I want to introduce you to Breakfast, NYC. A wonderful little agency in New York who fancies themselves as “toy makers.” And these toys are the kinds of toys that are right down the 11th Screen alley. (These are the same folks who made Nike’s talking/thinking bike, Precious.)
We’re officially living in the future. Yes, the one you picture in your head when you combine all those images of eye-scanners and Rosie the Robot. But the reason you didn’t sit at the kitchen table this morning and get the weather from your cereal box is simply because the cereal company didn’t even know to ask. Or did they?
We’re BREAKFAST, and we spend our days wondering why a Gap store still works the same way it did 40 years ago. We’re here to help people realize it’s ok to ask for things that sound like science fiction.
It’s time to stop going on as though flying cars and telekinesis headsetsdon’t exist, and time to make the real world as advanced as the virtual one that’s changed our lives in a single decade. Perhaps you’ll come for a ride with us.
Anyway, the toy that caught my eye last week was Instaprint – a little box that you mount on a wall to print out Instagram pictures. (If you’re not familiar with Instagram, it’s an iPhone application that applies fun filters to your photos in an instant (hence, the name.) The cool thing about this box – aside from the simple fact that it can print out loads of pictures – is that it only prints out pictures that are tagged a certain way, based on the actual location and/or event where it’s placed. And the only way it can print is through communication with your mobile phone. So, essentially, what you have is a hyper-targeted, highly personalized and social take on a photo booth. Operated entirely through mobile. Check it out:
The digital signage industry is wrestling with mobile’s place in the “Out-of-Home” ecosystem. Meanwhile, you have other agencies who have absolutely no affiliation to the industry, made up of really smart and creative people, who understand mobile’s place in our real & virtual world. And how integral and powerful it can be. Regardless of any physical screen.
I don’t know about you, but one of the things that gets me up in the morning is the ability that I have each day to make “stuff.” Now, I don’t make toys like Breakfast. That’s not really the point. The point is that each day we all have the opportunity to shape and mold something in our own way. Our contribution to this wild world.
That’s right. It’s been a year and a half here at 11th Screen. And I’m still going. And growing.
This has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, professionally. Not only is it a creative outlet for me, it has opened up doors that I never anticipated. I’ve spoken on panels and I’m on boards and I’ve gotten various articles published – all of which would never have happened without this platform.
And the connections. I can ‘t say enough about the connections. I’ve met so many nice, smart, influential people in and outside of this specific industry. It’s humbling, really, to think this blog has enabled me to connect with all of them.
And there’s you, the readers, who make it incredibly comforting to know there’s someone on the other end who gets something from all of these thoughts and words. I really try to push myself, with every post, to make it worth your while. I can’t say how much I appreciate your readership and your comments.
I look forward to another year and a half and all of the exploring and growing that comes along with it.
Thank each and every one of you, again, and I hope you have a safe holiday weekend.
The ongoing conversation about measurement will always continue. The question is, is it the right conversation?
Clickthroughs, page views, and registrations.
Recall, intent, and purchases.
Impressions, sentiment, and share of voice.
These are all things we can measure.
But do they all matter? Especially if they’re being achieved by the wrong people?
What about things like relationships? Or that one comment by the top influencer in your industry? Or that issue that didn’t occur because of the way you communicated?
The thing about measurement is to try your best to measure the right things in the right way. The only way you can do that is to clearly define goals. The more specific the goals are, the more noise you can eliminate.
And the more we can work toward the right conversation.
NOTE, A WORD ABOUT THE OVERSIMPLIFICATION – I know that I’m oversimplifying this. I don’t really have a desire to get into the details of measurement here. But I think a simple step can be taken to direct the conversation in the right direction – and that is clearly to define goals. I’m not talking about, “I want to sell more product,” or “I want more people coming to my site,” or “I want more fans.” (If those are the goals, paid advertising is your answer in most cases.) But what are the specifics?
