Truckside ads generate 2.5 times more attention than static billboards, with an advertisement on a truck or trailer resulting in between 30,000 to 70,000 daily impressions. With such impact, it’s a shame that until now fleet media has been limited to printed or painted static images, or to clunky, power-hungry screens that drain the battery.
RoadAds interactive, a German company in partnership with Visionect, is determined to remedy the situation by changing the face of vehicular media with location-specific, instantly updatable electronic paper billboards on trucks.
The technology can be used to display real-time ads that are actionable, such as the next turn to take to reach a nearby restaurant or local business, and can also provide drivers with GPS-triggered notifications on traffic conditions, road safety and more.
“There is great potential in on-vehicle billboards,” explains Andreas Widmann, the Managing Director of RoadAds Interactive. “We intend to capitalize on it.”
As much as 94% of consumers queried recalled seeing a mobile billboard, with 80% of those surveyed remembering the advertisement in specific detail. “There are about 2.8 million trucks in Germany alone, with each of these trucks having more than 50,000 views a day,” adds Widmann. “It would be a perfect advertising space if not for the limitations of the printed ad. As a truck moves from Frankfurt to Paris, the ad from a local Frankfurt restaurant in German is no longer effective and the opportunity to benefit from the ad is lost.”
Widmann’s idea was to bypass the weaknesses of conventional print advertising – long lead time due to installation, content that goes unchanged for months – and create a solution that would be adjustable to location and specific trigger events. Pursuing a real-time moving billboard and supported by Mercedes-Benz, RoadAds began developing a prototype.
Traditional on-vehicle digital displays like LCD or LED required excessive amounts of energy to run, putting significant strain on the truck’s battery and causing the display to overheat, made worse in direct sunlight.
In order to be seen clearly LCD and LED displays also had to be backlit, emitting high levels of light pollution. As such, any of these screens mounted on moving vehicles are not in line with European legislation on motor vehicle lighting devices and are not allowed in traffic.
Looking for a solution both in terms of visibility and power consumption, RoadAds partnered with Visionect, the global leader in low-power electronic paper signage installations. Electronic paper technology was chosen because it uses energy only when changing content and features paperlike readability in direct sunlight, foregoing the need for backlights.
RoadAds combined four 32-inch Visionect-powered E Ink® displays in tiled billboards mounted at the rear of a truck. Visionect hardware and software enable the display module – each of its tiled screens with a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels and 16-level grayscale – to refresh content simultaneously, drawing a 3 by 5ft image.
Running on electricity from the car battery, the electronic paper truck display can be easily mounted on almost any truck and can only be removed with access to the vehicle itself. The display enclosure is compliant with the IP65 standard, making it dust resistant and fully waterproof, suitable even for the carwash.
Each electronic paper truck display is also equipped with GPS, 4G and Wi-Fi modules. With the help of the RoadAds centralized online platform, a truck’s location can be determined to within a 16ft accuracy and the screen content adapted to create location-targeted messages delivered in the language of choice.
If updating via 4G, the billboard connects to a server to receive new content, with a subset of all possible advertisements always pre-buffered on the billboard itself in case of mobile network unavailability. When connecting over Wi-Fi, the billboard is controlled locally, on any mobile device.
With its perfect readability, low setup time and responsive updates, the electronic paper truck billboard is a highly scalable advertising solution. It’s applicability, however, does not lie in simple advertising alone.
Location-based and event-triggered messaging on the road not only deliver ads for businesses and services available nearby, but also real-time notifications about traffic conditions, road safety, weather warnings and more. Electronic paper truck displays can warn other drivers of traffic jams or accidents ahead, of diminished road visibility, can communicate the distance to the next gas station, the next turn to take to make it to the nearest McDonalds, and even warn of changes in road signals.
Now accepting pre-orders, the first 1000 electronic paper truck displays are expected to become commercially available in June 2017, with five trucks hitting the roads this November as part of a pilot trial. Until then you can see the e-paper billboards in action at the IAA Commercial Vehicles conference, September 22–29 in Hannover, Germany.
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