. The smartphone company, RIM, recently filed patents to marry Blackberry technology with roadside advertising. Data is collected from nearby Blackberry users, which determines traffic speed and density of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. This data is then used to determine the type of ads that are displayed on the billboards.
The two patents RIM has filed are for “Adaptive roadside billboard system and related methods” and “Adaptive pedestrian billboard system and related methods”, and both are described as having data banks capable of highly customized advertising based on traffic speed and density. When traffic is moving fast, the ads served are simple, motionless, and easy to identify, such as logos and product or company names. Static billboard ads that can easily be picked up in our peripheral vision are less likely to distract drivers who are focused on a busy British Columbia highway, or annoy pedestrians in a hurry. When traffic is slow, such as in a traffic jam or a densely populated street in downtown Kelowna, consumer attention is more available, so the advertising becomes more informative and people can absorb the product benefits, promotions, or incentives.
Looking into the future of these Intelligent Highway Signs, the potential lies in delivering advertising that is tailor made to our interests, based on specifics like age, gender, and even previous shopping preferences and purchases. The sky is the limit for these Billboards to serve us intuitive ads, but smart advertising must be balanced with privacy laws and demand.
Smart Billboard Advertising comes with its benefits for both the consumer and the advertiser. Instead of intrusive advertising like TV ads, door to door sales, and cold calling, consumers can see more of what they want, when they want, while advertisers get more effective billboard advertising and satisfied customers. We say … let ‘er fly.
by Jim Wannop