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BTA using hi-tech smart advertising in UK

Come to Bermuda: this digital billboard in London flashes a computer advertisement onto the screen when cameras detect a stationary car, valued at more than $48,000, at the traffic lights opposite (Photograph supplied)

If a car valued at more than $48,000 stops at a set of traffic lights in a well-heeled London neighbourhood, the driver is likely to see a Bermuda Tourism Authority advertisement flash up on a billboard screen opposite.

The driver will see an enticing offer to visit Bermuda, and the invite will be personalised with a message such as “Hello Bermudaful in the Range Rover”, depending on the make of car they are driving.

The Bermuda Tourism Authority has worked with Britain’s Media Agency Group to create the travel industry’s first campaign using vehicle recognition to target potential holidaymakers.

John Kehoe, managing director of Media Agency Group, said the campaign highlights “the truly versatile nature of digital out of home advertising and the incredible potential that new technologies and innovations carry for the industry as a whole”.

He added: “Bermuda required a campaign that delivered minimum wastage and maximum relevance — by tapping into vehicle recognition tech we’ve been able to target an ideal audience and ensure that they are served with personalised, effective advertising messages.”

The technology allows the BTA to reach a targeted, affluent audience that it believes is likely to be interested in the allure of Bermuda.

The technology works by having cameras trained on stationary traffic at a set of traffic lights, which detect the registration number plate of vehicles and then uses an anonymised vehicle specification database to pull out details such as the make, model and colour of the vehicle sitting at the traffic lights.

If a car matches the target criteria of being less than four years old and valued at more than £40,000 ($48,600), the customised advert is triggered on the digital display opposite the traffic lights.

A spokesman for the media agency told The Royal Gazette that the link up with the BTA was the first time it had run such a campaign, although the technology has been used by others, such as automaker Renault.

When asked if there was any concerns about drivers being distracted by the personalised advertising, the spokesman said: “It’s no more of a distraction than any other form of digital out-of-home advertisement,” and added that it was only used to reach drivers stationary at a red traffic light.

There are four digital billboard locations in Britain that use the vehicle recognition technology, one is in London’s expensive Holland Park neighbourhood, close to the Westfield shopping mall, where there is a large volume of traffic.

The other locations are Hammersmith Broadway, also in London, the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, and a media wall in Manchester.

In the past few years Media Agency Group, which is based in Manchester, has planned and executed a number of advertising campaigns for the BTA, including an interactive mobile phone campaign where users could “rub” an advert to reveal a travel discount offer.

Mr Kehoe said: “We’re proud to be continually working alongside such a prestigious brand that is open to exploring new and exciting solutions, and we look forward to pushing more boundaries with Bermuda in the near future.”

Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the BTA, said: “This is one more example of how the BTA is working to reach the right audience for Bermuda.

“We work to make the most of every advertising dollar for Bermuda — and these innovations help us with smart marketing.”

She added: “We are also using dynamic digital out of home advertising in New York City.

“Via the Links network platform, Bermuda promotional messages are served on the streets of the city aligned with locations where island visitors live, based on zip code analysis. In addition, when there is a 30-degree weather differential between Bermuda and New York City, the weather comparison is dynamically served as part of the ad.”