Have you ever seen those intensely futuristic movies that have advertisements that target customers as they walk by storefronts, using their names and adjusting the image to appear more palatable or relatable? Turns out, they’re not so futuristic anymore — personalized, digital advertisement is the wave of the Now, and they’ve already started cropping up around the world.

California unveiled their smart billboard in 2016 through a digital advertising campaign for GMC Arcadia. It was the first of its kind to utilize facial recognition technology in conjunction with “dynamic displays to present personalized content in an out-of-home campaign.” The cameras on its borders can detect and identify age, gender, movement, and expressions of those walking by or standing in front of it so the ad itself can react accordingly.

“Consumers see up to 5,000 ads every single day, and we wanted to create a responsive, engaging campaign that cut through the noise,” said Jeff Tan, head of strategy at one of the agencies responsible for the digital sign (Posterscope USA). “By leveraging cutting-edge technology to deliver real-time dynamic content, we helped GMC connect with audiences via personalized location-based communication strategies.”

Additionally, there was an anti-smoking advertising campaign in effect in Sweden: the billboard portrayed a man standing seemingly still but was equipped with built-in smoke detectors. When someone smoking a cigarette walked past or stood near the display, the man would begin coughing into his hand before presenting an anti-smoking slogan.

Personalized advertisements create personalized experiences: around 67% of survey respondents said that sign quality affected their purchases, so imagine how much better your company could do if it had personally customized business signs. The possibilities are practically endless! Signs for businesses, especially custom signs, create first impressions that cannot be undone.

“We are always looking for the next new and innovative idea in sign advertising. We focus on brand awareness, so these interactive personalized signs will be a natural fit for us,” says Larry Gliozzi, owner of Loumarc Signs. “We are checking the best manufacturers and doing a cost analysis for return on investment. It is still fairly pricey for a small company but it will come down in price over the next few years.”

Signs for businesses will most likely be revolutionized in the coming decades. The technology (and privacy laws) may not allow identifiable information like names to be used, but imagine what it could be like! The gap between today’s market where outdoor signs can garner attention if they’re well-designed and unique, to the sheer, undeniable pull that walking by an ad that uses your name would have is huge, but humans have always been adept at building bridges.

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