Tag Archives: Digital Signage

A Word About Content

Dave Matthews Band Out-of-Home

Is there more noise out there than quality content? Or is it just harder and harder to find the quality content, given all the creators and channels to consume it on? These are more rhetorical than not, especially since these questions have surfaced in different forms over the past few years. But each day, it becomes easier and easier for anyone to create good content and distribute it across many different channels. (What was once intended for Twitter can now be seen on a billboard in the middle of Times Square.) And with that, it becomes harder and harder to focus on and find the quality content. That is, the content that I want, need, and like.

As one of my colleagues recently said to me, we don’t need more platforms to consume and share content on, we need 1 tool to shut out all the noise. So, there you go, inventors – an identified and growing need.

When I think of content – either producing it or consuming it – it’s not about the type of content that is most important to me. Meaning, just because it’s video content (dynamic, moving, all that), does not mean that I will consume it. In fact, that’s really the least important factor. It takes much more than that to make me stop, consume and ultimately, interact with it. Here’s what’s important to me, in order:

What is it about? The subject matter is the key. If it’s about Dave Matthews Band, I’ll consume it. If it’s about baseball, I won’t. However, if it’s about the Texas Rangers, I will. It’s important to understand the generality and specificity of your audience/community when planning content.

Who is producing it? Where is it coming from? Take the examples above – if Dave Matthews Band is producing the content, I want to see it. It’s about them, by them. If my wife forwards me a piece of DMB content, I want to see it. It’s about them, by them, yes, but in this case, passed on to me by someone that I trust, especially about “quality” content pertaining to DMB. If someone close to me – be it friends or family – sends me something or posts something, I want to make sure that I consume it. If it’s someone who I think is credible on any particular subject, I’ll consume it. Otherwise, it’s harder and harder for me to even give it a chance.

What type of content is it? I think too much emphasis is put on type of content above all. Not that great looking content isn’t compelling enough to get me to consume it, but it’s certainly much harder if it’s not something I care about – and even more, am passionate about – or it’s not coming from someone I trust.

Maybe the type of content is enough to get my attention, especially when I’m out in the real world. But if it stands any chance of getting me to actually spend time with it, much less do something with it, it takes much more than that.

So, whether your making content for a website or a OOH digital sign, what drives your content creation? The answer could be the difference between noise and consumption. Maybe even action.

Image credit: dailydooh.com

Why I Love Domino’s Times Square Billboard (& What to Learn)

Domino's Times Square Billboard

What Domino’s is currently doing – by broadcasting (virtually) unfiltered comments on one of the biggest stages in the world (Times Square) – is something I applaud and would actually recommend to any client more times than not. Here’s why:

#1, it’s simple. There is absolutely no time/effort spent on content creation. Yes, they have to filter comments, but if there is human involvement, it’s not much.

#2, it’s coming from the right place. Simply, if a brand is coming at the experience and/or engagement – regardless of channel – from the right place, they’ll get credit. Regardless of any specific negative comments that might come their way. Domino’s has made a pledge – as a brand – to listen to their customers to get better. What can be a better place to come at it from? The community recognizes this and Domino’s will get credit, sales, and ultimately loyalty by being open. Remember, people want a say. Domino’s is going full tilt and giving it to them. Then, using it to make their product better.

#3, it’s big and out in the open. There’s no hiding from anything on any of those screens in Times Square. Not only is Domino’s being transparent by broadcasting these comments, they are putting those comments front and center for everyone to see. This is just another example of them showing how committed they are, as a brand, to improving. And in the process, kind of innovating.

In the digital signage industry, the concept of utilizing social media as content has seemed either a) intimidating and/or b) incompatible, to the point of not using it altogether. For whatever reason. LocaModa seems to be one of the only companies who has whole-heartedly embraced it, enough to build a thriving business around it.

I wrote a post the other day about fundamental human behaviors that are critical inputs to us as we create engagements using social media channels. I believe those behaviors apply to any marketing or communications across any channel. Including Out-of-Home (OOH) and digital signage.

