Websites are already able to serve up ads customised for whoever happens to be viewing a page. Now an ad agency in Russia is taking that idea one step further with an outdoor billboard that’s able to automatically hide when it spots the police coming.
The ad was created in response to Russia’s ban on food imported from the European Union and the United States last summer, which hit a grocery store called Don Giulio Salumeria particularly hard since it relied on selling authentic Italian food. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t hard for the grocery store to continue to get and sell its Italian imports, but to advertise this to consumers, it hired an ad agency called The 23 to create this unique billboard.
With the aid of a camera and facial recognition software, the technology was slightly tweaked to instead recognise the official symbols and logos on the uniforms worn by Russian police. And as they approached the billboard featuring the advertisement for Don Giulio Salumeria’s imported Italian goods, it would automatically change to an ad for a Matryoshka doll shop instead.
Was the stunt effective? That’s debatable. In the video the police clearly have enough time to recognise the grocery store’s advertisement for banned foods before it changes. But it’s the idea behind the billboard that’s actually more interesting.
Imagine waiting at a bus stop that recognised a local sports team’s logo on your jacket and automatically served up an ad for its next big game. Or a billboard that recognised your car as you drove to work every day, and automatically displayed a custom ad for a holiday destination after a long week’s commute. Oh wait, did we say interesting? We meant terrifying.