April 5th 2016

Are Digital Billboards the Future of Advertising?

Posted by Will Shadbolt

Personalized ads online have been around for quite a while. Algorithms and browser history can be used to show users advertisements relevant to their interests or products they recently viewed, and some websites have even taken to addressing visitors by their first names based off of Twitter and Facebook accounts. But in the past, when it came to out-of-home ads, advertisers usually had to forego individualizing their message. Not anymore.

General Motors recently started a new car campaign in the Chicago metro area that relies on creating a personalized experience for drivers and passengers. Along heavily trafficked roads, the company set up cameras in normal billboards about 1,000 feet before a special digital one. Whenever someone in a competitor brand drives past the first billboard, the camera registers it and sends the information to the second, which then will then pull up an ad detailing why that car is inferior to GM’s Chevy Malibu in a particular area, like, for example, safety features. While this sort of surveillance raises ethical questions, GM avoids the issue entirely by ensuring that the system has nothing to do with collecting data. When the camera recognizes the car brand. it also blurs out the license plate and then erases the photos it took from its system a few minutes after the vehicle has gone past.

Applying technology to the outdoors can open up numerous possibilities in various companies and make the only limit be imagination. Several breweries have already taken different approaches to this concept, such as integrating billboard signs with apps like Shazam to directing consumers to nearby convenience stores that carry their brand of beer.  While out-of-home advertising currently makes up a small share of total ad spending, it is forecast to experience consistent growth until 2019 at the absolute earliest while various print mediums will see their share shrink. And with online ads also becoming easier to block, some speculate that this form of advertising might even be the way of the future.

Is GM’s latest ad campaign really the next step in advertising? Will technology and out-of-home advertising continue to merge until the resulting ads are just as personalized as those online? Or is this all just a fad that will eventually be abandoned? 

Whatever the future holds, Giovatto Advertising is ready. With 27 years of automotive advertising experience, we’ve witnessed plenty of market trends and run plenty of varied campaigns, from TV ads to direct mail, so that no matter what happens, we’ll be prepared. Although the future may be uncertain, when you’re with Giovatto Advertising, you can be sure you’re in good hands.

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