Slowly but surely digital billboards are growing in popularity. Even though these billboards are extremely expensive, are allowed in only 38 states, and only account for about 700 of the 450,000 billboards around the US, they are predicted to be a $2 billion market by 2010. Despite their growth, digital billboards are highly controversial. For advertisers they are seen as an innovative advertising tactic, but for drivers they can be dangerously distracting.
Advertisers are in favor of digital billboards because they are a creative way to attract potential consumers while they are in an environment with virtually no other media competition outside of radio. Also, they allow advertisers to make an extremely cohesive campaign. The consumer now notices what he/she saw on the highway is from the same campaign that he/she notices on TV, on the radio, online, etc. Some of these billboards are also capable of reading your radio signals, matching those signals with a database of demographics, and shooting out an ad that is directly targeted to you. While digital billboards may seem like a blessing to those of us in the industry, it definitely comes at a cost.
That cost is carried solely by the drivers. Even though the Federal Highway Administration has concluded that digital billboards do not violate any federal law, and studies have shown that they are not traffic hazards, many opponents of digital billboards argue that their use of flashing lights and streaming videos is distracting to drivers. This opposition to digital billboards is met by law enforcement officials who praise the medium for its ability to quickly and efficiently display Amber Alerts, “Wanted” posters, traffic emergencies and detours.
Despite the concern and hesitation of many, as long as advertisers love digital boards, drivers will continue to see them and be forced to embrace the hazards that accompany new technology.
To read more about digital billboards, check out: http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=260259
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