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A radio futurologist writing about what happens when radio and new platforms collide
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Personalised advertising in a Las Vegas taxi

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2012 at 7:27 am. #

The Wynn and Encore

I’ve lost count of the amount of people I’ve told this story to: including the audience at my panel at the NAB Show. So here it is again, just for you, dear blog reader.

I jumped into a taxi outside the FedEx Office store in Las Vegas, to run some errands – to go to a shopping mall via the LVCC. And, as we moved away, a softly-spoken voice issued from the speakers above my head.

“Hi, I’m Steve Wynn. You know – further up the strip, you’ll find two hotels I own; and if you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you about them.”

And so, in a very understated way, this quietly-spoken voice told me that I could go and watch Garth Brooks play some country music; that they have a bunch of restaurants, some which change decoration from day to night, and a lot of other information, accompanied by a slide show on a monitor and a more interactive guide should I want to stop the languid-sounding Steve Wynn from giving me the soft sell.

The audio production was very well done: it sounded as if Wynn was just telling us about his properties from the top of his head – at no stage did it sound as if anything was scripted. In a city where everything is frenetic and loud, the calm way he told me about his hotel was a relief.

We stopped at the LVCC – the Las Vegas Conference Centre. I got out, asked the taxi driver to hang about for a little bit, and then, a few minutes later, got back in. The Steve Wynn system obviously thought I was a new customer.

“Hi, I’m Steve Wynn”, said the voice from the speakers above your head. Here we go again, I thought. And was then taken aback.

“I hope you’ve had a great day at the Conference Centre”, Steve amiably told me. “I hope you had some good meetings and did some great business. Well, now it’s time to relax. So, let me tell you a little more about the hotels I own here in Las Vegas, in case you haven’t decided quite where you want to go later.”

Audio advertising like this – “radio advertising”, most people call it – is already amazingly effective. But the relevancy of this simple message took my breath away.

So simple – and yet, so powerful.

I wonder how we can do this with radio?


David Sim
commenting at April 24th, 2012 at 7:59 pm

At the moment radio ads in a network like Heart are triggered remotely – by sending a signal to a local station to play out its local ads.

Radio presents a number of scenarios:

- a phone or ipad app could have the stream switch during ad breaks to a stream of hyperlocal ads based on location. This would work (less reliably) on the web too.
- similarly an app could be preloaded with “offline” ads which replace trailers and other content if relevant at the time.
- hardware could be built for in-car and home radios which would store ads from a data stream to be played out on the device as appropriate (and also allow for delivery of additional content relating to programmes e.g. A more in-depth interview with an artist immediately after playing their music). The data stream might be overnight capacity on DAB or from the car owner’s WIFI.

Personalised advertising could even be triggered by social media interaction if we could convince listeners to connect. “We see your VW has broken down… Audi comes with a 3 year warranty….”

commenting at April 27th, 2012 at 8:24 am

I work for a company that manufactures a very small, very low-power embedded device used in “digital signage” and other applications like this. I’m pretty sure this example isn’t using us because it would be overkill to use our box for audio-only, but regardless, I love hearing use-case stories like this.

It is trivial to use a GPS unit to spit out co-ordinates via RS232 (the NavMan GPS3260 for example), run a bit of code to detect a range, and play a certain file based on that range. Companies do this with buses and the “next stop information” boards – no reason at all why it can’t be done with audio as well/instead of video. RS232 is so simple; no drivers or handshaking required.

I am also interested in examples where it can work more smartly. This is definitely not “trivial” to do, but booked taxis here in Singapore already have an in-car manager which gives the next destination on an LCD. That data must be grabbable somehow, to feed into a player, because there’s a link to a thermal printer on the unit and I’m pretty sure those things don’t use USB.

The same device (the ones here run Windows CE, I notice) feeds info about the pickup based on the caller ID information – somehow I’m always “Mr Clayton” which is not my name – and some info about customer history. (by the by, if you regularly order by SMS and give a no-show, you get a little warning icon next to your name). Imagine getting some audio not just based on location, but *your own personal usage*?

“Going to Marina Bay Sands again Mr Clayton? Careful, last time you paid the journey-out with a $500 bill but had to pay by card on the way home. Just sayin’ ”

* There are no $500 bills in Singapore, but you see my idea

commenting at April 27th, 2012 at 8:26 am

ps. Just saw David’s comment:
For comms, the dealers we have use 3G, trickle download overnight. Data charges are viable, even with delivering video content.

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