Category Archives: Friday 4-1-1

Friday’s 4-1-1, Rework Style

Happy Friday, everyone! Man, am I glad it’s here and tomorrow, I can relax with my family. It’s been one of those weeks. (Don’t I say that every week?)

I’m currently reading a couple of different books at the same time. I’ve never operated this way. I’m a one-book-at-a-time type of person – really I’m a one-thing-at-a-time type person as much as I can help it. So, I don’t know how I fell into this pattern of multi-reading. But it’s not bad. I’m keeping things straight in my mind and enjoying the pieces of the books that I read when I read them. The two that I’m deep in are Talent is Overrated and Prince of Thieves (the novel that The Town is based on). One business, one novel. It’s a nice combo.

ReworkBefore last week, I had another book in the mix – Rework by the guys at 37 Signals (you might be familiar with their PM software, Basecamp.) Aside from it being a quick read on my plane rides, with the pictures and big text, I really enjoyed the anecdotes that it presented. So, I thought it would be a fun Friday 4-1-1 to take my favorite and share here.

1.  Tone is in your fingers – It’s not about what tools you use, it’s about what you do with them.  Fancy gear can help, but the truth is your tone comes from you….The content is what matters.  You can spend tons on fancy equipment, but if you’ve got nothing to say..well, you’ve got nothing to say….It’s playing what you’ve got as well as you can.  Your tone is in your fingers. I’m not going to tie everything back to this particular channel (OOH) through these anecdotes, but this one resonated with me on various levels.  First, I firmly believe that everyone has unique gifts to offer.  It’s about putting people in positions where those gifts can shine, and in all cases, doing what you can to pull those out of people.  The tools that we use are just that – tools.  The substance comes from the individual.  In the case of OOH, as I’ve said here many times, it’s not about the “screen,” it’s about the content that consumers engage with outside of their homes that drives them deeper into a brand experience.  The experience is the thing.  Not the screen.

2.  Start making something –  I’m not much of a talker (contrary to how this blog represents me, if it represents me otherwise!)  I’m much more of a doer.  At work and not at work, I don’t like to talk about things.  I like to do things.  So, I appreciate execution and results more than I do talk and ideas.  Until you actually start making something, your brilliant idea is just that, an idea.  And everyone’s got one of those…Ideas are cheap and plentiful…The real question is how you execute. I believe that we can make a lot out of a little in most cases.  Resourcefulness is something that I appreciate out of anyone.  Perhaps this is why I have the view on OOH that I have?

3.  Good enough is fine – I think this idea is counterintuitive to those who expect to produce GREAT work day in and day out.  I once heard, “Good is the worst enemy of Great.” And I like that. I think, overall, if people set their expectations to deliver “good” work, they are short-changing everyone involved. The expectation should always be to produce and deliver greatness. But I digress. This is more about complicated vs. simple, not necessarily great vs. good. There is, however, a perception that complicated solutions are “great” and simple solutions are only “good.” A lot of people get off on solving problems with complicated solutions.  Flexing your intellectual muscles can be intoxicating…A better idea: Find a judo solution, one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort.  Judo solutions are all about getting the most out of doing the least…When good enough gets the job done, go for it…And remember, you can usually turn good enough into great later. I talk to my team a lot about “navigating the grey space” – this is part of that. We are usually put in the position to make quick decisions. It’s important to know the effect of those decisions, now and in the future, and not everything should be (or needs) a quick decision – but I love the concept of not over-thinking things that don’t need it. I also heard once, “it’s easy to make something hard.  It’s hard to make something easy.” Perfect.

4.  Nobody likes plastic flowers – The business world is full of “professionals” who wear the uniform and try to seem perfect…Don’t be afraid to show your flaws…Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to sound and how you’re supposed to act.  Show the world what you’re really like…There’s a beauty to imperfection. If you bring your mind and yourself, you should be good in everything you do. You have a unique perspective that no one else brings to the table. You shouldn’t ever lose that “trying” to be something that the man “expects”.

“Uh-huh” – Inspiration is perishable –  I try to find inspiration all around me, but inevitably, in the grind of life, it’s often hard to find. It takes work to be open and aware of things that we find to inspire us. To me, inspiration is key to fulfillment. Without it, we would just be an empty mess. We all have ideas.  Ideas are immortal. They last forever. What doesn’t last forever is inspiration.  Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk:  It has an expiration date…When you’re high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty-four hours…Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you…If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.

“Duh” – Years of irrelevance – We live and operate in a world, particularly in business, where everything changes daily – literally. It’s virtually impossible to keep up with, much less master, anything related to technology and how it connects us to each other and the world around us. To log the infamous 10,000 hours to any one skill seems more and more difficult to do in today’s environment. That’s why I think it’s important to look for an understand the intangibles that people around you offer. There’s surprisingly little difference between a candidate with six months of experience and one with six years.  The real difference comes from the individual’s dedication, personality, and intelligence…How long someone’s been doing it is overrated.  What matters is how well they’ve been doing it.