Often times, I feel like the industry doesn’t know what to do and/or how to sell these screens that broadcast in public places. In the end, it probably always comes down to a question of content. While we see (and will continue to see) many examples of creative content being produced by brands and broadcast across various channels, it’s important to recognize that consumers, themselves, are creating buckets of content about the brands they love everyday.

So, from a strategic POV, why not tap into this? Brands will always open themselves up for negative comments on any social channel – be it online or off. More channels and more screens don’t alleviate that possibility. Those channels only give those voices more of a chance to be amplified. But this is not something to shy away from. Unless the brand is completely averse to change.

Almost always, the community wins. And not a single individual within the community, but the community as a whole. The brand is an enabler and a participant. That’s pretty much it.

Next time you’re sitting around trying to think of the golden piece of content, it might be right under your nose. In the social channels. Don’t be afraid.

Photo credit: Fast Company

Human Behaviors – Not Technology – Help Tell Stories & Drive Action

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

I think we all know the importance of content in the marketing and communications mix. At the core of any experience, I believe, is the brand’s story. And the way that story is told, via the content, is arguably what we all get paid for.

In today’s always-on, hyper-connected world, it’s easy – as marketers and communicators – to focus too much on specific channels than the story and what form it should take on those channels. This is a hard challenge to overcome because new channels and new technologies within those channels surface and evolve on a daily basis. “New” media makes it easy to distract us from what will really make those channels/technology effective – the story.

I think all of this new, shiny stuff also clouds basic human behavior, which has been around and has evolved way before any of this. Those core behaviors often guide me as I’m thinking about how to bring to life and tell a brand’s story across any channel that we might have the opportunity to use. So, while this might not be a complete list – I’m no sociologist – it’s been a helpful guide to me.

  1. People want to have a say – with anything, people feel more comfortable and trusting of a decision that they’ve had some impact on. We don’t like being told things and “this is the way it is.” The open web and new technology has actually exacerbated this behavior to the point to where people are enabled to give their opinions, weigh in and help shape more decisions, more quickly. It’s taken empowerment to a new level. A brand’s story belongs to the brand, but the shape it takes along the way, and the experiences (offline and online) it creates/enables, is constantly changing. A brand simply asking their customers what they think about something goes a long way.
  2. People expect personal – I don’t know about you, but I ignore anything – be it an email, direct mail, or anything else – that doesn’t have my first name on it. If it’s not addressed to ME, I don’t want to spend the time with it. Social channels – Facebook, Twitter, even email – are personal, by nature. When brands/companies don’t leverage this personalization, they miss opportunities.
  3. People want to be in the know – I think we are driven by knowledge of any kind, whether it’s about a place to eat, a new product or service, or the best babysitter in the neighborhood (personally, this is GOLD to me!). We want to have this knowledge, and often times, we want this knowledge before anyone else has it. All of these new technologies, especially those enabled through personal screens like mobile, provide an opportunity to deliver exclusive content over and over.
  4. People like sharing – just as we like to know, and before anyone else does, we also like to share with others. Forget about any specific channel – just plain old word-of-mouth – we like to tell others about that new place to eat, that new pair of shoes, or that babysitter in the neighborhood. Sharing is core to any effective story(telling).
  5. People support what they love – everyone has their passions. People are driven by them. And my passions are not the same as yours. Anyone seen haul videos? Why anyone would want to watch someone’s clothing haul, I don’t know. That’s just not my thing. Obviously, it’s many others. People love what they love and they get behind what they love. This is a powerful opportunity.

The great opportunity that we have with all of these channels and new technology is more appropriate and targeted platforms to tell that story. This, to me, is the beauty and the (still) unrealized potential of Out-of-Home and digital signage. More and more, we’re starting to see mobile as an extremely effective channel – through all of the different technologies – to communicate to consumers on their terms, when they’re out and about, on-the-go.

Whether your main focus is creating content/telling a brand’s story via digital signage, social media, advertising or anything else, don’t forget about fundamental human behavior. It’s what drives action and interaction, not the technology.