The downfall to a real world 11th Screen solution reared its ugly head this weekend. Unfortunately, it was from one of my favorite brands and a fun, albeit novel, experience: Coke’s 106 Flavor touch screen soda fountain. We were eating at a casual dining restaurant and I noticed that they had a couple of these kiosks. And that’s when I noticed the problem – they only had a couple of these kiosks.
Yes, the footprint of these babies is at least twice the footprint of a regular ol’ soda fountain. So, the restaurant is losing out on precious real estate, especially when they’re trying to jam these into the existing real estate.
While size is an issue, the real problem is that these are just not as simple as the regular ol’ soda fountain. With this big daddy, there’s only one way to get ice and one way to get (any one of the 106 flavors of) soda. And it’s through one dispenser right in the middle of the thing.
At least with the old fashioned fountains, they were set up in a way that once you get your ice, you can move down the line to get your soda. The line has a nice flow to it. Here, the patrons are just forced to wait while the others fumble through the right process (pressing the right buttons) to get their ice, then fumble through picking their selection out of an overwhelming amount of flavors, and then, literally a minute later, might have their own go at it. Unless, of course, multiple glasses are in need of a fill-up, and then there’s a longer wait.
I think this contraption is great. But when I want a soda, I just want the soda. I don’t want to wait in a line longer than 10 seconds for someone to get their ice and move down the line. I certainly don’t want to see them figuring out how to work their way through this experience.
When I first saw this machine, I was at a movie theatre and they had about 10 of them. If we waited in line, another machine quickly opened up. Here at the restaurant, with only 2, it was a different story. The movie theatre experience seemed cool and fun. This one just seemed annoying.
While this new fountain gives me the ability to choose from 106 flavors and work my way through it via a touch screen, it makes the simple process of getting soda more complicated. And that, my friends, is a bummer.
I believe technology like this can make our lives easier. Here’s an example – at least for the here and now – where it’s proved to do the opposite.
I’ve explored many examples of what I would consider to be the 11th Screen solutions here – those that are in some way interactive, by nature, and occur outside of the four walls of your home or office. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the result of interactivity outside of your home is bridging the real world with the virtual world. And as you might have seen here, or observed on your own, there are many different ways that the bridge can be built.
I think one of the simplest examples of this bridge is Redbox (the red movie kiosks). I’m sure you’ve all seen many different Redboxes along your daily journey. I probably have 6 of them on my way to the train station to/from work. In many ways, Redbox is the quintessential 11th Screen example. It’s an Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) solution that is enabled by touch. You don’t have to own the device to participate in the experience. It’s a solution that has achieved (mass) scale and perhaps most of all, it’s a revenue generator. There might not be a better utilitarian kiosk solution out there.
Recently, I’ve noticed a few additions to the Redbox kiosks near me and I find them fascinating. Because they’re scratching the surface of becoming effective multi-channel devices. They’re only scratching the surface, though, and I wonder if Redbox is at crucial tipping point. With the introduction and accessibility of live streaming through services like Netflix, the act of renting movies is becoming more and more about the convenience than anything else – more than the true cost associated, more than the experience, and more than the physical disk. And while Redbox has served as a convenient and accessible utilitarian device, the game is constantly changing, in terms of technology and consumer expectation. So, these additions that Redbox has introduced and continues to explore are good, but they have some bad and just plain ugly characteristics that they need to address – and in short order – to have a chance in this rapidly evolving technological world of ours.
First, let me start with the GOOD – as I mentioned, I’ve noticed their effort to become more accessible cross-channel. It makes perfect sense because the one thing that everyone carries with them when they’re outside of their homes is their mobile phone. So, they’re likely to have it right there with them when they interact with the Redbox kiosks. Over the weekend, I saw a special promotion on the front of the Redbox kiosks that drove people to use a SMS shortcode for special offers.
This is not a new tactic, but an effective one, especially for a physical kiosk like Redbox. The shortcode promotion instantly provides another channel to drive people back to the kiosk.
In addition to the shortcode, Redbox is using QR codes to make it easy on people to download the Redbox mobile app for iPhone and Android.
There could be a better way to drive people to the apps, but say what you will about QR codes, they provide instant, easy access directly to the app. And I think they’re more actionable than a standard text call-to-action.
