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Roving Advertising And The Taxi Business

I was doing my usual surfing online when I came upon this article from the Financial Review. It was titled: “P2P Transport to spend $17m with Telstra to make taxis roving digital billboards.”

This online article might just mean to you like another boring business article about a company expanding into other product revenue streams. However, the implications of this business move by the Australian taxi company P2P Transport has far reaching implications.

Logistics and Advertising are two industries which has a lot of impact in the daily lives of people. Logistics move not only people and animals on a daily basis, but it also ensures that the most basic human necessities are within reach by most people.

Though advertising has somewhat of a negative image, it nevertheless serves a very vital human need which is information. Advertising promotes not only products but people, new medicines and other products essential for human knowledge.


In case for some reason you are not able to read the article linked above, here are a few takeaways of what the linked article contains:

P2P Transport which is an Australian Company will pay $17 million (the article did not state whether it is in Australian or American dollars) to Telstra which is a telecommunication company in Australia to provide them with digital billboard technology.

The digital billboard technology would be installed in 900 P2P Transport taxis and would offer real-time targeted advertising. The technology would allow the advertisers themselves to place real-time ads.

PSP stressed that the 100,000 kilometers that taxis do (did not explain if this is per day, week or month or some other time frame) is a valuable piece of advertising space. It also stressed that advertisers can pay per ad display which eliminates advertising wastage.

The company also stated that for example, a restaurant could push out messages at lunchtime when workers are searching for food. From the article: “Advertisers will be able to control their own content to deliver specific messaging at particular times and locations.”


I don’t know if such a roving advertising technology exists anywhere else, but one thing is for sure, if the technology proves to be profitable, it would attract the attention of many advertising and technology companies.

This is because advertising revenues are very profitable. Google, Facebook and many other software companies derive a majority of their income from advertising revenues. The Australian technology has a very distinct advantage as well.

It allows the advertisers themselves to directly control the place and time where their advertisement would be shown on the taxis. Contrast this to other forms of advertising like billboard and poster advertising which does not take into account the people seeing them.

It is also different from website or app advertising where the algorithm of the software is basically dictated by the software provider or the app advertising company. In essence, it gives more power to the advertisers.

And to many advertisers, this sense of control is very appealing. Imagine a television company being able to advertise on taxis during evening tv time that an important show is about to be televised. This could make people check out that particular television for no reason at all.


Imagine if the technology became portable and can easily be installed on any vehicle with not much technical difficulties? Imagine if these vehicles where the vehicles of people involved in the ride hailing industry and not just taxis?

This could mean extra income for the owners of these ride hailing vehicles. Imagine if UBER for example adopted the technology. It may mean that UBER and the owners of these ride hailing services can share the ad revenue income between them.

Better still, imagine if courier services vehicles and other vehicles which spend most of their time on the streets adopted the technology. This would again mean extra income for these companies.

Imagine for example the e-commerce logistics company, Amazon, adopting this technology. It can install the technology in its delivery trucks in such a way that whenever they make a delivery, the digital advertising also shows products tailor made for the customer.

This might sound intrusive, but could become a real reality in the future. So far, in my search online, I haven’t seen or heard Amazon adopting such a technology. But as you can see, this is a very attractive technology for e-commerce companies, for example.


Advertising already has a negative image and pushing digital advertising can be very intrusive to many. I know that there are places in the world where any sort of public advertising is banned by the law.

But consider how this technology can help in social needs and law enforcement. For example, the police can digitally advertise the profile of a missing child or a wanted felon on the taxis so the public can properly act.

Imagine also how it would affect tourism in an area. I for example have lived for a very long time in Sydney but know only a few tourist spots which I repeatedly go to until it became a tad repetitive.

Imagine if I hailed a taxi from one of these tourist spots and the taxi showed me a digital advertisement of a little known tourist place or object? This would not only make me more knowledgeable but would also help in the tourism business of the area.

Or consider the police cars themselves adopting the technology. Imagine if the police used digital advertising to warn people about potential dangerous things like drinking too much in a noted night spot area or buying drugs from a seedy area.


As what the title of the linked article has told us, the taxi company is paying $17 million for the telecommunications company to develop the technology. It is easy to see that telecommunications is a major part of the technology.

But what if you want to do the same but don’t have millions of dollars to spend for such a technology? Could you also have your own roving digital technology advertising product? Perhaps there may be a way.

One key factor about physical advertising is that the advertiser would never likely see or would be hard pressed to check if the advertising company is really advertising their product on the particular advertising medium.

This is especially true with roving advertising. It is practically impossible for an advertiser to follow a roving advertising vehicle all day to see if the particular vehicle is really advertising their product.

In short, there is an element of Trust involved with the advertiser whenever they are advertising using a roving advertising vehicle company. The vehicle may be locked in a garage the whole day and the advertiser would be hard pressed to know this.


The biggest car television I can find on Amazon is 14 inches and almost all of them come either equipped with DVD or USB input or both. So the technology, or the digital screen for projecting just about anything in your car is already there.

Since car televisions are made to be impact resistant, you should have no problems with the television being damaged while you use it while you are driving. Car television technology has existed for ages and is a mature technology already.

But you might scream your lungs out and say: “Car televisions are made to be used inside cars and not outside them.” You may be concerned that external weather like rain and sunshine might damage it.

This are legitimate concerns, but they have a solution. What if you have a waterproof but clear container which would house your car television? What if your car television has a UV protection that would protect the screen from sunshine?

I’m sure that DIYers can easily find a solution for the problems associated with putting your car television on the outside of your car. One issue I would not be able to answer however has to do with government regulations. You should check your local laws for such kinds of car installation.


Now that we know that the electronic hardware part of a DIY roving vehicle business is possible, let us now concentrate on advertising itself. It’s clear that without an expensive telecommunications structure you can’t give a feature where advertisers control their advertising in real-time.

But let’s take a look at how advertisers would likely control their advertising if they have the capability to do so. Would advertisers control their advertisers throughout the day or would they ultimately develop a pattern for their advertising?

This would likely be the case for a lot of advertisers. In respect, you as the business offering digital roving advertising just needs to know the pattern of your client’s advertising strategy and implement it.

This could be as easy as recording your client’s advertising on a DVD or a USB and plugging it and playing it non-stop on the now external car television you installed. Sounds primitive? Consider that there is already a more primitive roving car advertising that exists.

Advertisement posters, stickers, and small billboards are already attached to many of the taxis throughout the world. They only offer a static advertising image while yours can be a video advertising. This means there is demand for such advertising products.


It is clear that digital advertising is merging with logistics and by the looks of it, only time will tell if it would be widely adopted. While the technology might sound daunting, it’s clear that a simple form of the technology is doable.

You might be able to advertise the products of other businesses or are just advertising your own business or products. It is however clear that roving advertising reaches a lot of places and people and is an effective form of advertising.

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