If You Want to Create, Just Get it Out & Down

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home BlogI read a great article the other day about a regular creative practice that is incredibly selfish, but incredibly brilliant, especially for those of us who just want to create. It boils down to a simple practice where you just get thoughts out of your body and down on paper. So, there might be some times here – like today – that I just write down some thoughts, more stream of consciousness than anything else. They’re not refined and they’re not packaged. Some of them might not even make sense. But they’ll be out. And hopefully, you might be able to take some nuggets away, and even more than that, hopefully they’ll serve as an inspiration for me to create something better to share with you guys. Here goes…


Next time you’re outside of your home, stop and look around. How many screens do you see? How many places/things turned “on” do you see? Screens are all around. In fact, what does the term “screen” mean anymore? What about the mobile screen in your hand?


Once upon a time, engagement was confined to a TV set or billboard. For the longest time, it was a passive experience. Then, along came computers, which enabled an instant connection to the information customers were searching for. This created an active experience. But time soon showed that the instant connection was no longer fulfilling people’s needs. So, enter the open web and social media, where the connection actually became a two-way interactive experience. But still, people were confined to their homes or offices with their tethered devices. At the same time, they were spending more and more time on the go, outside of those homes and offices. Those tethered devices were becoming more and more limiting. So, enter the mobile phone, where quickly, it became less and less a phone and more and more a device that enabled instant connection to information, people, and brands. In the process, those connections enabled experiences – dynamic, two-way interactive experiences. And here we are today, where passive experiences are a thing of the ancient past.


We’re living in a world where engagement extends far beyond our living rooms and offices. It’s everywhere we are. Out and about. On the go. It’s the world. “Out-of-Home” has taken on a new meaning.


It’s no longer a mass-awareness blanket, it’s a mass-engagement canvas. (Now there’s a thought, an inspiration.)


BTW – here are some great pieces of that article:

In her classic book The Artist’s Way, creativity expert Julia Cameron shares a practice she stumbled upon while living in New Mexico and recovering from yet another in a series of career disasters. Every morning, she writes out three pages, longhand, of pure stream of consciousness.

What Cameron is advocating through the practice of Morning Pages is the act of “Unnecessary Creating.” That is, creating for ourselves rather than for others.

A few key qualities of Unnecessary Creation:

  • You set your own agenda.
  • You have permission to try new things and develop new skills.
  • You can take as much or as little time as you need to get it right.
  • You can stretch yourself, explore fringe ideas that intimidate you, and make things that no one but you will ever see.
  • If you fail, it’s no big deal.

When we spend all of our time and energy creating on-demand, it’s easy to lose touch with the passions that fuel our best work. We grow used to leveraging our abilities for the sole purpose of meeting others’ expectations rather than exploring new possibilities and taking risks.


An Innovation Question for the DOOH Industry, Thanks to Google+

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

All we’ve been buzzing about around here, in my world, is Google+. I’m not going to get into all of the opportunities or redundancies that it might or might not bring to the table, but I will say this – here’s what it shows us – even Google, who seemingly has been left behind in the social space by Facebook is constantly innovating.

This is not just another Facebook. It is fundamentally different.

When looking at the DOOH industry, I think we can all agree that there has been its own fair share of innovating, especially in the recent past, as seen here, here, and here. The experiences that occur outside of the home, through technology, is fundamentally different than it was even a year ago. And with new innovations, just as Google shows us, it’s going to look different sometime in the (near) future.

Here’s my question – since the technology fundamentally changes the game, are the DOOH industry and its players poised to keep up?


Finding Balance – Personalization & Privacy

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

As marketers and communicators, I think balance is key to so many things we do. I’m going to explore some of those things here, over the coming days. My first post was around the balance between sales & relationships (marketing & communication). Today’s is one of the favorite topics among my colleagues and myself – the balance between personalization and privacy.

One of the common themes here at the 11th Screen is the ability for consumers to connect with each other and the brands they love all the time, especially when they’re out and about, on-the-go. We don’t need physical screens outside of the home (“digital signs”) to deliver messages and enable engagement. The places and things around us have the ability to be turned on and it’s more of an exercise in strategy & creativity (in how to connect consumers) than it is in figuring out technology.

