Are we in the Middle of the Interactive Generation?

Interactive Generation

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season as the new year fast approaches. I’ve spent some much-needed time with my family and actually have the rest of the week off to enjoy more time with them. Right now, their sleeping time is my catch-up time and I feel like I’m just wading through emails, tweets, and stories.

Tonight, I re-read a post from eMarketer that a colleague sent me – “Department Stores Take Digital Out-of-Home Marketing to New Heights” and there were a few interesting nuggets that stuck out to me. As a whole, and to someone who’s been pretty deep into this industry for the last year, there weren’t any surprises about the channel (“DOOH”). What I latched on to, though, were the consumer behaviors that continue to change with the introduction and adoption of emerging technologies like smartphones, iPads and video games.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked if we were in the middle of an Engagement Revolution, and tonight I’ll ask if we’re in the middle of the Interactive Generation. What do you think?

This eMarketer post provides some compelling information, probably the most is centered around interactivity and advertisements on the iPad. From the post –

And stores hope they will attract shoppers who have become used to colorful digital advertising on the internet, their mobile phones and increasingly on devices like the iPad, where bright colors and movement add interest and engagement according to studies like one from UM and Time Inc.

No brainer on bright colors and movement. This can be partly attributed to the technology, partly to the content, and partly to the simple human condition of recognizing movement over static. But it’s the “82% more likely to notice ads with interactive features” that I find fascinating. I mean, think about that – 8 out of 10 people are more likely to pay attention to an advertisement that includes some level of interactivity. Now how many of them actually interact is my next question, but this number is astronomical and quite encouraging to anyone who believes that the future of OOH/DOOH/digital signage is interactivity.

I’ve thought and had conversations with colleagues about mobile tablets affect on OOH/DOOH, specifically how they can be used with those installations to drive deeper brand experiences. But this study sheds light on another profound impact that tablets could have on the industry – not as a connection device, but as a behavior-changing device. If consumers react a certain way on tablets (and brands create advertisements a certain way), it seems like this, more than anything, can drive the need and acceptance for interactivity on anything outside of the home, on and off devices that consumers own.

Another point, not backed by data, but well made – Creating window displays powered up by digital technology, retailers aim to attract the attention of a generation of consumers who are increasingly accustomed to the on-demand, interactive, and technically advanced capabilities of smartphones and video games.

These non-OOH/DOOH technologies are already playing a large part in today’s generation, which is not made up of like-aged people, but of like-consumption consumers. Interactivity is all around, and technology is rapidly advancing. Along with both come the change in consumer expectations. I almost think it’s expected to see bright colors and movement – they’re table stakes – but consumers want the connection, and that connection happens through interactivity. Table stakes are soon not going to be enough because at the end of the day, regardless of the bright colors and movement, as long as brands are pushing a 1-way message, they can only accomplish so much.

Engagement and interactivity go hand-in-hand. They’re not based on demographics, they’re based on behaviors. And as we see here, they’re changing right in front of our eyes.

So what do you think? Do you think we’re in the middle of an Interactive Generation? And how much do you think these behaviors will affect the OOH/DOOH/digital signage channel?

6 thoughts on “Are we in the Middle of the Interactive Generation?

  1. Paul Flanigan

    MIke, you know where I stand – it’s all moving toward interactivity. But something sticks out at me that you touched on. How many people are willing to interact? While at Best Buy, I had a manager who said people were afraid to interact with touch screens, and he was dead, DEAD wrong. I have never met anyone who was afraid to interact with screens. We all love buttons. What I noticed was that the “attract loop” was the deciding factor. You have to put something on that screen that entices the viewer to engage. Simply having “interactive features” does nothing if you don’t get them to touch the screen.
    So this is the danger point. Just because a consumer is more likely to interact does not mean he or she will, and the biggest reason is what you do to get them there. Don’t forget that.

  2. Mike Cole

    Back in 2003 when we installed our first 50″ through window interactive solution in an estate agents window, we had to include a big sign which said “Touch me I am a touch screen!” Today this no longer applies because Apple fixed all that with the introduction of the Iphone Ipad etc. The problem now are displays that are non interactive, just watch the disappointment as customers try and make a non interactive display do something. This is why Visual Planet are working hard to supply our touchfoils to make just about any non interactive display interactive.

    What does require a lot more work is making sure, once engaged, customers receive a good interactive experience this comes down to the following areas:
    • Fast response when selecting content
    • Useful relevant/content and
    • Simple and intuitive navigation

    For large format displays (in our world this is between 30-167 inch) simple navigation means making the touch buttons large and in your face, having to search around the screen to find the next button to click will just not work. The next level of content should never more than one or two clicks away from the home page. Never has the term “KISS” been more relevant than when large interactive DOOH displays are deployed for applications like retail windows , bus shelters, wayfinders, general information points etc. If you are designing content for public facing interactive displays the first step is to throw away the website manual of design! We have all experienced very bad examples which can very quickly disappoint a impatient customer, however it is also good to see that some very fine examples appearing that engage and do the job they were designed to do.

    Thanks for reading

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  4. David Weinfeld


    This is a great article; and one that I completely agree with. As Mike Cole highlighted even further, we are moving toward an age where consumers naturally expect digital displays to be touch-enabled. Thank you, Apple!

    Not only that, but people expect that the functionality of most touchscreens will match that of the iPhone or iPad. The swipe, pinch in, and pinch out movements are becoming accepted standards for interaction.

  5. Mike Cearley Post author

    Paul, Mike, David – thank you all for your comments. Real good stuff. I think it’s great that we’re having the conversation about how to make interactive signage more compelling vs. how to make digital signage more effective. I really think we’re going to see more and more interactivity and engagement in the coming year. Exciting times! Thanks again.

  6. Adri Ponsen

    Nice article Mike! The article surely arise the fundamental question of what is the definition of ‘interactivity’and ‘engagement’ Yes, we praise to the Almighty finally the technology goes ‘Real Time’ in that 2.0 and 3.0 euphoria on web interface. Though, the question remains the same, what is interactivity? Is it simply getting your replies from others in nano seconds durations, or is it going deeper than parades of replies and comments at your profile page? The same thing with the word ‘engagement’, if you attend the engagement of two souls we know that engagement is more spiritual than material, the social media marketing Guru says that through engagement you will drive sales. Well, if the purchase decision failed because the negative experience of third person, that she trust the most, the sales is not going to happen.
    As I begin to observe this revolutions, the engagemen and the interactive is more fragile because it has to be in the right momentum and the right message.
    Happy Holiday to you all!

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