Tag Archives: DOOH

Skittles Shows Us a Unique Way to Interact with Content

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

When I say touch screen, what do you think of?

Maybe your phone? Maybe the ATM? Maybe the self-check out at the grocery store? Heck, maybe even something like the Kohl’s kiosk?

When I think of touch screen, I think of all of these things. But boiling it down, I think of physically touching a screen to elicit an action. Whether it be for utility or experience, my finger becomes the mouse and guides my path through and experience. The experience is the thing. With expectations of fluidity in movement and functionality becoming higher and higher, it’s less about the touch and more about what it enables. The touch, though, is something that makes the experience instantly personal.

I have this thing about non-interactive digital signage and suffice it to say, I think any screen outside of the home not only has the ability to be made interactive, but it should be. Particularly digital screens. And that doesn’t just mean touch. How easy is it to include an SMS shortcode?

Well, Skittles might have just made the game a little bit easier. They’ve introduced a concept that I think all digital signage content producers should take note of: how to make content interactive via touch without a touch screen. See for yourself. And follow instructions – hold your finger there.

How simple, right?

So far, they’ve released 5 different videos and they’ve been pretty popular in a short amount of time (150K – 1.7M views). They’re short, (questionably) entertaining, and engaging. And that’s the key – they’re engaging.

Throw out all of the challenges like hardware and software – as far as digital signage goes – and you can really start to think about the reality of creating interactivity through a simple concept involving the type of content always running – video.

This is not the end-all solution for all those digital screens, but certainly for many of them within physical reach. There are many other factors to consider when deciding on the actual type of OOH/DOOH solution, I know. The thing is, for an industry that is so technology and advertising-centric – two debilitating constraints in pushing the limits – this is an example of how a basic piece of content, even in the form of an ad, can be manipulated to create engagement. How it can turn an otherwise static screen and message into something that deepens the brand experience and strengthens the relationship. And how creativity in storytelling can break down barriers that technology creates.

After all, it’s the content, not the technology that really drives true interactivity.




DSE Session 1 – Best Practices in Digital OOH Planning & Presentations

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

The panel is the reason I came to this session – Rob Gorrie (Adcentricity), Dan Levi (Zoom Media), Jill Nickerson (Horizon Media), Andrew Miller (Kinetic Group Americas)

(Jeremy Lockhorn (Razorfish) – was not here – kinda a bummer – would have been great to hear from him.)

This session is a mock-RFP session where agencies put out an RFP to networks and then the networks pitch to the agencies. So, this will be interesting to see how they all approach and talk about “Digital” OOH, particularly as it relates to actually bidding/winning some business.

There’s no set-up to what we’re going to here in this session. They just jumped right in. Think a little bit of set-up would help properly frame for the group. At least give us some information from the fictitious RFP.

So, the networks are supposed to pitch to the agencies. Here we go.

Rob’s up first – They start w/ defining objectives (against the funnel), who they’re trying to reach.

They then go into research & data – understand who and how. Try to get insights out of them. Then, look at potential venues based on the target/insights. Then, look at the target markets. Merge those together and you can see the opportunities you have in each market.

OK, this is getting real detailed. Good stuff, but way detailed and Rob is still talking. 25 minutes in and no one else on the panel has said anything. How are they going to get to anyone else?

One thing he notes in his preso and what they think about – mobile and social. So, this is good – they hear the original request for “DOOH” and they’re thinking about other channels, too.

Logical flow, they’re smart about the way they think about things – goal/objective definition & research first.

Now, Mandi Dyner is up from Outcast Network. She gets right into talking about gas station networks (this is what they do but, ugh). Captive audience. Content customization. (Who in the world watches those gas station TV’s? I mean, really? What a thing to lead with.)

Didn’t hear much research here.

Now, Dan from Zoom. Introduces us to the company first. Then, he mentions Neilsen (just like all the others), how their network is measured. Recap of the RFP’s objectives, audience.

Then, their concepts – he makes sure to talk about mobile and social, pretty good emphasis on social.

They use MRI as their primary planning tool.

