Besides radio, one of the most effective ways for advertisers to connect with motorists is via billboards. And now billboards are being connected with cars and even with the flow of traffic.
The traffic data company Inrix, for example, recently debuted what’s known as a digital Out-of-Home advertising (a.k.a billboard) technology for Dannon drinkable yogurt that changes based on the average speed on a given roadway. And while digital billboards that vary with traffic flow are not new, this is the first time that a roadside ad has been able to change up to four times based on travel speeds.
“We’ve been doing this with two different ads for some time with companies such as Lamar, Clear Channel Outdoor and JCDecaux,” Kevin Foreman, general manager of GeoAnalytics at Inrix, told me. But it was with two versions of ads – one for when congestion was high and exposure time for an ad was longer, and another when traffic was light and exposure time was limited.
The four different ads for DanActive yogurt, which were created by Y&R Canada for Dannon’s advertising agency Carat, ran in both English and French for a trial period in Toronto and Montreal this summer. The campaign was activated by Dynamic Outdoor with witty messages timed to traffic flow.
When traffic was flowing at less than 20 percent of the speed limit, one of two ads relevant to specific locations such as Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway were triggered.
When traffic was between 20 and 34 percent of the speed limit, a different ad was displayed.
When the traffic hit 35 and 64 percent of the speed limit, a third ad was shown.
And when traffic was greater than 65 percent of the speed limit, a billboard displayed a countdown measuring days until the weekend, including one that would run on Friday.
Hopefully a new billboard technology being tested in London that targets drivers in a way that’s downright creepy in a Big Brother way won’t become commonplace. The Digital Out of Home (OOH) Vehicle Recognition Technology uses cameras installed on billboards to scan cars stopped at traffic lights and identify the make, model, and color of an individual vehicle.
It “then serves the driver and passengers content…based on specific audience demographics and data relevant to that vehicle,” according to Ocean, the British ad agency that developed the technology. The agency adds that “all vehicle details are anonymized,” and the system “does not store or record any personal data.”
Instead, it generates a profile of the driver’s age, gender, and interests, and uses the info to present an ad that’s appropriate for the identified vehicle. If it detects a sports car, for example, the agency said it most likely belongs to a man between 25 and 34 years old who is interested in luxury clothing, travel, and sports. In this case, the system triggers a luxury clothing ad, one for a newer model of the same car, or even a competitor’s vehicle.
The technology is being used to advertise Renault’s latest version of the Mégane on a tri-screen digital billboard positioned at a high-profile roundabout in London. Ocean notes that it’s the “third largest digital site in the UK, delivering 4,920,340 adult impacts” and “is the jewel in West London’s Digital OOH crown – flanked by affluent Kensington and Notting Hill.”