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Pop-up Ads Can Now Follow You Into the Real World

Posted May 04, 2016 8:12 AM by HUSH

For someone who lives so close to large metropolitan areas, billboards are a common sight. So much so that even though I regularly see up to several dozen in a single day, I couldn't recall the advertisements or products on a single one. Yet, when I make my way past Albany (and CR4 HQ) and find myself in Vermont, I almost certainly notice the absence of billboards.

Vermont is one of four states, the others being Hawaii, Alaska and Maine, that outright ban such oversized advertisements. It's not a coincidence that all these states have a reputation for natural beauty. States with boring drives (looking at you Plains states) typically support billboards as they may prevent highway hypnosis.

Yet in the Hudson Valley, billboards are prominent near any city, route or highway. And when you go further south towards New York City, billboards stop being a decoration and become potentially intrusive as they monitor the behaviors of passersby.

Clear Channel is an advertising company with thousands of billboards across the nation. In its 11 largest markets, CC has already rolled out RADAR, a data monitoring and analytics tool. The billboard recognizes who walks or drives past a billboard, and then compares this to what a passerby did following exposure to the billboard.

CC does this with the help of AT&T, who obviously route nearby cell signals through the billboard, which collects user data. With the help of data aggregating software, such as PlaceIQ and Placed, CC can determine if the billboard might have inspired someone to watch a particular TV show or visit a store.

For a real world example: an AT&T customer walks past a billboard in Times Square, on his or her way to an off-Broadway show. In conjunction with the PlaceIQ or Placed, CC now has access to how long he or she were at show and where he/she went to eat afterwards, and if he or she walked past that billboard again on the way home.

This will enable CC billboard customers to better target demographics and quantify billboard influences--think of it as the everlasting CR4 pop-up, albeit in the real world. Eventually, digital billboards that can swap advertisements billboards might begin targeting specific people who walk by, especially those who might have thousands of social media friends.

CC promises that all data is kept anonymous and that users can opt-out, and truthfully there are plenty of user data aggregating techniques that are as provocative or worse. Clear Channel is planning on rolling RADAR out across the entire country and the fact that so many once passive advertisements are becoming active data collectors has brought the attention of some officials.

It's important to note that this isn't the first wave of billboards that began recording who looked at them, but the fact that AT&T customer movements are being tracked for advertising analytics by their cell phone feels very 1984.

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#1

Re: Pop-up Ads Can Now Follow You Into the Real World

05/04/2016 6:02 PM

Well if they really want to impress me give me an Ad Blocker Blocker Blocker that lets me read technical articles online without them being blocked due to my having my AD Blocker app on.

Sure advertising dollars help pay for your website but your blocking me from reading your website material puts you on my list of sites I will thus never go to again in the future ultimately rendering advertising with you to sell me something I don't want pointless all while diminishing our website traffic in the end.

Congratulations! You have successfully figured out how to not only stop me from using your website but you have also made advertising with you a fruitless endeavor at the same time thus cutting off your website traffic and point source of income simultaneously! Ya clever bastard!

Hope ya die a slow death of starvation while I read your web material on your competitor's site that doesn't use an Ad Blocker Blocker against me.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Pop-up Ads Can Now Follow You Into the Real World

05/05/2016 7:43 AM

I got it,.... I'm working on it right as we speak.... No advertising, just say, oh... $5.00 for each read as a introductory offer.

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#3

Re: Pop-up Ads Can Now Follow You Into the Real World

05/05/2016 9:59 AM

Watch the movie "Minority Report" to see how this might just go.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Pop-up Ads Can Now Follow You Into the Real World

05/06/2016 9:53 AM

I was thinking there were one or more 'cyberpunk' movies that did the 'dynamic billboard thing, where a driver was caving a conversation with his boss, and the progression of billboards overhead (so close you could not see the sky while looking ahead) were projecting the boss's 'videophone image' just for the driver to see (single lane road, and the CGI crane shot showed the glow of the bosses 'override' of the billboards from just in front of to just over the midpoint of the driver's vehicle."

There have also been several Sci-Fi stories about self-customizing advertisements, too many to name. One that springs to mind is the short story "Tiny Berries" from an old issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. The ads were spamming everywhere, breaking into anything with a net connection, and the AdBocker filters just couldn't keep up. One event had the protagonist's car 'hijacked' by an ad so it's autopilot drove him to an alley where these 'natural supliments' (the 'tiny berries' of the title), were being sold by men in trenchcoats and broad hats. The hero, a programmer, came up with a solution based off a saying from a co-worker; 'let the tigers in.' Instead of trying to make a filter that would identify the spam and block it, he made a learning filter that accepted everything, then basically let the spam messages fight each other for dominance, while that was going on, it looked for messages that WEREN'T fighting, and shunted them to the side, to be played after the 'carnage' was over.He tested it on his alarm clock, and it worked, after spam interrupted spam which was itself interrupted by a spam that got interrupted, the overlapping messages kept chopping into each other, turning into a high pitched whine, then .... silence, followed by the music station he has his alarm clock set to receive.

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