Ok, put up your hand if you enjoy being stuck in a really bad traffic jam … anyone?  I didn’t think so.  However, that isn’t totally true, as there are a few companies that truly benefit from excessive gridlock. 


In addition to those who repair your car (which suffers more wear and tear in heavy congestion), advertisers are finding that drivers in their cars are a very captive audience in many parts of the country.  It kind of makes sense … you’re moving at a snail’s pace and are often looking for something to keep yourself occupied (besides looking at the taillights of the car in front of you). 


Signs at the side of the highway are not new, as advertisers have been using printed billboards for a long time.  As well, the use of Digital screens has been around for a while.  What is changing this industry is the ability to adapt their messages in ways that were not possible, thanks for the combination of IoT and Artificial Intelligence. 

Here's a few things: 

  • Advertising rates for these signs were traditionally done based on an expected volume of traffic on a pre-set basis (such as daily or weekly).  Using sensors, sign operators can better judge the size of the audience, allowing them to not only better predict revenue but to charge different rates based on the time of day or day of the week.
  • Software solutions allow the sign to capture a snapshot of the value of the average car that goes by (it does this by identifying car models and calculating an approximate value).  By doing this, they can better understand the demographics of the audience, allowing them to provide a better value for the advertiser.
  • Finally, through the use of different sensors (like for temperature and the presence of rain/snow), advertisers can offer different time-sensitive offers (such as a coupon code for a cold drink on days when the temperature is soaring). 


As well, advertisers are able to find out when there may be the highest level of traffic (peak commute times is their term) to be able to maximize effectiveness for certain products, as people may be at their most frustrated.  This may include recommending an alcoholic product (for when you get home) and even a suggestion to upgrade your car. 


In short, as traffic gets worse, this form of advertising becomes much more effective, even in the time of Facebook and satellite radio.  Maybe a drink when you get home is not such a bad idea …