They focus a lot on creating custom relevant content for each venue/location “network.” They proposed a text-in donation aspect to the content. Then, they proposed showing social content, highly localized – trash-talking Tweets from sports fans and a SM aggregator.

15 minutes to go and the pitches are still going on. When/what/how are we going to hear from the agencies? Will be interesting….

Taking into account the actual pitch, the presentation, and the thinking – Zoom wins on the creative ideas/experiences and Adcentricity wins on research-approached effective solutions.

But here goes the agencies – they’re asking questions to each of the pitchers. It’s a little awkward for the audience – at least it seems that way to me – because the agencies are asking questions of specific people on the panel, they’re all sitting up at a table with each other, and they’re just talking to each other. It’s all directed to the front. Kinda shutting out the audience.

Here’s the thing – there’s a lot of talk about “mass awareness.” This is exactly what I talked about in this post – digital signage is a great mass awareness channel. But what about mass engagement?

Adcentricity got kudos from the agency panel by starting out with so much research.

Nut – interesting approach to a session. Like the idea. Think it could have been structured more effectively – like framing it up front for the audience. At the end, the agencies moved away from asking pointed questions from the networks, they just told the audience what they liked/wished they would have gotten from each of the networks. That was good.

Another nut – measurement is key. The media planners always get involved and they want measurement numbers. Be prepared.

Quote of the session – “If you don’t have compelling content, people aren’t going to look at the screens.” – Andrew Miller (Kinetic Group Americas) Will they anyway? Is there screen blindness?

DSE Keynote – DOOH Disrupted: Paths to a Connected Future

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

Keynote speaker – Shelly Palmer (Live Digital w/ Shelly Palmer and Shelly Palmer Digital Living Sirius/XM Radio Show)

Excellent talk. Read through for some real gems!!

It’s interesting because we’re here to talk about DOOH at a time when everything is digital.

Digital is not new.

Show of hands from the audience – how many people are NOT carrying a smartphone? Literally 2 people. Wow.

Everyone of us is walking around with a computer in their pocket. The world has changed. Digital is a part of our lives. It’s not new.

The ability for people to connect with each other and amplify their voice, at scale – that is new. Speed and scale. It’s worldwide.

Stop it with the behaviors have changed and media consumption has changed – we know this?! (Does this industry really?)

Watson (yes, the computer) – natural language processing.

Pure research + applied science + showmanship (practical ways to use digital tools to make people’s lives better?) = the business we’re in.

What is a sign in 2011? Could be a TV, could be sign, could be anything we want it to be. (This is what I’ve been talking about – places & things around us have the ability to be turned on.) But what we have right now is analysis paralysis – everyone’s got their own interpretation and it’s different from everyone else’s and it’s is causing schizophrenia.

How do we fix it?

All technology is meaningless unless it changes the way we behave.

18 mos. ago, there was a proportional screen rule that was absolute – small screen – short content, bigger screen – longer content. Now, anyone will watch anything on the best available screen.

Now, people are taking their TVs with them. That’s new.

iPad is the 1st of a zillion tablets to come out. Motorola Xoom is an iPad killer. 2 computer chips instead of 1. Full screen HD. 2 cameras. All Googled up with Honeycomb. Will it actually kill the iPad? No, but for a certain group of people, it will become THE tablet of choice.

Difference between 3G & 4G – we’re at a tipping point that is unprecedented since 1847. We’re about to go from 3G to 4G. It is literally the difference between the pony express and the telegraph. Huge sociologic change. It took 5 weeks for someone to get a message. Now it takes less than 5 seconds. Huge. 3G takes minutes, 4G takes seconds. Are you guys ready for that?

We’re still trying to figure out where to put the signs. How to network the signs. Blah, blah, blah.

People are picking up their signs and walking around with them.

Traditional DOOH is a lot like old school TV.

Something he’s working on right now – LogoVision – has every logo in the history of the world in their database. Consumers take a picture of the logo, it delivers content. Can take a picture of any logo on any sign – TV, digital sign, poster, etc., get content instantly. Think about how “instant” 4G will be.

This time next year, you won’t be able to buy a 3G device. All will have 4G, means getting content/data will be 6-8X faster than they are now.

