Tag Archives: emerging technology

Does Coke’s Cross-Channel Soda Fountain Support Work?

Coke's 106 Flavors Soda Fountain

The more technology is introduced into our physical worlds, especially on account of brands, the more critical that supporting campaigns will become. It’s not enough just to introduce a new machine, system, or even engagement based on a new technology and expect that the mass will conform, use it, and god forbid, actually like it enough to use it over and over. It has a much better chance of succeeding – given the assumption that the machine, system or engagement is technologically sound – if brands use other channels, communications, and ultimately dollars to raise awareness and drive engagement.

I’ve written before about Coke’s new touchscreen soda fountains – the ones loaded with 106 flavors. They’re pretty cool machines – efficient, easy to use, and a little fun, but they sure do take up a lot of room, especially given the fact that they only service 1 person at a time. These machines are a fairly drastic departure from something (the “standard” soda fountain machine) that has been around for years and that the public is conditioned to use. These machines provide a new way to accomplish a pretty important task, one that is taken thousands of times per day.

Now, on one hand, I don’t know if the public cares enough about how they get their soda when they’re out and about, and even further, if they would ever care enough to form an opinion. If I didn’t geek out about things like this, I wouldn’t. But on the other hand, one thing that I’ve learned over the years is that, despite what I care about, there’s someone out there – and usually a group of people – who have their own likes and dislikes and care about things like soda fountains. So, there’s a faction of public opinion at play here that could ultimately surface in one way or another.

Now, the truth of this is that, unless public opinion was/will form into a complete backlash against these machines, they’re not going anywhere. They’re only going to be distributed to more movie theatres or restaurants as time goes by. So on some level, the public is going to have to deal with this new way of getting soda from a fountain, regardless of what they actually think of them.

Here’s where Coke is really good. They recognize the need to gain support of this new way of doing things. So, the first step is to raise awareness, but their approach is to not raise awareness of the machine itself; it is to raise awareness of the benefit that the machine provides. This one machine can give you any flavor out of the 106 in its system and/or any combination thereof. No more being limited to the top 6 in its lineup because that’s all the “standard” fountains had room for. Yes, you could make a cool suicide (mixing all the flavors into 1 cup) then, but now, you can make an AWESOME suicide. Seriously.

Enter the creative campaign that they’ve launched – in the social channels and on mobile – to support (and gain support for) these new machines. Their Coca-Cola Freestyle application on Facebook gives users the ability to (virtually) mix any drink they want from the myriad of flavors, give it a special name, and share it with the world.

Coke's Freestyle Facebook Application

Trivial? Perhaps. But it’s fun. And it doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s super simple to use, and it’s catchy enough to get other people interested. After I made my own drink, I posted it on my Facebook wall and a couple of my other friends got involved and made their own drink, too. Right now, the page/application is at 41,000 strong. Modest numbers, but I think this campaign is centered around deeper engagement, given that someone has to download an app and make a drink to really get involved. There is a barrier of entry, so to speak, that takes more active participation than say, a standard tabbed page in a brand’s Facebook presence. So, while raising awareness to as many people as possible (quantity) is key, creating a relatively deeper level of engagement (quality) could be more important to Coke. The campaign shouldn’t be judged by number of fans/likes alone.

In addition to their Facebook application, they’ve also created a mobile application – a game called PUSH! + Play. This game’s engagement is different than the Facebook application. This is a memory game where you’re introduced to the heap of flavors (still driving the benefit) and you have to “playback” the sequence that the computer gives you, in as fast of a time that you can.

The game is fun, too. I actually think it’s perfect for a train ride or a waiting room or even on your way up/down the elevator (because everyone has to be doing something at every waking moment, even when riding the elevator!) It’s casual enough to get started immediately and engaging enough to keep you playing over and over, to best your time and move up the leader board. (Leader boards are an effective “sticky” tactic. I think it’s one of the better improvements that Foursquare has introduced, but that’s for another post.)

It’s not all fun and (casual) games with the two of these applications. Yes, they do a good job of engaging you, but they also do a good job of informing you, too. They allow you to see where these machines are located near you.

Coca Cola Freestyle Map

For me, personally, these wouldn’t drive me into a new place, but they would drive me back into a place that I have frequented before, perhaps sooner than I had planned to. It elicits the response, “oh yeah, that will be cool for the next time I’m there.”

All of this to say that Coke is being purposeful about how they’re introducing this new way of doing things. I think this is what we can all learn from, especially in the “new” Out-of-Home space where technology is transforming our physical worlds into new things everyday – it’s important to compliment new machines, systems, and/or engagements (and content) with some sort of supporting campaign. Generally, the public will adapt to whatever is introduced, but the adaptation can be helped along through other efforts, like social and mobile engagements. Or print pieces. Or TV spots.

Too often, brands, marketers, and communicators of all sizes, struggle with cross-department and channel coordination. An easy way to bridge the gap is to ask, “What else are we going to be doing that helps this succeed? Is it a campaign? Is it a supplemental piece of content that someone might see outside of this particular activation? How is this going to be experienced elsewhere?”

