Digital billboards exist, yes, but why not make some of them connected billboards that anybody could use to run custom advertising campaigns similar to how Google’s AdWords platform works?
If you do a search on Google, the ads you see on the right-hand side of the search results pages are AdWords advertisements. People and companies pay various amounts of money to show those ads and can fine-tune how many ads are shown per day, how much to pay for each impression, and set a daily spending limit.
The idea for a digital AdWords billboard would work the same, except you’d pay for snippets of advertising time on billboards across the country. Obviously rush hour ads would fetch insane prices, but you could run an inexpensive/hilarious ad for 60 seconds at 4:32 AM when there’s nobody on the road except your ex-girlfriend on her way home from work.
The system would give the little guy a chance to run some ads while saving big companies from having to pay to run ads when nobody’s around. There would have to be some sort of vetting process to prevent inappropriate ads from being displayed but since you’d have to set up an advertiser account tied to a payment system, that probably wouldn’t be too big of a deal.
Billboard owners would stand to make some good money since advertisers would be willing to pay a pretty penny for time-relevant ads. Fourth of July weekend? Fireworks ads. Morning drive time? Advertise the local morning show on WNYX (remember News Radio?). Baseball game tonight? Ads for ticket brokers or parking lots.
The best part about the system is that it would allow mid-level advertisers to test out the waters without committing to an expensive, month-long campaign. Try it out one day and if it doesn’t work, that’s that. Also, the ads by guys trying to get their sweatpants back. Those are important too.
So they should make it. AdWords for digital billboards.