People now like texting. Consider email a formal letter. What’s better than texting? Taking a photo/pressing 1 button. The computer does the work for you. What’s that? Oh, Watson. You see where this is going?

Speed, scale, convenience – technology is meaningless unless it changes the way we behave. How do we behave? In the way that is most convenient.

“The #1 show at 10PM on Friday night is TiVo.” – Jeff Zucker.

People make choices, we’re empowered now with technology.

We’re living in a connected world and very quickly we’ll be able to argue – there are 2 types of people and 2 types of tech – connected or not connected.

Trust circles – small groups around things from people you emphatically trust. The new DMA’s. (Very interesting.)

How does a sign help you? How does a network of signs tied together that disseminate valuable information help you? That’s our challenge. We’re an old medium today. People are taking their signs with them.

Another show of hands – how many of you guys have Google Alerts set up for the information you want on a daily basis? Only 10% of people, if that, raised their hands. This does not surprise me. Now, he’s going off on the audience – you’re in “digital” signage/Out-of-Home and you’re not even using the tools for yourself. How do you not do this? It’s unacceptable that you’re at the Digital Signage Expo and you’re not digital.

Who do you sell to? Helping the industry move forward requires 2 components – 1) how to present this industry to buyers?

Retail has forever changed. Borders couldn’t compete digitally. They didn’t keep up. They, like so many people, believed things will work themselves out.

Do not fall prey to the idea that anything is going to go backwards. What’s the penalty for being late? The penalty for being late is business death.

How do you filter the paradigm shifts from the parlor tricks? You personally apply the filter based on your experiences to the question – is this going to change people’s behaviors.

Digital signage industry – hire armies of developers to work on platforms because that is where you’re going to win.

Nut – and I quote, “He who is closet to the point of sale wins. That’s always going to be true.” Now people are bringing their computers to the point of sale. And they’re connected – to each other & brands & information through technology. And the best, “Not about hyperlocal, it’s about hyperpersonal.” This takes some sort of engagement and interaction. This is what it’s all about.

Quote of the session – Now, the only people who like change are babies in wet diapers.

Are the Priorities in IOOH vs. SEO?

Google & JC Penney SEO(Photo credit: NY Times)

Over the past year, I’ve kept up with a few brands that I feel have done a good job of utilizing the OOH channel, particularly the “new” OOH channel – where offline is purposefully merged with the online and enabling technologies are at play. One of these brands is JC Penney.

I’ve featured them twice here, and I’ve been impressed with the initiatives they’ve executed in this space. To me, the fact that they use mobile and interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) shows they understand all of the channels at their disposal and more importantly, that they know this is becoming more and more a preferred and effective way to reach consumers.

So, when then news about their SEO practices surfaced yesterday, I have to say I was surprised. My initial reaction – without asking any experts on SEO – was from the POV of a general digital marketer. How can a company make a decision to utilize emerging channels – mobile and IOOH – but not have a complete grasp on one of the basic (yet complex) fundamentals in their media mix? Or in simpler terms, how can they focus their efforts in building large, in-store touchscreen units rather than getting their SEO right?

It makes me feel – again, upon first blush, and not having any insight into their operation – that someone there doesn’t have their priorities straight. How could this be?

So, I dug a little bit deeper. And in what I read (here and here), the blame seemed to be put more on Penney than not. But did they really know? Or is everyone doing it, just in subtler ways? How can they not have an SEO expert? I started to get more and more interested the deeper I got into it. So, I asked our SEO guy – Ryan Smith – who is also actually one of the cinematographers in our office.  And here’s what he had to say, just by me asking, “what do you think:”

