In the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” computerized billboards serve up personalized advertising to the people who walk past. At the time, people laughed off the depictions in the movie as pure science fiction. But a startup in Europe is planning to introduce technology that serves individualized ads to different people. While the billboards don’t reflect nearly the depth of knowledge about their subjects as those in “Minority Report” they can tailor ads using facial recognition, changing the billboard display based on characteristics like gender and age.
Yes, the future is coming fast to out-of-home. Though you can’t expect a billboard to identify you by name anytime soon, you can expect a lot of other changes over the next few decades. Here are five things billboards will be able to do – soon.
- React to Things Around Them
Already many billboards are outfitted with cameras and antennae that help them identify their surroundings and pick up on small changes in the immediate vicinity. Sensors will inform billboards about more than just the weather or traffic conditions. Billboards will be programmed to interact and not just react.
The benefit: The more personal your interaction with an ad, the more likely you are to try the product.
- Read Your Smartphone
In the not-too-distant future, your smartphone will give billboards the key to increased relevancy. They will scan your apps and social media interactions to instantaneously ascertain your interests and your demographic data. These will offer insights into what types of ads should be shown to you.
The benefit: You get ads for something you actually may be interested in buying.
- Augmented Reality
AR is here, but it will get even bigger and bolder in the future. The real value of AR is that billboards aren’t limited to billboards. Any surface becomes a place where you can deliver advertising. That opens up loads of real estate for savvy vendors and creative agencies. It also makes it fun, so people won’t be too annoyed that ads have arisen where there previously were none.
The benefit: Campaigns will be limited only by imagination – campaigns which will get people talking on social media (or whatever format we use for communication in the future).
- Remain Static
With all the talk of technology, ‘big data’ and interactivity, you might expect that the billboards of the future will all be high-tech. But the reality is that static billboards remain effective and essential to outdoor advertising. Just a few of their attractive attributes include:
- They cost less than digital billboards
- They draw attention
- They provide canvases for incredible creative
So don’t write off static billboards just because new stuff is on the way.
The benefit: There’s always something to be said for a classic.
- Integrate Seamlessly Into Their Surroundings
There’s a growing movement to make billboards more artistic and to help them blend into the landscape more and become less obviously an advertisement. Think of sculptures that tell a story while also advertising something, or ads that appear in places you don’t traditionally associate with advertising, such as the entrance to a park. Anything can become a billboard when you try hard enough. Subtlety can pay off in a world where ads often feel as though they’re hitting us over the head.
The benefit: Unique ads draw attention.