Billboards have lined the highways and byways around the globe for a long time. They’ve proclaimed the miracles made possible with products ranging from toothpaste to political candidates. Prior to the advent of television, they ranked next to newspapers and magazines as the vehicle of choice for advertisers in every conceivable business. Doubtlessly, their unmistakable profile will be alongside the roads long into the future.
Technology Brings Changes
Today, the application of large format LED screen technology, computers and the internet has breathed fresh life into outdoor marketing. Advertisers can now dynamically select the audience they want to reach and tailor content while tracking effectiveness in near real-time. Utilizing the best digital signage software available the message can be changed at the push of a button. The content of advertisements is no longer bound by the limitations of a static display. Dynamic content up to and including full-motion video are among the available tools for advertisers.
Adjustments in Pricing
Not surprisingly, the ability to alter the contents on a digital sign immediately has altered the dynamics of pricing in this industry. Prior to digital signage, only one advertiser could occupy any given billboard location at a time. The introduction of a shortened time interval variable has changed the market dramatically. Outdoor advertising asset owners can now leverage their real estate by dicing up screen time among many advertisers. Some versions of time-of-day pricing structures are sure to emerge as a result.
Future Trends Developing
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of these developments is what lies ahead. Programmatic is the watchword. By tapping existing data streams about consumer behaviors, locations and habits the technology is rapidly enabling businesses to target hyper-specific audiences with advertising messages. Imagine that advertisers may soon be able to competitively bid, in real-time, on billboard space in the vicinity of a mobile phone user’s location based on that specific user’s recent digital activity.
Soon, auto dealerships in a metropolitan area may bid against each other for digital billboard space based on specific consumer data. Consider a person who has recently searched for new cars on her laptop or phone and, based on GPS data, it is also known that she commutes to and from work consistently along a given route. The auto dealerships could bid competitively for digital ad space along her route to and from work. A similar system is already in place for online advertisers who bid on specific search terms or phrases. Extending this practice to outdoor advertising appears to be an inevitable trend.
Recent rapid evolution in the outdoor digital advertising industry reflects adaptations to technological progress. It seems clear that the trend toward linking together consumer data and using it to steer ad choices is gaining ground. The day may soon arrive when personalized advertising becomes the norm. Privacy concerns aside, the effectiveness of this strategy is indisputable.