Things are really starting to happen in the outdoor advertising space. Change was in the air, considering the number of new technologies that can make posters interactive:
- Bluecasting, Hypertag, and others: installing a small Bluetooth server that interacts with passers-by's mobile phones;
- QR codes: printing two-dimensional barcodes on a poster or ad that can interact with camera phones;
- Colorzip: same as QR codes, except that the interactive patterns can be 'hidden' in coloured pictures;
- AdRunner: a system for mobile media on taxis or buses that adapts the message according to the surrounding demographics, with help of GPS and a mobile phone network;
- Embedding RFID chips that can interact with RFID carrying passers-by;
- And many others, as startups around the world race to provide the market with the killer targeting app that will give us the next Google. Speaking of which, I wouldn't be surprised if Google itself wouldn't make a move into this space, given the richness of their data and the fact that they don't shy away from going into radio advertising either.
Mainstream media are picking up on this trend, too, judging from a very informative article in this week's Time Magazine, and an article in Planet MultiMedia about AdRunner (Dutch language) last Friday.
As is pretty much the fashion in articles about this subject, it closes off with "Pretty cool stuff — and maybe just a little scary." Scaremongering? Well, it does tell you that there's a touchy nerve among consumers that can easily turn into antagonism and damage responsiveness after the newness has worn off - call it the Minority Report effect.
But these are fascinating techniques, and it would be a pity if the opportunity to better target and lower annoyance levels in this advertising-soaked world would be spoiled by privacy scares.
For that reason perhaps it's better to stick to techniques that leave the initiative with the consumer. QR and Colorzip codes leave it up to the consumer to point his or her camera at the ad and click to download the information in the code, rather than suddenly finding something's going on in your phone and wondering where the Hell it's come from. And what about the Seattle experiment in which storefront loudspeakers start blaring personalized messages when you pass by? Creepy...
To be continued.