More and more, the public consumes and shares media across various channels. This presents great opportunities to introduce and immerse them into the new “thing” that we want them to be aware of and participate in/with. And if we do it right, gain support, enough to accelerate change.

So, what do you think? Does Coke’s cross-channel support work in this case?

QR Codes + Digital Screens + Timer Does Not = Love

Mall Network with QR Code

I saw this in the mall the other day and I thought it was pretty good. Here’s what I like about it:

It being on a digital screen, there is a timer to indicate when the QR code will disappear.

I think context is critical with any new technology. Generally, the more context you put around a new technology, the more you’re knocking down the barriers of people using the technology. While I still don’t understand the benefit of QR codes on digital/moving screens, if you’re going to put them on digital/moving screens, including a timer is perfect context.

The problem to this experience is that, even with a timer, it wasn’t on the screen long enough. I walked up when there was 10 seconds to go and I couldn’t get my phone out of my pocket and open up the QR code reader application in time to scan the code. And I sure wasn’t going to wait through this compelling content (below) to scan the code. So, overall, this isn’t a strong showing of mobile/DOOH integration.

And one more thing, I never see anyone standing in front of these digital screens at malls. And for that matter, I never see anyone scanning QR codes. Other than me.

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.


The One Key to QR Code (and other emerging tech) Success

The 1 Key to QR Code Success

Can you guess where I saw this QR code?

On the ground.

That’s right. On. The. Ground. Where my feet have a better chance to trample on it than my eyes to see it. Especially when it’s small like this.

This brings up Rule #1 when building anything, especially when using any sort of emerging technology: Make it easy.

In every way possible.

Easy, in most all cases, will give you the best chance to succeed. Your audience – the end user – will dictate where you can push the limits (i.e., how detailed you need to be with things like instructions and call-to-action), but if you’re not asking yourself, “am I making this as easy as possible for them to take the action I want them to take?” then stop what you’re doing and ask it.

Your audience will love you for it. In the end, they just want a good experience. They could care less and less about the technology required to have that experience. They just want easy. And easy is paramount to a good experience.

A True 11th Screen Example: Nike’s Precious

Nike one-ups the Chalkbot with Precious – the bike with a brain.  This “brain,” made by Breakfast, New York is the ultimate enabling technology.  It not only merges the real-world (offline) with the virtual world (online), it actually processes data like a brain and then responds (via Twitter) accordingly. It’s pretty amazing what they’ve made.

They’ve explored an interesting angle here, one that is much more in play here vs. Chalkbot – the thing (bike) is the hero, not the person (bike rider).  (I also think it’s way cool that they’ve given a voice to Precious on the website, and taken it away (for the most part) from the rider, as you can see by the picture-only blog).  This is a great example of the potential of the things and places around us – not people or true “screens” – that can engage consumers in ways we never thought possible.  Technology is key to this. And in this specific instance, this brain technology actually enables the messaging to take on a life of its own.  These messages are not customized based on the audience, they’re customized based on the messenger, powered by all of the context leading up to each message.

For marketers this is one of those game-changing ideas and executions.  A thinking, talking bike?  A “thing” that can provide content with a more-than-decent level of context. It truly learns as it goes.  This is what gets me excited.  This is the potential that I see in this space – those who are effective (will) understand the power of merging offline (which to me, is “out-of-home”) with online to create deep, meaningful brand experiences for their consumers.

Out & About: Whirlpool’s Washer/Dryer Touchscreen

I had Daddy’s Day Out this weekend, so the kids and I journeyed to Lowe’s to check out some tile for a back-portch-tiling-project.  I think that home improvement stores like this are ripe with interactive out-of-home opportunities, with all the DIY’ers and supplies and possibilities…there are only so many employees walking around who have expertise in your desired improvement area.  Here, technology could help bridge the gap and influence buying decisions in a sound, effective way.  I’ve played around with the “pick-your-paint” program on the computer in the paint section, but I haven’t seen anything else on the interactive front.  Until now.  Enter Whirlpool’s washer/dryer attempt at interactivity via this touchscreen (Yes, that is one of my sons saying “dad” over and over again – disregard that.):

So, let’s put it up against the scorecard and see how she does.

Purpose – as with any of these installations in retail environments, the purpose is to sell products and a clear way to sell products is to highlight all of the its benefits.  This particular touchscreen solution highlights clear benefits of the washer and dryer and ended up driving me deeper into the brand.  But quite honestly, I left more confused than educated.  It looked cool, but it really didn’t give me the information I wanted.  I believe products like washers and dryers need comparisons (against like products) to really make the most informed buying decision.  Without the help of a sales associate, I have no idea how this product rates against the others.  I only know that this is the best product on the floor, which I assumed of course, given that it was the only one that got special space-age, touchscreen love.