Once you download it, the app is pretty handy. It shows you all of the Redboxes in your vicinity and allows you to search movies, which is an important feature since they’re not stocked with the newest releases right off the bat (which I think is one of the major downfalls).
All in all, these two extensions/gateways through mobile are both solid ways to keep people connected to the Redbox experience and drive them deeper in it.
But in my opinion, they are missing a major piece as it relates to connection, which is the glaringly BAD. Watching movies is a social activity. Where are any of the social hooks in the Redbox experience?
In many ways, the Redbox experience is a 1.0 web experience. There are no ways to connect with other people with similar interests, yet the sheer act of watching movies is a shared interest. What would this experience look like if the sign-up mechanism were initiated through Facebook Connect? Not only would sign-up be streamlined, people would have the ability to instantly let their friends/family know what they’re watching, what they like or dislike, and even tell or see others what they think about the movies. And I think that’s just the beginning of something like that.
IntoNow – the audio-recognition mobile app – does a good job of providing a deep experience on a seemingly surface-type of action. There, once you check-into the show that you’re watching, you have the ability to learn more about the show, the actors, the episodes, etc. They include a direct link to imdb.com, which is a deep experience into itself, especially for movie buffs. They’ve gone beyond the audio recognition and incorporated many smart social features, more than just sharing. What if Redbox had some sort of check-in and/or deeper “learn-more” experience like IntoNow?
Maybe Redbox has done just fine the way it’s been operating, in its 1.0 experience. But aren’t we at the point where playing the game has gotten more intense? Aren’t consumer expectations way beyond this type of experience?
I know I want more.
Then, there’s the UGLY. Redbox is an efficient machine. The fabrication and engineering of the box is really top notch. I think it’s a model for so many self-serve kiosks. But in all its glory, what is up with the sun flap?
That is the most awkward piece of fabric that I’ve ever had to deal with – even more than the baby sun shades for your car. If they would just create a simple latch, the process of renting movies in the sunlight would be so much more enjoyable.
The sun flap is an afterthought. And afterthoughts, to me, are short-term solutions. And short-term solutions tend to turn into headaches. This is what I think Redbox is dealing with now. A headache that perhaps they don’t want to get rid of.
But here’s the question – in the game of convenience, why create an experience that might just be good enough? In the end, that’s what I walk away from Redbox with – it’s a good experience.
1. The technology in the wand is NOT RFID. It behaves a lot like RFID, but it’s a proprietary technology that includes infrared and a chip. The chip is programmed to the user and keeps an ongoing history of the user, not the wand. This is important because if someone loses their wand, they can easily get a replacement and have it re-programmed to their user history. According to my discussion this morning, the primary reason that RFID was not used in the wand was proximity. The game-makers wanted the wand to work within proximity, not through touch. Infrared has a wider range than RFID.
The technology here isn’t important. What is important is what the technology enables – a personalized experience that continually drives you deeper into the brand (in this case, the game). This particular technology is smart enough to keep a running history of personal achievement. That’s cool. And that’s the power of what any sort of interactivity provides in this blank canvas called Out-of-Home.
2. Active RFID is a whole different ballgame than passive RFID. All of the RFID that I experienced at Great Wolf Lodge is passive RFID. In yesterday’s post, you can see how powerful it is. Active RFID enables some cool things in this environment, particularly around tracking and safety. If those wristbands were active RFID, they would essentially become tracking beacons that could show where anyone was on the property at any given time. At a resort like this, can you imagine how easy it would be to find a lost child or a lost parent? It has a lot of advantages and it’s something that GWL continues to explore. Thing is, active RFID requires large antennas to pick up the signals. So, you can imagine what kind of operational challenges this presents.Being a theme-park, they have options. Turn them into large trees? It could happen.
3. They are always looking to innovate. But they don’t want to add something on that doesn’t utilize the existing technology. They want to make sure it works with what’s already going on. I was glad to hear that they are constantly looking for ways to innovate, but this whole thing didn’t surprise me. A large business like this would be foolish to not filter additional technology through what they’ve already got. And for GWL, who purposefully wants to provide an unparalleled level of convenience to their guests, they don’t want to risk complicating the experience by latching on to the latest, greatest.
