Tag Archives: CETW

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!

Supplier Spotlight: Simbioz

I’m partial to touch screen kiosks, having spent a good portion of my previous life developing solutions for them.  I’m also partial to clean hands.  I’ve got this thing where I try to notice what I’m touching and if/how other people touch it, too.  Bathroom doors are a perfect example.  I don’t touch bathroom doors – I use a paper towel to protect me from the germs.  This is one thing I don’t like about touch screen kiosks.  I’ve ridden in 4-5 cabs a day while I’ve been here and I can see the filth on all of the touch screen monitors.  I use my knuckles, not my fingers, then I promptly wash my hands (and knuckles.)

So, what do I see today?  A touch LESS kiosk, of course.  Brought to you by Simbioz, another EQUIPMENT provider (both hardware and software).

Awesome, right?  The content (which they do not produce – they take existing content from the brand) looks great in their interface, and it’s a flashy one at that.  In the end, it’s just a template that they can place content in, but it’s a well thought-out and a very nice-looking template.

The actual kiosk itself has two cameras mounted in the top corners that detect the user’s movement and controls the screen accordingly.  My inclination was to touch the glass every time, but once I got the feel of how close I needed to be, I controlled it by simply touching the air in front of it.  No nasty film.  No necessary washing hands.  None of that.  Swipe away and be engaged.  I really like this one.

Supplier Spotlight: Provision 3D Media

Want to add a 3-D hologram to the top of your kiosk?  If so, I’ve got the people to hook you up – Provision 3D Media.  They’re EQUIPMENT providers, specifically hardware providers.  Essentially, they can take their box that produces this 3D image and plop it right on the top of any kiosk.  ATMs?  Slot machines?  Yup and yup.

This is one of those super-cool pieces of technology that you see at shows like this, but I wonder how beneficial it will be for a brand.  It’s an awareness vehicle.  Super-cool awareness vehicle, but even though they can make the hologram interactive (apparently, they can program it with MS Kinect so it’s controlled by the user’s gestures), it can’t do much more than create awareness.

I wonder if the technology trumps the brand in the consumer’s mind, at least right now??  When I was playing around with the watch, I could care less about what type of watch it was (the brand behind it), I just wanted to play with the fun, little 3D hologram.  Worth a look for wow factor, for sure.

Supplier Spotlight: Saddle Ranch Productions (Pt. 2)

I had a chance to spend some time on the showroom floor this afternoon and unlike the other conferences (at the beginning of the year), I spent ample amount of time trying to cut to the core of those exhibitors (and their specific offerings) that caught my eye.  I had to go back to Saddle Ranch Productions – the CONTENT providers – after hearing their president, Kim, talk in one of the sessions yesterday.

They’re very clear about their differentiator – they “take a careful approach to creating content for digital signage networks.”  They have this proprietary process behind creating content called, “Targeted Content Mapping.”  It’s four steps that they go through in order to create the most effective content for a particular venue (set of venues).  They don’t just create content to create content.  They think about it.  And then they do it.

They’re a production company and if you’ve ever been introduced to any sort of filmmaking, you can appreciate the type of operation (and skillset) it takes to produce one piece of content, much less many pieces of content.  And the thing about these guys is that they are creating specifically for a digital signage network.  Not for TV, not for a website – specifically for a DS network, which is custom in and of itself.  They’re even about to launch “Saddle Stock,” which will be a stock video library for DS networks.  Even though you can use sites like iStockphoto and RevoStock to purchase stock video, they’re not necessarily geared to the specifics of DS networks.  Given the fact that Saddle Stock provides DS network-specific content, I suspect they’ll be providing a much-needed, quite convenient service.  Smart.

CETW Keynote #2 – How Agencies Think About Customer Engagement

David Sommer, Managing Partner, WPP’s GroupM Retail, CPG & Shopper Media – “Understand How Agencies Think About Their Brands’ Customer Engagement Technology Strategies”

1 out of every 3 ads are bought by WPP

Big brand guy

Execution is key – what can you actually execute, not just dream up

Physical environments can be media.  Have the opportunity to engage consumers in that environment via media.

Can touch people in their path to purchase:  In-Home, In-Life, In-Store

Hot Topics for the Day

  • Big Agencies want in on the action
  • How we decide where to invest – must target, must optimize, must be able to measure results
  • Trends:  paid, owned, and shared
  • Right place, right time

Awareness = passive (Amen, brother)

Their funnel:  Pre-Shop, Shopping, Purchasing, Loyalty

Lots of touchpoints, not just in the store

3 HOT areas:  In-store, Proximity (around the store), Mobile (the remote control of our lives) – they put a lot of emphasis on mobile – in research, categorizations, etc..

