Billboards are everywhere. In the United States alone, it's estimated that there are approximately 370,000 billboards on local, state and federal roads. Most of these billboards are static. They're displayed in certain areas to reach a company's demographic, but there is no way to tell if the billboards are actually working. A solution to this is digital out of home advertising. On the whole, the digital outdoor advertising market, which includes posters, billboards and televisions, is set to reach $50.7 billion globally by 2020.
As technology becomes more sophisticated and the Internet of Things gains traction, advertisers are switching over to digital billboards. These billboards offer the opportunity to gain precise data on consumers and ensure that the messages are being targeted to the right people.
Let's take a look at how digital out-of-home advertisers are finding out exactly how to target their customers.
They Collect Cell Phone Data
One method for accurately targeting consumers is by looking at what's on their cell phones. The way the technology works is that when consumers are near a billboard or digital ad, their cell phone data is collected. Then the content fit for these consumers is delivered to them in real time.
By collecting data, companies that work on the analytics side of digital out-of-home advertising can determine not only the right content for the ad, but the optimal location and timing as well. They also have the ability to point to a real return on investment and figure out whether or not consumers bought a product after seeing an ad.
Consumers' data is kept private because they are not singled out. Companies are collecting aggregate data to make predictions and the individual data stays anonymous. Consumers are able to opt out of tracking whenever they want. Many of the companies taking the data need customers to be connected to Wifi, which the customers can simply turn off.
They Use Facial Recognition Technology
Another approach to accurate targeting is to install cameras in digital out-of-home ads. At Toronto's Billy Bishop Airport cameras were placed into ads for facial recognition purposes. According to Marketing Land, when people passing by looked directly at the billboards their genders and age brackets were determined.
By taking this data, the advertisers were able to calculate what ads should be shown when. For instance, if it was found that 35-year-old women tend to travel at 6 p.m. on weekdays, ads targeted towards them would be displayed at those times.
They Give Customers the Power to Participate
A simpler way to gather consumer data is to run a campaign that allows them to join in on the action. In 2015, Coca-Cola gave its customers the chance to tweet at the company and see their names and photos on a big billboard in Times Square.
Coca-Cola had the opportunity to take down participants' information and target them for marketing messages in the future. They could look at who tweeted at them and what they looked like and ascertain what demographic they were a part of. At the same time, customers could feel great about their experience because they were given attention and validation from the company. By allowing customers to participate in ads, companies are forming relationships with their audiences and more easily figuring out whom they should be advertising to.
The Future of DOOH Advertising
Internet advertising has been integrating data from consumers for years in order to effectively target them. The out-of-home advertising industry is just now catching up. They've come to the realization that consumers want more specific ads and marketing messages that actually appeal to them.
By looking at the data, advertisers can better understand and serve their customers. They're not wasting customers' time and they're able to increase their chances of making sales. The days of static advertising will be coming to a close as technology becomes more and more sophisticated and companies are able to benefit from these advances.
The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet, Inc. management or associated bloggers.