Tag Archives: DSE

Is Digital Signage Good for Just Utility? Or Experience, Too?

11th Screen | Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

I had a great dinner last night with 2 of the Preset Guys – 2 EXTREMELY smart and experience digital signage veterans who have done loads of work for high-profile companies/clients – Pat Hellberg and Dave Haynes. We talked a lot about the “DOOH” industry (and how to pronounce it?!) and “digital” signage and engagement and content and storytelling. And I’m putting as many things as I can in “quotes” just for Pat – know he likes that stuff. Anyway, it was a great discussion and it produced some interesting questions. I’m going to cover a few of them in the next couple of days.

First one up – this concept of “utility” and “experience.” Technology is beautiful because, along with many other things, it can effectively serve as a utility or create an experience. Most of the time, the same technology can accomplish both, there just might be different ways it manifests itself in doing so. Let’s take mobile for instance – if you want to simply opt someone into a communication stream/database, you can accomplish that through SMS (something very utilitarian) or through a QR Code (something more experiential).

As far as digital signage goes, there’s a large part of me that believes its primary benefit is one of utility. The platforms are dynamic and deep – they can hold a lot of content and ads. The signs are dynamic, potentially constantly in motion and just as potentially attention-getting. Place them at point of purchase, advertise whatever merchandise/deals you want, and you can change them on a daily basis. In that scenario, digital signage makes a lot of sense to serve a specific utility. Same can be said in quick-serve restaurants (QSR’s). Need to change the menu, or price, or nutritional value? Bang on the keyboard for a second and viola, the display is updated and you don’t have to reprint whatever it was you were using 5 years ago. Another great use for digital signage.

But what I want to know is where is the experience? Over the last year, I’ve heard software makers and hardware makers and IT guys and AV guys and “content” makers talk about networks. Networks, schmetworks. It drives me crazy that no one seems to be thinking about experiences. One-way, push messaging – regardless of how deep, dynamic and/or flashy it is – does not an experience make.

More and more, consumers want to have an experience with a brand. Typically, they like to dictate what that experience is, but they want an experience nonetheless. Not only do they WANT experiences, they’re starting to expect them. And when consumers expectations change, companies/brands and even entire industries, have to adapt to that change. Otherwise, they’re going to become irrelevant. And at the end of the day, how many brands want to become irrelevant? 0.

So, I really think the industry and all of the players within it are faced with a simple question – do you want to serve a utility? Or create an experience? If the answer is the latter, consumers don’t care about hardware and software and AV and IT and networks. They just want a great experience.

Can we make it so?

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

DSE Show Floor

The Digital Signage Expo (DSE) holds a special place in my heart. It’s the first conference I covered as “press,” it’s the first time I was really in the know, behind the scenes, the first time I met all of my industry friends face-to-face – in a lot of ways, it was THE thing that really put my blog on the radar for many in the industry. I will be eternally grateful to Geri Wolff (responsible for organizing the entire thing) for taking a chance on someone she’d never heard of and letting me in (as press).

So, Monday, I’m off again for this year’s DSE. I’ve got a different schedule this year because I’m taking part in a few pre-conference activities and by the time it’s over, I will end up missing the last day of sessions. But this is a busy time of year back at work (preparing for SXSW) so I’ve got to make a couple of sacrifices. Today’s Friday 4-1-1 is dedicated to some of the things I’m looking forward to this year.

1. There’s nothing more important than relationships and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really great people in this industry. Most of them will be here this week and I’m looking forward to seeing them again. I talk to many of them on a daily basis so I’m sure we’ll pick up as if no time has passed since we actually saw each other. There’s no substitute for face-to-face time and I’m going to take advantage of it.

2. The Preset Group Mixer – I wasn’t able to attend last year, although the guys at Preset were kind enough to invite me last minute. I was buried in SXSW to-dos. Not this year. I’ll be there and I’m really looking forward to it. I suspect I’ll see alot of people that I already know, but many more who I don’t. The guys at Preset are top notch, so I suspect this mixer will be the same.

3. Christie MicroTiles’/Arsenal Media’s BuzzWall – 7′ tall, made up of 41 tiles, multi-touch, multi-user, recently installed for the Miami Dolphins. Sounds a lot like the Hard Rock Cafe’s Rock Wall, just different hardware (which I suspect is what makes this pretty cool). Here in Dallas, Jerry doesn’t even have one of these in his place. I’ve got to see it in action.


