Friday, June 7, 2013

Your Car as a Billboard

Sitting at a stoplight today, the dealer sticker on the back of the car in front of me caught my attention and I reminisced. I peeled the dealer sticker off of the first new car that I ever bought as soon as I got home. I had to take the car back to the dealer a few times for warranty related work.

Each time that it went into the shop they put a new dealer sticker on. After about the third time, I insisted on some mutual expectations. It was simple to me. It’s my car and the dealer needed to keep their trash stickers off it. The only free advertisement that they got out of me was when I told people why I have to keep coming back for warranty work and what poor service that I get. If they gave me good service, then I’d tell about that, too, but it never happened.

Every car that I've bought from a dealer since then has either had the sticker removed before I left the dealership or, at my instruction, they didn't put one on to start with. One salesman got a little fussy about it. I told him that, if he wanted to draw up a contract to compensate me for carrying a billboard for the dealership, then I would consider the sticker. Otherwise, take if off.

Recently, I had this idea that we might be missing an opportunity. Instead of a dealer sticker, there could be a little device that operates on the same principle as changing billboards but mounted on the back of your car. It would be very simple.

The device would be 6-12 inches long and in the shape of an eight-sided cylinder that is embedded into the rear of your car showing only one flat side of the cylinder at a time. You could sell advertising to eight different businesses and the device would rotate to a new message every time that you stop and then turn again at 30 second intervals.  To save your battery it would operate only with the ignition on.

Do the math! Eight advertisements as $50 per month would be $400. You could almost make your car payment with that. A person could even go with two rotaries, on each side of the car, and double their money. If somebody doesn't pay up on time for their advertisement then you just peel their ad off of the cylinder and replace it with PLACE YOUR AD HERE along with your phone number.

Better yet, instead of a rotating tumbler, the device could be a programmable LED display with 8-12 ads in the program. Then you’d never be running a blank ad. Regardless of how many ads that you have, you could program your own ad to run every fourth or fifth time.

I was even thinking that you could have a little bit of fun with the impatient horn blowers who pseudo-curse you with their horn. You could use one of the ad spaces for a curse-back. It could read something like, SCREW YOU BACK, HORN BLOWER! Of course, then you’d have to have a button within reach of the driver to override the auto rotation and turn to your curse message. You might even have a flashing back-light on the lettering be certain that the jerk sees the message.

Thinking in terms of higher technology, you can’t open a screen on the internet without an ad popping up somewhere. When someone clicks on the ad then the advertiser is required to pay the agent who posted the ad for those views of the ads. The agent, in turn, pays a small commission to the site owner who allowed the ad.

Sometimes they’re slick about getting you to open the ad. They set it where you will mouse over it and “pop” the ad opens with a pass of your mouse and you have to knock it down before going on. We can’t be too far from technology that activates an ad on an internet browser just by looking at it.

If that can be done then it even seems possible to replace tumbler or LED ad idea with pop-up ads on the back of your car. Imagine pulling up behind another car at a stoplight and, when you look at the rear of the car, a 20 second ad runs for one of the local eateries, a car dealership or a sale at one of the local retailers. What would make this even better is that, by retina identification, it could be designed to interface with your thoughts and only flash up ads for retailers, services and Items that you've previously shown an interest in or are thinking about at the time.

FaceBook and Google are already doing this to social media zombies, so why not do it to motorists who typically drive with their heads up their butt anyway? Think about it for moment. How many times have you and your spouse had a conversation about where to eat that went something like this after a shopping day.

“Do you want to go out to eat?”

“Sure where do you want to go.”

“I don’t care. You decide.”

“It doesn’t matter. Wherever you want to go is fine with me.”

Right from the start, both persons had some idea of where they would like to eat but wouldn't say it. The conversation goes on until it escalates into an argument and two angry people go home to a cold bologna sandwich. Now rerun the same scenario but with a pop-up ad, complete with a viewer brain interface.

“Do you want to go out to eat?”

Right away both of you thinking of two or three places to eat and the interface can pick up a common location in both brains. The display pops up an ad for Applebee’s. No arguments!

The person driving the car with the pop-up ads is making a car payment from the revenue. The restaurant gets in customers to generate revenue that helps to pay for the ad and there is no stress in your life for trying to decide where to eat out. Can it get better than that?


  1. your brain never stops thinking, Huh marlin?
    this was a pretty good idea :)
    my best,

    1. Hi Sue! It's kind of a curse, I think. Thanks for the read and comment.

  2. This is funny, I had the SAME conversation / argument with the guy at CARMAX when buying my car. He wouldn't compensate me, so I removed all evidence of "Carmax" from my car (four places!!!!) before I drove off the lot.

    I LOVE the idea of tumbler ads - this was great!

    1. It's kind of funny that I put his out on Twitter with #Advertising as a hashtag and the page views increase. I wonder if marketers are reading it and thinking. Maybe it's old news and somebody is already doing it.
      Thanks for the read, comments and Re-Tweet, Chris!