Category Archives: Emerging Technology

Teenagers’ Simple Thoughts About OOH Technology

Coke's touch screen fountain

Remember this machine? You’ve probably seen them more and more in restaurants.

Last night, I was out and here’s what I overheard from 2 girls, probably 14-16 years old.

Girl 1: “This is weird.”

Girl 2: “Ahhh. Awesome.”

Then, they both promptly figured it out, got their sodas, and continued on with 14-16 year-old conversation.

Technology like this is not disruptive for this group. It is expected. And it doesn’t phase them at all.

QR Codes on a car? Maybe not such a bad idea…

Check this out:

QR code on car

A QR code on a car. Right on the back there. No context whatsoever. But if you know what it is, you don’t really need context. You know that you could probably scan that thing, just like all of the ones you can scan on posters or in magazines.

On the back of a car?

My first inclination was to put this into the category of “what in the world are you doing?” But after giving it some thought, maybe there’s something to it.

Before I get into that, I have said many things about QR codes and setting them up for success. They must be:

1. Accessible

2. Convenient

3. Valuable

All too often, none of these are addressed. Just because it’s simple to slap a QR code on anything, brands and marketers do it with the expectation that people are just going to do something with them.

Well, no.

Especially on the back of a car. What is accessible, convenient and valuable out of that whole scenario?

Not so fast, though. Maybe. This is where it got me thinking, for this “valuable” proposition. Now, I have no idea what is behind the code here, if anything. I would presume that it unlocks some sort of information about the vehicle. I don’t know how anyone would find that valuable, but given the way people throw these on anything, value has little to do with any sort of rhyme or reason.

What would be really interesting, however, is if the code unlocked something about the person behind the vehicle. Another dimension to your real self, as told through the lense of technology. I’m not necessarily talking about attaching a name, address, social – any personal information – to it. I’m talking about adding characteristics or traits that embody you. Think about it – someone wants to know more about the person who really is behind this vehicle and they can find things about their personality or passions just by scanning a code attached to the car. And for you, the car owner, it’s another form of self-expression.

Now, how this would really play out on a car, I don’t know. The car would have to be parked or not moving in order to scan it and even more, do something with the information it provides. To what extent that could actually connect people is not certain. But what is certain is this – technology is showing us every single day that real-world objects (like cars) can instantly be made interactive. This technology can bring these things to life.

This example here might not connect people to each other in this way. But if a car brand used a technique like this to show other consumers what characteristics (ie, laid back, analytical, fun-loving, etc.) and/or passions (ie, loves the outdoors, kids extracurricular activities, going to the gym, etc) belonged to people who drove a particular car, that could be a very intriguing insight. Particularly to a car shopper. It could be something that influences that kind of purchasing decision. Which, by the way, should be the whole point of any technology, much less QR codes.

Who knows. How much good would something like this ultimately be? Really? The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a crazy idea that provides little/no value.

But then again, so does an unmarked QR code on the back of a car.



DOOH + mobile + social is not always THE great formula

Digital billboard + mobile + social

I think this is a great formula. The holy grail, in fact.

This is where I see the real potential in truly using the places and things around us to engage. Not just through one, but all three.

ING recently created one such experience in Germany:

Here’s the thing – the problem right now is not whether or not the technology can do it. The real problem is cost and complexity. This is what prohibits scale. But you can even see how compelling something like this could be out in the real world, and then the reach it could potentially have in the virtual world. It’s a combination that could really spark engagement beyond an “experiential” level – something that we could see as a normal part of our everyday lives as we go about the real world around us.

Here’s the other thing, which to me, is more interesting. The tie-in between virtual basketball – regardless of how novel it is and how integrated the experience is – and ING is completely lost on me. They indicate that they wanted to “demonstrate how easy and efficient banking can be” with ING, but how that idea manifests itself through a virtual free throw is beyond me. I get that they wanted to reach a younger demo, but even still, is this demo going to remember ING is the one that brought this experience to them? It just seems too disconnected.

So, something like will get attention for sure. Right now, only a relative few might use it. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before more “non-technologically-curious” people would interact with something like this. But, the bigger concern should be to remain on brand. This, along with great technological integration like this, will be the true holy grail.

On brand communications/idea + integrated technology solution

This is where it’s at.

If it’s always on, will people ever turn it off?

“Always On” technology or “Sometimes Off” technology? What are we striving for?

I would say that right now, we are in a precious moment in time where we experience “Sometimes Off” technology – smartphone adoption, while rising, still has a ways to go, same for tablets, digital signage..well, we know where that is right now. We are on the cusp of “Always On” technology, but if I stop to think about where we are – the masses – I can actually find myself relishing it.

Now, I’m as plugged in as anyone and I look forward to a day where the places and things around us are turned on. I know that is where we are going and I actually think we’ll get there much quicker than people might be ready for. But as I think about this idea, of truly everyone being plugged in and turned on, it’s hard not to think about the days where we didn’t even have cell phones. I think of when I was a kid and was lucky to have a laser disk player + TV and a standard wall-jacked phone (remember those cords?!?).And then I think of my kids right now with iPods and iPhones and iPads and computers and DVD players and everything. They don’t know anything else. They know technology and to them, it probably is always on.

But what happens when it truly is always on? What will we have then?

Yes, it will just be another thing to manage. But it’s a lot easier to manage when it’s not there vs. when it always is and you must turn it off. Fascinating thought, to me. Will people turn it off?


