Tag Archives: DSE 2010

Out & About: Target’s Gaming Touch Screen

I heard Chris Borek from Target speak at the Digital Signage Expo earlier this year and walked away from it impressed with their approach to serving customers – “it’s about interacting with the customer on their (the customer’s) terms, on their schedule.  It’s not about being there all the time, it’s about being there when they need it.”  So, I was not surprised when, over the weekend, I saw this touchscreen in the middle of their electronics/gaming section.  Apparently, they’re planning a full chain roll-out with these babies.

Let’s put her to the test and see how she does.

Purpose – They are here to sell games.  They’re providing this solution to make it easier for you to a) search for the game you want b) search for the game you don’t know you want c) find the most convenient store for you to get it at and d) get the information in the form you want.  This experience delivers on all fronts.  If I were looking for a game, I would go straight to this touchscreen vs. a store employee, but that’s just me.  If I was intimidated by this touchscreen and wanted the comfort of a store employee, that employee could walk me straight to this and step through the experience with me (hopefully, that’s what they’re trained to do.)  In that regard, it even levels the playing field for all of those employees – now they don’t need to know about every game in the store.  The technology serves that purpose and allows the employee to focus on the customer.

Drama – As you can see, this touchscreen was built into the display unit and it all looks very nice.  You can tell they spent a lot of time thinking this through and designing the entire unit, not just the touchscreen.  I don’t know how they could have done a better job with placement, although it would have been much more noticeable if it were right on the main aisle.  (As it is, it’s hidden behind the display unit on the main aisle.)  Once I noticed it, the subtle animation and large text with prominent call-to-action made me want to interact with it and set my expectations on exactly what I needed to do.  In my opinion, they made a good decision with the vertical monitor – it creates more of a dramatic impact than the same size horizontal monitor and for this type of information, I think it makes for a better use of space.

Usability – The interface was set up very much like a web interface.  In some respects, it mirrors Target’s online experience, certainly the way in which the content was bucketed.  I didn’t have a problem finding the information I wanted.  In some cases, there were multiple ways to get to the same content, which I think is good.  And regardless of where I was in the experience, I could always “Go Back” Home and “Notify an Employee.”  It’s great (and smart) to have those anchors.  I think it makes the user feel comfortable that they can always get the information that they ultimately want, even if it isn’t through this touchscreen experience.

Interactivity – This experience was touch-based with email & mobile integration.

The screen was responsive to touch and aside from the internet connection (which I suspect is needed to utilize their web content management system), I thought the experience itself was fluid and smooth.  The email & text component was simple and provided only the information I needed in either of those channels.

Information – All games, all systems, all accessories, all the time.  The content here is hooked into Target’s chain-wide inventory, so if the store that you’re in doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you can locate it at the stores closest to you.  In addition to the product information, they worked in a social component via user reviews.  That said, I couldn’t find any user reviews in the games that I searched (which I think can be easily remedied with some seeded content), but it might have just been by chance that those specific games didn’t have reviews.  This application didn’t seem to have any un-needed information and it didn’t seem to lack any either.  Everything in here seemed purposeful.

Personalization – There wasn’t much personalization in this experience, but there was more than in the touchscreens that I’ve previously featured.  The email and mobile component was a nice, personal touch and a step in the right direction to make the experience personal.  I think they have the opportunity to build user’s profiles, recommend content based on previous purchases, incorporate a loyalty-type program – all might not be appropriate for the everyday consumer, but would certainly help Target compete with stores like GameStop with the hardcore gamers.

All in all, this was a very good, efficient application.  One of the best I’ve seen, and certainly the best touchscreen that I’ve featured here.  Why other game stores and movie stores (like Blockbuster) and music stores don’t do this more, I just don’t understand, especially if they’ve already got a good system online.  I think anyone who’s considering building/updating a retail-based interactive application should go to their nearest Target and play around with this for a little while – you’ll learn alot.

