Floating billboard targets beachgoers in Ocean and Monmouth
Banner planes have some competition this year on beaches in Ocean and Monmouth counties
The Shore Board is the first and only digital LED billboard boat operating between Seaside Park and Asbury Park.
Owner Charlie Michaels, a former Verizon worker whose position was eliminated last year, launched The Shore Board just over a month ago on a vessel named after his wife Kimberly Grace.
"The biggest thing that we wanted to accommodate is the local, small business community," Michaels said. He said while banner planes are great for advertising too, "Their operating costs though unfortunately are pretty steep."
The Shore Board offers targeted beach front marketing, according to Michaels.
"We allow local businesses to pick a beach zone and actually reach out to the people that are very close in vicinity to their restaurant, their place of businesses, at a very discounted rate," he said. "It works out to be 70 percent less than aerial advertising."
Beach zones vary from about 2.5 to 3.4 miles, according to Michaels. One month of advertising runs $699, an approximate daily rate of $46.60 or $3.88 each time the ad pops up. Inclement weather events are taken into consideration and incorporated into the price for advertisers.
The floating billboard isn't just for business.
"We've had a lot of people doing day passes for birthdays, welcome home for instance from the military, congratulations for graduation, and we really try to have fun with the people on the beach," Michaels said.
After delays in finalizing insurance coverage and bad weather in May preventing screen installation, The Shore Board finally was up and running in June.
Michaels said when bad weather days keep the boat docked, he spends time a home with the couple's 2-year-old son.
"We'll make up the day to our customers and, for instance, we'll offer them an opportunity on another day to go in duel zones, so they can get some more exposure on the beach, or will simply just run their campaign for an additional day to make up for that rain day," Michaels said.
The Shore Board has about 15 monthly subscribers and also have had several day passes, according to Michaels.
"We're actually at the point where we are covering operating costs, so I'm very excited about that, Michaels said.
The Shore Board operates out of the Manasquan Inlet, operating on even days of the month from Point Pleasant to Seaside Park and odd days from Manasquan to Asbury Park.
The Morris County resident spent his summers at the shore while growing up and described the reasoning behind the odd-even days.
"We do not want to take away from everybody's experience down at the shore and we do understand that some people get agitated by advertising, so what we try to do is just really make a presence, but not be a nuisance," he said. "We're hoping that the local community can appreciate that and hopefully as time goes by we can gain their support and we also open ourselves up to the local municipalities.
The board will also post amber alerts and another emergency notices.