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Ginormous Piccadilly screen will send targeted ads based on the colour of your car

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The billboard lights at Piccadilly Circus in London are getting a makeover which will take it into the 21st century and beyond, making it the largest of its kind in Europe. 

The new screen will basically be a ginormous Smart TV —  even better than-4K and larger than a tennis court (790 sq. m). 

Landsec — the company which has owned Piccadilly Lights since the 1970s — is renovating the historic six screens that were bought by six advertisers, and offering Wi-Fi and millions of pixels at jaw-dropping resolution. 

While the six-section structure will be preserved — Coca-Cola, Samsung, Hyundai, and L’Oréal will definitely be there — a single manufacturer can temporarily take over the full-screen for a Blade Runner-like ad. 

Piccadilly Circus in the 1960s.

Piccadilly Circus in the 1960s.

Piccadilly Circus in 1953 vs in 2016.

Piccadilly Circus in 1953 vs in 2016.

“Advertisers will be able to stream live videos, lifestyle updates, such as weather and sports results, and real time social media feeds,” Landsec says on a press release. 

And just like your Smart TV, the screen can secretly spy on you. 

“Screen content can be influenced by the characteristics of the crowd around it, such as gender, age group and even emotions. It is also able to respond and deliver bespoke ad content triggered by surroundings in the area,” Landsec adds. 

That means advertisers will be able to deliver targeted ads based on the interaction with the surrounding environment, as first reported by Wired:

Cameras concealed within the screen will track the make, model and colour of passing cars to deliver more targeted adverts. Brands can even pre-program triggers so that specific adverts are played when a certain model of car passes the screen, according to Landsec, the company that owns the screens. 

That naturally raises important privacy concerns, such as: What kind of information will the camera detect? Will the data be collected and stored? Will personal information be shared with third-party advertisers? Is there a possibility to opt-out? Are there any risks associated with hacking the camera and the billboard? 

A Landsec spokesperson told Mashable: “The new screen has the ability to react to external factors such as the weather and passing vehicles – though without collecting or storing any personal details.”

“For example, the branded content displayed on the screen could change depending on the colour of vehicles,” it said. “How the technology is used depends on the approach and creative being displayed by the brands.”

The date the new screen will be unveiled is still unconfirmed. 

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