I really found a lot great insights and anecdotes in this book and these are only 6 of them. So, if you like some of the things I highlighted here, I think you’d really enjoy the entire book. I’m not on board with everything in it, but definitely more things that not. It’s a recommend from me, for what it’s worth. If any of you have read it, I’d love to hear what you thought – your favorite or not-so-favorite anecdotes. Hit me here or on Twitter!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Friday’s 4-1-1, Introspection Style

I’m now on my way back home after an intense couple of days at CETW.  Conferences are hard, especially if you have day jobs, which almost everyone does.  Unfortunately, time doesn’t stand still when you’re in the four walls of that convention center.  The machine keeps going.

The conference was good.  These guys put on a quality show and they’ve been good to me (as has the DSE!).  I met more real smart people this time who have been in the industry for a long time – Lyle Bunn, Bradley Walker, David Drain, Ken Goldberg (finally), Dusty Lutz and Bob Martin (the latter were both on my session panel) to name a few.  These guys are true industry leaders and they have a wealth of experience and knowledge from which to learn.  Saw my pal, Dave H. from Preset, couldn’t ever hook up with my pal, David W. from Preset, and missed my pal, Paul from Preset.  Pat – where are you, man?  From a relationship standpoint, it was another fantastic experience.  There’s nothing like face-to-face interaction, despite the power of Twitter.

I felt like I struck a nice balance between attending sessions and spending time with the exhibitors on the showroom floor.  For the first time, I feel like I was able to be productive with the exhibitors, thanks to my OOH model.  For someone like me, who gets overwhelmed with so many players and so many different components (to bring a network to life), simple models like this help me break information down to the point I can actually do something with it.  Getting back to what I said last week about providing value, it was important for me to do more with my posts from this conference than I’ve previously done.  So, the model enabled me to get down to the real nut of what those exhibitors offer and start highlighting some of them in a new series called “Supplier Spotlight.”  Also, the way I’ve recapped the sessions has always felt a little off for me.  More than anything, it’s been an exercise in recording and posting.  But now I’ve added a short section at the end of each recap that synthesizes a couple of key points that I took away from the session.  I’ve already started receiving some good feedback on that addition, which means we’re on the right track.

But then, there was my panel, “Strategy First:  Incorporating Digital/Interactive OOH into Your Campaign Strategy.”  In my opinion, it was an #epicfail.  So, today’s 4-1-1 is all about reflecting on the session, and recognizing what I believe to be the downfalls, and on the flipside, the opportunities that we can take away from it.

1.  What I wanted to talk about and what this audience wanted to hear were 2 totally different things – there are many digital signage network operators (meaning, those who run an entire network of screens) at this show who are looking for tips, advice, guidance, and a sound “strategy” (I feel like this is becoming a lame word now) on how to fill their screens with good content and advertisements (the two are married.)  They don’t want to hear my talking about how everything’s a screen.  They want to hear about their screen and how to make it better so they can make money.  Thank goodness I had Bob Martin on the panel from RMG because he provided great information to this audience.  Everyone else on the panel, and our thoughts, muddied the water more than anything.

2.  The panel’s diversity was a barrier and did not work well for this discussion – as I said, Bob provided the most relevant POV for this particular audience.  I don’t know that I would recommend having so many panelists (total of 4) for any session because time flies and we all have a lot to say.  So, cutting the actual size of the panel down would have helped, but more than anything, if we were to bring different POVs from different agencies again, I think the session needs to be framed as something that is “new” and “experiential” and not geared to digital signage networks.  It’s more about the “cool” things you can do outside of the home.  If that were that were the expectation of our session, I feel like we would have delivered much more value.

3.  I have a clearly different view of OOH/DOOH/IOOH than the majority of the “industry” – I am not a digital signage guy.  Networks and operators and IT make my head want to explode. I’m an experience guy.  I’m focused on engaging consumers, literally outside of the home, through technology in a way that drives connections and meaningful experiences with the brand.  I don’t believe you need actual “screens” to do this because technology has enabled everything around us to become a screen.  I can do a better job of separating the two – DOOH, as in “digital signage” and “networks” and IOOH, as in “experiences away from those specific ‘screens.’”  I tend to mix the two here and it’s an important distinction to make.

4.  DOOH as in “digital signage” and “networks” is a powerful advertising and communications channel – these physical screens can be installed at critical locations along the consumer’s purchase journey.  Coupled with the right content, these networks truly do touch people where they are, when they need it.  On location alone, they can most efficiently target consumers like no other channel, even mobile.  Right now, mobile requires a level of “active” participation to truly target in the right place and the right time.  Just by being there, DOOH/digital signage can passively target efficiently and effectively (that’s a fun sentence!)

“Uh-huh” – I believe in the power of these channels, both “DOOH/digital signage” and the new “OOH.”  I believe both will succeed.  Digital signage networks can make a brand’s advertisements work less for a larger return.  But everything around us will be interactive sooner or later, so we have to prepare for that, too.  It’s important to recognize that the OOH canvas is vast, virtually untapped, and before we know it, will be completely interactive.  We won’t need actual screens to form an OOH network.  Buildings and sidewalks and tables will be a network.  More importantly, as is the case now, consumers will be a network.  These two elements will have a profound impact on the DOOH industry.  I think physical screens can still be an important part of the ecosystem, they just have to become smarter.  They need to work together with all of the other touch points, including consumers with each other, to be that much more meaningful.  This is daunting.  The people who figure this out first will win, and I think we’re still a few years away from crowning the winner.

