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Sacramento Bee: Billboards that tune to you

Matthew Barrows reports on two new billboards in the Sacramento area that monitor which radio stations passing motorists are listening to and tune their billboard advertising appropriately.

Alaris President Tom Langeland said the sensors will be able to determine the radio station playing in 60 percent of the cars passing by. At Cal Expo, that would mean nearly 10,000 vehicles would have their radio stations scanned during the peak hour of traffic; at I-80 near the Roseville Auto Mall, it’s about 7,700 vehicles.

Knowing what motorists are listening to is valuable for two reasons, Langeland said. First, it tells advertisers which radio stations are most popular during different times of day. And when combined with vast databases of consumer profiles, a favorite radio station is a good indicator of a person’s demographic group — and buying tendencies.

I remember reading about a similar system which captured which radio station your car radio was tuned to as you drove through a fast food restaurant’s drive-thru lane. That information was then used to tell the restaurant on which radio station they should advertise to better reach their customers.

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