Augmented Reality is an interactive medium where an individual is viewing a real-world environment that is digitally manipulated to include things that aren’t really there. For instance, the mobile game app, Pokemon Go!, had people seeing Pokemon in the world around them through their phone screen. Aside from visual and auditory signals, you can effect all senses and multiple responding points of the brain.
What this does for billboards is allows the entire world to become a marketing ad. Any surface you can think of can be fit with screens and video equipment to launch a viewer into an AR ad. For example, Timberland in Poland has one on the outer glass of their store so passersby can see themselves in different clothing options. Everything from the waiting room table at your dentist office to a bus shelter can become host to the creativity of marketers.
It can be simple ad or show crazy, intense things happening in the world around them. The future of AR billboards is only going to create a more immersive experience where, instead of simply watching events, consumers might become a part of it.
You already see signs of this in popular ads around the world but the future aims to increase how interactive ads will become with consumers. Utilizing cameras and antennae, current billboards can detect slight changes in their immediate environment and change the ad, or launch the ad, as a response to certain triggers. For instance, cigarette smoke launched an ad showcasing a man coughing violently and then advertised anti-smoking products.
Currently, billboard ads have been reacting to generic information such as weather or distinct sounds to launch ads but the future will focus more on deeper interaction. Instead of just responding to a stimuli taking place, they may just carry on live, real-time conversations or in-depth communications with an individual instead of a generic trigger.
Your phone already gives companies market data to research based on your searches and online habits. Ever notice how you look something up on Google and for weeks later you see ads corresponding to that search on every website and web session you embark on? That’s because Google has monitored and tracked your searches to try and customize your internet experience. This is how most companies are able to research market data online.
In the future, billboards will have the tools necessary to scan your cellphones to see what apps you use, the interactions you have and your online behavior to show you more relevant ads as you walk by. Google already does it online so why wouldn’t it make sense for a billboard to do it as you are on the go? This way you will see marketing geared towards your own interests instead of a generic, fictional person’s.
Think it would be hard to assemble the tech to scan your phones as you walk by? Identity thieves in major metropolis areas already do similar things to wallets and credit cards as people walk by – thus, why the RFID chip became a go-to in new wallet purchases and hackers have manipulated software and tools to do the same to modern cars. A few tweaks and you have the tech capable of achieving a more relevant billboard phase of the future.
Similar to how AR allows for the world to become a massive marketing tool, new technology is making it easier for billboards to blend in to that world. Ads are becoming more artistic to fit in with their surroundings and tell a story instead of simply selling something. Since we are all pretty immune to in-your-face advertising, seeing something creative that draws us on journey is much more unique and eye-catching than a traditional ad. Bonus points if the subtlety is beautiful.
Pay attention to that park entrance or those landscape “paintings” on the side of a building. It just might be the future of integration.
The future of billboard advertising is only limited to the creativity of the human brain. With amazing advances in technology and a whole world in which to play with and experiment, marketing will continue to evolve into areas we may not have discovered as of yet. Traditional billboard ads will not die out simply because they are still eye-catching and much more cost-effective than most marketing channels. What we will see is a healthier balance of new and traditional billboards as the very nature of advertising morphs along. All we need to truly grasp is that billboard ads will see a new resurgence in the future and their numbers will only continue to rise.
There is a reason why Mobile Billboards are remembered by the masses. Isn’t it time to see how it can benefit YOUR business?