“Duh” – the right type of agencies and people within those agencies, namely account and media planners, need to be at this conference, talking to these smart, super-experienced people.  If they can’t come to the physical conference right now, they should have access to the content.  This is an easy challenge to solve with today’s technology.  In my opinion, it will be a more difficult proposition to actually get the word out to these particular agency members than it will be to work through the logistics of distributing the content.  Perhaps an invite-only session/roundtable geared specifically for them?  If we crack that nut, I believe opportunities will flow.

Anyway, I have to thank Lawrence and team, again, for their hospitality and kindness.  It’s always great to be around all of these people.  For those of you who weren’t able to be here, I hope these posts helped.  Love to hear your thoughts on any of these, as you have them.  Have a great weekend!

Friday’s 4-1-1, Looking Ahead to CETW Style

Yup, doing Friday’s 4-1-1 on Saturday for the first time.  And hopefully the last.  The week was just a bear for me and I finally found myself at 10:00 last night weighing whether or not to push on through the blog post or call it a night and get some rest.  I chose rest.  So, here we are, early Saturday morning trying to play catch up, which is the feeling I’ve had all week.  I was preparing for a huge pitch (which happened on Thursday), trying to tie up a couple of large initiatives that we’ve been working on for a few months, and participating in the office-wide move (we basically “flipped” wings on our floor), and that’s just work.  2 of the 3 kids at home came down with strep throat this week and on top of that, just generally, they’re about to drive my wife crazy (the boys are in their destructo mode, treating the house and each other like coloring books, punching bags, and jungle gyms.)  But enough of all that.  Let’s get into this week’s 4-1-1.  I wrote yesterday about the session I’m participating in at CETW next week, but I failed to talk about what else is going on at the conference.  I’m looking forward to the entire conference.  It looks to be a good one.  So, today’s 4-1-1 is all about looking ahead to what I’m excited to see next week.

1.  Increasing the Number of Customer Touch Points – I’m not familiar with Vernon Slack (speaker) or AOpen America (his company), but the description of his session has sold me.  The first two lines – “Customers want to be engaged, a part of the action. They want to “experience” your business.” Yes, Vernon they do.  We’re talking the same language, man.  I will be there to hear what you have to say.  Although this is focused specifically on “in-store,” I’m sure the things he’ll share enable consumers the ability to “experience” your brand/business outside of those 4 walls of the store.  We’ll see.  (Session is Wednesday morning at 11.)

2.  Lessons Learned From Health & Beauty Augmented Reality Programs – I believe Augmented Reality is a powerful enabling technology that allows “out of home” to become an engagement vehicle, not just an awareness vehicle.  This session looks to focus on the health & beauty industry only, but this niche of an industry is smart for using this type of technology.  Here, in this industry, Augmented Reality actually serves a purpose (which I think is the holy grail for AR.  It can be really cool, but it can also be really useful and solve business problems), and at the same time, provides a rich, engaging consumer experience.  (Session is Wednesday morning at 11:45.)

3.  Who Moved My Customer?  Engaging & Empowering the New Digital Consumer – first, Nanonation is top notch, so I suspect anything they talk about will be enlightening.  Second, this session is aligned with what I’ve been talking about for awhile – engaging consumers, not just talking to them.  Consumers expectations are increasing – we see this in social media, we’re starting to see this in mobile, and the “out of home” world is staring this fact right in the face. I believe that consumers already expect brands to make them aware via any channel, digital or not.  When they walk into a store, they expect a monitor with moving images and messages.  When they’re walking down the street, they expect a sign that moves.  I believe their expectation, sooner rather than later, is for those “screens” to give them the ability to engage with a brand on a personal level.  I look forward to hearing another POV on this in this session.  (Session is Thursday morning at 11:15.)

4.  Driving Customer Experience:  Using Digital Signage to Engage Customers and Increase Repeat Business – one of the last sessions of the conference looks to be one of my favorite.  Again, the session description speaks right to my heart – “The greatest potential of “Digital Signage and Interactive New Media” is the opportunity to facilitate a one-on-one relationship with each of your customers.” This session looks to be more geared to CRM as a whole, not just focused on “out of home.”  If it is what it sounds like, I completely agree with the concept (touching a consumer “out of home” is only one touchpoint in their relationship with the brand) and again, look forward to hearing another’s POV on what I believe to be true, too.

“Uh-huh” – overall, I just get a feel from the sessions that it’s all about using this channel as an engagement channel, not an awareness channel.  There are multiple mobile sessions (my buddy, David Weinfeld is moderating one – Integrating Mobile into your Customer Engagement Solutions – Wednesday at 2), multiple multi-channel sessions, multiple strategy sessions, and the two keynotes are specifically geared around “engagement.”

“Duh” – yes, this is a no-duh – the conference is now called, “Customer Engagement Technology World,” but it’s one thing to talk about it and position yourself in one way, it’s another to actually do it.  I felt, earlier in the year, that this conference recognized the need to showcase how we can use this channel as an engagement channel and not just as an awareness channel.  I was excited that they even changed the name of their conference, which before didn’t say what it seems like they want to say.

So there you have it.  I, no doubt, left out some good sessions.  I’m going to try to fill my day – both days – with these sessions.  There are plenty and it will be easy to fill my day.  If you’re around and want to chat, let me know.  I’d love to.