“Mobile is the most over-hyped medium in the short term and the most under-hyped in the long term.”  -Sir Martin Sorrell

4 big buckets of Measurement:

  • Compliance (Who is shopping?)
  • Media Value (Were they interested?  Could they see it?)
  • Brand Metrics (Did it change perception?)
  • Sales Lift (Was it effective?  Was it purchased?)

Media thoughts (P, O, S) – they all feed each other

Consumers want deals, social interaction and ratings (see what others think)

In mobile, what are they using/searching for – mobile search, mobile sites, GPS, deals

In store, what are they looking for – self-checkout, payment from cell, on pack promotions

Trends to engage the consumer:

  • Addressable (customizable)
  • Portable
  • Searchable
  • Social
  • Interactive
  • Transactional
  • Ubiquitous (it’s everywhere)

DS is getting better all the time – you see these signs/kiosks more and more, when you’re out and about


Still agencies driving brands to get in store or is it the brands driving agencies to get in the store?  It’s a mix – they’re obviously in this business, driving the value for brands to be in store.  About 30% of their leads, though, come from inquiries from brands.

What’s your single best research tool?  TNS is part of WPP, TNS Sorenson has particular experience in this area.  Nielsen has a play.  IRI has a play.

What do you consider scale?  Not necessarily about how many stores you’re in….another approach is how many people do you touch?

Nut – it’s good to hear someone on the agency side (even if it is a media agency) acknowledge that DOOH is prevalent.  It might be stating the obvious, but just stop for a second and look around the next time you’re in a doctor’s waiting room, or grocery store, or office building – chances are, they’ve got a network playing some sort of content and advertisements.  Also great to hear someone recognize that the physical spaces around us are media.  The only clarification I’d make is that the physical spaces around us have unlimited opportunities to be “screens.”  They’re hot on mobile.  So is everyone else.

Word of the session – addressable.

Supplier Spotlight: Saddle Ranch Productions (Pt. 1)

I attended this short session this afternoon, but these guys are also an exhibitor so I’ll follow-up with a Part 2 tomorrow that focuses more on them, not this particular case study (Kid Care TV).

Kimberly Sarubbi, President, Saddle Ranch Productions – “The Proven Recipe for Content Success”

Kid Care TV – one of the networks that Saddle Ranch produces CONTENT for.  In pediatric waiting rooms.

Kid Care TV stats:

  • 2,500 screens in pediatric rooms
  • Target 60,000 members of AAP
  • Content approved by an advisory board of pediatric HCP experts
  • Digitally deliver 3-5 segments to heighten moms’ awareness of pediatric issues
  • Advertiser-supported network

Avg. waiting time in pediatric offices – 26.5 minutes

65% of parents go shopping immediately after the dr. visit

Engaging content so that there is recall so the advertisers make money.

“Targeted Content Mapping” – measure 4 things

  • Venue profile
  • Audience profile
  • Dwell time
  • Message

Test, adjust, optimize – duh.  But she gave an example:

Originally started w/ “evesdropper” format – they staged all of the patient/doctor interaction.  They found that it was not cost effective.  They switched to a “talking head” format and now they have better recall rates.  Mainly produce:

  • 2-3 minutes of presenter and b-roll
  • Interspersed with ads and PSA’s
  • DVDs produced for docs to give to patients to take home

All from Arbitron study for KCTV

  • 82% of visitors notice KCTV and find it to be a credible source
  • 65% of viewers recalled at least one ad
  • 67% felt content helped to created a better doc-patent relationship

Key takeaways:

  • Content creates profits
  • Plan smartly – define goals, success metrics, and budget to make it happen
  • Invest in an experienced and trusted content partner
  • Test/adjust/optimize
  • Invest in 3rd party performance testing & reporting


How do you know when the content is stale?  “The science goes bad quickly, so we’re constantly creating new content.”

Employee fatigue?  “We do have sub-titles so you can turn it off.  :)”

Do you use content to drive deeper into the brand?  “We’re going to be integrating mobile technology and include coupons in the near future.”

Someone also asked about how advertisers buy media for this network and she said, “we’re not in the media business.  We’re responsible for the content.”  Thank you.  Seriously.  A company who focuses on their 1 thing and seemingly does it really well.  I want to go talk to them tomorrow in their booth and see what they’re really all about.  But by the looks of it, they’re a totally legitimate video/film production house.  Good talk.  She didn’t give me a fun word of the session.  Then again, I couldn’t stay until the end because I had to cut my day short due to a solid block of conference calls.  More tomorrow!

Supplier Spotlight: Vislogix

One of the reasons I created my OOH model was to help me get down to what companies truly offer in this space.  Every time I go to one of these tradeshows and ask the exhibitors what they do, most every time, I hear the response, “we do everything, soup to nuts.”  Ugh.  If everyone on the showroom floor does everything, then how do I know who’s offering is better than the next?

