Ask the Board – September 19, 2016 | PAOLO TOSOLINI


How do you expect advertising to evolve with “smart” or “connected” cities?

The primary objective of a ‘smart’ city is to improve the quality of life for its citizens through the ‘smart’ use of technology. When advertising is fully disconnected from the context of its viewers, the outcome can range from complete apathy to subliminal rejection of the message. However, a smart city, building or office, can leverage data coming from its numerous sensors to provide a more relevant, if not compassionate, message in a way that puts the advertiser in the shoes of the consumer.

For example, on a highly trafficked road, a digital panel could inform drivers not only about the expected arrival time for a certain destination, but based on AI (Artificial Intelligence) predictions of historical data, it could suggest to stop for dinner along the way, as it’ll be more efficient than just sitting in traffic. Of course, you can take this concept to the next level by combining art and science and enhancing the ad storytelling to be more appealing than simply serving the pure facts.

To enable this kind of scenario, the smart city needs to make certain data available to advertisers (with due respect to citizens’ privacy). This data has to be unique, current, accessible and affordable. For instance, weather information doesn’t qualify because it is not unique. But other data, such as aggregated traffic information, waiting times at public offices and parking opportunities, are examples of information that can only be sourced from sensors installed and managed by local authorities.

Advertisers that are developing creative messaging from this data should be able to rely on a commonly accessible platform, and should be incentivized to do so, as they are distributing useful and actionable information to citizens despite mixing it with commercial messages.

I feel that only through continued experimentation and open dialogue among networks can advertisers and smart city authorities make progress in this space. The opportunity is there to make them all work together.

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Tosolini Productions

Advertising & Brand Council

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