The Evolution of OOH – Pt. 1.5

Tropicana orange-powered poster

Last week, I posted the briefest post ever here and it was centered around the evolution of signage. I was on my way to work and within 1 mile of each other, I saw a traditional (1.0) sign at one Walgreens and then a digital (2.0) sign at another Walgreens. This got me thinking about the 3.0 version of this one particular sign. What would that be?

Well, then, I started thinking more generally about the OOH space and what 3.0 signage and/or experiences are. I think it’s easy to assume that if you throw some sort of interactive technology at any sign, you’ll have the next generation, 3.0 version of anything. But the more I think about it and the more examples I see, the more I doubt that assumption.

So, I’m going to document another exploration – this one focused on the evolution of OOH. I’m not interested in one version of anything. I’m interested in exploring multiple versions of a similar medium (billboards, posters, kiosks) – like the Walgreens sign. I’d love for you to be involved, too. If you come across any examples, I’d welcome you sharing them here. I think this is a topic ripe for discussion and would love to have more voices represented here than my own.

I don’t think there is much definition in this space, even around those things that have been defined. So, let’s mix it up a little bit more. And maybe in the process, provide some clarity in this ever-evolving space called Out of Home.

First up is a poster. And yes, I’m calling this a poster vs. a billboard. There’s a higher potential for information, length of engagement, and human interaction with this than a billboard.

Here is a simple 1.0 version of a standard poster:

Tropicana standard posterAnd here’s an example of another poster, this one powered by electricity from oranges. That’s right, oranges. This, to me, is an example of a 3.0 version of a poster.

I just think this is creatively brilliant. But that alone certainly does not signify the next generation of OOH. I think there are a few characteristics of 3.0 OOH that can help differentiate it from everything else that we see. While this is not a complete list, it’s a starter:

1. The experience – I really believe the critical difference between current (1.0 & 2.0) executions and next generation (3.0) executions is in the experience. Nothing more. I think you can create an experience around any execution in many different ways, but in the end, there’s something fundamentally different in 3.0 executions and it has to do the experience.

I think it’s simple to get to the bottom of different versions by asking 1 question – “is there an experience?” If there is, you can dig a little bit deeper to try to understand if the experience is new and/or unique and constitutes the next generation.

Here, there’s a clear experience – different from most any poster you’ll ever see – and that is to see behind the scenes, so to speak. The oranges fundamentally change the experience. If there weren’t any oranges, or a unique power supply for that matter, we’re looking at a standard digital poster. And a fairly boring one at that.

2. Sharability – Through any experience comes sharing, from straight-up offline word-of-mouth to online social communities to everything in between. Technology has enabled sharing with masses easier and quicker, but if the experience is not worthy enough (be it the biggest, best, worst or first), no one is going to want to share it, regardless of how easy it might be. Ease of sharing from the experience might separate the execution from others, but the real difference will be in the sharability factor – is this something that people want to share?

Here, there are no (share) buttons to press or codes to interact with or anything like that. But it is an execution that is unique and different and probably the first one that people have seen like it. It has a natural sharability factor. As you can see in the video, people want to capture it in some way and I’d bet that the photo and/or video doesn’t stay in that digital device for their eyes only.

3. Smart – On one hand, you can approach this by asking, “is this execution smart enough to tailor messages to me?” Does it and/or how effective is it at distributing the right content at the right time to the right people? These are some of the things that digital signage enables in an efficient manner – the ability to customize messages/advertisements based on things like time of day, audience demographics, and actual placement. But to me, these are now table stakes and they don’t separate standard digital signage from being a 2.0 execution. 3.0 executions have to do more. They have to be smarter, or at least appear to be smarter.

On the other hand, there’s a completely subjective aspect to how smart something is. And I think it has to do more with creativity than anything else. Both aspects here can separate 3.0 versions from the others.

I would consider this execution a smart execution. To realize the true power in oranges, enough to generate electricity and to power a poster is just smart. No two ways about it.

Oh yeah, there’s a fairly substantial potential energy impact it could have, too. That’s pretty smart, too.

4. Scalability – This is obviously an important factor to change the landscape and/or consumer behavior and/or how we interact with the outside world. If it’s not scalable, it’s probably not going to change much and its novelty will fade away at some point.

I have a feeling that many 3.0 examples we see are not going to be scalable. At least not right now. For the most part, they’re going to be experimental in nature. The result of these one-off experiments, however, could be one step on the innovation ladder to a larger, scalable, 3.0 execution.

Again, this is the beginning of this exploration. I’m sure as I (and hopefully, we) encounter more examples, we will continue refining this lense. I’d love to hear and see your thoughts. Think I missed anything that separates 3.0 experiences from all others? Share them here. Find an example? Drop it here. I just think this space is fascinating and full of potential. With some creativity and thought (not necessarily new technology), these 3.0 solutions can make our lives easier – not creepier – easier. And regardless of how cool or novel something might be, the exciting thing is in the potential impact it could have on our lives.


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