The notion that  the real and virtual world can be more hyper-connected  than it is today (which is light years more than it ever has been in the past) is something that is both exciting and scary. It’s exciting because:

  • We can talk to anyone, anytime, on/through multiple devices, and we like this
  • We aren’t confined to a computer screen or a TV screen to connect and engage, and we like this
  • Mobile, to me, is becoming the screen of choice. And it doesn’t have to be a mobile phone – iPad anyone? And this is what we want.
  • We can efficiently fulfill tasks that previously required us to go to a store, stand in lines, and deal with people (see Redbox, or better yet, see Netflix streaming service on your TV), and we like this

We can, essentially, control the terms of engagement with everything and everyone in our lives. While we might have a different level of control placed on friends/family than we do services/brands, the major benefit for all of this is that we’re having to alter our lifestyle less and less. It’s just easy. All of these connections now fit into our crazy, busy, on-the-go lifestyle. (This actually opens up another balancing act, which is disconnecting while always being connected – we’ll get to that in another post.)

From a brand & marketer/communicator standpoint, with this hyper-connection comes the potential to hyper-target. Outside of the computer. It provides the ability to personalize experiences based on past experience, preferences, demographic, and a slew of other personal data. “Right message at the right time” is something that I hear all the time in the digital signage circles. This is not a new concept, but it gets everyone excited with the possibility of truly reaching people with the right message at the right time, regardless of where they are. This is one of the things I find most exciting about the true potential of interactive out-of-home (IOOH). Right now, I think everyone would agree that there’s a lot of noise out there. Even on the web. But certainly when you’re outside of your home. Personalization helps reduce the noise.

But herein is the balancing act – personalization requires consumers loosening their grip on (potentially many) aspects of their privacy. And this is the scary thing about an always-on, hyper-connected world. This has a tendency to freak people out. Rightfully so. There are some creepy things that happen out there on the web and it doesn’t take many stories to scare people into not exploring or completely shutting down. This behavior is counterproductive to the potential of the new out-of-home. If no one will interact with the places and things around us, those places and things will be rendered worthless.

Here’s my take on privacy – if you can experience the benefit of giving up more information about yourself, you’re more likely to, in favor of a better experience. But you’ve got to experience it. And it’s got to benefit you.

I think Facebook and LinkedIn have done a wonderful job of letting people experience the benefits of giving up more of their private information. Facebook makes connections seem seemless, particularly around interests. LinkedIn enables you to connect very specifically with the type of people you want to connect with. Both are more powerful for you with more of your information. This power is in the personalization.

So, does it just boil down to benefit and experience? I’m afraid not. I think we still have a ways to go until giving up more personal information than less is the norm. I think technology will drive a lot of this, as it has in the past few years, but people don’t want to be creeped out. It’s just that simple. They want to feel safe. At the same time, whether or not they can verbalize it, I think they want to reduce the noise.

Transparency always helps. Utilizing systems where people have given personal information (Facebook) is good, too. This enables the experience to be seemless and easy. Education will be critical, especially from all of those involved in the out-of-home channel, because those turned-on-places-and-things-around-us can positively effect our daily lives. It’s going to require personal information, though.

As much as I talk about personalization, it’s important to realize anything can only be made personal through information. And that’s letting go of pieces of privacy. And that’s the balance that we all have to find.

So, that’s my take. What about yours? I’d love to hear it!

People, not Words, Will Change & Define the “Digital Signage” Industry

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

What a past couple of weeks it’s been for the digital signage industry. I don’t even know if I’m referring to the industry correctly anymore, given one of the key figureheads recently proposed renaming the term “digital signage” completely. Truth be told, I’ve never been clear on what to call this industry and even whether or not to call it an industry, much less what the industry is defined around. But in the end, I come back to the same thing – it’s the digital signage industry. Because it’s centered around digital signs – er, signs that are digital – and the industry is larger than a group and busineses are made around the components to run digital signs. So, it makes sense and it’s easy. I say “digital signage” (with or without industry) and everyone I talk to understands what it is, at least on a basic level. Semantics.