Friday’s 4-1-1, Gamification Style

I work in a fairly small group in a fairly large company.  We have about 25 people in our group, specifically.  Come to find out, 4 of us are all alumni of the same college – Texas State University (at the time that 3 of us were going to school, it was called Southwest Texas State.  Although this dates us with the younger kids, it’s something that we’re proud of and never hesitate to distinguish).  As far as colleges go and as far as colleges go in Texas, it’s a smaller school, so it’s unusual (and random) that we find ourselves all working in the same group.  Recently, an opportunity came available to us at our alma mater, speaking at the annual Mass Comm Week.  So, this past Tuesday, the 4 of us loaded up in a car and took the 4-hour roadtrip down to San Marcos for the day and spoke on a panel together about Going Digital:  Changes in the Advertising & PR Industry.  After the discussion, one of the students in the crowd asked me about “gamification” and what our views on it were.  First, it was a fancy word (one that I liked nonetheless) and second, it was fun to answer her!  The concept of life becoming like a game is pretty deep if you truly think about it.  The implications are freaky, and whether we like it or not, not far from reality.  So, today, I bring you the Gamification 4-1-1:

1.  Nike Turns London Into a Game Board to Get People Running – Very simply, Nike makes a game out of running.  They wanted to extend their message on the importance of being active, so instead of creating billboards or other “standard” media extensions, they decided to make the campaign into a game.  Online, everything begins and ends on the GRID website.


I loved this quote from Tom Coates from Yahoo – “GRID is part of a growing category of ideas that sits within, as Tom Coates of Yahoo! describes, the ‘real world web,'” Douglas writes, “connected things that blur the physical and virtual spaces–things that thrive primarily because they excite us as humans, rather than being a vehicle for demonstrating technical capability.” This ability to connect the physical (offline) and virtual (online) worlds is really the “true” potential of OOH.  This “new” OOH is not about making people aware of the message by putting it up as big as you can on a billboard or on the side of a bus or throwing some display technology at it.  It’s about getting that message across through engagement.  This is a perfect example.

2.  Puma Makes Everything a Game – Shoe-makers and their gamification.  What is it?

Puma Scoreboard

I found the usability frustrating, but the concept is great.  And it just goes to show that there is definitely something to this gamification thing.  Everyone wants to make everything a game nowadays, and technology has enabled it to the point to where it actually can be.  Look no further than Foursquare, Gowalla, and/or MyTown.  Actually, look no further than Nike or Puma.

3.  Microsoft’s Newest Acquisition is About 3-D Gesture Controls – So, I wrote about Microsoft’s gaming/motion-sensing device, Kinect, a couple of months ago when it was officially announced.  Now, today, comes interesting news that they are acquiring Canesta, “the manufacturer of semiconductor chips capable of sensing movement and gestures in 3-D.”  Just watch the demo:

So, yeah, the Minority Report/Iron Man whiz-bang isn’t too far off now, is it?  These are great strides.  Obviously, technology is mind-blowing.  I don’t know how long it’s going to be until technology like this is part of our normal lives, but it’s coming.  And if the industry is still talking about integrating “Digital” OOH into the marketing mix in a year, I’m afraid “Interactive” OOH into the experience mix is going to be quite a surprise.  By nature, this is (non)tangible extension to the fancy gamification.

4.  10 Reasons Why Smartphones Won’t Kill DOOH – Ever – Another thought-provoking piece from LocaModa, this time a good analysis between mobile and DOOH.  While all of Stephen’s points are relevant to the larger discussion, they are not to the gamification discussion.  Point #8, though – “Multichannel” – is quite relevant:  The smartphone screen isn’t the only screen competing for a user’s attention. With mobile, computers, TVs, cinemas and DOOH, advertisers are taking a multiple channel approach to their messaging. This means that ultimately ALL screens will be connected. Rather than a one size fits all approach, the media landscape is actually becoming more fragemented and micro-targeted as a result. This means that the phone screen is often part of a 360 degree solution – it’s not the entire solution – and neither is DOOH. All screens will be connected.  The places and things around us will become “screens.”  Everyone is connected, too.  See a theme here?  Sounds like the constructs of a game to me.

“Uh-huh” – Last week, I posted a story about how Mini created a “reality gaming” experience around one of their cars in Stockholm.  Yet another example of bringing us and the world around us together in an experience to engage in unique ways with brands and each other.  It’s quite appropriate in this week’s discussion, too.

