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Eye-catching outdoor advertising is lighting up the sky thanks to big data

Digital billboards offer a thrilling new take on this classic form of advertising.

Billboards have been around for years, but these days consumers are bombarded with a multitude of engaging and stimulating ads. Static billboards may not be the draw they once were, but new and ever-improving digital billboards are garnering more attention than ever.

Now, some of the latest trends and uses of digital signage might give your business some extra attention and start turning more heads.

Scheduling for more impact

“Dynamic” is a major theme in billboard advertising these days. When it comes to digital signage, this is easier than ever.

One of the dynamic aspects you can add to your campaign is the ad’s appearance based on time of day. For instance, breakfast franchises and coffee chains can have their ads appear on digital signage along major traffic routes during the lead-up to morning rush hour.

Advertising with digital billboards

Whether it’s within-day scheduling or even appearances based on days of the week — such as lining up with your store’s new sales — it’s an interesting element that can be added to your campaign. According to Signpatico, this strategy can boost viewer response.

Traffic-based movements

Sticking with the dynamic theme that’s known to work well for businesses, some advertisements can hone in on the activity around the ad.

For instance, a McDonald’s billboard was able to determine when traffic was light and when it was heavier. During lighter times, it had a simple, easy to read ad with a picture of a Big Mac to convey classic imagery of the brand.

McDonald's outdoor advertising example

But when traffic was heavier on the thoroughfare, they were able to add in some additional messaging and the ad changed. It asked viewers “Stuck in a jam?” and added humour by referencing a “light at the end of the tunnel,” referring to the restaurant’s iconic golden arches.

Some of the best ads are known for their novelty, and adding in situational or traffic-based technology is one way to do that.

Data-designed big ideas

Using data in ads has been a boon for creatives out there and is now a staple of the medium that can bring big ideas to life.

Take British Airways’ idea for going back to basics, for example. They wanted to play on the excitement and wonder that children often have about airplanes, and they used billboards to do it.

By integrating data about their planes flying overhead, they were able to trigger the board to change into an image of a child pointing at the plane overhead — right down to including the flight number and whether their flight was the least expensive en route.

British Airways outdoor advertising example

The novel approach resonated with kids and adults alike and led to increased bookings for the airline. Digital billboards allow for a new level of integration and engagement, with data being a major component of that.

Personalization and scanning

Personalization is known to be a more effective form of advertising and it’s no different with billboards. Keeping with the theme of dynamics, certain digital out-of-home signage will include cameras on them in order to analyze what it’s “seeing.”

As an example, a digital sign with custom software allowed car companies to see how often people came to look at the signage featuring a brand new sports car from various angles. Within two days, they surmised that it turned 15,000 heads. The technology behind the billboard allowed the company to detect when people were near it, and its facial recognition allowed them to see when they were facing the sign.

Mazda outdoor advertising example

These smart billboards may also link to the signals emitted by viewers’ phones, interacting with different apps and information about their devices — such as the make and operating system — to build an advertising profile on consumers.

This type of advancement in outdoor advertising will bring audiences more relevant information based on their interests, and pinpoint those most likely to use specific services. No doubt, you’re likely to see them popping up more and more in the future.


Up Next: Tips you can use from this marketing campaign demo.

Michael Badejo

Michael Badejo is a communications professional and entrepreneur based out of Winnipeg. His diverse body of work has appeared in Canadian and international outlets covering technology, transportation, commerce and more. When he’s not writing, he’s running his boutique communications shop or finding out the latest in current events and technology.

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