Back to Blog
I was excited about the week I’d spend away from home in the US Virgin Islands, but I joined tefoLOGIC Inc. I was so excited, I convinced myself that I would still make time to work remotely. I have to admit the Virgin Islands have fast become one of my favorite vacation destinations.
They’re abound with a variety of activities viz. snorkeling, surfing, diving, tanning, dining-out, not to mention an opportunity to learn more about how outdoor advertising is going digital. Yes, digital!
The secluded, idyllic islands, home to a variety of flora & fauna (I saw at least 30 turtles!), presented an interesting business predicament. Over the past few years, tourists have flooded the island at a clip of about 10,000 per week. It was one of the most popular Caribbean islands and a key fixture of the cruise ship industry before the pandemic. The gateway isle; Saint Thomas, was well equipped to handle the regular influx of droves of visitors from around the world and send them off to neighboring islands like St. John.
While St. Thomas has now lost that massive captive audience, thanks to cruise ships that have gone into hibernation at sea since COVID-19; they’re seeing folks like myself who prefer to fly-in. A local on the beach told me that the cruise ship audience generally didn’t spend much money. Rather, those who flew-in contributed to the economy of the islands.
While I’ll be sharing more about advertising technology, computer vision, audience engagement and reach measurement, and a lot more about tefoLOGIC soon, I’d like to jot down a few moments I couldn’t help but remember about the industry. I soon realized I’m the customer profile that local business owners prefer to target with advertising.
Free email, free accounts, free storage, free software, free hosting, free this, free that, free the other. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”— David Kelleher
My visit to St. John Brewers was one of the first opportunities I’ve had to see the kind of technology tefoLOGIC enables in action. Our edge computing hardware has a wide range of applications; not just powering smart digital signage and computer vision algorithms. I have to admit; the prospect of sharing how the local shop owners could improve their existing display panels with our technology to improve in-store communication and augment sales over 800%, was quite alluring.
Digital Out-of-Home [DOOH] display at St. John Brewers Tap Room, St. John, USVIWhile I’ve been learning a lot about the different technologies retailers use to measure traffic, such as WiFi packet sniffing, Geofencing and more. It wasn’t until I saw a McDonalds I had visit retarget me with advertising that I realized how creepy this felt, especially since it was so unexpected. My phone was on airplane mode while I was using Bluetooth to listen to music at the local McDonalds. The next day I was perusing the internet on my Microsoft Surface and I saw an ad for the U.S. Virgin Island’s McDonald’s. While I’m not familiar with the USVI McDonald’s technology suite; but it seems McDonald's is leading the pack with place-based marketing. I suspect either them or a vendor connected with the advertiser’s has deployed an incognito communication device that enables them to retarget visiting customers across devices. I could be wrong, but I do recall revisiting the same outlet before I noticed the advertisement on my Surface Book; maybe the WiFi toggle on my phone was on?
This isn’t similar to accepting cookies and then receiving personalized advertisements across apps; this felt more like hey we know where you’ve been. I find this mildly annoying to say the least, but like David Kelleher said back in 2014, when a service is free, you’re probably the product.