NY Company Touting Rear License Plates Of Vehicles As Part-Time Ad Displays

April 19, 2023 by Dave Haynes

Digital billboards and street furniture displays have long been used to advertise products to motorists as they make their way around an area, but a small New York company is suggesting the rear license plates on vehicles can also double up as digital OOH ad displays.

An industry friend sent along the link to a company called Garden Of Life Marketing, which with that handle I’d think was selling healing crystals. But the firm, which has an NYC address, is trying to develop an advertising business called digiPlate.

The website still says 2018, so I have no idea if this is an active effort or an orphaned site. But it’s not hard to guess why the proposition hasn’t gone far.

The idea is that a small widescreen LCD display would replace the stamped and metal license plate on the rear of vehicles, showing the plate ID when the vehicle is rolling, but switching over to video messaging when the vehicle’s brakes are applied.

The proposition is that just like other DOOH mediums, “digiPlate is a platform shielded from ad-free technology …

I could likely talk for an hour laying out all the reasons why this initiative is, umm, challenged, but let’s go with the most basic one: cost.

A stamped aluminum plate might cost $2-$3 to manufacture and if you know how to use a screwdriver or crescent wrench, you can put a plate on a vehicle. A digital plate would cost many times that, and also introduce the labor costs of tying the system into vehicle power and the brake signal. Yes, small digital photo frames are out there that, in volume, would mean reasonably lowered unit costs. But these are displays that would need to go through certifications and be designed to deal with potholes, gravel roads and everything from 118 F in Phoenix to -30 F in Grand Forks, ND. So … custom-manufacturing, which means lotsa cost, and R&D.

So … as they say … good luck with that!

Arguably a better option, albeit with its own (and many) challenges is transparent-ish displays in the rear windows of vehicles, like what these guys in China market.

There IS a company making progress in the US market with digital license plates, though it is decidedly not an ad model, and the plates are e-paper, not LCD.

Reviver has developed connected, e-paper replacements for stamped metal license plates on motor vehicles has just cleared a huge business hurdle, with the state of California making them fully legal.

Based in that state’s capitol, Reviver had been running a pilot in one small part of the state since 2018, but now the government has made them legal across the state, joining Arizona, Michigan, and Texas (just for commercial vehicles). The company says “more than 10 additional U.S. states are in various stages of adoption.”

These things are akin to electronic shelf labels, just a lot bigger (6″ high by 12″ wide). The digital plates allow for personalization, but the interesting thing is how the units are tied to management software that can automate renewal of plates and eliminate the need for things like physical tags and stickers. Owners can also customize the plates in light and dark mode, and set personalized messages at the bottom of the plate.

Here’s a demo video of digiPlate

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