  • Don’t mess with Google, it isn’t worth it 98% of the time.
  • We MUST be able to counsel our clients not to work with shady SEO companies, they will tell you they can provide results and then go out and buy links to do it.  A brand could get burned like this very easily with very little knowledge of what was actually going on. I believe that this was the case for Penney, they can’t even get the URLs of their core pages right.
  • Many SEO’s have often pointed out major hypocrisy of how Google hands out penalties. Major brands have been given passes because they are “vital” to results.  BMW could do anything because if they weren’t in the SERP for “luxury car” Google users would think less of Google.  So I think this says that Penney’s must have been pretty blatantly buying links on a large scale and that Google doesn’t view Penney’s as important to their results.  Also maybe they found a brand to make an example of to get everybody on the straight and narrow without damaging their results.
  • Penalty was confined to several non-branded keywords, if a lesser brand had been buying links on that scale they would have gotten blown out completely.  They still rank fine for anything with JC Penney in the query.
  • This is clearly a manually applied penalty and Matt Cutts said as much.  I can’t remember another time Google pointed to a specific penalty and admitted it was manually applied.  Mostly in the past they have stood on everything being algorithmic to the point that it insulted the intelligence of anything that could fog a mirror.  Interesting they chose to point to manual on this one all of a sudden, might be a bit of branding change from we have the best results because of our algorithm to we have the best results because we work hard at it.
  • JC Penney spends between $12 and $40k a day on Adwords, according to Spyfu.com.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you Adwords has a direct link to your organic rankings.

Good stuff. I could probably expand on each one of the points above, but I don’t want to get into SEO-specifics here.

My personal takeaway is this – it’s less about JC Penney knowing whether or not this was going on (but seriously, how can a company of this size not know what’s going on on this scale, especially with their monitoring and even warnings???). It’s more about the seeming oversight of not having an SEO expert in-house/on-staff in some form or fashion – someone who would have directed, caught, and presumably fixed the tactics. And more importantly, someone who is accountable.

This is one of the hurdles this (D/I)OOH channel/industry faces – a consistent champion, from the agency and brand side, who will be accountable. Right now, I feel like the (D/I)OOH industry is fed by brands/agencies who are risk-takers. This is still an emerging/experimental channel, not a tried-and-true one like online paid/organic media. But the problem is, when there aren’t specialists who can take responsibility of those tried-and-true channels like SEO, when will there ever be specialist who can champion channels like (D/I)OOH?

I know I’m being a little dramatic, but it does give me pause, especially when looking at a brand holistically, not just in the interest of one channel over the other. I think it’s our responsibility, as marketers/communicators, to understand how each of the channels work together – especially when emerging channels like (D/I)OOH & mobile are at play – and then provide counsel accordingly. As much as we can. We must do this. Our executions, particularly in the emerging channels, will be made stronger and more credible. And that’s what it’s going to take to become sticky, when reaching consumers while they’re out and about – strong stories from strong brands. Who consumers can trust.

Honda “Syncs” With Consumers in This Unpredictable Life

Honda The Power of Dreams

I just wrote about a new technology called Sync that can “sync” two different devices with each other based on audio and can serve up customized experiences.

Today, I see that Honda has utilized this new technology, too. They just released a new commercial (“This Unpredictable Life”) and iPhone app (Honda Jazz) that can interact with it. First, the commercial:

And then the iPhone app:

They’re calling this “screen hopping technology,” but from what I can gather, it’s based on the same concept as the Sync technology that Grey’s Anatomy uses in their iPad app.

My takeaways from this – Honda is one of those brands that understands their brand(s), their stories, and their channels. They’ve always done a great job at connecting with consumers in unique and meaningful ways. Across many channels. Here is just another example.

And Apple continues to lead the way. Attention DOOH Networks: get a creative mind (preferably a storyteller) and an application programmer and let them come up with the best way to integrate with the other content in your network. I know it’s not that easy, but it seems like those two roles are becoming more and more essential each day.

Sync Technology Changes “Watching” to “Experiencing”

Greys Anatomy iPad App

“Are you ready to change the way you watch television?” asks the voice in the video.

“It can do way more than that,” I say.

See for yourself.

Yes, I am a fan of Grey’s Anatomy (the last couple of seasons, I thought it had jumped the shark, but last year’s finale put it back in my good graces), so today when I caught news of their new iPad app, I went to check it out. What I found was something that could not only drastically change the way we watch television, but how we interact with brands and each other, and ultimately the places and things around us.