Top 5 Moments of DSE 2010

As you’ve read from previous posts, I found DSE to be very rewarding.  My top 5 moments:

1.  Hard Rock Café Access – My first impressions from everything there were mixed – overwhelmed, underwhelmed (in a weird sort of way), giddy, and confused.  Stepping away from it all, I’m able to digest all that I experienced there.  No matter what, that Rock Wall really does rock.  MS Surfaces are fun to play around with and I’m sure that if I were dining there, I would play with the booth touch screens to the point where it would probably be annoying.  Truth be told, with all of the interactivity there, there might not be a better place for lovers of the 11th Screen world to go, including me.  Interestingly enough, I just saw that these were featured in what I consider to be the gold standard in industry recognition – the new Communication Arts Interactive Annual (yet to be published online).

2.  One-on-one discussions – the information and knowledge that I took away from the formal sessions paled in comparison to all of the one-on-one discussions I had.  Guys at the Preset GroupSymon Communications, Reflect Systems, Muzak, Digital Signage Today, Daily DOOH, Arinc, and Daktronics – I enjoyed meeting you all and I look forward to continuing the conversation.  We are all excited about the future of digital/interactive out of home.

3.  The different & consistent perspectives of the future of DOOH – everyone talked about the future of digital out of home being bright.  They also talked about the barriers we face – lack of consistency, measurement, and stories.  There are many companies in the industry doing the same exact thing, but there are far too few stories and proven success.  The industry, agencies, media planners/buyers, and clients need all three of these things – consistency, measurement standards, and stories.

4.  The on-the-floor workshops – I attended Keith Kelsen’s and Gary Kayye’s small workshops and they were, hands down, the best formalized sessions offered at the show.  Both are industry leaders and visionaries and I would recommend everyone hear them talk.

5.  Mobile and social integration into digital signage – by extension, mobile and social integration into digital signage makes it interactive signage.  I look at this as interactive out of home – 11th screen.  I believe that this is the immediate future of DOOH.  Content will always reign, and the better, more relevant the content is, the more people will be compelled to interact with it.  But once you connect people through content, you have deeper engagement.  And with deeper engagement, you strengthen relationships.  With strong relationships, you have trust and with trust, you have loyalty and advocacy.  I saw two companies integrating mobile & social – LocaModa (who you’ve probably all heard of, thanks to Jumbli) and Aerva (who I just heard of) – watch out for them both, especially Aerva.  They have a great offering(s).

Again, none of this would have happened without the folks at DSE.  They were really good to me and “thanks” on paper just doesn’t seem like it can capture my gratitude.  I look forward to seeing them again.

How about you guys?  What were your top moments of DSE?

Cutting Through the Clutter at DSE 2010

Man, that was intense.  Particularly, the juggling of mediums to report on and with.  It’s hard to blog, Tweet, take pictures, videos, post to this site and that site in such a short amount of time.  Especially with no WiFi throughout the Convention Center.  (I could only get online in a couple of places in the Convention Center.)  It’s a process that I have not perfected by any means.  But it doesn’t take away from the fun of it all, or the knowledge gained.

That’s the big question that everyone has asked me – more than, “how much fun did you have?”, it’s “what did you learn?”  The short answer to that question is that I learned a lot.  And more importantly, I met a lot of really good, bright people, who are all advocates of this space.  You get people who are passionate about the same thing in a room and you can’t help but learn things.  But there is a longer answer to that question……

While I did learn about many things, it wasn’t necessarily all things that I cared about learning.  There’s always a lot of clutter at conventions like this and I can tell pretty quickly if it’s something that I a) care about b) want to be informed of or c) can’t process because it’s too complicated.  And I’m not necessarily talking about “complicated” as in “over my head.”  I’m talking about “complicated” as in “harder than it needs to be,” or “unnecessary.”  There was lots of clutter this week – in messages, in technology, in “stories.”  I have even contributed to the clutter, myself, with the rapid-fire regurgitation of information.  This is the first conference that I’ve reported on like this so I’m still up in the air as to the best way to balance the barrage and sharing of information with well thought-out observations and opinions.  I feel like I was much more heavily weighted on the former rather than the latter.  Just like much of this conference felt to me.

