French billboards to speak to you on your mobile

Ah, the joys of technology. By the end of the month, it seems that billboard advertising in Paris will be able to speak to passers-by using their mobile phones.

The idea is that mobile users download a mini-applet which becomes a conduit between themselves and the billboard server. The applet will surf the mobile Internet as and when required, and even support a VoiP advertisement/call, where the user wants further information.

French media reports quote Albert Asseraf, director of strategy, research and marketing at JCDecaux, the outdoor-advertising company behind the billboard project, as saying that consumers will willingly consent to receive alerts about digital advertising as they move through the city.

"We are switching from a one-time active response to the user's blanket acceptance of many digital messages," he said. "We will, of course, need to be careful in making certain that users get only advertisements that interest them."

The idea behind the service is that, when a registered user is near to a billboard, the system will send a notice to the mobile that a digital file can be downloaded.

The information could range from a free ring tone, short video or event a discount voucher. Users will then be invited to `call' for further information.

Yes, well, I don't think I'll be opting in for the service when - and if - it launches in the UK, thankyou very much...