The true waves – those that could have a real impact on changing the face of digital signage, far beyond words – are being made by the people running business in this industry. Three major players, rVue, RiseVision, and Screenreach, have all recently hired individuals who live and breathe engagement. Not digital signage. Engagement. These are individuals who will benefit the industry because they have specific digital signage experience, too, but they are not about the sign. They’re about the engagement. That is an important distinction, especially for an industry that ironically seems to behind the technology-enabling-engagement curve. These individuals are awesome for the industry.

I think it’s interesting and admirable that each one of these companies created positions for these individuals. These were not positions that have existed before. They were made for these individuals. Before I get into that, let me just tell you a little bit about these individuals. I have the pleasure of personally knowing each of them and I’m better for it.

First up is Jennifer Bolt, who, for years, has been the head honcho for the media department at Tracy Locke. She has immense media planning and buying experience and knows more about the media side of digital signage than anyone I’ve met from an agency. She just joined rVue as Chief Strategy Officer. She knows, firsthand, the challenges that agencies face when guiding major brands through allocating and buying Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) (a la digital signage). She knows how to ask the right questions of brands to understand where advertising dollars can be pulled from. It is complicated – from a brand perspective and agency perspective – and as a result, the digital signage industry suffers. Jennifer is a wonderful addition to the industry because she knows how to talk to agencies and exactly where to go within them to be a guide and help provide clarity all around.

Next is Paul Flanigan who recently joined RiseVision as VP, Marketing & Business Development. Paul is one of my first and best friends in the industry. He comes with a wealth of experience in branding, marketing, and communications and is just an overall bright and seasoned guy. He worked with the guys at The Preset Group and before that he ran Best Buy’s in-store network. Paul is an engagement guy. He gets the power of digital signs and how if they don’t create engagement, they’re not realizing their full potential. Now, by working with a digital signage software provider, he will not only be able to shape the actual product, but he’ll also be able to speak to prospects about the true potential of reaching and connecting people when they’re outside of their homes.

Which leads me to my boy, David Weinfeld, who, too, was with Preset before going on to Obscura Digital and just last week was named Chief Strategy Officer of Screenreach. The first thing you see when looking at the Screenreach website is, “Turn any screen into a 2-way interactive experience.” This is a perfect fit for Dave – a place where social, mobile and digital signage collide. He gets it completely and even more, eats it up completely, and Screenreach and the industry will benefit greatly from David having such a visible role within it. He should be able to directly infuse social and mobile connections into what’s expected from digital signage immediately.

All three of these individuals should have an indelible impact on the industry. I find myself energized knowing as much. But this could not have happened if the leaders of the respected companies – Jason Kates, Byron Darlison, and Paul Rawlings – did not recognize the need, potential, and competitive advantage that these individuals could fill/enable. These leaders had the wherewithal and courage to create positions for other leaders.

And that’s what changes and defines industries.


Not words.

The Evolution of Digital Out-of-Home – My View

Awareness vs. Engagement OOH

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Dallas/Ft. Worth American Marketing Association with 2 extremely talented and smart individuals in the digital signage industry – Brian Hasenbauer from Indoor Direct and Jennifer Bolt, formerly from Tracey Locke, now from RVue. We spoke to the AMA’s New Media Special Interest Group about the “Evolution of Digital Out-of-Home.” Here is my portion of the presentation.