But now that I’m able to step away from it all, I am very pleased with all of the non-clutter that filled my experience.  More than anything, as I said, I learned that there are some really great, passionate people in the industry.  While this is not a new industry (digital signage has been around for a long time), it is a new medium to effectively engage and connect with people, and in that respect, we are all forging new ground here.  I feel like right now, we’re where social media was 4-5 years ago.  And just now, brands, marketers, and communicators are really starting to embrace social media and trying to use it as a tool for more than personal benefit.  We are in the infant DOOH/IOOH stages.  And we have some fantastic experts who have been doing this for many years.  I was able to meet many of those people this week and I benefited greatly from it.

My hosts were great, too.  The folks at DSE are excellent.  They are accommodating, they run a tight ship, and enable loads of access to industry experts, trends, and real-life examples.  I really appreciate everything they did for me.

The information was good, too.  I don’t know that I necessarily learned anything ground-breaking that I didn’t already know (but that’s a good thing).  It’s always good to have affirmation of thoughts, philosophies, and direction.  The resounding theme for the week was “content.”  It’s all about content, not the technology.  Perhaps it was the nature of the sessions and people that I gravitated to, but this is not about technology.  Technology is an enabler.  We have nothing without meaningful, relevant, and appropriate-for-the-medium content.  It gets back to my fundamentals – who are we talking to (audience), what are we trying to say (content), then how are we going to say it (technology)?  A huge barrier for us, as advocates of this medium, is the desire for the next “bright, shiny object” and the perception that “once I have a digital and/or interactive screen, I’ll automatically get results.”  (First of all, let’s define “results.”  But that’s for another post.)  I think there is a tremendous need for education, particularly in really utilizing this medium in the most effective ways.  Technology is certainly a big part of it, but true effectiveness lies in understanding your audience and how to reach them in the places they go “outside of their home,” which all leads back to the content.  Many people reinforced this in their own words this week.  

There was also a contingent of people who see where this medium is going and it’s not “digital.”  It’s interactive.  And as you know, by reading this blog, this is music to my ears.  It’s funny because last year when I was here, everyone was showing the latest and greatest in true digital displays.  There were big displays, thin displays, 3-D displays – all displays.  Hardly any interactive displays.  This year, it was all about interactive displays.  Single touch, multi-touch, gestural.  Interactive was hot.  But it was confined to interaction with the display screen only.  I saw very few other enabling technologies, like mobile or GPS.  The ones I saw though, (to be mentioned in the next post), made an impression on me.  I think there is a group who is behind the curve, catching up to what the audience needs in interactivity (basic touch or gestural) and then there is a group who is ahead of the curve, accounting for what the audience wants in interactivity (connection through mobile/social).  Regardless, it’s all interactive.  This is the future, make no mistake.

As far as the technology goes, I learned that there are a lot of companies doing the exact same thing.  There are many powerful solutions out there, from the displays themselves to the boxes that enable them to the systems that run them.  For the most part, they are whoosits and whatsits to me.  I want to create a certain experience and I want someone else to tell me what the best technological solution (display, box, system) is to achieve that experience.  That level of detail makes my head want to explode.  God bless the technology providers and experts.  I would just ask that there be a friendly consolidation.  Can’t we all just get along?

So there you have it.  I’m sure that I’ll have moments in the coming week that inspire me to post something that I know I forgot, but that’s a good feel for what I learned.  How’s all that for a long answer?

Over and Out

The conference is over.  I walked the floor.  Took some pictures.  Videos.  Met some more people.  Cut through a little bit of the clutter.  I must go back to the hotel now.  Goal for tonight, aside from posting more content and catching up on work, is to film the water show at the Bellagio and there is a cool gesture-based projection in my hotel that I want to film, too.