“Duh” – Although not gamification-related, this is related to our panel discussion this week at Mass Comm week.  I said something that came out wrong and it’s bugged me ever since.  Just for some brief context – one of the unique aspects to the 4 of us alum working in the same group now is that we all come from different backgrounds.  I have an acting degree, another one has a directing degree, another one has a traditional PR/Comm degree, and the other one, well, I’m not sure what degree he has, but it’s different than all the rest of us.  Anyway, when we introduced ourselves, we gave a brief synopsis of our background and our journeys leading us up to working together right now.  I said something like this, “I got an acting degree, and there’s not anything from that degree (“what I learned in school”) that I use to make money other than maybe being able to speak in front of people.”  Ugh.  I knew, as I was saying it, it was all coming out wrong.  But I couldn’t stop.  First, these students don’t need to hear, “what you’re going to school for now, it’s really irrelevant, so why worry??”  No, that’s not the message I wanted to get across.  I’m a firm believer in life experience.  And no matter what you do, what jobs you’ve done, what you graduated with, all of the skills and experiences used during those times can help you in your present situation.  You’ve got to be aware of those things and constantly looking to call on those things, but it can all be used.  And it should.  What I meant to say is, “it’s less about the degree that you get because in reality, the real-world is much different than the college-world.  That said, these classes and this training prepares you for going out and doing your thing.  You’ll have to adjust many times throughout your career, and if you’re successful at adjusting, you’ll more than likely be successful in your career.”  At least that’s what I’ve found to be true.  Anyway, we were there for the students, and I really don’t feel like that one moment from me did them the best service.  So, if any of you guys are reading this now, take note. :)

Well, what a week.  I’m sure that this weekend, it being Halloween and all, with 3 kids ready to go trick-or-treating, I’m going to experience my fair share of gamification, even if it’s not the 2.0 version.

Friday’s 4-1-1, Quality & Cool Style

Happy Friday, everyone.  Hope your week has gone well.  Mine has been crazy and today is no different.  It’s been a good week, (sometimes you have bad weeks, sometimes you have good weeks – it was a good one for me) one of those where I feel like I’m in the zone for most of the week, doing “good” work, thinking of “good” things, producing top quality whoosits and whatsits, making cool “stuff.”  So, today’s theme is all about quality & cool – striking that balance is difficult, but when done, man, it produces good work.

1.  Mini’s at it again with “reality gaming” and their Getaway Stockholm campaign – this OOH campaign involves people, virtual Minis, geo-location, mobile and gaming.  I consider it OOH because everything happens out of the home.  It’s an experience where you don’t have to be in front of your computer sitting in your house or office.  It leverages the wide open spaces of the outdoor and creates a game around it all.  It’s really awesome.

2.  Now you can “Like” a brand through a QR code – there’s been a roundabout way to use QR codes to get people to “Like” your brand in the past (open up their Facebook page and allow people to “Like” it there – it’s clunky), but now it’s as easy as downloading a QR code reader app on your phone, opening it up, and snapping a picture of it.  If you know what a QR code is (whichI have to say, I’m seeing/reading about them every single week now, so that’s a good thing), Likify has now made an app that can direct you straight to “Liking” your favorite brand.  Nifty.

3. Loyalty cards 2.0 brought to you by Novitaz – this is cool….if you’re a shopper.

RFID card

You get a credit card-style loyalty card with an RFID chip in it.  When you’re in a store that has the sensors in it, it sends a message to your mobile phone, alerting you of the special deals of the day.  And best, when you buy, there are social hooks in the platform so that you can share what you just bought with your social community.  Cool, and definitely the wave of the future.

4. Shoppers Take a Nonlinear Path to Purchase – carrying on the shopping theme, I thought this article was interesting, although not surprising.  Consumer shopping habits are changing, particularly with the introduction of so many new technologies – mobile and social being top of the list.  Mobile is big in helping consumers make purchasing decisions.  Social is big, too.  Although it’s a great takeaway that “social” does not equal “digital” or better yet, “Facebook.”  Social is word-of-mouth.  And the overwhelming majority of word-of-mouth activity happens “offline.”  But can happen over the mobile phone – you know, that thing where people actually talk to each other on the phone.  Yeah, mobile phones are good for that, too.  Interesting that “digital signage” is not mentioned anywhere in here at all.  Hmm.

“Uh-huh” – The Future of Advertising is about “Making Stuff” – Cindy Gallop, founder-CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld, talks about the real value in execution, not ideas. Amen, Cindy. As someone who is responsible for the execution arm of our agency, I can tell you firsthand how important quick, quality execution sets agencies/people apart from each other.

“Duh” – Read above. Not to take the easy way out here, but it’s an important thing to call out and a no-brainer at the same time. I mean, I am looking at it from the standpoint of “making stuff” everyday, but you’d be surprised how many people “talk” about stuff vs. “make” stuff. I’m a maker. Not a talker. Hope it always stays like this. I like makers much more than I like talkers, unless of course, if you’re one of my talker friends!

Anyway, have a good weekend everyone!

Friday’s 4-1-1, ScreenScape Style

A little late to the game this Friday, but found a great nugget in this article where small business owners discuss the benefits of geo-location-based services.  I’m a big proponent of geo-location apps and like many others, see the natural integration with digital signage.  In this article, a couple of the business owners mention a platform called ScreenScape – a simple, internet-based program (software) that allows “anyone” (like small business owners) to operate digital signage.  This is the first I’ve heard of these guys, and my question is – can they be the X factor in digital signage adoption?  Today’s 4-1-1 is dedicated to one of my new favorite companies (I don’t know anyone there, haven’t met anyone there, but next week, I’m going to reach out to them to learn more about their product.)

1.  Advantage #1 – cost.  I suppose this depends which side of the fence you’re on – $10/month subscription makes digital/interactive signage attainable for just about anyone now.  It makes you wonder how successful they can be based on this model, but there are group licenses available for larger subscribers.