4. Wednesday morning’s morning sessions – DSE/DSF has really done a good job this year of focusing the educational sessions. There are various tracks, and they’re actually good and seem to be geared to more than 101-type sessions. There’s a content track (fantastic move!), an interactive technology track, a business track, and 6 others. Wednesday morning, I’ve got to decide between the Content session, the Marketing/Advertising session, and the Interactive session. All look to be awesome. At this point, the Advertising/Marketing session is the favorite.

“Uh-huh” – Like I said, Geri Wolff, has been extremely kind to me and I can’t thank her enough. She’s kept in touch with me over the year and has really treated me well. I’m looking forward to thanking her face-to-face.

“Duh” – I’m teeing it up for a little golf outing with Dave Haynes, Bill Trainor, and Andy Bruce. I haven’t played in a couple of years. I have no idea how it’s going to be. If nothing else, it will no doubt, be fun. Hope I represent, though.

If you’re going to DSE and you’d like to get together, drop me a line and let me know. As always, thanks for reading!

Thanks be to Some Pretty Awesome People – YOU!

I’m riding the train right now, typing and watching all of the different-colored, half-leaved trees speed by me, and I’m reminded of how awesome this time of year is. It’s always been a time that we fall into our routines as a family (which is important for us), settle in for the upcoming season and year, reconnect with our families and friends, and get to see – visually, really see – how beautiful our surroundings truly are. This time of year always provides a nice centering for me because of all of these factors. This centering gives me the right perspective on what’s really important and meaningful. It allows me to reflect on those things that have blessed my life and to vocally be thankful for them.

No doubt, I have lots be thankful for. My family and friends and our health top the list. I lost a teacher and mentor yesterday, and I’m thankful for all of those who have taught and purposefully (or non-purposefully) mentored me. Over the years, I have learned from many people and they have collectively given me the knowledge, confidence, guidance, and experience that have enabled me to get where I am today. I can only hope to have a fraction of the impact on others as those have had on me.

This blog is another thing I’m thankful for. It’s a labor of love for me and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It would not be what it is, though, without you guys, my readers. So, the biggest THANK YOU goes to YOU. You have shown interest by reading and providing comments and some of you even come back a second time. :) It’s really humbling. Your readership gives me reassurance that I am providing some sort of value to you. I only hope to continue, and ideally, get better. I’m always open to thoughts and suggestions on how to make this better for you, so please feel free to share. I feel like I’m just getting started.

I have to also thank my boss and friend, Matt Dickman, for encouraging me to start this blog. Without his support, I would have never started it and without his advice, I wouldn’t know the real “right” way to approach and do something like this. He encourages me unconditionally. He’s a great mind and I’m grateful to be working right along side him.

To that end, I’m privileged to work along AMAZING people who are committed to doing GREAT work. Brad – your help and insights have given me inspiration for pushing. Spike – your perspective is fresh and gives me courage. Herb – you’re wicked smart and you push me in ways I don’t like to admit (especially to you). Miker – you’re a rock, dude, and have been for a LONG time for me. Oh yeah, you’re super-talented at that video thing. Cindy – you keep us in line and strive to do what’s right. Sarah B. – you jump right in and aren’t afraid to mix it up. Most importantly, you want to get better. Chrissie – you’re a sponge. Keep sponging. Sarah F. – your drive is amazing. Aly – you just get stuff done and are a pleasure to work with. Clare – I can tell we’re going to get along just fine. Welcome to our team. Warren – you’re calm under pressure, brother, and your level-head sets a great tone. Rob – you think things through like a mad man and your edge levels that tone out. Ryan – your flexing is powerful. And I’m not talking muscles. Christian – does that smile ever leave your face? Matt W. – it’s been great to see you open up and you add a pleasant, chill dimension to the team. Abby & Lane – you’re machines with that research. And Chris – you do your thing, you bring quality thinking in everything. Inez – you’re the backbone of our group.  Most of all, everyone’s just nice. And that’s nice. Thank you all for being who you are and doing what you do.

