Billboards Can Tell Consumers’ Patterns


Do you ever feel like you are being watched, even when driving down the road? Well, there is a strong likelihood that yes, you are being watched… by the billboards your car passes on your morning commute. Clear Channel Outdoor Americas announced that it is partnering with AT&T and other companies to track people’s travel patterns through their mobile phones. The intent of the program is to help develop targeted marketing campaigns by mining detailed information on people who drive by a billboard.

Here’s how it might work: Driver A passes a billboard in Minneapolis on her normal commute, where an ad for Store B is shown. The program could then determine if Driver A visits Store B after seeing the billboard.

Companies state they protect consumer privacy and that all data is anonymous and aggregated so that individuals (such as Driver A) cannot be personally identified. Privacy advocates have a different viewpoint since the consumers have not given their permission to be tracked.

The tool is a great tactic for marketers. But is it good for consumers?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of detailed data for marketing analytics.
  2. Propose a hypothetical study to students: What data would you need to know to increase sales at a specific store?
  3. Discuss the billboard capabilities.

AT&T Data Patterns:

Place IQ Web site and video:

Placed Web site:

  1. Divide students into teams. Assign each team to build a list of either positive or negative points about the billboard program.
  2. Write the key points on the board and have students discuss.

Source: New York Times



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