So, my model helps me ask pointed questions to really determine what their specialty is, at the very least.  I put it to the test this morning.  First company up – Vislogix.  Response when I asked them what business they’re in?  “We’re the only recognized full-service firm in the country.”  Of course.  After more questions, I got to the nut of what they really provide:  EQUIPMENT.  Specifically, hardware that enables touch and gesture-based interactions on any surface.  They look to focus on storefront windows, but can virtually make any surface interactive.

The solutions they were showing were top notch in the cool category.

Vislogix, touch display glass

You can see, even in this bad photo, that the content is pretty clear on the glass.  These guys aren’t in the projector business.  They’re in the business of the interactive film that the projector projects on.  And the film is awesome.  They have standard sizes that you can choose from and if you need a custom size, they’ll make it for you (technically, they can create any size film, but it’s only as good as the size of the projection.)  Technically, it’s a capacitive touch screen so the user doesn’t need to “touch” it to control it – even still, I found it quite responsive.

They had another solution, much more gesture-based, that picked up movements via a camera placed above the user.  When in the field of the camera’s view, the user can control what happens on the screen just by waving a hand.

Vislogix gesture screen

The interesting thing about this particular solution is that, since it’s controlled by a camera, it can enable any surface – static, window, even LCD – to be interactive.  Where it gets a little muddy for these guys is in the software.  Obviously, software is needed to run these solutions and these guys aren’t really hard-core software makers.  It seems like they have a number of solid software partners so essentially they can also provide any software needed for these installations.

The nut here – if you want to do a touch or gesture-based experience on a store window or other large piece of glass, call these guys first.  If you want to throw a crazy idea at someone (a 1-off-type project) and see how immersive they can make it, these guys would be good to call.  Keep an eye out for them and what they do in the next 6 months.  They’ve got some great work under their belt and judging by some of their partners (they seemed impressive to me?!?!), they’ll probably be around for awhile.  I hope they do well.

First Impressions of CETW

I’m here.  Hungry, but here.  I had the fortune of getting together with my mentor last night and it was the perfect way to start this trip.  But we let the talking and catching up trump everything, including eating and sleeping.  So, I’m hungry and tired.  But it’s going to be a good day.

Here in NYC, this show seems smaller than the one in Vegas earlier in the year.  This is my first time at the Javits Center so maybe it’s optical-illusion-like and it’s really not smaller.  Just seems to be.  Not a bad thing – in fact, this is one of the things I like about this show – it has a small-town feel and I can certainly appreciate that.

Seems very stuffy this morning.  I’m seeing lots of people walking in in their suits.  Not me.  I’m going to get a breakdown of audience attendees that I’ll share.  But I say this should be a no-tie affair.

The show organizers – Lawrence and team – are good.  They are personable (getting back to the small-town feel), full of enthusiasm and ideas and most of all, want to put on a show that will be of value to the vast range of attendees needed in this industry.

I’m looking forward to catching up with some of my Preset buddies and hearing from many different people – sessions look to be diverse and interesting.

Offering Up Real Value

50/50.  I think that’s my success rate so far this year on this blog.  And that might even be too generous on the “success” side, I don’t know.  But I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I’m offering here, and I just feel like I’ve missed the mark at least half of the time.

It all begins and ends with value.  I talk to my clients about this every day and there are many posts on these pages that talk about the same thing.  But when I step back and ask myself if I’m offering value on this blog, I don’t come away with an overwhelming majority of “yeses.”   I think now, more than ever, there are many “experts” in many fields and they all talk about things like they know it all.  I’d lump myself into this group, although I’ve never claimed to be an expert on anything.  But I’m here, in this forum, offering up my opinion and chiming in on many things.  But I think there is a big difference between talking about and actually doing.  That’s how one really becomes an “expert” – by doing.  And it’s not just a “I-did-it-once-so-I’m-an-expert” type of thing.  It’s doing it many times over a period of months and years.  Think of the 10,000 rule.

So, from this perspective, I feel like I have a lot of value to offer.  I’ve been working in the “digital” business for over 10 years now, in the “storytelling” business for ~17 years (since I was in college) and in the “living-and-working” business for well over half of my life.  And, as I said when I started this blog, I spent the last 4 years of my life developing software for an Interactive Out-of-Home solution.  And now, since I’ve been with FH, we’ve been doing things in and out of the social space, in and out of the digital space, and even in and out of the home.  All of this to say that I feel like I have something to offer – otherwise, I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s time.  But I don’t feel like I do as good a job as I should be here with imparting my experience and learnings.  So, this is a renewed commitment to take it to the level of trying to provide real value in everything I write from this point on.

I’m going to CETW next week and rather than just provide a regurgitation of the sessions I attend, I’m going to spend more time doing things like talking to the exhibitors and learning about who does what and who does it well.  I’m afraid I’ll hear more of what I normally hear – “we do it all, soup to nuts” – but I’ll try to cut through all that and get to the core of other people’s value.

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.