Billboards — yes, billboards — are having a heyday in a digital world

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It’s the era of internet advertising. The era of targeting that tracks you across browsers, platforms and across the city. The era of apps that know what you want before you do.

But surprisingly, a seemingly retro ad format — outdoor advertising — is also having its heyday.

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Living in a Billboard

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A room with a view.

This has got to be recycling at its best. Why throwout perfectly good billboards when you can reuse them as a living space? I don’t know about you, but how many billboards have you seen that would make a good one bedroom apartment? This may be the idea, but we shall see if it comes into practical use. Check out the images of billboard residences in different settings…

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FBI Using Billboards to Help Capture Elusive Criminals

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FBI uses billboards to capture criminals

Crime fighting doesn’t get much simpler than this: When Virginia drug suspect Edward Myricks eyed his photo on a giant digital billboard, he knew his run from the authorities was over. “We posted his photo on billboards in Newark (after learning the suspect had traveled there), and when he saw the billboards he turned himself in on March 11,” Chris Allen, an FBI spokesman, says.

 

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Billboards That Watch the Watchers

Billboards That Watch the Watchers

Rick Rivera, left, and Nathan Lichon spot the sneaky little cameras in an electronic billboard in Manhattan

In advertising these days, the brass ring goes to those who can measure everything — how many people see a particular advertisement, when they see it, who they are. All of that is easy on the Internet, and getting easier in television and print.

Billboards are a different story. For the most part, they are still a relic of old-world media, and the best guesses about viewership numbers come from foot traffic counts or highway reports, neither of which guarantees that the people passing by were really looking at the billboard, or that they were the ones sought out.

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