The app has everything you’d expect out of it – exclusive content, social hooks, game elements. But the real game-changer is its Sync Technology. (Similar to the type of technology that Ford uses in their cars.)

Real quick 101 on the tech – it picks up on audio waves within a certain distance and then takes action based on the audio cues. Here, in this app, when watching any Grey’s Anatomy episode, you can “sync” the iPad with the show. And when that happens, the app serves up custom content (polls, tweets, behind-the-scenes footage, etc…) based on where you are in your viewing experience. It reacts, real-time, to what you’re watching and then serves up the most appropriate content. Just by listening.

In a car is one thing. There, the technology is taking action based on the driver’s commands, allowing the driver to eliminate all futzing required of their hands, and focus on the actual driving part. It’s highly effective at serving a utility. Watching and interacting with a TV show is something entirely different. Here, the technology is taking action based on a storyline, as told by many different characters. It’s literally deepening with every touch point. Here, it’s highly effective at enhancing the experience. It turns a fairly passive & non-personalized experience (even tweeting during a TV show can only go so deep) into an (inter)active & personalized experience that’s efficient and smart.

Can you imagine what kind of experience this could enable from any digital sign? It could turn a simple newscast that’s projected on screens in an office lobby into a personalized newsfeed. It could turn a lecture in a conference booth into a deep and interactive presentation. It could turn that short elevator ride into a fun game with others riding with you. The requirements are few and the benefits are many.

This is one of those technologies that can turn anything that is originally general into something uniquely specific. Devices conducive to mobility (when consumers are out and about) along with enabling technologies like Sync are changing what “OOH” means (and can do) right in front of our eyes. It’s always been seen as a mass awareness channel, but thanks to these sorts of technologies, there’s nothing stopping it from being a purposeful engagement channel. Always on.

Because it’s already happening.

When I started this OOH exploration, it was very black and white to me what it consisted of – it originated from a platform/device that you don’t have to own and you can’t turn it off. But the more and more we advance (in only 2 short years) – as consumers and technology – the more and more grey it’s becoming. The channel becomes more powerful when you can have a unique experience and we’re seeing that play out through technologies like Sync, and technologies that bridge the offline with the online, and technologies that can be controlled through simple gestures – it is becoming an active engagement channel, not something that houses a display that you simply can’t turn off. You can now “turn on” the experience that you want and it’s quite likely it will be different from the person standing right next to you.

Last year, I wrote about 3 different technologies that transcend “DOOH” and could advance the medium/channel in a profound way – basically alleviate the need for physical “screens.” This is another one of those technologies, but unlike the others, this one becomes more effective through a screen. At least right now.

We are, no doubt, in exciting times. As I’ve said before, technology is no longer a barrier. It’s about how we creatively push those technologies and use what’s at our disposal (networks of physical screens) to connect and drive deep experiences.

So, I think it’s an interesting question – “are you ready to change the way you watch TV?” But it seems pretty narrow. It’s not about “watching” anything. It’s about “experiencing” everything. And it has nothing to do with being in or out of your home.

Are we in the Middle of the Interactive Generation?

Interactive Generation

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season as the new year fast approaches. I’ve spent some much-needed time with my family and actually have the rest of the week off to enjoy more time with them. Right now, their sleeping time is my catch-up time and I feel like I’m just wading through emails, tweets, and stories.

Tonight, I re-read a post from eMarketer that a colleague sent me – “Department Stores Take Digital Out-of-Home Marketing to New Heights” and there were a few interesting nuggets that stuck out to me. As a whole, and to someone who’s been pretty deep into this industry for the last year, there weren’t any surprises about the channel (“DOOH”). What I latched on to, though, were the consumer behaviors that continue to change with the introduction and adoption of emerging technologies like smartphones, iPads and video games.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked if we were in the middle of an Engagement Revolution, and tonight I’ll ask if we’re in the middle of the Interactive Generation. What do you think?

This eMarketer post provides some compelling information, probably the most is centered around interactivity and advertisements on the iPad. From the post –

And stores hope they will attract shoppers who have become used to colorful digital advertising on the internet, their mobile phones and increasingly on devices like the iPad, where bright colors and movement add interest and engagement according to studies like one from UM and Time Inc.

