Interactive billboards: You react to them, they react to you.

Jun 18, 2015


Whether they’re on a billboard, a poster on a busy street or at a bus shelter, advertisements want you to take notice. And that can encompass a lot. You can take action and call a number. You can notice a restaurant’s logo and message, and take the next exit for a snack. Or you can experience any range of emotions.

But what if an advertisement wants you to interact with it? A few years ago, QR codes were popular on ads (and, it seemed, everywhere). Open up your QR code reader on your phone, snap a picture of the code, and you were whisked to a website for more information—more storytelling, really.

While QR codes didn’t quite catch on as much as it did in other countries (take Japan, for example, where they originated more than 20 years ago), the idea was a good one, since most everyone carries a cell phone, and most cell phones have cameras.

Speaking of cameras, they were utilized beautifully in a powerful interactive ad in London earlier this year. The ad’s message (“Look at me”) was to pay attention to victims of domestic violence, and that the more it’s ignored, the more it’s allowed. The ad shows a woman who’d suffered blows to the face. As people pass the billboard, the picture remained the same – she even blinks.

But a camera at the top of the billboard detects when people stop in front of the ad (presumably to look at it). And as more passers-by stop to look at the woman (and for a longer duration), the facial cuts and bruises actually heal and eventually disappear. Look at the powerful ad here:

Try this one, another from the U.K., where an animal shelter introduces passers-by to a homeless dog—and the dog follows the humans from location to location. Check out the ad ( and try not to be even a little bit moved.

We’re thankful interactive billboards are few and far between, because, while it’s an amazing concept, building more of these just for the sake of building them would surely dilute the product.

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