Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No- It’s Drone-vertising

Goodyear_Blimp_-_Spirit_of_InnovationWho doesn’t remember playing at the beach in the summer when a flying banner overhead directed you to the nearest ice cream parlor or crab shack?

As a kid, I remember the novelty of seeing the Goodyear blimp fly overhead.

I wonder if my kids would even know what I was talking about if I referred to the Goodyear blimp.  I haven’t seen one for a while, though a visit to their website indicates they are still at it, one football stadium and NASCAR event at a time.

But what if you could devise an air carrier that could weigh less than 50 lbs (as opposed to 12K lbs), could fly closer than 1500 feet above ground and cost a fraction of what the Goodyear blimp costs to operate? Drone technology has developed to a point where this is a real possibility.

DroneCast, a drone advertising business has successfully advertised for Sony, Dave & Buster’s and has used its drones to stream football games for the NFL.  The company also uses its drones for other promotional activities like dropping T-shirts, gift cards and even food delivery at events.  Sally French of MarketWatch interviewed Eugene Stark, founder of Hoovy, a company that develops banners to be hung from drones.  He compared drones to the Goodyear blimp in this way, “We don’t get as many views as the blimp, but the people that see the drone are more engaged with the advertising.” I would say so-  when a drone flies by and drops a glowstick 6 inches from your head, you look up to see where it came from!

So why aren’t more companies investing in drone advertising?

For one, the FAA has been ambiguous about regulations regarding unmanned aerial vehicles.  There are some prohibited commercial uses of drones related to how drone activity can be monetized.  Also, drone-vertising is not cheap.  While it is not as expensive as, say, the Goodyear blimp, for some companies, the cost-prohibitive nature of droning currently stands as a great impediment to it being considered as a viable means of advertising.

It might be worth it, though.   Raj Singh, founder of DroneCast, claims his analytics show drone promotion as more effective in terms of ROI than traditional street outreach.

For example, Inbox App invested $27K in a drone promotion with DroneCast that yielded a $7 cost-per-download compared to a previous ad campaign that cost $15-per-download.   Wokker, a chain of noodle shops employed drones to carry fliers past windows of Moscow office buildings to promote their lunch specials just before lunch.  They had a 40% increase in orders at Wokker restaurants in the area as a result.

This medium certainly seems to be emerging as more and more brands seek to garner consumer consideration any way they can.  As advertisers compete to get our attention on our 3X5 inch devices, I believe they will resort to other media to draw us in.  Drones just might be the way to get us to look up from our phones, even if it is just for a second.

Have you seen a drone overhead, being used for advertising?  If so, where were you and what was your impression?

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