No brainer on bright colors and movement. This can be partly attributed to the technology, partly to the content, and partly to the simple human condition of recognizing movement over static. But it’s the “82% more likely to notice ads with interactive features” that I find fascinating. I mean, think about that – 8 out of 10 people are more likely to pay attention to an advertisement that includes some level of interactivity. Now how many of them actually interact is my next question, but this number is astronomical and quite encouraging to anyone who believes that the future of OOH/DOOH/digital signage is interactivity.

I’ve thought and had conversations with colleagues about mobile tablets affect on OOH/DOOH, specifically how they can be used with those installations to drive deeper brand experiences. But this study sheds light on another profound impact that tablets could have on the industry – not as a connection device, but as a behavior-changing device. If consumers react a certain way on tablets (and brands create advertisements a certain way), it seems like this, more than anything, can drive the need and acceptance for interactivity on anything outside of the home, on and off devices that consumers own.

Another point, not backed by data, but well made – Creating window displays powered up by digital technology, retailers aim to attract the attention of a generation of consumers who are increasingly accustomed to the on-demand, interactive, and technically advanced capabilities of smartphones and video games.

These non-OOH/DOOH technologies are already playing a large part in today’s generation, which is not made up of like-aged people, but of like-consumption consumers. Interactivity is all around, and technology is rapidly advancing. Along with both come the change in consumer expectations. I almost think it’s expected to see bright colors and movement – they’re table stakes – but consumers want the connection, and that connection happens through interactivity. Table stakes are soon not going to be enough because at the end of the day, regardless of the bright colors and movement, as long as brands are pushing a 1-way message, they can only accomplish so much.

Engagement and interactivity go hand-in-hand. They’re not based on demographics, they’re based on behaviors. And as we see here, they’re changing right in front of our eyes.

So what do you think? Do you think we’re in the middle of an Interactive Generation? And how much do you think these behaviors will affect the OOH/DOOH/digital signage channel?

The Power of a Friend

For the next 15 days, I’m going to participate in Reverb 10. It’s an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us.

Has something ever presented itself to you and your gut tells you it’s a good thing, but the more you think about it, the more you doubt whether or not it’s a good thing?

Reverb 10 sounds like such a good, purposeful initiative, right away I felt like I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. But the more I thought about whether or not I should do it here, the more I doubted that this was the right forum. In the end, though, I knew I would look back on this and regret it if I didn’t participate. So, for the next 15 days (I missed the first half of December), I’ll be following their “prompts” to guide a blog post. I hope you find it as valuable as I anticipate it being. (And if you want to participate, you can get involved, too!)

Today’s prompt – FRIENDSHIP: How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

This is easy, particularly when I think of the past year on this blog. More than a forum to catch my thoughts, more than the opportunities, more than anything, I’ve been able to create, foster and grow relationships that I didn’t have last year. And a fair number of those relationships have turned into true friendships. Yeah, I know – especially in today’s world where becoming a “friend” is a simple click – that we don’t see each other on a regular basis, and it’s hard to go out and have a beer, but the bond that we’ve created is palpable. It’s that comfortable feeling you feel when you haven’t seen someone in a long time and when you do see them again, it’s as if no time has passed in between meetings. There’s no awkwardness. It just is.

One of those friends is Paul Flanigan. Paul is a marketing/digital signage guy who’s had many years experience in creating/managing/consulting on true digital signage initiatives/networks for many large clients. From that perspective, he’s seen and worked in what I would consider “old school” digital signage/DOOH. But the thing about Paul that has made an indelible impact on me is that he’s a “new school” thinker and this year, he’s been instrumental in reinforcing my belief that there truly is a “new school” way of thinking about digital signage/DOOH (and the entire out-of-home space). He’s a great evangelist on the power of engaging people outside of their home and he’s had big stages to speak on about this. He’s really a force. The more he talks, the more I feel like I’m on the right track. Our perspectives are aligned and that has been powerful to me, particularly on this blog. In the coming year, I can only hope to impart half of the value that this perspective has had on me. Friends are like that – it doesn’t take much to make a large impact.

