Billboards Get Into the Hyperlocal Game

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The outdoor advertising industry has seen the writing on the wall, and it’s all about GPS.

At the Geoworld Summit Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y., the representatives of a dozen or more hyperlocal companies hashed through the potential and hurdles for reach the local advertising market.

Most of them sat squarely in the hyperlocal space, offering location-based data services to power publishers, marketers and deals, such as SimpleGeo, JiWire and LocalResponse. Others were there as publishers sharing their experiences, challenges and solutions, such as Baristanet and Gothamist. And mobile services and platforms naturally made up the dialogue, as well, including Goby and LoKast.

So it was interesting to hear how some very non-hyperlocal businesses how they are beginning to make location-based targeting a bigger part of their business as the ad world demands more such specificity. The out-of-home market – that category of billboards, taxi signs and elevator videos – is inching out of the one-message-fits-all broadcast business into something more localized and personalized, as they discussed Thursday, using location-based mobile technology that demonstrates the promise of location services to power deep connections between the marketers and the audience they’re trying to reach, even with very old technology:

  • Outcast, which also runs digital screens, mostly at health clubs and gas stations, recently ran a campaign with Cadbury’s Hall’s cough drops that connected their digital screens to the Accuweather network to broadcast real-time, hyperlocal pollen counts within the advertising spot. “From Times Square to stationary bikes, we know exactly where every one of our screens is. There is a lot we can do with the network based on that,” said Nathan Gill, co-founder and chief revenue officer.
  • Stephen Randall, founder and chief executive of LocaModa, a place-based social media company that ties social interactions with physical advertising (like signage) and places, noted that LocaModa recently connected hundreds of thousands of concert-goers on the “American Idol” tour to millions of fans observing the event vicariously.
  • John Laramie, founder and CEO of ADstruc, an auction and listing-based marketplace for outdoor advertising (i.e., billboards), said, “It used to be you knew you had a billboard at a certain spot and you the advertiser cold know that 500,000 who live within a 20-mile radius of the sign and make $80,000 and that was as much as you could tell them,” Laramie said. “Now, using location and mobile check-ins, you can slice the data to tell them that yeah, 200,000 people live in the area, but only 50,000 of them drove by that intersection and only 18,000 of them were within the target [income] range. ”

Location is doing for outdoor advertising what the Web did for newspapers — the number of subscribers used to be everything for a newspaper, until the Web came along and the advertiser could determine exactly how many readers viewed their ad. Location is doing the same for outdoor advertising. In fact, it’s going deeper. Using check-ins and profile data the advertiser knows a lot about who saw their placement and if they engaged with it.