Meet the Dubai ad men who pay you to sit in traffic

A startup is test-running a blockchain-based technology that could help people turn their cars into mobile advertising vehicles. (Supplied)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Meet the Dubai ad men who pay you to sit in traffic

  • Blockchain technology challenges traditional outdoor media
  • Adverts connect to driver mobile phone

LONDON: A new startup founded by UAE-based entrepreneurs is in the process of test-running a blockchain-based technology that could help people turn their cars into mobile advertising vehicles.
It could challenge the use of traditional advertising methods such as outdoor billboards, the founders of The Elo Network claim.
The platform — which has been set up by Mohammed Khammas and Mohammed Bafaqih and incorporated in the Cayman Islands — will enable people to be paid for displaying adverts on the side or back of their vehicles while they go about their daily routines of driving to work, the mall or doing the school run.
The adverts will feature low-frequency bluetooth ‘beacons’ that connect to the drivers' mobile phone which will be able to monitor when the driver is in the car and where the car is being driven.
There is a minimum threshold for the number of miles being driven a day, but the main prerequisite is that the driver is in the car. Drivers will still be paid even if stuck in a traffic jam.
Advertising clients will be able to put out requests that drivers head to a particular area — for instance to be close to a new brand launch — with drivers being paid up to 4 or 5 times more than their standard rate if they accept.
While the concept of paying people to use their cars for advertising is not new, it is the use of blockchain technology that will make The Elo Network particularly grounding-breaking in the advertising world, its founders said.
“Billboards are very expensive and static and don’t give you the KPIs and insightful information that brands want these days. You solve that by getting them that data,” Bafaqih said.
The Elo Network collates detailed data by tracking the movements of the drivers and their day-to-day activities. Data points such as a particular area’s population density can been collected.
The information will be encrypted ensuring that the brand will never know the identity of the driver, said Bafaqih.
“It creates data sets that didn’t exist before. You don’t have to worry about privacy but at the same time the brand can know about your patterns. They can know where you go in mornings, where you drive, what normal patterns are created in certain areas and countries,” he said.
This level of detail is increasingly important for brands looking to run targeted campaigns, and it is something that traditional billboards are unable to offer.
The technology will also be used to overcome the payment problems that other similar car advertising schemes have faced.
“Historically what happens, where there is a authority that is issuing payments, it causes a lot of problems. There can be disputes on how much they (the drivers) are owed or how many miles were driven or what campaign someone has done,” he said.
Under the Elo Network program, the blockchain technology allows you to create so-called “Smart Contracts” — which is a software protocol that enforces and verifies the performance of a contract.
“It says driver A is going to be paid — for example — a dollar per mile — so as the person drives he starts receives ‘IOUs’. Those IOUs are convertible at any time,” he said.
With no ‘middle man’ involved, the driver is able to redeem their IOUs and get paid as and when they want.
The network is currently at ‘proof of concept’ stage and is test-running the platform with a number of brands. It is anticipated that the network will be rolled out to the public toward the end of this year and early 2019.


Canada to offer tax credits and incentives to media

Updated 22 November 2018
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Canada to offer tax credits and incentives to media

  • Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that the package is worth nearly $600 million Canadian
  • Most of the expense will be for a new tax credit for media organizations to support the labor costs of producing original news content

OTTAWA: Canada’s federal government said Wednesday it is stepping in to help the struggling Canadian media industry with new tax credits and incentives.
Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that the package is worth nearly $600 million Canadian ($453 million) over the next five years. Details of the program won’t be available until the next federal budget.
Most of the expense will be for a new tax credit for media organizations to support the labor costs of producing original news content. A temporary tax credit will also be created for subscribers to digital news media sites.
Non-profit media organizations will also be allowed to apply for charitable status. That will enable them to issue tax receipts for donations.
“To protect the vital role that independent news media play in our democracy and in our communities, we will be introducing measures to help support journalism in Canada,” Morneau said in Parliament.
John Honderich, chair of Torstar Corp., which owns the Toronto Star and a number of other newspapers as well as a share of The Canadian Press, said he is encouraged by the proposals.
“They should significantly help the media sector as it transforms to a sustainable digital future,” he said in a statement.
More than 250 news outlets in Canada have closed in the last 10 years and newspaper revenues alone are down as much as 40 percent since 2012.
Opposition Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said his party would never endorse assistance for journalism. The Conservatives believe government help for journalists interferes with press freedom and Poilievre said the government is choosing who gets to sit on a panel that will ultimately decide which news organizations survive and which don’t.