2nd (and last) Official Session of the Day: #40

This looks to be a cool session, even though it is in the last group of sessions for the conference.  By this time, most everyone has gone home.  Not me.  I’m looking forward to it:  Integrating Multi-Channel Strategies: A Roadmap for Digital Cross-Platform Success

There are only two speakers, but two interesting speakers.

Chris Borek from Target

Stephen Randall from LocaModa

Stephen up first…

First words out of his mouth – “Place-based social media.” 

He’s giving some really great one-liners.  In a split second of processing, they sound great anyway.

“If TV is being disrupted by the web, than TV outside is not a better proposition.”

“Media needs to be frictionless, networks need to be connected.”

Everybody is connected.  We get our information from the web.  Google.  Amazon.  We need to provide a continuum of that web experience.

Metcalfe’s Law – this is what they strive for with their work.  Connecting people across the “network” so they understand each other.  This is where you find true value.  Connecting to your audience is the challenge that most people don’t realize they’re failing at.  This cross-channel idea is an idea of connectedness.  If you don’t architect your roadmap of connectivity, you might get left behind.

If a screen is a digital version of a poster, then arguably it is no better than the poster. 

A “screen” should have a range of miles.  Have this by connecting content through a network.  Through a computer.  Through a mobile phone.

Every venue is like a website.  Every customer is someone interacting with your website.  So, the venue needs to think about what can I do with these customers?  How can I make it more engaging?

3 Fs:  Fun, fame, fortune – motivates people to interact.

Chris is up now…

Target.com – #3 most trafficked online retailer.  #28 most trafficked site.

Target has lots of assets, so they try to utilize them across as many channels as possible.

“Multi-channel is a conscious effort, not a tradeoff” – Target’s President.  She doesn’t think about one channel over another, she just thinks about Target.  She wants consistency and relevance.

When they think about social, they “take it to the next level.”  Word of mouth marketing.  They can be social media vessels.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Face to face interaction.  Doesn’t always have to be digital.

It’s about interacting with the customer on their (the customer’s) terms, on their schedule.  It’s not about being there all the time, it’s about being there when they need it. 

It’s not just content, it’s connection.

My thoughts – Clearly two very bright guys who have had success doing what they do.  The message throughout, from both guys, was connecting.  I love Target’s philosophy of  interacting with the customer when they need it, not all the time.  The thought is, “when I need X, Target is there.  How convenient.  I love that.”  It’s a good way to think about things.  This was easily the best session for tweetable nuggets. 

My question is – how do you blog, tweet, take photos, videos, meet people – everything that goes along with these things.  Balance, Mike, balance.  Remember.

More People I Meet

I love meeting smart people. 

I believe completely in surrounding myself with smart people.  I am always looking to learn and I just get jazzed up when I find myself in situations where I can tell I’m learning.

Most recently, I sat around a table with 3 very smart guys from The Preset Group.  They are all strategists, specifically for digital/interactive out-of-home experiences.  Yesterday, in my Keith Kelsen blog post, I mentioned Best Buy and how they decided that to sell TVs, they shouldn’t show movie trailers, they should show pieces of the movie itself.  Anyone can watch a movie trailer anywhere, but they’re going to be watching the actual movie in their house, on this TV, so it makes sense to show them something meaningful and relevant to influence their decision.  The guy behind this Best Buy vision was Paul Flanigan, one of the guys from Preset.  The other 2 guys, Dave Haynes and David Weinfeld, are industry experts in their own right.  If you ever want top-notch OOH/DOOH/IOOH reading material, check this, or this, or this, or this.  These guys have a solid understanding of what makes a complete OOH experience with the incorporation of technology.  The future is in personalized, relevant, and meaningful content served up to people when they’re outside of their homes.  That can look a number of different ways.  It’s not just “digital” signage.  It’s not just in interactive signage.  It’s not just in mobile.  It’s pieces of everything.  And we can’t forget the social angle. 

We could have talked for hours.  Thanks for the talk, guys!

The People I Meet

Met with Steve from Symon this morning and had a good conversation.  I’m always happy to meet industry comrades, especially those who live in my backyard.

