Revitalizing Old Methods of Advertising

By: Nick Damko

 

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Let’s face it: Billboards are old. That is an undeniable and indisputable fact. I have recently started watching AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ (I know, I’m a bit late to the party), and the first few episodes have given me some food for thought.

For those of you who haven’t seen ‘Mad Men’ or have somehow been able to avoid the members of its raving audience, I will give you a brief overview of the show. The plot features a New York advertising executive named Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) with the timeline set in the 1960’s. It follows Draper through his increasingly complicated personal life and his cutthroat career in the lucrative advertising industry.

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It was about 2-3 episodes into the series when Hamm’s character stated something seemingly innocent while pitching to a client, “Picture this on a billboard.” Eventually, this phrase registered in my brain in a way that I’m sure it hadn’t in the mind of Everyday Joe. The show is set in the 60’s, and it seemed like billboards were everybody’s main advertising concern. This show was set in a time when the television was just gaining traction, and TV advertising was still in its early stages, and it really wasn’t a first priority for businesses.

If we think about the way today’s advertising industry works, we will notice that TV advertisements are perhaps the #1 priority for businesses. Many rush to a TV slot, and billboards are treated as an afterthought. Given this information, you may think that billboard advertising is on its way out. But I am happy to tell you that it isn’t. The OOH industry has continued to grow over the past few years, and there is still much room for improvement.

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Now think about the iPod. It was all the rave back in the early 2000’s. Then the iPhone came out. Once the iPhone gained traction, many simply forgot about the iPod (I’m one of those people). The only way for the iPod to make a rebound is if Apple gives it a long-needed makeover.

This is the same situation in the advertising industry. The billboard was once the main advertising form, like the iPod was for music. But when the TV became more mainstream, it became the billboard’s iPhone. So, you may be wondering “What can we do to billboards to make them more appealing to advertisers than TVs?”

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce the OOH Industry’s new iPod: The Cisco Connected Billboard!

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The Cisco Connected Billboard is a digital screen that is connected to the internet. It receives a feed of traffic data based on the board’s location, and changes the message based on that speed according to the average speed of the traffic. The purpose is to allow drivers to read only what they have time to read before driving past.

This new board is a game-changer for the OOH industry. This could change how much people pay for boards (perhaps pay-per-words like newspapers). This new board will also provide better information for the viewer, so they focus on the most important part of the message if they are on a highway, or they could view the entire message if they were stuck in traffic.

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So, the Cisco billboard could change the way billboards are payed for, how the audience views them, how the ads are created for them, how the boards are constructed, where they are placed, and how they are operated. This changes everything for the billboard. I believe this could truly bring the billboard back to its former glory, and keep the OOH industry growing for years to come!


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