2.  Advantage #2 – ease.  The platform is Internet-based.  You don’t need any special technical skills to work your way around the “administrator” dashboard.  And by dragging content here and dropping it there, with the push of a button (and a computer, and a display, and an Internet connection), you’ve got yourself a digital signage solution.  And network if you need it.

3.  Advantage #3 – flexibility.  I’m talking about flexibility with content here.  Images, video, text, RSS feeds – you can include any of these as pieces of content that will wind up in the end-display.  (The program basically converts everything to a flash file.)  There are drawbacks with this, of course.  Processor, connection, file size, load on the computer, etc…  But look, it’s $10/month so to me, if you’re the right “brand” to use something like this, the value and benefit totally outweighs the downfalls.  One of the coolest things about this system – and it’s core to their business model – is allowing the community to share content with each other (they call it “venue networking.”)  This is yet another “cost” advantage to people like small business owners who are strapped for money and resources.

4.  Advantage #4 – integration.  With Foursquare, in particular.  On September 14, they launched a “Foursquare widget” that allows the software to integrate and pull in check-ins for the location (where the screen is placed).  The widget ultimately allows consumers to see things like who the mayor of the place is, the actual “mayor offer,” total check-ins, and everyone else who has checked in.  To me, this feature is critical – to both the brand and the consumer.  The consumer gets to see their name in lights (“fame” as Stephen Randall says) and the brand has just given another reason for the consumer to interact with them (via their screen).  A simple example:

“Uh-huh” – a year ago, Mashable featured Screenscape in their Spark of Genius series.  It’s interesting reading that article now.  Case in point that no one knows how to talk about “digital signage” though.  The term was not used once in the article and I’m pretty sure it’s been around for much longer than a year.  Kudos for flagging it, though.

“Duh” – am I giving them too much credit?  Or is there any merit to them giving a shot in the arm to digital signage?  I think this is a true “duh” because it seems like to me, as long as the brand has ownership of a screen and a connection, and is in-tune with reaching consumers in new ways, why not?  What’s the drawback here?

I think this is beautiful because it taps into what geo-location has tapped into for brands (especially “small” brands) – it’s no/low cost, it’s relevant, it’s engaging, and most of all, it’s a way to connect with people while they’re “outside of the home” on a device that they’re glued to.  For $10/month, you can advertise it/them for everyone to see and hopefully, keep them coming back for more.

Friday 4-1-1, “PR”/Social Style

Back in Dallas today after a whirlwind tour this week.  From New York, I flew to Detroit for meetings, then finally made my way home last night.  Just in time to see my kids before they went to bed.  I’m such a homebody.  I love being in my home around my family.  My wife and I just sat in silence and talked.  It was nice.

Now, here we go again.  Back at it.  As I’ve said before, the one thing that I don’t like about live-blogging events is that I don’t really get to put my commentary on what I’m hearing.  I sprinkle things in here and there, but for the most part, I haven’t found a way to successfully manage that part of blogging events.  I think there’s a lot of value to get down what others are saying so all of you can get a glimpse into other perspectives.  That’s the primary reason I approach conferences and live blogging the way I do.  Do you find value in that?  I would love to know if I’m off base.

What I want to do for today’s Friday 4-1-1 is take what I heard from the conference and give you my thoughts on some of the things that stuck out to me.  First, as a digital practitioner, most of the “digital” conversation was basic and not new to me.  I really enjoyed hearing different approaches to the “types” of work that we’re faced with on a daily basis – the crisis management session really stuck out to me.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been dealing with a few clients on this very thing and it’s a type of work that I’ve never done before so it’s just fascinating in general.  But, there were others:

1.  I heard multiple times something along the lines of “merging the offline with the online.”  This, of course, makes my ears perk up because I want to see how other people are thinking about this concept.  It’s clear that people have an intuition that this is becoming more prevalent and possible, but noone talked about any other “screen” than the mobile phone in relation to “walking down the street.”  If we think there is a huge need for education in the “digital signage” industry, I’m here to tell you there is a huge need for education across the board.  Agencies like mine even have a hard time understanding a) what the “new” OOH is and more importantly, b) the potential of it.  Yes, it includes mobile, but it’s much more than mobile.  It’s much more than “digital signage,” too.

2.  I enjoyed hearing much more talk centered around relationships than platforms.  I believe whole-heartedly this is the right way to think about brands touching people.  It’s not so much what brands touch people on (platform or channel), it’s about how they touch people and with what (content).  Brands need to look no further than what’s already happening on each “platform” for how people naturally use them.  The platforms are already being used and used in a way that allow people to connect (in the way they want to connect) with others and build relationships.  If a brand is going to be successful in today’s ecosystem, they (and the agencies that support them) should understand that to be sustainable, you have to focus on the relationship, not the platform.  Same thing with “digital signage” – it’s not about digital signage, it’s about using this technology in a way that it actively builds relationships between brands and consumers.  It’s powerful if used properly and ineffective, just as any other channel, if not.

3.  Today, more than ever before, people/brands/agencies are making things up as they go along.  This is a new era and people have to come to terms with the fact that there might not be any “example” of a particular type of work – social, mobile, and/or OOH.  This is exciting and daunting, for sure.  This makes relationships and trust more important than ever – not only with communities, but between agencies and clients.  It’s important to think things through and do as much due diligence as possible, but in reality, we are (literally) all learning together.  Be smart.  Be brave.