4. Digital signage is not important to them. There are posters everywhere. They line the hallways. They’re in the usual places like elevators, the lobby, and the waterpark. I think digital signage could help in some places – menu boards or waiting in lines (for rides) – but other than that, I don’t think it makes sense. GWL is obviously a closed-in space, so they don’t advertise anything other than what’s going on in their own house. What they have now – lots of static posters – is just fine for them. I think if they felt confident in a way they could use digital signs with their existing technology, and it added a tremendous difference in value to what they already have – they’d explore it even more.
All of this technology and the entire experience it enabled just inspires me even more about the potential of creating solutions outside of the home. There are many ways to achieve different levels of interactivity, but the interactivity is the thing. It can make experiences easier, or better, or more convenient, or more fun. Thing is – it’s an experience.
And if you’re into this sort of thing, you can find one at Great Wolf Lodge.
RFID technology is great for utility. Walmart uses it to track inventory. Companies use it to allow employees access to parking garages and office buildings. Hotels use it for the same, and even enable purchases through it (more on that in a bit). For utility, it’s a smart & efficient technology. But how many times have you actually seen RFID used to create experiences? The only two I can think of are Mini’s customized billboard messages and The Great Piggy Bank Adventure at Epcot Center. For whatever reason, it’s a hard technology to implement at scale. (The technology is relatively cheap now – not a huge barrier – but it requires multiple pieces of hardware to work. And proximity plays a part, too.) But it sure can do some cool things. Right now, on my family vacation, I’m seeing, firsthand, another one of those examples.
My family and I are vacationing at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. I’ve heard stories about how they use RFID for everything here, but I’ve never made my way out to check it all out myself. Until now. Those stories are true. They use it for everything. And it fulfills a utility need as well as an experience one.
First, on the utility – they use it for any sort of transaction you need to make. I say that literally. Anything. Here are specific examples of how they’re using it:
1. Room keys – this wristband is our room key. You see that little chip there, behind the “M”? Well, that’s the thing that gives us access into our room.
My wife has said to me a couple of times, “man, I love this key thing.” I start telling her about the technology and her eyes glaze over. She doesn’t care about that. She just cares about the fact that she doesn’t have to carry a key around with her all the time, and even more, worry about what all she’d have to go through if she actually forgot a key at some point during our stay. Our in-laws have joined us on the trip and are staying in the room next door. My wife went next door to get something and our door shut behind her. As I’m getting the kids ready for bed, I look over at the door and realize I didn’t prop it open with the latch. A second later, she walks in thanks to her handy dandy wristband. She said it again, “man, I love this key thing.” She called it, “brilliant.”
2. Locker keys – this place is an indoor waterpark more than it is a hotel. So, anytime you want to reserve a locker, you don’t have to carry around yet another key that comes with all of the same anxiety as the room key. You just use your wristband. Done and done.
3. Payments – want to pay for food? Souvenirs? Arcade games? No problem. Just put some money on your wristband via a kiosk and a credit card and viola, you don’t have to carry around any cash. Everything is tied to this wristband. Literally, everything. If you want to carry cash around with you or for whatever other reason, you don’t want to put cash on the wristband, you don’t have to. You can do it old school. But through this technology, you have the option of ultra convenience.
These three things encapsulate everything I’ve had to do throughout the course of our day here, and it has afforded us an extra piece of mind that we didn’t know existed. We haven’t had to carry around and/or keep track of anything all day long. It’s attached to our wrist.
Now, here’s where it gets really interesting. And it’s how they create experiences through the technology:
They have this game called MagiQuest inside the resort and when people aren’t playing at the waterpark, they’re running around the hotel playing this game.