Another (Scary) Reason that Technology Alone is Not the Answer

The case against one-way push advertising keeps getting stronger and stronger. Intuitively and based on my own experiences, I feel like the time to capture someone’s attention, certainly to the point of engaging them, is dwindling at a rapid pace. Our lives are busier, we have more and more media choices, and as such, there is a premium put on content that we will give our attention to.

But there’s not tons of research out there to back this up. This year, in fact, I’ve seen more and more centered around multi-channel use and it is something that I anticipate seeing more and more of – bigger studies, looking deeper into consumer behaviors across channels/devices/media – in the very near future.

Sometimes these studies – and corresponding results – are staggering. Like this one – “commissioned by Time Warner’s Time Inc. and conducted by Boston’s Innerscope Research. Though it had only 30 participants, the study offers at least directional insight into a generation that always has a smartphone at arm’s length and flips from a big TV set to a smaller tablet screen and back again at a moment’s notice.”

The study “found that consumers in their 20s (“digital natives”) switch media venues about 27 times per nonworking hour—the equivalent of more than 13 times during a standard half-hour TV show.” This, compared to “”digital immigrants” (consumers who grew up with old-school technologies, such as TV, radio and print, and adapted to newer ones). Immigrants switched media venues just 17 times per nonworking hour. Put another way, natives switch about 35% more than immigrants.”

Either way, there is no doubting that with the availability and adoption of so many different media choices (through technology) + our yearning to consume only what we want, the expectations of content delivery – despite what “channel” – are higher than ever. And it’s going to continue getting higher and higher.

When we think about the idea of interactive out-of-home, the places and things around us being turned “on,” and having the ability to interact with whatever we want, when we want, it’s clearer than ever that the technology alone will do nothing. It simply enables more noise or more engagement.

Question is – what are you producing? Are you producing content that just “goes” with the screen/channel? Or are you producing content that enables a deeper connection to the story? Something that is relevant and engaging? Something that is not pushed down someone’s throat?

This is where we’re going. We are a connected society who gets connected quicker and more seamlessly every day. As such, the substance of what we’re connecting with is going to always rise to the top.

This is gut and experience talking. For those of us who might need the data to be convinced, hold on. It’s not a matter of when that data will come, it’s a matter of what that data will say. Are you ready?

A New Way to Think About Interactive Out-of-Home: Project Glass

I always talk about the places and things around us having the ability to be turned on. What I have not talked about is our ability to be turned on and interact with the places & things around us. This cool, kind of creepy technology from Google – Project Glass – shows just that. With a pair of glasses, look what you can do to and with the world around you:

I can imagine a day where this is reality, but I wonder if technology like this – to this extreme – will connect us more or divide us more? When everything is enabled through technology, what happens to the human aspect? Now, multiply that by about a billion. What do you think?

Don’t forget “Also”

Yes, we are:

  • Connected
  • Social
  • Not stationary
  • More technologically adept


But we are also:

  • Dazzled by a “show”
  • Looking for ways to be entertained
  • Not tolerant of wasted time


As it pertains to connecting – in whatever way – when someone is outside of the confines of their home or office, perhaps they are more driven by the “also’s” than the initial “are’s.”

Evolution – Interactive Kiosks

First, it was banks and the ATM.

Then, the airport, with self check-ins.

Then came grocery stores with self check-outs.

Now, hotels and some restaurants.

Convenience is the theme.

Technology is enabling the world around us to address our needs. This will always be the movement and we will see more and more evolutions.

The day will come soon when our desires – those that do not make our lives better because of convenience – will be enhanced through technology and the real-world around us. In the big scheme of things, it will be rapid.

Could Some of the Most Memorable OOH Executions be Counterproductive to Brands?

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

I’ve passed this tire many times over the past few months. Every time I pass it, I wonder what it signifies. So, finally on Friday, as I was passing by it again, I had a conversation with a friend who is also a local. It uncovered something interesting as it relates to the ‘experience’ of anything-out-of-home. Can the experience – in this case, the unique execution – actually be counterproductive to a brand? Here’s the conversation that leads me to question:

Mike: “What is that?”

Friend: “A big tire.”

Mike: “Right. But what does it signify?”

Friend: “I don’t know.”

Mike: “Is Uniroyal’s factory there or something?”

Friend: “No. I don’t think so. I think it’s just a billboard.”

Mike: “Hmm.”

Friend: “One of those crazy billboards.”

Mike: “Yeah.”

This is the first time, after months of passing it, I ever thought of the notion that it was an advertisement (more than a landmark). I carried on.

Mike: “I guess the problem with that is – I don’t ever remember Uniroyal.”

Friend: “Oh, yeah, you forget that part. It’s just the big tire.”

It’s just the big tire. I wonder what Uniroyal would say about that. If it is, in fact, a billboard, it’s the thing that is the most memorable. Not the brand who is bringing the thing to you.

So, this makes me wonder about big, awesome, whiz-bang things that catch our eye – and even make us stop and engage – when we’re outside of the home, captive or not. Could be that those big, awesome whiz-bang things are so big, awesome and whiz-bang that the brand either gets lost or forgotten, or even worse – not associated with the thing altogether.

To Make Digital Signage *Stuff*

At first, it took technologists. For the networks and the hardware and the software.

Then, came the creatives. For the design and content.

After that came the strategists. For the right things to say to the right people at the right times.

And here we are now.

Already behind for the needs of today.

Top 2 on my list are:

1. Storytellers. For telling the right part of the story on the right screen at the right time.

2. Data interpreters. For understanding how to do #1 better.

How quickly it all happens.