New billboard ads could determine how effective they are to you

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I’m OK with billboard advertising. Many think they’re eyesores, but advertising pays for many things we take for granted, and how else am I to know that a Banana Republic scarf can make me more attractive?

One problem has always dogged billboard advertising, and that’s metric feedback. You can put an ad up on a bus shelter, but how do you know who’s stopping to actually read it? How do you know your ads are working? This kind of data is important to advertisers, they like to know they’re not wasting their money.

New technology has just been developed that does just that, allowing the billboard to look back at the reader, using tiny cameras and pattern recognition to determine the age and sex of passersby, as well as judging how long each one looks at an ad.

This information goes into a database and can be parsed to show the advertisers which ads are working and where. The idea’s great, but a little creepy. I don’t really want anyone knowing how long I might glance at a Bud girl, you know?