Symon has many different solutions.  Digital signage is old hat to them.  They’ve been providing digital signage solutions for many, many years.  They also provide interactive (touch) and mobile solutions.  He spent a lot of time talking to me about their cool InView Mobile application.  It’s a location-based app that serves up content specific to the location you’re in.  They worked with Apple last year to launch it for Wimbledon.  Users who downloaded the app while at Wimbledon were able to access all sorts of content relative to their immediate surroundings (courts, schedules, scores, food, etc..)  Those who were not at Wimbledon received completely different content.  It’s cool, but they’re not thinking about it as a standalone application.  They’re thinking about it as an augment to other digital content in the location (from digital signage).  So, if you think about experiencing some content via a digital screen in Wimbledon and dive deeper into a personal engagement, you can do so through this application on your mobile phone.  Very cool.  Another cool thing is that they manage that content like they manage their digital signage content – from a central location.  This is simply another output.

I was impressed with him and his vision.  It’s clear that he intends to stay ahead of the curve, which from my perspective in this industry, is going to be WAY ahead of the curve.  He’s got some great thoughts about mobility – check out his blog.  We need providers like this, who are looking ahead, constantly thinking about the evolution of “digital signage.”

1st Session of the Day: #20

Had a work conference call right before this 8:00 session.  All I’m going to say right now is QR codes and cars are keeping me busy.

This session, Creative Tactics for Integrating Digital Signage in Different Environments, has a good panel:

  • Steve from Symon – “Visual Communications Solutions” of which digital signage is a part of
  • Jeremy from Razorfish – emerging media, enough said
  • Bryan from OpenEye – unique experiences through digital media in various environments

I’m going to hear the stories that OVAB mentioned yesterday that we need – the case studies.

Landscape is constantly changing – number of things that are competing for consumer’s attention:  traditional media, new media, social media.  Everywhere an individual turns today, they’re being bombarded by information.  It’s a different world today, more people are gravitating to online media, now mobile elevating in importance, social, too. 

Just having a digital sign on the wall doesn’t mean your message is going to be delivered, seen, absorbed.  You have to do something unique.  If you’re going to keep people from looking at their handsets instead of the digital sign, you have to do something uniquely different.

Bryan (OpenEye) – what do we do with content (non-advertising based content)?  A huge question?  Create identity to help strengthen the brand.  Emphasize the brand values, culture.  Help educate the viewer.  Perception is that content is video – not so – look at other dynamic media formats, for example Flash.  Look at a way of using content to create a very visual, unique experience.  How do we keep the screen fresh?  Keep people from overlooking it?  You have to create a consistent message across other mediums.  There’s a way to pull all that together and put something effective, consistent on digital signage.

(He’s showing examples)

Sovereign Bank example – incorporate media into the environment, not product promotion.  Create unique experience for the customer.  They developed a series of videos/content of people within the bank, also to show local businesses.  All outside of advertising.  Also product promotion, but used it in an educational way.  Approach this as extending the relationship with the customer and the brand.

Smithsonian Institute Museum of Natural History example – problem with foot traffic, trying to get people from one location to another, to other exhibits.  Another challenge – need to incorporate into existing environment, couldn’t move the exhibits.  They looked at the architecture, the area – how do we get screens into the existing environment?  And not oversaturate the environment?  This is a non-advertising based network.  The ROI is how big the person’s smile is when they leave.  (I’m hearing this consistenly here.  Perhaps OK for non-advertising based networks??)

