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Out-of-home advertising: unpicking AI, AR, PoV and ECHO technology

Out-of-home advertising (OOH) is booming whilst other traditional mediums suffer. There is huge potential for emerging technologies to revolutionise it. From digital screens to social media and mobile integration, there has been a clear trend towards flexibility, responsiveness and user engagement over recent years.

The development of a range of interactive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and, recently, Persistence of Vision (PoV) are now at the cutting edge of the tech revolution in out-of-home advertising. Let’s take a look at these new interactive technologies and their impact on the outdoor advertising landscape.

Artificial Intelligence and out-of-home advertising

AI harnesses computer software to interpret data in real time and uses it to create responsive content.

Piccadilly Circus

The huge Picaddilly Lights digital screen can use recognition technology to identify the make, model and colour of cars and recognise the age and gender of pedestrians in the area. This data is then used to serve tailored ads. The screen even uses live weather, news and sports update to serve relevant ads.

image showing the out-of-home advertising screens at Picadilly Lights in London
Image: www.irishnews.com

Renault’s vehicle recognition

An AI campaign by Renault in London’s Westfield shopping centre was the first to use vehicle recognition tech to display tailored messages to drivers. The campaign drew on an anonymised databank of car models so as not to cross the fine line into privacy violation.

image showing Renault out-of-home advertising campaign
Image: www.oceanoutdoor.com

Ocean Outdoor’ LookOut technology

In 2017 The Emoji Movie combined Ocean Outdoor’s “LookOut” facial recognition technology with AR tech to superimpose emoji’s onto people’s faces based on their mood.

image showing billboard advertising the Emoji Movie demonstrating AR tech and facial recognition software
Image: www.oceanoutdoor.com

This kind of deeply engaging, immersive experience is the next level in terms of audience engagement. It hints at the possible OOH landscape of the future.

Augmented reality and out-of-home advertising

Augmented reality seeks to overlay digital content on real world scenes. Take Google’s recently announced Google Lens which augments outdoor posters with links to video and online content.

image showing out-of-home advertising for Google Lens demonstrating AR technology
Image: www.medium.com

Covent Garden AR shopping experience

AR services like Blippar have already made it possible to merge digital content with the real world. In 2016 Covent Garden created an AR Christmas shopping experience which allowed families to interact with the outdoor environment on a hunt for Rudolph and a chance to unlock daily prizes.

image showing Covent Garden's AR christmas shopping experience 'Where's Rudolph?'
Image: www.blippar.com

NHS blood donor campaign

The NHS were the first to apply AR tech to their billboards. It formed part of their blood donor recruitment drive that used AR to illustrate the direct impact donation could have on patients.

image showing out-of-home billboard advertising NHS blood donor campaign applying AR technology
Image: www.marketingweek.com

Accessible AR

AR needn’t be for big budget brands only. Services like Zappar offer DIY drag-and-drop AR experiences from £75 per month.

Image showing Zappar's interactive AR shopping experience
Image: www.zappar.com

Facebook have an open source AR platform for developers called AR Studio. It allows small businesses to create AR experience their customers can access via their smartphones. Snapchat also offer AR lens creation software so small brands can create 3D and 2D AR objects and animations, “face paint” overlays, and a range of other AR tools to engage audiences.

ECHO’s PoV revolution

What if you could cut out the billboard altogether and broadcast your message directly into the viewers eye? That’s what new Persistence of Vision (PoV) technology Echo from Lightvert aims to do.

The tech uses a narrow strip of reflective material to transmit images that can only be perceived by the viewers’ eye and effectively have no existence in the real world.

The PoV effect relies on the fact that images persist for a brief moment on the viewers retina as a kind of after-image. Quickly beam a series of images in a vertical strip and they will all be perceived as a single image that could potentially be as big as a skyscraper but take up only a fraction of the real estate.

Interactive technologies: at home in out-of-home

Out-of-home advertising is about creating a relationship between your brand and your audience. There’s something about the outdoor space that encourages curiosity. Interactive technologies have the opportunity to disrupt the mundane experience of everyday life in interesting ways.

This all ads up to powerful audience engagement.

Beyond AR, AI and PoV we’ve had in recent years Walkers’ Tweet to Eat campaign, which saw a bus stop ad dispensing crisp packets to audiences who tweeted about the ad.

We’ve seen Reebok challenging audiences to outrun its speed cameras, and KitKat creating street posters that provide back massages to passersby. The possibilities seem to be practically endless, with new applications being developed seemingly everyday.

It’s worth exploring how your brand could integrate interactive tech into your out-of-home ads. It could be as simple as adding “snap to unlock” Snapchat filters to your ad designs. Take a look at KFC’s Snapchat Selfie campaign.

image showing telephone box out-of-home advertising for KFC 'a quick pic with the Colonel'
Image: www.bubbleoutdoor.com

Or you could simply start by adding QR codes to your ads, which offer you a range of functionalities like directing people to your website or triggering video content.

Take a look at our ad panel locator map to start planning an interactive advertising campaign today.

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