Yahoo wants to take advertising to the next level—that is, the Orwellian level—bombarding people in public places with targeted advertising served up by the surveillance society. That’s according to a Yahoo patent application recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. According to Yahoo, the time has come to move outdoor and public-facing advertising into the digital age—and get there by deploying more intrusive techniques than how it’s now done online.
Introducing “Smart Billboards,” as Yahoo calls them. These digital billboards—which Yahoo envisions being placed along freeways and in bars, airports, planes, ferries, buses, trains, and other public spaces—might rely on video cameras, satellites, drones, microphones, motion detectors, and “biometric sensors” such as fingerprint, retinal, and facial recognition devices. Combined, these “sensor systems,” as Yahoo calls them, analyze their surroundings to determine a common theme to serve up ads, in what Yahoo describes as “grouplization.”
Yahoo’s patent proposal notes that “the sources of data and information that may be used to enable the techniques described herein are virtually limitless.”
Taken together, this real-time collected information generates an “aggregate audience profile,” and ads are promptly served, Yahoo says:
Here’s two examples of how a freeway billboard might dish up ads, according to the recent patent application:
Let’s not forget about tapping into mobile phones, cell-site towers, and vehicle GPS mapping devices:
The patent goes on to describe advertising measurement and that advertisers would compete and bid for ad space.