Imagine, a billboard that targets ads just to you
You're walking your dog. An ad for dog food pops up as you approach it.
October 14, 2016
Big Brother may not be watching.
But someday soon a digital billboard may be.
Imagine a board that, in addition to swapping out copy quickly and cycling through ad messages that align to the season or time of day, is also personalized to those walking past it.
Someone with a Green Bay Packers jersey passes by and immediately there comes an insurance ad starring Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. A person strolls by wearing Calvin Klein jeans and, boom, an ad for a fashion magazine pops up.
It sounds like the stuff of sci fi movies—in fact, the 2002 film “Minority Report” showed just such a billboard.
A billboard that crunches your data
The billboard outlined in the patent application would use digital technology to essentially spy on passersby, observing what they wear, pinging their phones and listening to their conversations.
The boards could use a range of techniques to gather information, including drones, cameras on the boards themselves, facial recognition software and scouring social networks for relevant data.
It’s similar to techniques used to serve up ads online, where, for instance, you might Google “new hiking boots” and then later see ads for the boots you clicked on pop up in an ad alongside an article you’re reading on Yahoo.
Yahoo calls it targeted advertising.
But many others call it a bit creepy, buyers included. Some have even joked that it’s the “stalker billboard.”
“Regardless of the fact that this technology already is in use elsewhere, on a billboard it could come across as invasive,” says one buyer.
“It could be useful for targeting, but I’d be wary of people’s reactions.”
Yahoo did not put a timeline on when such a billboard might be rolled out or whether it has a prototype.
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