Are we in the Middle of an Engagement Revolution?

What do you think?

I just read a great article in the latest edition of Fast Company titled, “Mayhem on Madison Avenue: Advertising is on the Cusp of its First Creative Revolution Since the 1960’s. But the Ad Industry Might Get Left Behind.

And as you can guess, one of the primary points made in the article was how the proliferation of digital technology has changed the advertising world, specifically the “creative” in the advertising world and how agencies are valued in brand’s minds. I thought it was a fascinating glimpse into the world of older advertising professionals in today’s time, and when I say older, it’s all relative. I’m not talking ancient, I’m talking young Boomer. In age time, not much older than me. In technical time, it’s drastic. As evidenced this year alone, with the explosion of mobile, technology is advancing at a pace where it seems like a creative, er “digital,” revolution is almost an annual event.

But after I finished reading the article, I couldn’t help but think it was mischaracterized. Just as technology does, masking the true issue with its smoke-and-mirrors effect, I wonder if the real question is, are we in the middle of an engagement revolution?

Some of my favorite nuggets in the article:

Thanks to the Internet and digital technology, agencies are finding that the realization of their clients’ ultimate fantasy — the ability to customize a specific message to a specific person at a specific moment — is within their grasp. It is also one very complex nightmare. After all, digital isn’t just one channel. It’s a medium that blooms thousands of other mediums.

“The irony is that while there have never been more ways to reach consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with consumers,” explains [Brad] Jakeman, now chief creative officer at Activision, the gaming company.

The death of mass marketing means the end of lazy marketing.

And the Internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way message into a real-time dialogue with millions.

I don’t want to get buried in semantics here, but it’s the same argument that I’ve made with the DOOH/digital signage industry. It’s not about the technology, it’s about what the technology enables. The technology now enables brands to engage with consumers, hopefully to the point of meaningful interaction, one that builds a relationship. It’s hard to do, no doubt, but consumers’ expectations are driven by their lack of attention + the barrage of technological gadgets at their disposal. They might be looking to be wowed or entertained or given something of value – technology allows brands to do this in many ways, including the “OOH” channel – but in the end, aren’t we all just looking to be engaged on some level? We don’t want to be talked at, we want to be talked with.

From a brand’s perspective and the agencies who support them, regardless of their structure/approach, the ones who figure this out first will win. Same can be said for the digital signage providers/planners and OOH experience-makers.

I’m a firm believer in the power of technology, but I’m an even bigger believer in creating relationships. Technology is like the handshake, what happens after that – the discussion – is what strengthens or deadens the relationship. And relationships grow with actual people. And people are the ones who make revolutions. Yes?

Friday’s 4-1-1, Looking Ahead to 2011 Style

Happy Friday, everyone! Another week is over and we’re one more closer to the end of the year. I can’t believe it. It’s getting to be the time where the mad rush starts to “wrap things up” this year and everyone starts to look forward to the new year. I find this time of year to be both exciting and maddening because of this month-long dance between effort and anticipation. I’m choosing anticipation for this week’s Friday 4-1-1, coming at you with a first look at other’s looks into 2011.

1.  2011, A Tipping Point for DOOH? – very well rounded post from Ken Goldberg at Neocast.  From someone who does not operate within the DOOH industry (particularly the media side of things), it sure does already seem like we’ve reached that tipping point. Look around and note how many digital screens you see. On my morning commute alone, I see 1 at the courthouse, 1 at a church, 1 on the train, 1 in my office building lobby, 1 in the elevator, and 1 on our office floor. Everywhere I turn, there’s a screen with content. I feel like consumer’s expectations are to see physical digital screens around them more often than not. Now, the question to me is: is 2011 going to be the tipping point for “everything’s a screen” and “Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH)”?

