Peer to peer: Drones open new business horizons

How can drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) benefit my business?   


From left, Peter Pimentel, Alison Banister, Noam Kenig

How can drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) benefit my business?   

Peter Pimentel - Associate creative director, Engine Digital

When producing video content, using drones for aerial shots is a no-brainer. The visual impact, low cost and flexibility drones offer make them an invaluable part of the production tool kit. We can now capture elaborate tracking shots of breathtaking vistas for a $2,000 day rate for two operators at a moment’s notice – something that once required $10,000 for a helicopter and crew and days of planning.

For advertisers, this means more visual bang for your buck, which is especially relevant in a media space crowded with visual bang. Our team at Engine Digital found this especially true in producing the latest interactive campaign for Pirelli and its P Zero All Season Plus tires. Our goal was to highlight the tire’s performance in dry, wet and light snow conditions. We felt the best way to do that was to take the tires on a road trip in three different climates on three different cars and give users control of the camera.

Being a digital transformation agency, we get excited by projects that let us use the latest and greatest in tech. This project was no different. Among the tools in our kit were the Red Epic camera (used on feature films like The Hobbit), 4K GoPro cameras, gimbal stabilizers and our beloved drone – the DJI Inspire 1.

What this drone allowed us to do was shoot with seemingly limitless freedom. No longer constrained to shooting along the x and y, the aerial rig opened the ceiling to the z-axis and open skies. For Pirelli, this meant we could provide a sense of scale and define the features of the incredible landscapes we were driving through. In turn we were able to tell the greater consumer story of how this all-weather tire brings you to more places with fewer limitations – a feature it shares with our drone.

Alison Banister - Developer, Opticon.ca

While drones are often associated with government/military, there are plenty of applications in the private sector – in fact, the technology is a dream come true for marketers.

Depending on the nature of your business, you could benefit from drones right now, or you may need to wait a little longer for the ripple effect of robotics in our daily lives (think: mobile phones).

If your business has anything to do with the outdoors, you can hire a drone operator or even go to the store today, buy a consumer-level aerial drone such as a DJI Phantom and get a real marketing edge right out of the box for just over $1,000.

Photographers and film/TV industry professionals were perhaps the earliest adopters – have you noticed that the new norm is to film sports like skiing and surfing with drones? But many sectors can benefit from the use of UAVs:

•Real estate professionals can create breathtaking videos to pitch properties.

•Insurance adjusters, roofers, engineers, etc., can easily carry out inspections of the tops of buildings.

•Farmers can monitor their crops remotely.

•Cartographers no longer need to hire pilots and photographers.

•Promoters can get aerial video footage of their outdoor events such as weddings and concerts.

You can hire someone to turn your raw video footage into marketing material, though there are cheaper do-it-yourself methods if you’re on a shoestring budget, such as using a basic video editor like Microsoft Movie Maker and incorporating royalty-free audio tracks and stock video snippets.

Soon, drone deliveries may be commonplace – kudos to Amazon for getting our imaginations revved.

Noam Kenig - CEO, AerialX

The drone industry is expected to become the next economic game-changer of the decade, one that will totally alter the way we do business.

The current stage of the industry is like the world of computers prior to the Internet boom. Even though the technology is essentially already here, there is a lot to be improved upon. Having said that, we are starting to get comfortable with the idea of using drones for commercial use in industries such as agriculture, energy, entertainment and real estate.

Agriculture: With the use of drones, farmers can monitor their crops in real time, which can be extremely helpful in optimizing their yield. Also, issues such as insect infestation or lack of water can now be dealt with much earlier. Moreover, benefiting farmers and consumers alike, drones can be extremely useful in reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Energy: Drones could be helpful to the oil and gas industry by assisting in detecting leaks and spills, which can be done at significantly less cost than for searches using manned aircraft.

Entertainment: The use of drones in filmmaking reduces production costs and can provide low-altitude angles that have previously been far more difficult and expensive.

Real estate: Embracing drone technology to capture stunning aerial photographs and video of properties can really expedite the sales process.

These are just examples of the vast potential benefits of drone commercial applications. As the technology improves and matures, business awareness will increase. Like the Internet revolution in its early years, the use of drones in businesses will grow tremendously in the next decade and will eventually become an integral part of business operations and our daily lives.