The Evolution of Out of Home

View more presentations from Mike Cearley.
As much as I can, I like speaking to pictures, not words, so the presentation might be a bit difficult to understand. For regular readers of this blog, my story and view of the Out-of-Home space has been chronicled here many times and the presentation is a brief consolidation of those thoughts. For those new readers, there are a few key themes in my view of Out-of-Home that are reflected in this presentation:
  1. I am not a media person (like Jennifer). I don’t make my living working for a DOOH network (like Brian). I work for a communications company and I am an experience person. I’m very much in the connections business and one of the opportunities that I am faced with is how we can connect people with each other and the brands/organizations they support while they are physically outside of their homes. In a way, I have a grassroots approach to Out-of-Home, but that’s primarily due to the realistic application I can affect given my job. I’m fascinated by the space and the experiences brands can now create Out-of-Home so I think I have a pretty broad perspective, based on experience and study.
  2. I’ve heard “Digital Out-of-Home” (DOOH) referred to as the 4th Screen (Nielsen dubbed it as such) and the 5th Screen and even the 6th Screen. People are coming up with “screen” names for the space that are pretty funny. So, when I started this blog, I picked a random number and ran with it. Thus, the 11th Screen. It’s actually been kind of serendipitous because in the past two years, I’ve realized more and more that we will not need physical screens to interact and engage with while outside of our homes. Technology now enables the places and things around us to be turned on and I think the future is not going to be defined by “screens” at all. So, the idea of the 11th Screen speaks to this notion of our physical world being projected on, interacted with, and made into rich experiences. At least that’s the story I’m running with. :-)
  3. I see this “Out-of-Home” space as a blank canvas to create connections. Our society (and world) is based on human connections. Technology (especially mobile) has enabled broader and more efficient connections. It’s no longer the barrier. In fact, it’s a powerful enabler. So, the opportunity for brands to connect with people while they’re outside of their homes, on the go, is greater today than it ever has been. At the heart of connections is communication and effective communication is 2-way. This is important. Because it requires listening and engaging. Both ways.
  4. Out-of-Home has typically been a great Awareness channel. Effective at getting as many eyeballs on an ad as possible.
  5. The introduction of “digital” to the Out-of-Home mix, insofar as making the display digital, does nothing to channel other than to make it more efficient. Moving images and bling make it into “Digital Out-of-Home,” but it does not fundamentally change the channel.
  6. What does fundamentally change the channel is a different kind of technology – “enabling” technology. Technology that enables connection with the brand or with other people. Technology like touch or gesture or Bluetooth or geo-location or image recognition. There are a fair amount of technologies that enable something digital or non-digital (bling or not) to drive connections. This kind of technology changes the channel from an effective Awareness channel to an Engagement channel, and this is the true potential, and the future, of Out-of-Home. In my opinion.
  7. Then, some examples – the first Walgreens example represents the difference between non-digital Out-of-Home and Digital Out-of-Home. Adding a display technology onto the sign does nothing other than provide more space to advertise.
  8. But, as soon as you introduce a short-code to drive connections on that digital sign, it instantly becomes another way into the brand, a way to connect with them.
  9. Then, you can see other examples of the “Awareness” execution of the space compared to the “Engagement” execution of the space. And the space, again in my opinion, is no longer just billboards, posters, or kiosks. It’s the places and things around us in the real world – like products and packages – that are becoming channels into the brand experience themselves. This is the future. And to me, I’m afraid it can’t be defined as “Digital Out-of-Home.” That is much, much too limiting.

If you have any questions on the presentation, feel free to drop me a line. I’m more than happy to discuss in more detail. As always, thanks for reading!

What Exactly are Table Stakes Today?

Is digital always better? Especially in terms of signage?

From my perspective – one that is pretty dialed into the digital signage/digital Out of Home (DOOH) industry – I often feel like there is a misguided notion that digital is always better. Yes, digital can deliver more messages and adjust based on time of day, demographic, and/or location, but more and even more targeted messages don’t necessarily translate into better. To me, it’s all about how good that message is and whether or not it enables an opportunity for the consumer to be driven deeper into the brand.

A few weeks ago, my friends Will Amos and Kyle Porter from NanoLumens sent me a link to a new table top digital signage solution intended for casual dining restaurants. It’s a decent looking product and I can imagine the network (COMMCaddy Network) is an efficient way for restaurants to deploy and change specials, offers, etc. Here’s a static shot of the CommCaddy:


I’ve also worked with and seen an interactive table top solution for the same type of restaurants. It, too, provides an efficient way to deploy and change specials, offers, etc. Patrons can even pay from this Ziosk device. Here’s a static shot of the Ziosk:

Ziosk | TableTopMedia

While both of these solutions – and any digital solution, for that matter – can create efficiencies, cut a whole slew of costs and ultimately help to drive more sales (by serving up images of drinks or desserts, for instance), I just wonder if they’re addressing the real need? Which, to me, is to drive loyalty, deepen the brand experience, and get patrons to come in again. From this perspective, digital has nothing to do with it. And message and connection have everything to do with it.