2.  A True Outsider’s Prediction of 2011 – this post comes from someone that has no affiliation to the OOH/DOOH industry. Dave Snyder at digital/tech agency, Firstborn, presented one of the first “looks” at 2011 in one of my favorite publications. The entire list is worth reading, but the couple that I focused on:

Privacy – “we will say goodbye to privacy. Actually that happened long ago, it’s just that people will stop caring.”….This is one of the big concerns about truly targeted place-based advertising – how creepy and invasive the thought of it is. My thought is aligned with Dave’s. People like to complain about it, but I’m not convinced that they really care. They want their lives to be made easier and more convenient, and if that involves giving up more and more of their privacy, so be it. I don’t know if people will ever “embrace” it completely, at least not for the foreseeable future, but I think they’ll “accept” it. They already have to a large extent.

Flash vs. HTML 5 – this is big, too, to the DOOH industry. Much of the moving content in digital screens is created in Flash. Now, HTML 5 opens up possibilities that don’t have some of the handcuffs that Flash has, particularly in terms of compatibility. Who cares? Consumers don’t care. They just want to see moving, dynamic content. We – on the storytelling side – can’t lose site of the most important thing – telling the story in the most compelling way. The story’s the thing, not the technology to create and deliver it.

Frivolous Technologies – ie QR codes – agree and disagree with him on this. More and more, QR codes are being introduced to the mass public by big brands. Will they stay? Or will they evolve into something else? Don’t know. But to me, the most important thing here – these types of technologies are not frivolous. They serve a critical need in today’s ecosystem by connecting the offline (real-world) with the online (virtual-world). I hope 2011 will be the year of the shakeout with these technologies (will there by 1 universal code or will codes begin to have similar, more comprehensive capabilities, will readers automatically be installed on all phones???), but I sure do hope they don’t disappear. Personally, I don’t see it happening.

3.  11 Consumer Trends for 2011 – this time brought to us by TrendWatching.com. Shout out to them for noting that trends don’t begin/end on a particular date. They evolve. Hope you get that message here, too.  #1 “Trend” – Random Acts of Kindness. This is great because at the core is the idea that people are good and appreciate appreciation. This requires connections – between people themselves and between brands with people. Particularly important to the OOH industry because it’s this connection – this real connection – that people crave, not dynamic, place-based ads. It’s the 2-way communication that they appreciate, not the 1-way push. It’s knowing, and seeing via action, that “someone’s on the other end,” not the dreaded black hole of awareness-driven, self-serving advertising. It’s the purposeful engagement that really matters.

Another trend mentioned – Pricing Pandemonium. This section of the report talks about “always-on technology” and “connecting consumers to deals closer to the point of sale,” but never mentions any other screen than the mobile screen. True digital signage can make this new type of experience even more dynamic, working in concert with the mobile phone. I really think that the reason physical screens are not being mentioned by almost anyone outside of the industry is that a) we don’t really need them and/or b) the screens up right now are not providing the type of value to make others notice. Yes, they’re everywhere, but are they effective?

4.  What our phones will be in 2011? – watch and drool:

Bringing every-surface-can-be-turned-on-and-made-into-a-screen right to your pocket. Doubt we’ll see something like this in 2011, but what will these devices be like a year from now, and more importantly, what kind of effect will they have on the places and things around us?

“Uh-huh” – I’m big on infographics and becoming big on the idea of data visualization. I presented a version of this infographic a few weeks ago – my vision of the components that make up any OOH initiative and insofar as the overlap goes, some of the finer things to think about when planning.

Out of Home modelBut this week, I found the infographics of all infographics and its focus is on data visualization. INTENSE –

For a complete explanation, check this out. It’s smart and makes a lot of sense, once you get over the overwhelming feeling. So, I ask myself the question – what if I turned mine into something like this? What “components” would each one of the sections of overalap result in? I think it could get real interesting.

“Duh” – I talked to my team this past week about reflecting on the last year and specifically taking note of everything they’ve accomplished. As is the case for many of us, it’s been a long and trying year, but certainly not without reward. I find it easy to get bogged down in the disappointments and/or struggles that will inevitably be there each and every day, but it’s important to recognize the good things, the accomplishments, the blessings that we have experienced in our lives over the past year.

Well, as always, I’d love to hear any of your thoughts. Just drop me a comment or a tweet, whatever you’re comfortable with. Thanks, again, for reading. Have a great weekend!