Clear Channel unveils new interactive billboards 

Clear Channel unveils new interactive billboards 

Clear Channel hopes a new interactive ad product will win over campaign media buyers who have long shunned billboards.

"There's a perception out there that we need to overcome," Whitney Tipton, Clear Channel Outdoor's advocacy liaison, tells C&E.  "And we're well on our way to doing that."

Tipton admits that in the past CCO's products have been ineffectively pitched to campaigns as an alternative to TV advertising, which media buyers dismissed. The new ad program, she says, is "just going to amplify what your broadcast efforts are. We're not looking to replace them."

The ad panels -- digital and static-- allow viewers in bus shelters and airport waiting areas to access interactive content from the advertiser via their smartphones through QR codes (two-dimensional bar codes containing links or emails) and Near Field Communication (communication between, say, a smartphone and the billboard).

The ads can link a viewer to a campaign's websites, which gives the advertiser the benefit of "rich data and metrics" including "date, time, location, conversion of click-thru’s, and even which kinds of devices were used," according to the company.

"Especially around advocacy, there's so much more to communicate than an ad's going to let you do," says Tipton. "If this is executed properly, here's an opportunity to actually deliver information right there at that point where you have a captive audience."

It could also be a way for campaigns to advertise to hard-to-reach Millennials, who have all but abandoned live television and radio.

“With the rise of social media, consumers increasingly expect to be involved in advertising campaigns and to have relationships with brands, yet they often reject advertising interruptions in other mediums," Suzanne Grimes, CCO's COO  said in a statement. "Connect presents the opportunity to target consumers on-the-go, when they are receptive to messages and can be delighted by timely, relevant and tailored invitations to engage.”

The program, called Connect, has already rolled out in England. It will be available to American campaigns by June. 

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