Jeremy (Razorfish) – It’s about understanding the audience that’s going to be there and how to best impact them.  What’s the dwell time?  It’s a delicate balance.  Every time you do one of these, you learn a little bit more.  Test and learn process.  4 examples:

Microsoft example – Windows Phone 7 Series.   Big touch screen that allows people to understand how the phone software looks/functions on a large screen, with the absence of phones themselves.  Only had 6 weeks to do it.  Thought about the content first.  Animation, video.  Instructional.  Experience.  From technology perspective – multi-touch, directional audio, Windows 7 based.  Utilized their Razorfish Touch Framework.  Also had tracking mechanisms built in as well.  Will use the data to evolve the solution.  Design – they worked closely with the MS booth guys.  They really wanted to draw people to the screens.  One of the biggest challenges is to reverse engineer the animations.  Needed to spend a lot of time making sure it was consistent with the animation on the phone.

Retailer example – back-to-school initiative, wanted to drive to denim dept (jeans).  Side by side touchscreens on a vacant storefront.  Covered the storefront in a static wrap.  Full-screen attract loop, made some contextual inferences – Starbucks close by, so mentioned something about the coffee.  Heavy use of interactive video – video based on user’s decisions/interactions.  A lot of that interactive video content was put on the website.  We’re able to get more bang for the buck.  Timeout screen if not interacted with after a period of time.  Technology – rear-projection film.  Their proprietary touch framework and analytics framework.

Audi example – surface experience as part of a tradeshow booth.  Developed a complimentary iPhone application, too.  Car configurator.  Really rich 3-D.  Various POVs.   Audi-branded “puck” (I believe called a “muster” in the surface developer crowds) that brings up additional menus.  Multi-user, multi-touch.  Simple gesture that switches the whole interface around if others are interacting with the same surface.

AT&T example – surface experience in retail store.  Most difficult considerations – do you want people sitting?  Standing?  Elevated?  Fixture around it?  How do you “present” it?  Challenge with managing that number of people around it and the whole experience (like standing).

Questions –

  • How do you see these experiences evolving?  A: mobile phones, social networking…digital signage is just a complimentary medium.  It doesn’t stop, it extends. 
  • How do you get past the barrier of intimidation, particularly for touch screens?  A: It’s about finding ways to attract people into the experience.  It’s the content.  But then, it’s all about how it looks in the environment.  When it comes to multi-touch, gesture-based, the iPhone has really paved the way.  But it’s a consideration – either visual or text-based, instruction needs to be there.  Also, are there any on-site support (retail store employees, car salesman, etc..) 
  • Nationally-known brands – who are the leaders in embracing this technology/experience?  A: From OpenEye’s perspective, there is “private” clothier who is looking to create these types of experience.  Smaller organizations like that seem to embrace this type of technology.  From Razorfish’s perspective, one of the most innovative retailers is Ralph Lauren.  Touch screen windows for years.  QR codes, too.  From both perspective, there’s not a lot of case studies out there, so there is a tremendous amount of educating that comes along with talking to clients.

My thoughts – These guys are marketers, I can relate to everything they’re saying from personal experience.  They’re saying all the right things.  Cool examples, but examples that I read about online or in trades.  1 hour is not enough time for a session like this.  So many questions, primarily around the future.  I wish I would have gotten to hear Steve share some examples, but he just moderated.  Off to coffee with him now.

Good Morning, Las Vegas

Up early this morning.  My body clock keeps waking me up at 4:30 – 5:00 Vegas time, which is 6:30 – 7:00 Texas time.  Of course, I don’t get to bed until later, and the bed in the hotel is uncomfortable.  Really, it’s the pillows that are uncomfortable.  So, needless to say, I suspect I’ll hit the zombie wall sometime this afternoon.  For now, I’m trying to get as caught up with work as I can, eat a filling breakfast, and get out of here.

I’ve got a couple of sessions that I’m going to attend today.  I plan on meeting more people and even getting to know the ones I met yesterday better.  The daunting tradeshow-floor-walk will be today, too.

Good Night, from Vegas

My day is done.  I want to go into a Boynton book or Dr. Suess.  Quoting, that is.  Anyway…

It was a very long day.  Despite all of the forces pulling me in many directions, I felt like I achieved a fair level of balance today.

I have met some really good, intelligent people.  All advocates for this space.  Just like everything, it is a small circle.  But it’s strong.  I’m glad to be part of it.