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Coming Soon to Our Friendly Skies: ‘Drone-vertising’

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
Yahoo Tech

(An image of the drone-vertisement in action, provided by the ad agency Hungry Boys)

Sometimes it seems like every technological innovation ultimately just turns into a new way to show us ads. But drones?

Yes, drones, too: Ads of the World and PSFK have brought to our attention the concept of “drone-vertising,” in this case represented by Moscow-based agency Hungry Boys.

As depicted in the video below, the idea was to hype a local restaurant chain by dispatching a bunch of drones, carrying promotional signage, as they float by office windows and along sidewalks, encouraging office workers to stop by for lunch at the restaurant. 

“They drew the attention of hundreds of people,” the agency claims.

Not disclosed is how many of those people thought, “Wow, now, that’s annoying.”

Anyway, it turns out that this is not the first manifestation of the “drone-vertising” idea: Earlier this year, a U.S. startup called DroneCast was launched, with the express purpose of offering “aerial advertising platform” services. It is “almost like a flying billboard,” the company’s site explains, “using a small drone to capture attention while displaying your advertisement to viewers.” (A site that’s actually called DroneVertising.net offers a similar spiel but doesn’t seem very active.)

Here’s a brief promotional video of a DroneCast drone promoting DroneCast and its promotional drones:

DroneCast - Drone Advertising Platform 2 from DroneCast on Vimeo.

As drone-derived marketing ideas go, this isn’t exactly the most creative line of thought I’ve ever heard. (It’s certainly less impressive than a drone-using promotional stunt for Star Trek that I wrote about last year. That involved 30 drones arranging themselves in the shape of a Star Trek logo, near London’s Tower Bridge.)

And given the murky state of regulation about how businesses can use drones, I have my doubts about whether this concept is going to fly.

(How drone-vertising works, according to Hungry Boys.)

But it’s amusing to speculate about just how ridiculous this tactic could get if I’m wrong about that — perhaps drones, fed by data about your social-media likes and dislikes, will identify you as a likely Starbucks customer. Then it will follow you around with a sign saying, “Buy a latte!” perhaps joined by a squadron of fellow drone-vertisment vehicles, hounding you until you finally give up and seek shelter in a Starbucks.

Maybe that’s something to think about next time you’re bugged by an irritating pop-up ad online — it could be much, much worse.

Write to me at rwalkeryn@yahoo.com or find me on Twitter, @notrobwalker. RSS lover? Paste this URL into your reader of choice: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/author/rob-walker/rss.