It seems to be a cross between an adventure game and a scavenger hunt and all it requires is a wand and a book, like these:
The wand is where the technology comes into play. It’s programmed to your “account” and as you make your way through the game, you build up points and achievements. This is not only important because it adds a level of personalization to the game right off the bat, but since this is an ongoing game, this technology enables an ongoing history. As long as the wand stays with you, regardless of how long you play the game, it’s going to build upon what you’ve already done.
I’m sure the kids playing this game (and even most of the adults) could care less about the technology (much like my wife). No one ever hardly does. But the important thing here revolves around expectations. With the proliferation of platforms like Facebook and Pandora that allow you to personalize your experience down to the T, I feel like the millennial generation expects a certain level of personalization in everything they do. Although these kids could care less about the technology, I would argue that many of them would feel like it’s “lame” if it didn’t keep track of everything they did along the way. This level of personalization is table stakes. This technology enables that personalization for them.
This is an ideal 11th screen example – an Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) homerun, if you will. RFID is the enabling technology that serves a critical function in the resort and patron operation (utility). It saves everyone time, money and anxiety that you didn’t even know you had. In addition, it enables a deep and rich experience – one that is personalized – through this wand, other objects (static) and screens (digital) throughout the resort.
Disclosure – Great Wolf Lodge is actually a client of Fleishman-Hillard’s (my company). However, I do not work on the account and in fact, our office doesn’t service any piece of the account. Our account team and the kind people at Great Wolf Lodge have been gracious enough to set up a meeting for me with the resort’s IT director tomorrow morning where I’m sure I’ll get many more details. Which will be Part 2 of this story…
In my new exploration to try to find the 3.0 versions of OOH executions, I don’t think I’m going to have to search hard. They seem to be popping up every single day. The problem is in their scale. They’re typically one-off, experimental examples. Nonetheless, they deserve attention. This time, a billboard:
This is a great example of how to make billboards interactive, but there are only a handful of places this would work. Somewhere where stop and go traffic, er gridlock, is the norm. Somewhere like NYC, right outside of the Holland Tunnel. Where this happens to be placed. So, they’ve got that working for them.
This has all of the characteristics of a 3.0 execution:
1. The experience – you can interact with the static billboard through your mobile phone. Just launch the AR application, point it at the billboard and the billboard will tell you how it feels and/or you can tell others how you feel, vis-a-vis the billboard.
2. Sharability – an interactive billboard like this is unique, so it’s more likely to drive a little bit more interest than normal. In a place like New York, it might drive a lot of interest. But aside from the interest, once people start to engage with the experience, sharing is at the center of it. What good is it to keep your emotions all pent up inside yourself? Especially in today’s hyperconnected world when everyone wants to share how they’re feeling, what they’re doing, and just generally, what they think of everything in the universe? Why not share how you’re feeling when sitting in traffic? Sounds reasonable to me.
3. Smart – traveling in and out of New York can be a bear. You can literally sit in one spot for an hour. While the message here is not groundbreaking, it does give travelers another way to express themselves, which everyone loves to do anyway. And to me, this is one of those smile things. When you engage in the experience, it can bring a smile to your face. Having sat in this particular place many times, before, after and/or during a busy New York day, I can say that smiles are not only good, they’re needed. Now, New Yorkers could care less about smiling or interacting with a silly billboard. But me, I like it.
4. Scalability – Billboard space is all over so we’ve got that going for the scalability of this execution. Smart phones will soon not be a barrier to something like this. A technology like augmented reality might. I still don’t know if the average consumer knows and/or cares to know about a technology like this. And if they do, how many times will the actually use it? If it unlocks experiences like this, perhaps it will increase interest and demand enough to break the barrier.
How many times would I engage with this billboard? After the first time, probably not too many. But what if most, if not all billboards could be personalized in an experience like this? It would completely change the way we interact with our surroundings. And that is the power of this new – 3.0 versioned – OOH space. It is inherently interactive. Not static. Not digital. Interactive.
Note – This unique billboard is part of the ADstruc’s ‘Billboards for Everyone’ campaign that partners with artists and designers to help promote creativity and innovation in the outdoor space. Very cool stuff. Check them out.
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.
Here is a simple 1.0 version of a standard poster:
And 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.