(Source: Market Watch)
Call it drone-vertising.
Drones have already been used for delivering packages, serving as waiters and photographing sporting events. The next wave of uses for drones? Flying billboards.
“People are fascinated with the concept,” said Eugene Stark, founder of Hoovy, a company that hangs banners from three to six foot wide drones and flies them over events and businesses.
And there’s money to be made.
“When I first started, the idea was to fly for $100 a day,” said Raj Singh, founder of DroneCast, a drone advertising business that launched in April 2014. “We got large offers for $25,000 for 4 hours.”
His client list includes Sony Corp. SNE, +0.35% and Dave and Buster’s Entertainment, Inc. PLAY, +0.69% He has also worked with the NFL and music festivals to live stream games and shows.
Drones have advantages over that other form of flying advertisement — blimps. Namely, they are smaller and thus significantly more nimble.
“We can fly lower to the ground and we don’t have to be as high as a blimp,” Stark said. “We can fly where the traditional advertising platforms cannot.”
Drone-based advertising still can’t compete with the sheer size of a blimp, or even a large billboard. Hoovy and DroneCast both say their banners are about 6 feet wide. The Goodyear blimp, to compare, is 246 feet long.
“We don’t get as many views as the blimp,” Stark said. “But the people that see the drone are more engaged with the advertising.”
Even before Hoovy, Stark was no stranger to drones. He previously worked on the business team for a robotics project at Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The idea for Hoovy came as he was flying his drone around a park while a basketball game was going on.
“The next thing I knew is that they stopped playing the basketball game and started watching the drone,” he said.
Stark says when he flies drones at events, people will see the drone from far away, prompting them to come closer toward the advertisement.
“Drones draw them in,” Stark said. “Then they ask questions about the product.”
But DroneCast’s Singh worries about the staying power of drone-based advertising.