Technology can sometimes be too smart. Digital billboards that display different ads depending on who is looking at them came from a movie. Now they are real and might change the game of advertising in a serious way. These billboards are like big targeted ads that we see on the internet when we go to certain sites.
Software combines video analytics with environmental factors and Twitter and Foursquare information to decide the best ad to display at that moment. If a young man is looking at an ad, for instance, the billboard will know to show an aftershave ad instead of a tampon ad. If Twitter or Foursquare data indicate that there’s a sports game going on in the area, it might show a Nike ad instead of a FedEx ad.
Many digital billboards already have web cams that can determine the relative age and gender of people who are looking at them, as well as how long each person stands in front of them or looks directly at them. Advertisers use them to gauge the effectiveness of ads and decide which ads to post in what areas.
The newest technology instantly changes a billboard ad based on the video identification of the person and other environmental information. The software learns what works and improves over time. A store in Boulder ran a test and found target ads resulted in a 60% improvement, as measured by time that people looked at the ads.
You might remember the scene in Minority Report when ads change to target the people who are walking past them. This is almost the same thing. Although these change the ads for you, they do not collect information about you. Of course they could in the future. Might be fun to stand around and watch what billboards think of the people standing in front of them.