4.  If you want to be successful in “social” – and this is for anyone – brands, businesses, bloggers – don’t make everything entirely about YOU.  It’s not.  You and your contribution are certainly important.  The way that you contribute can make or break you.  It either builds trust or breaks it.  But it’s important to recognize your community.  Think of ways you can do this.  People just want to belong to something, and they’re willing to have brands involved, too.  Just as long as it doesn’t become a selfish act and “pushing” anything in their face.

“Uh-huh” – man, the crisis panel and the make-up of the panelists was the highlight for me.  If you sat in that session, you would have walked out of there learning more in an hour than you might have in a year.  Here are some of the best nuggets that I took away, and they don’t need any additional commentary.  If you’re ever faced with a crisis, read this and follow what speaks to you:

  • If someone asks, “what should my digital crisis management plan be,” your first question back should be – “Do you have a regular crisis management plan?”  The approaches can’t be independent of one another.
  • Brands and detractors have the same tools.  Those detractors are smart and resourceful.
  • If you do not have a social presence and a voice right now, start creating one immediately.
  • Don’t wait for a crisis to start developing relationships.  Again, if you’re not doing this right now, start immediately.
  • There are no “special” crisis tools to use in a crisis.  Use simple, common tools that are at your disposal all the time – search, legal council, email, and your website.
  • When faced with a crisis, remember 2 simple things – 1) overcommunicate and 2) don’t make the problem worse.

“Duh” – I don’t know if anyone else is tired of it, but I’ve just about had enough of all of this social media speak.  I am around it all the time and we always joke about throwing around the buzzwords – engagement, listening, Facebook, Twitter, funnel, interesting intersection – ugh.  I tried to separate myself from my body and “hear” what people were saying to me and I just thought, this is disgusting.  We should ban those words (not just the above, but all of them.  Good resource HERE) forever.  Call me out, too.  It’s easy to get sucked in and start speaking wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!  And thanks for reading!

Friday 4-1-1, Twitter Style #friday411screen

Happy Friday!  2day’s 411 is all about Twitter-  what I’ve tweeted this week, inc. character limit.  like my new #tag? happened accidentally

1. How Popular Is the iPhone, Really? [INFOGRAPHIC] – not every1 has 1 & not every1 loves/wants 1.  For DS, good that 1/4 of US phones R smart.

2.  Word-of-mouth still largely an offline phenomenon – ppl still talk face 2 face. Alot of this happens OOH. DS is great connection.

3.  How 2 build relationships w social content creators -$179/124 rate 4 blogs/tweets. In future, evryone will be creators. DS opp – aggregate/connect.

4.  How Social Media Marketers Can Convert Attention Into Action – um, 1 phrase for you “social media marketers” – digital/interactive signage.

“Uh-huh” – State of LBS & Mktg – great, comprehensive post by 1 of my colleagues here.  Only thing missing here & key-DOOH/IOOH integration/connection.

“Duh” – New App Rewards Shoppers 4 Scanning Barcodes – anothr 1 in the mix.  For iPhone users only (see #1). Confusing 2 consumers? When’s “2 many?”

Thx, as always for reading.  I really appreciate it!  Would love to see this #tag used on Fridays (I know it’s long)!!

Friday’s 4-1-1, Fast Company Style

Today marks a milestone of accomplishment here on this blog – for the first time ever, I have blogged every day this week! I hope everyone’s enjoyed the posts. I have my own opinions on blogging and everything behind it and at the end of the day, I’m just another voice in the sea of opinions that now have access to be heard. I don’t really like to write here unless I feel like my perspective is beneficial (and no, I don’t feel like it’s beneficial on everything, and I’m sure I’ve missed the mark here, on a number of occasions) – this week, I saw many different things that I really wanted to write about and share. So, today, I hope to close the week out strong, at least semi-strong.

I’m a huge fan of Fast Company and I’m a little sour to admit that I still don’t have an iPad. I’m kicking it old school with the print magazine – hence, today’s 4-1-1 is inspired by this month’s edition of Fast Company:

1. Ford continues to use enabling technology – still being a print magazine guy, I see MS Tags on most every one of Ford’s print ads, just like this:

The site that it sends you back to is nothing impressive, but it is driving consumers deeper into the brand.  And I still maintain that as long as you’re using print, why not include tags like this?  It just makes all the sense in the world.  I love the fact that they’ve chosen MS Tags, the scanning code/technology that I believe is the easiest, device-agnostic, user-friendly to use.

2.  Why Environmental Activists Embrace Social Media – this article specifically talks about PR and social media and BP being caught with their pants down.  Obviously very interesting for me to read, being that I work for the largest PR company in the world.  Here’s what I say to any company about social media (in addition to the points made in this article that I agree with) – you need to create a baseline of a presence, regardless of the climate of the industry and what your competitors are doing.  In other words, start with something – a blog, for instance – that allows you to get your voice out there and establish a baseline of presence and credibility.  That way, god forbid something happens and you need to respond to crisis (just as BP did), you’re not forced to go 0-60 in a day.  Even now, there are many companies who don’t want to get involved with social media unless they’re “forced” to (ie – when they need to deal with a crisis).  It’s hard to react to something critical when you haven’t even defined your presence.  And it takes time.

