Photo: Bloomberg Opinion
“Google may be about to pair all that data it has on users’ web browsing with the ads displayed on public billboards. Creepy? Maybe. Inevitable? Almost certainly.
The Alphabet Inc. unit is in talks in Germany about pushing into out-of-home advertising – billboards in stations, shopping centers and shop windows – according to WirtschaftsWoche. The move would be a precursor to similar expansion in the U.S. and the U.K., the magazine said.
That’s unlikely to mean that a Google search for underwear as a gift for your partner will pop Calvin Klein ads on the digital billboard when you sit down at a bus stop. You can leave your copy of 1984 on the bookshelf for now.
But it could mean that, when a train full of Borussia Dortmund fans arrives at Munich’s main station ahead of the Bayern Munich fixture, the advertising hoarding changes to show soccer cleats or beer, while on a Monday morning at rush hour it displays BMW ads for well-to-do commuters.
Google has been testing programmatic ad technology (in which trading algorithms bid against each other to secure digital space based on the target audience) for billboards since at least 2015. The technology is currently restricted mainly to web ads: Because Google, Facebook Inc. and others are able to track users’ browsing behavior, they are better able to target publicity at them.
Because of Google’s dominant position in mobile operating systems – Android runs on three-quarters of all the phones in Europe – it is also able to track users’ locations. Privacy concerns mean it’s unlikely to be able to target out-of-home ads at individuals, but it can pull demographic data on what kinds of people are in a given place at a given time…”
— Alex Webb, Bloomberg Opinion
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Illustration: A rendering of the solar ring and retractable cover by José Suárez
“The amphitheater at Bayfront Park, one of Miami’s signature performing arts venues downtown, will soon get a halo-like ring of solar panels and a retractable roof…
FPL says the solar ring will be one of the largest urban solar projects in the country. But it won’t be a moneymaker for the city. The proposed contract says FPL would pay a $10 annual license fee, and the power generated would go into FPL’s grid…
In addition to the solar ring above the amphitheater, FPL plans to install a large canopy of solar panels to provide shade next to the venue, as well as seven “solar trees” nearby. All told, FPL estimates there will be nearly 1,700 new solar panels at Bayfront Park generating about 500 kilowatts of energy for the grid.
Illustration: A rendering of a solar tree in Bay of Pigs Park from Florida Power and Light
Solar trees will also soon be sprouting in parks around the city, another result of FPL’s push to invest in solar. The commission on Thursday gave the green light for installation of the curved pole structures in several parks in Commissioner Manolo Reyes’ District 4, including Bay of Pigs Memorial Park, West End Park and Coral Gate Park.
The city will receive slightly more in licensing fees for the solar trees than for the amphitheater — $50 per kilowatt, with a 2-percent annual increase over the 15-year contract. FPL project manager Kathleen Campanella told commissioners that would likely come to $1,000 to $1,500 per year for the city.
Parks in other districts could get solar trees if their commissioners express an interest. At least some would feature charging stations for electronic devices…”
— Aaron Leibowitz, Miami Herald
“A start-up in Bellevue has taken the concept of billboards, made it digital, and a lot smaller. Nomad has launched the product on college campuses around the country — starting with the University of Washington.
On the way to class on Monday, Derek Ishii made $15 on the University of Washington campus.
You’ve probably seen a human sandwich board before — those people who wear advertisements like a poncho. Think of Ishii as the millennial version of that.
‘On my way to class, I just open up the app, click the start advertising button,’ Derek told us, showing us the iPad he straps to his backpack or the front of his chest.
He’s a ‘nomad’ — working for the Bellevue start-up with the same name.
Jonah Friedl, 23 — barely out of college himself — founded the company when a restaurant he worked for while attending Washington State University tasked him with developing a unique strategy to attract student customers.
‘If we want to put people on campus, put these representatives on campus — it’s really hard to do that — hard to track, hard to manage,’ Friedl said. ‘So we thought we could build some technology to help us out with that.’
Here’s how it works: A brand like KIRO 7 will advertise on the screen. The nomad then wears the screen around campus. Due to sensors in the screen, the company can tell which areas they go to and how many interactions they have.
Then, Friedl tracks it.
‘This shows density of exposure—where they’re getting the most impressions,” he told us, showing us a map of the University of Washington campus on his computer, with areas highlighted like weather radar.
Sometimes impressions mean handing out a coupon card with a code, seeing how many are redeemed — ‘and then correlate sales or app downloads and attribute that to Nomad,” Jonah said.
The nomads themselves — mostly college students — can lease an iPad from Nomad (the company) or use their own…”
–Joanna Small, KIRO7
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“Where I live, the sign tells me that there’s no parking between midnight and 7 a.m. on the 1st to the 16th of the month, except for November to March when there is. No wonder the bulk of the parking tickets I get are from misreading the signs. Then there’s the visual clutter. They are just ugly.
That’s why these new electronic street signs that were installed in Sydney, Australia, are so interesting. They are made with E-Ink, the stuff of Kindles and Nooks, which is readable in sunlight and uses 99 percent less power than LEDs. That’s because it is ‘bi-stable’ — it only consumes power when it’s changing from one color to the other, as if you were flipping a coin. It’s also reflective, not pumping out light like an LED does. So once the sign is set, it holds that message until it’s changed.
Changing signs is expensive. According to Visionect, the company that built the Sydney signs, Los Angeles spent $9.5 million putting up 558,000 temporary parking restriction signs in a single year, ‘a strain on staff and resources that can be reduced by implementing permanent e-paper signs with content easily customizable via cellular networks.’
The signs are not being used everywhere yet; the company told The Register that “the technology came about through staff who saw the potential of e-reader technology to display real time information about clearways to manage traffic flows during special events.” It’s still too expensive to use for every parking sign, which is a shame; they could do so much more.
I’m reminded of Steve Martin’s wonderful movie, ‘L.A. Story,’ where the road signs offer all kinds of useful advice. This could be a start of a whole wonderful new world of urban interaction and communication.”
— Lloyd Alter, MMN
“…Netflix’s latest out-of-home campaign lets Snapchat users in France swap faces with its TV characters including House of Cards’ Frank Underwood and the namesake of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Urban passersby can take selfies in front of a Netflix billboard. By using Snapchat’s face-swapping feature, they can then create split-screen photos…”
—Christopher Heine, Ad Week
“When smokers walk by a certain billboard in Stockholm, something strange happens: The billboard coughs at them.
The innovative advertisement is paid for by a Swedish pharmacy chain that wants to encourage smokers to kick their smelly habit.
At first glance, the digital screen positioned outside a metro station shows only a simple photo of a model. But walk by with a lit cigarette and the man in the picture starts coughing, clearly bothered by the smoke.
The screen then changes again, offering various products sold by pharmacy chain Apotek Hjartat that can help smokers quit. Akestam Holst, the agency behind the campaign, created the effect by attaching smoke detectors to the digital advertising screen. They chose a location where people often smoke — Stockholm’s Odenplan square — and let the coughing begin.
The agency filmed the reactions of smokers — some express surprise, others react with laughter. The resulting video has been posted online and is being shared widely.
‘The purpose was to drive the conversation about this topic, documenting the reactions, encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle,’ said Fredrik Kullberg, marketing director at Apotek Hjartat. ‘The reaction has been mostly really positive.’
The timing of the campaign was deliberate. “We released this initiative that aims to help people with one of the most common New Year’s resolutions — quit smoking,” said Ida Persson, spokeswoman for the agency.
According to the World Health Organization, over 20% of Swedes aged 15 and over smoke. Chewing tobacco is very popular…”
— Ivana Kottasova, CNN Business
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