Keeping Track of Your Rolling Billboards

Media Morph: Streetblimps

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NEW YORK ( -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Streetblimps.

What it is: Yet-another Google Earth mash-up -- this time for ad verification. The 20-year-old mobile-billboard company has a new GPS partner in Google Earth. Now marketers who buy "traveling billboards" on Streetblimps' trucks can see exactly where their campaigns are located, within 50 feet, using the new monitoring system. In the coming months, Google Earth's real-time technology will be implemented for even-more-detailed results.
Streetblimps clients can keep track of their billboards with a Google Earth mash-up.
Streetblimps clients can keep track of their billboards with a Google Earth mash-up.

Why Google: "We needed something that would make clients feel more comfortable spending that type of money [on billboards] on a national level," said Paul Whitney, VP-alternative media for Streetblimps. "When your billboard is on the road, how do you know what it's doing? ... This gives clients knowledge that while they're sitting behind their desk, their ad is being seen."

Who's using it: It's a no-brainer for TV networks and movie studios that have entertainment to promote on a more urgent basis, but automotive, fast-food, fashion and electronics companies are also signing up to get their ads on wheels.

Mall madness: More than just ads on wheels, Streetblimps is building a sizable mall business as well. President Doug Frantin entered a partnership with Universal Media Networks to expand its national footprint into upscale malls via large displays for advertisers such as Gucci, Sony Style and even Procter & Gamble.

The big picture: Accountability and engagement are notoriously difficult to define in out-of-home media, so having real-time interactive technology on your side can only help reassure skeptical clients that their ROI is out there. "Now when an agency calls with resources, we can put together a plan that incorporates all the things we can offer," Mr. Whitney said.
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