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Billboard Ads Made Just For You? Patent For New Technology Could Make It A Reality

(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Advertisements bombard us at every corner, but what if billboards were tailored to who was driving by? It hasn’t happened yet, but General Motors is considering developing that technology through its OnStar service.

Imagine a world where you’re driving and the billboard ads you pass are made specifically to you. Like coffee? An ad will appear for Starbucks up ahead. Traveling with kids? There’s a bathroom rest-stop coming up.

It might sound like something from a science-fiction movie, but now OnStar, known for its in-vehicle technology that helps drivers in a wreck or if their car breaks down, has applied for a patent that could make targeted ads a reality.

“There’s a lot of different effort in Silicon Valley to develop this technology,” said Ryan Singel of Wired Magazine. “Advertisers are willing to pay good money to know their ads are going to the right person.”

Public ads targeting individual consumers is a growing trend. Google recently changed its privacy policy to make it easier to focus ads based on specific consumer information taken from Google or YouTube searches.

But all of this does raise a concern about privacy. A lot of information could be collected on where you shop, eat and vacation.

“People said they don’t like the visual spam, they didn’t like being manipulated inside their cars,” said Professor Dorothy Glancy, who has studied billboard advertising.

OnStar has said if it proceeds with the advertising plan, it would only use data volunteered by customers, saying in a statement:

“If a customer were to choose to participate, it would be very clear what the parameters were. Everything we do would be with customer consent and direct opt-in.”

But the technology is evolving, changing the way consumers receive information and bringing the future a little closer.

OnStar’s patent is still very early on. The company, like others, routinely files patents to give it the option of developing the technology later on, but OnStar emphasizes there’s no guarantee that will happen.

What do you think? Sound off below in our comments section….