A start-up tech firm wants to pay cyclists to pedal – the cyclists' bikes will be equipped with LCD screens that carry adverts. Because the screens are equipped with GPS chips they could be triggered by geographical locations. So, Londoners could be alerted to an Evans sale when the cyclist-with-a-screen passes close to an Evans store.
Lacuna Digital’s eBoard 1 would be the bicycle equivalent of the digital screens now sported by some taxis. The screens are attached to a proprietary rear bike-rack and feature an onboard, cyclist-powered generator. Depending on mileage and locations pedalled through cycle commuters could earn cash for riding around, says Lacuna Digital’s founder Dan Roberts.
“Based on average commuting distances and a competitive cost-per-1000-impressions for brands cyclists should be seeing earnings of £80-£100 per month – but this is set to change as we are currently negotiating our sponsorship terms. Of course this will be lower or higher depending on mileage covered.”
The screen cannot be removed from the rack, it’s insured and fitted with an alarm. A cyclist could attach a pannier bag to the other side of the rack.
To those that say such mobile advertising screens are a potential distraction, especially for motorists, Roberts says:
“The screen is on the left hand side of the bike so as to not distract road users, and content avoids flashing so, if anything, it will lead to increased visibility for cyclists.”
The system will launch on July 1st and there will be 150 screen-cyclists from day one, hopes Roberts, with 2000 rolling along on the roads of London – and London only to begin with – by the end of the first year of operation. There are 500,000 cycle journeys in London every day.
Lacuna Digital is hoping to attract interest from both blue-chip advertisers as well as bike shops.
“A chain of bike shops could purchase specific areas around their stores,” says Roberts, “so any bike that goes via the roads by those locations will display geo-aware content. It makes the content more valuable and relevant.”
He adds: “We pay cyclists for travelling green. We sell space to brands based on the eBoard 1's geo-location allowing targeted marketing to varying demographics across London. Use of live data streams can update information in real time.”
Roberts won a Shell LiveWIRE Sustainability Award in 2014 and a similar award the following year for a social enterprise which made smoothie from fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.
Other members of the team include his sister Mel Roberts. She is Lacuna Digital’s financial director, and is formerly of PricewaterhouseCoopers and other money businesses. Head of sponsorship is Miles Redgrave, with 10 years’ experience in real-estate sales. Product development has been led by Tom Learmonth, formerly of ClearChannel, an outdoor-advertising media specialist.