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Digital billboards integrate with Milestone video for attention of passing traffic

Digital billboards integrate with Milestone video for attention of passing traffic
Innovative digital billboard advertising for the latest Transformers movie put passing traffic front and center with Milestone video management and Intelliscape analytics and deep learning. 

Transformers 5: The Last Knight was a summer blockbuster science fiction film based on the toy line of the same name created by Hasbro. It was the fifth installment of the live-action Transformers movie series. The film, directed by Michael Bay, was released at the end of June, 2017, by Paramount Pictures in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D. 

Something completely new 

Faced with the exciting release of the latest Transformers movie, Paramount Pictures wanted to do something unique to gain attention and create a buzz with moviegoers — something new, different, and interactive. 

Being that the Transformers movies are based on highly advanced metallic creatures (Autobots, the good guys, and Decepticons, the bad guys) that “transform” from secret lives as ordinary cars and trucks into larger-than-life battling robots, Paramount wanted to reach out to ordinary car owners and somehow draw them into the picture’s unique universe — even if only for a few moments.

Advanced analytics 

The Lamar Advertising Company is one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in North America, with more than 325,000 displays across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. They offer advertisers a variety of billboard formats including the largest network of digital billboards in the U.S. with over 2,600 displays. 

Lamar Advertising had previously worked with Milestone solution partner Intelliscape on a digital billboard campaign where Milestone software, an IP video camera, and video analytics were integrated to identify certain makes and models of cars for the purpose of presenting responsive, targeted ad messaging. 

With a few modifications, Lamar suggested taking this concept to the next level, and partnered with Intelliscape to design a digital billboard system that could identify specific cars — models featured in the new Transformers movie — and “speak” to their drivers directly with billboard art and creative that reads in large bold letters: “ATTENTION: Your Car is an Autobot!” 

The solution included Canon VBH43 network video cameras mounted on another Lamar billboard about 1,000 feet ahead of the digital billboard. This allowed enough time for the data to be transmitted, a new targeted image to be delivered to the digital billboard, and time for the driver to look and read it in passing. 

The cameras fed into Milestone XProtect Corporate video management software (VMS), which has an open platform that enables interoperability with other systems. The Intelliscape analytic solution integrated the VMS with proprietary analytics for car recognition that matches vehicles against a database of those with the same make and model. 

“As fans of the Transformers franchise know, the cars and vehicles play important roles within the movies,” said Ian Dallimore, Director of Digital Innovation, Lamar Billboards. “The color, make and model of the car characters are critical, and we wanted to be able to spot these cars on the highway — in real time — and send them a direct digital billboard message.” 

The solution immediately recognizes the target vehicle and delivers the custom billboard advertisements accordingly, incorporating the car make and model within the message: Attention Your Honda Civic is an Autobot! Recognition data for Ford Focus, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Chevy Malibu are also included. 

The Canon cameras provide high-resolution images of the cars, and the Milestone VMS manages the multiple video data streams and resolutions without delays or technical difficulties.

In the US, the campaign was launched in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Cincinnati and Oklahoma City and ran for about three weeks. 

“Our medium is usually all mass media, but this solution enables us to have a direct conversation with people,” said Dallimore. “This is really taking digital billboards and target marketing to the next level. It’s pretty cool what we’re able to do.” 

Deep learning and AI integration 

Intelliscape is a global provider of deep learning and AI solutions for data gathering and analytics of vehicles, bicycles, objects, and people for automated, near-real-time situational awareness, or for customer experience optimization. 

Intelliscape Managing Director, John McGiffin, and his team created and implemented the Milestone-based solution. He is extremely happy with both the VMS performance and the amount of support he has received from Milestone. 

“There are a lot of moving parts to this type of project. We needed a solid platform that wouldn’t give us any problems — and that means Milestone,” said McGiffin. “We’re thrilled with the VMS. It’s easy to work with, is very open and stable, and works great with our software.” 

According to McGiffin, there are many factors involved that must be taken into account for the digital billboard integration, such as vehicle speed, lighting, and camera angles. Since each location is different, multiple images of targeted vehicles are used to create a database to identify cars as they pass by. 
“This is not unlike a facial recognition system, but we’re using a database of vehicle images and information to make positive identifications,” said McGiffin. 

Although Intelliscape’s vehicle make/model recognition does not utilize License Plate Recognition, instead recognizing the front grill area of each vehicle, McGiffin added that Milestone’s LPR can be combined to provide an even broader range of possible applications, including multi factor vehicle recognition, uses in parking garages, drive-thru services, freight yards, and much more.

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