This morning I swiped my wallet to pay for my bus fair. As I road the 70 bus up Georgia Avenue listening to a sci-fi novel on my phone I got lost in the story, but then suddenly found myself staring at a digital bus shelter ad. It was one of those LED monitor posters that cycles through several ads at 10 second intervals. The ad was for Nyquil, and the copy line read “Cold and Flu Symptoms Are on the Rise in Washington, DC. Okay, so they customized this ad for the location of the ad buy. I imagined a slew of these warning St. Louis, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Houston about the rise of cold symptoms. Next I realized the tag at the bottom which said ‘Available at Walmart’ The new Walmart on Georgia is only about 5 blocks behind me. Then I realized this bus shelter is right in front of a government Office of Immunization building. Wow, now that is thematically and geographically relevant advertising.
While that final bit was probably just coincidence it still impacted me. It won’t be long before a computer script will be able to process all the types of businesses in a given area and find intersecting themes and recommend an ad location. If I know I want to sell some new Nikes I might ask the program to find 20 available digital poster locations that are within 1500 feet of both a workout facility and a partnering sports retailer. The program might only come up with 15 and then offer me 5 more that are near a workout facility and a health food restaurant.
I guess I’m just saying I can see the future today.