Something new could be in the traffic mix
Outdoor drone advertising has been in the news because of its novel use in the United States, Mexico and Canada. Recently an article appeared in The Verge explaining how advertising drones in Mexico were hovering over cars, while people were driving on highways. The ad was promoting Uber car pooling. That’s advertising reaching new heights!
Previously advertising drones have flown banners and done promotional drops to create awareness about a brand, product an/or service. Within the same scope of application, drones have been used to take photos of outdoor events such as product launches, festivals, concerts and to stream video feeds.
Too much too soon
I realize that outdoor advertising is not new. There has been advertising blimps and small planes that have flown banners. Drone advertising is considered to be the new frontier of advertising. Yet, I am concerned about some forms of drone advertising, particularly drones flying near vehicles and in traffic.
Once concern is the fact that specific regulations governing airspace for commercial drones still needs to be ironed out, according to aviation experts. Transport Canada has admitted that new regulations need to be developed for drone advertising and are in the process of doing so. Knowing that regulation is still in its infancy stage is rather alarming.
Another concern is public safety and annoyance. On the safety front, if an advertising drone flies above, around or in front of a driver, it could be a distraction as well as a road hazard. The drone could hit and damage vehicles and trucks. There has been plenty of reports in Canada and the United States (ex. Fast Company) about commercial drone accidents.
There is recognition by police and the public that it is dangerous to use mobile devices while at the wheel. Advertising drones are part of that interference mix, and this time the driver has no control of the situation. Drones are operated with various degrees of autonomy- some are controlled remotely by a human operator and others by computers. Failures can happen.
On the annoyance front, there is the case of the loud buzzing noise of drones (sounds) and seeing them when driving on city streets and highways, whether there is traffic or not. I know that we do not have the rights to the use of air space. Nevertheless, this type of drone advertising seems like visual and sound pollution.
Evolutionary but is it necessary?
Drones have a place for scientific, agricultural, commercial and other applications such as remote sensing, policing, aerial photography and snow removal detection, to name a few. I support advances in technology and innovation in the advertising industry. Intelligence use of the technology and regulations are paramount.
There are however times when the application of a new technology is not meant to be. And the use of drone advertising in a traffic/road application is one of them! It might appear to be evolutionary for advertising yet is not necessary to bring into play. We have the option to rebel by not purchasing the product or service that is being advertised. That might not be sufficient to avoid a few accidents and agitate us when driving.