Outside of work, specifically inside the “industry,” I also have many people to thank, starting with the leaders of the two large industry (DOOH) conferences. They have both been incredibly generous and kind to me. Geri at the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) really gave me my first “break” in this blogging world. She gave me behind-the-scenes access that exposed me to things and people that I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. Early on, in the life of this blog, she provided a source of great momentum by taking a chance on “the new guy.” And Lawrence at Customer Engagement Technology World (CETW) has been extremely gracious, too. In his time, his open ears, and his access. He’s also given me the opportunity to speak at both of his shows this year. For all of that, thank you both. You’re unsung heroes of this industry and I am honored to have gotten to know you, work beside you, and help you get the word out this year.

I’ve also had the good fortune to meet and become pretty close to other industry leaders. Dave Haynes and Paul Flanigan – two rock stars in this industry with LOADS of experience – have treated me so well since I met them. They reached out to me like a friend, as if we’d known each other for years, and have made it comfortable, and even more, insightful, every time we interact with each other. We’ve had many great conversations, and I hope to have many more. They’ve been instrumental in sharing my thoughts with their personal communities and have both opened up opportunities for me that are invaluable.

Another one is David Weinfeld, a kindred spirit. David runs in the same group as Dave and Paul, so it was a package deal – (along with Pat Hellberg) I got to know them all in one fail swoop. David is passionate about this space and the potential it provides and works tirelessly to advance the knowledge, capabilities, and power that technology enables when people are on the move. He’s become my Twitter BFF.

The last guy in that group is Pat Hellberg. Although I’ve spent limited time with him, the time that I have spent has been rich. He’s a video guy and a Nike guy.  Both awesome in my book. I was in Portland earlier in the year and he spent a few hours with me and showed me around his old stomping ground – the Nike campus. It was one of my “industry” highlights of the year.

Adrian and Gail at DailyDOOH have also been kind to me, welcoming into the small world of industry bloggers. They are the premier news source in the industry so it’s been cool to get a glimpse of their world and how they operate.

Ken Goldberg, Keith Kelson, Kyle Porter, Stephen Randall – thank you for your openness in our conversations, and more importantly, your leadership within the industry.

And there are, no doubt, many that I’ve probably missed. It’s been a rich year to be sure. Not only for me, but for this industry.  Regardless of our view of Out-of-Home or Digital Out-of-Home or Digital Signage, we’re all working together for the same thing – to advance the knowledge and the potential of this powerful medium. I see great things in the future for this industry and I’m glad to be part of it.

Thank you all, again, for your part in this. Thank you for reading and sharing. I hope you have had just as rich and rewarding of a year as I have and I wish each one of you a Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season and a prosperous year to come.

My CETW Session – Teaser

I’m speaking at CETW next week.  If you’re in NYC at the conference, let me know.  I’d love to catch up.  My session is called, “Strategy First: Incorporating Digital/Interactive Out Of Home Into Campaign Strategy and it takes place on Thursday 11/11 at 10:30.   Out of the two industry shows this year, I really enjoyed the focus of CETW.  I think DSE focuses more on the technology aspect, and CETW is trying to focus on the audience (consumers) and engagement.  (From what I understand, DSE is trying to shift the focus of their sessions to be more diverse and address elements like audience and engagement.)  Anyway, CETW was nice enough to reach out to me in the Spring and work with me on creating a panel that addresses an agency’s POV on OOH (notice I didn’t say “digital signage.”)  I’ve observed that there haven’t been many agency & brand-friendly panels at these two conferences and as a result, they aren’t attracting many agencies or brands.  I feel like this is a great opportunity for both of these conferences because the reality of OOH as a new, more powerful media channel is right in front of us.  Agencies and brands must understand how technology has impacted the ability to engage consumers outside of their home and all of the possibilities that brings.  And if that were presented from a realistic, practical level – talking about what we (agencies) deal with every day in getting work done for our clients + what we believe the potential of this new medium brings – from people conceiving and doing the actual work, seems like it would provide some much-needed insights from a different, critical POV.  So, that’s what we’re doing.  We’ve got a panel made up of different roles (CMO, Account Planning, Strategy/Execution, & Creative Direction) from different types of agencies (media, advertising, and PR).  It’s designed to be an interactive session, with minimal “formal” presentations.  We’ll give an overview of who we are, where we come from, what we do, and then take turns answering questions that address how we get work done, what we think of “OOH,” its potential, its role, executing it, brand story, our relationships with brands, and the bright, shiny object syndrome.  If nothing else, it will be a fun panel, full of energy and good discussion.