Last night, I saw this boring, laminated table top sign at Houlihans.

Houlihans Table Tent

While I understand that these examples seemingly have a different purpose on the table, I’ll go back to the real need. Is it to drive sales or deeper connection?

The answer is both. I know.

But when you think about table stakes in today’s always-on, digitally-driven world, in casual dining restaurants like this – what’s most important to have? Something digital? Or something that enables connections?

I think the industry (and restaurants within) should take a look at what Houlihans does, with its non-digital, boring little laminated table top sign. They focus on staying connected. Specifically through:

  1. Mailing list – It’s the first thing on the sign. And you can do it just by asking your server for a “sign-up slip.”
  2. Mobile – The next thing on the sign. Text a short code in to receive specials. And just by signing up, get a free mini dessert.
  3. Social – Twitter & Facebook identities right out in front to connect with the brand in their social channels.
  4. Geo-location – Fourquare specials here. And it’s one of the only restaurants like this that I’ve eaten at that provide specials for checking in (it’s good, too).

I have no idea what restaurants choose to show on digital screens at the table, if in fact they have them. The ones that I’ve witnessed myself, and then seen through their own advertisements, miss this connection point completely. There is value in having such an efficient display system, for sure. But if the message is all about food, food, food (or, really, sell, sell, sell), I believe patrons aren’t going to feel one way or another about your brand, especially as it relates to your fancy digital table top solution. They might buy more food when they’re sitting there that one time. And maybe even next time, if they come in. But in the end, that’s all they’re doing. They’re not connecting to the brand, which can impact the way they feel about the brand, and ultimately drive loyalty.

There is a simple notion that cannot be misguided – people, in some way, want to be connected. So, shouldn’t table stakes in today’s casual dining restaurant world be all about those connections and not the technology?







Glee’s Simple #Hashtag Lesson

Glee Hashtag

More and more, people are consuming media through multiple channels at the same time. TV and Twitter seem to be today’s peanut butter and jelly. Same can be said for digital signage and mobile. In fact, last week RMG announced a huge partnership with BlueBite, ScreenReach, and Locamoda (separately) that will enable mobile integration into their massive network of screens all over the U.S. Consumers have the ability and preference to be connected in more ways than one. And they’re doing it. The day of single-channel media consumption is gone.

Last night, when I was watching Glee, I noticed a smart addition (and it’s not Kristin Chenoweth) to the show. The #Glee hashtag watermarked on the screen throughout the entire episode.

Glee Hashtag

Glee is certainly not the only show to advertise a specific hashtag, but it’s the first (that I’ve seen) to do it in this way. Constant. Throughout.

Now, I’d be curious to know if the average consumer knows a) what a hashtag is and if they do, b) how to use them. While Twitter adoption has certainly grown, I wonder about the finer nuances of the tool, like the use of hashtags. It’s an easy concept, though, and just as easy to apply.

Hashtags are used for 1 simple reason: to aggregate conversation around a single subject. Twitter and Facebook and blogs and any other social media channel you can think of have enabled consumer opinion/conversation to be more accessible than ever before. Those opinions and conversation influence what someone watches or buys or even talks about.

From a brand’s perspective, aggregating conversation that is already happening around a product/brand/subject is extremely important. It helps bring the conversation into one “stream” and show the totality of conversation. From a consumer’s perspective, it’s another way to connect and converse with like-minded people.

I think brand strategists and storytellers, who are responsible for telling a brand’s story and/or representing them across the multi-channel media ecosystem (which definitely includes digital signage/any sort of OOH), can take this page out of Glee’s playbook: Add a hashtag to your message/story. Constant. And throughout.

People are connected to multiple devices at any given time. They’re constantly talking to their own social networks. And chances are, they’re consuming media in more volume throughout their days. So, when they consume your media, on whatever channel – in and out of their homes – make it easier for them to connect with others around your product/brand/story. Make it easier on yourself to start to aggregate that conversation. In the end, you’ll be making the entire experience easier on consumers, your fans and yourself.