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Smart billboards tune-in to passing traffic


June 4, 2004

The problem with billboard advertising is that it's hard to know who is looking at the sign and therefore difficult to analyse its effectiveness in reaching a specific target audience. A high-tech solution from "E-Board" specialists Alaris Media Networks has arrived in the form of a monitoring system incorporated into an LED sign that profiles passing commuters according to the radio station they are listening to and adjusts the ad on display according to real-time analysis of this information.

The MOBILTRAK units will automatically collect radio listening data so the research is passive and unobtrusive for the consumer as well as providing the advertiser with feedback that can be immediately acted upon. A qualitative profile of the people who drive past the sign is also provided, canvassing where they shop, income levels and television viewing behaviour among numerous categories based on listener profiles that are in turn derived from detailed consumer surveys undertaken by the radio stations.

Currently in use in California, the billboards will also communicate with each other in the near future according to Alaris. The goal is for MOBILTRAK units on one section of freeway to relay data to billboards further down the road so that they can display the most appropriate ads to upcoming traffic.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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