3.  The Ultimate Guide to Rapper Names (Infographic) – I’m a visual person.  I love infographics.  As you can see (follow the link to see infographic), “Lil”, names centered around “Royalty” and “Criminals” are some of the most popular.  What a world we live in.

4.  Online Retailers’ $44 Billion Customer Experience Problem (Another Infographic) – pretty cool stuff shown here.  The point is (aside from poor design/workflow in online shopping experiences) – many people don’t like to bother with going in stores.  They’d rather do it online, in the convenience of their own surroundings.  I’d love to see something like this showing the impact on digital/interactive Out of Home that allows consumers to shop outside of their home, without going into the store.  We’ll get there.  Still, the digital shopping experience can’t be ignored.  (Images look better on the Fast Company site vs. here, so check it out there).

“Uh-huh” – “Heroes” Creator Tim Kring Looks to the Future – I found this article fascinating.  #1 – I like the term “transmedia” which as he puts it, is a “fancy word at this point for a simple concept:  telling stories across multiple platforms.”  What I always talk about!!  And #2 – what I like even more, he follows that up with, “It will be a short-lived word, because it’ll just become the norm – the trans will stop and it’ll just be media”.  Wow, this dude is dialed in and he gets it on a level that I believe few people do.  His ideas are no doubt cool.  And although I didn’t watch every episode of Heroes and follow the different stories across all of the channels, it was a groundbreaking way to extend and evolve a story across multiple platforms.  (Just as Lost did as well).  #3 – what really got me thinking is, in agencies, particularly new agencies of the future – the gold might be in finding storytellers of the filmmaking nature vs. “creatives” specializing in design or copywriting.  Hmm.

“Duh” – Technology Changes the Face of Politicking – I don’t know if this is a “duh,” really.  But I don’t know that I really get the level of the true impact that politicians think that geo-location services like Gowalla actually make.  I like Gowalla and have worked with them multiple times before, and I’m happy that they’re exploring a new arena, but I don’t know how this is going to be the next social media “game changer.”  Seems a little strong to me.  Would love to hear your thoughts, though, if you feel differently.

So, there you go.  Closing out the week (semi-) strong.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday’s 4-1-1, Preset Style

Happy Friday, everyone.  Time for Friday’s 4-1-1.  Many of my readers know the guys at The Preset Group.  Since the beginning of the year, I’ve gotten to know each of them fairly well.  They’ve been very good to me, and all of my experiences with them – collectively and individually – have been more than pleasant.  Real good guys.  Solid minds, too.  This week, I’ve had various interactions with them and they just produce such good content, so I’m going to be an aggregator of sorts.

1.  Sixteen:Nine and rAVe Work New Partnership – Two very bright guys in the digital signage/DOOH space have partnered together to essentially bring us double-great thinking in 1 location.  I’ve sat in quite a few press “quarters” with Dave and we’ve had some good discussions.  I even had the privilege of speaking on a panel with him earlier in the year.  He’s probably the most knowledgable person in the space I’ve met.  And I’ve seen Gary go through one of his presentations.  Dynamic guy.  Knowledgable, too.  This is a powerhouse of knowledge.  I think all who follow each of them just benefited greatly, whether or not they know it right now.  Soon, they will.

2.  Mark Cuban’s Views on the Fan Experience – David Weinfeld wrote a piece earlier in the week about how Mark Cuban views the importance of creating an “experience” (similar to a wedding) for fans at sporting events (in this case, HIS sporting events).  As David points out in this article, digital signage and the physical things around us have great potential in sporting venues.  Cuban gets this, too.  I think the power of mobile, though, (as David and I discussed) is extending the experience beyond the actual venue.  The brand (in this case, let’s say the Mavericks) should recognize that the venue (digital signage or not) and mobile are merely channels to extend their story.  The question is not “which technology do I use to create an experience at a particular place?” but really, “how do I tell my brand’s story at a particular place on a particular piece of technology?”

3.  What Do You Reach for in the Morning? – Paul does these down-and-dirty surveys on his blog every so often and this week, he wants to find out why people use their mobile phones.  If you haven’t taken it, go over there and do it.  It will take 1 minute of your time.  Literally.  Mobile is definitely a gateway between the offline and online worlds that I so often talk about.  Next up on the survey list should be, now that we know how you use mobile, do you integrate it with other mediums/channels?

4.  The Advertising Slogan Generator – From Paul’s Twitter feed, it is what it says it is (and yes, I know, not the first of its kind).  Enter a word, see your advertising slogan.  I smell an idea perfect for interactive signage, both at the aforementioned sports venue or in a densely populated environment – transit, wait – whatever.  Text your word in, see your slogan on the big screen.  Simple idea.  Engaging.  Multiple extensions, including commerce.  How hard was that?

“Uh-huh” – Bad Digital Signage Projects Hurt Us All – Dear All DOOH Decision Makers (Advertisers and Agencies) – Don’t Suck.  I say this tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, count the number of DOOH/IOOH installations that have made sense vs. the ones that haven’t.  Overwhelmingly weighted on the haven’t-made-sense side.

“Duh” –  See above.  Case in point for a head scratcher.

Happy weekend, everyone!