Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"Talking" Billboards

I read a great blurb in the CGC Communicator about a talking billboard in san Diego:
It reminded me of the flexibility that makes radio so powerful.

In San Diego, on the west side of I-805, just before the southbound Sorrento Valley Road on-ramp there is talking tall billboard. It "talks" on 1610 AM via an eight foot whip antenna on top. It has been playing a 60 second BMW spot for the past few weeks.

it's part of the latest trent in Billboard advertising. Andrew Milder of Buisness Broadcast Systems said "As far as I'm concerned, putting sound to billboards is as obvious as putting it to movies." Through the ad text, billboards invite commuters to tune in to a specific frequency on their radio dials. the signal is generally effective within a one-mile radius, but the Sorrento Valley sign I mention above is reported to be audible over a 14 mile area! The FCC-approved frequency plays a commercial message that's 30 seconds to a few minutes in length.

Here's a set of talking billboards:

In Europe the idea has gone a step further and talk to pedestrians as well. An infra-red sensor clipped to the back of the ad site detects the presence of people and activates a recorded audio message about the product. A high tech transducer turns the whole surface of the billboard or poster advert into a loudspeaker, thus avoiding the speaker grille that would normally fail early from weather wear. The technology was developed by Scottish industrial design consultancy Harris Hynd Ltd.

Even more annoying than that, in Belgium they have debuted an interactive outdoor campaign for Ford. The "Ford Miracles" ads consists of interactive posters that look at people and react to their actions. The voice and facial expressions of the guy in the poster are controlled by an actor hidden in a booth nearby. The interactive billboards can be found at the main train stations in Belgium.