Drama – if I weren’t looking for it, I would have easily missed it.  And by “it,” I mean anything that looks touchable and interactable via touchscreen, because, well, that’s what I do.  If I were to watch 5 random people stop by this washer/dryer, I guarantee at least half would not know they could interact with the screen.  This small, little screen that hung over the washer/dryer.  Physical placement on the floor didn’t help matters either, because two washer/dryers over, there was a non-interactive, digital screen touting how great that one was.  I assumed since I couldn’t touch the other one that I couldn’t touch this one, but low and behold, I was wrong.  After realizing that this one was interactive, I thought the use of video avatars and the spacey animations were catchy, although I can’t find whether or not they’re on brand.  I have a feeling they were just catchy elements that they used to theme the experience.  For me, it seemed out of left field and after interacting with it, I found those elements distracting.

Usability – maybe it was my kids distracting me, but I had no idea where to begin and where to end in this experience.  While the content seemed to be bucketed in a logical manner, the content itself seemed very nebulous.  Once I got into one of the buckets of information, I didn’t know how much I could experience.  When I felt like each piece of content was “finished,” it wasn’t, and when when I wanted it to be finished, it kept going.  The spacey animations worked into the actual functionality of the experience, too, and it just made it more difficult to me than I felt like it needed to be.  I walked away from the experience thinking that they did this just to be cool.  And while I appreciate that, I don’t know how useful it really is to the intended audience.

Interactivity – everything was based on touch in this experience.  The screen itself was fairly responsive, but I think the content in the application slowed everything down, including responsiveness.  The content was probably a processor suck with rich graphics, video, and spacey animations.  As you can see in the demo, I pressed a couple of times without any immediate response.  I also didn’t know what all was “hot” (pressable) and not.

Information – the struggle with any “advertisement” in this open day and age is how in-your-face it is.  Brands are being recognized more and more by providing utility to consumers.  How useful is the information brought to me by brand X?  Does it make my life easier?  Is it helping me out?  Questions like this are dictating purchasing decisions.  Brands are getting credit without stuffing advertisements down your face.  Here, as a consumer, I recognized what Whirlpool is trying to do.  They’re trying to influence my purchasing decision.  But instead of telling me how great this product is, I want to know how it compares to similar products.  A comparison tool would be useful to me.  It would help my decision-making.  I appreciated “consumer reviews” in this experience, but I can’t tell whether they come from real people or from actors.  The production of the piece makes it seem like actors, which in turn, takes credibility away from what they’re saying.  If it were up to me, I would have gone a much simpler route (still maintaining quality production value) with real people and real problems and real comparisons.  I think that in-store experiences like this are going to hinge on reviews, thus making the experience inherently social, so brands will have to know what consumers are saying about them before-hand, good or bad.  This would just help frame how to present the content.  If Whirlpool thinks these are the best products ever and their audiences either disagree or don’t know about them, then those two insights should drive the content in the experience (and they might have – in fairness, I don’t know what drove their decisions to make any part of this experience.)  I checked out their Facebook page and they’re engaging with their fans on a customer-service basis only.  Sentiment seems to be mixed among the fraction of the community of 2,000+ who engages with them.  If I’m sitting in the room with the CMO, I’m telling him to get his social in order before embarking on an interactive out-of-home experience.  At least, set a strategy for social so you know how it plays into the entire brand experience, this included.

Personalization – this is a single-touch, single-user experience so there is a sense of personalization that comes along with this type of experience.  Beyond that, the experience had no other level of personalization.  This is a great opportunity for the brand to offer up some sort of discount to the user who interacts, either from the touchscreen itself or to the user’s mobile phone.  If, after seeing the information here, I wanted to buy one of these products, I should have a little incentive.  My personal golden ticket.

I’ve taken the grades out of this scorecard.  I just don’t think I have enough information to make responsible judgements.  That said, I wished for more in this experience.  I would not have made a decision to buy this product based on this experience, and if you go back to the original purpose that I believe drove this solution, it failed.  I’d love to see metrics on this and if it really impacted the bottom line.

I can’t say enough about creating toward objectives.  If the objective is to create awareness, go ahead, get crazy, you can do wild things if you want.  If the objective is to convert shoppers into buyers, laser-focus in on the best way to do that in today’s ecosystem-driven world.

More Important: Technology or Audience?

I’m working on an augmented reality solution for a medical client of ours and I’m once again struck by an interesting dichotomy, one that I find recurring in every “emerging” solution I’ve launched:  the balance between pushing technology and utilizing its strengths vs. creating a solution appropriate for the audience.

One school of thought is to push the limits of the technology.  Since it’s new and often times experimental, we should try to use it for what it’s worth.  If it’s touch screens, push for it to be multi-touch, allow the user to “throw” items, work in video hosts and multiple pathways – all make for rich experiences and play to the strengths of that particular technology.  If it’s mobile integration, customize everything, send coupons/messages, utilize the Bluetooth and/or GPS.  If it’s augmented reality, play as much as you can with the real world object and use it to base as many interactions between the two worlds as you can.  In all cases, we’ve got this technology, it has so many possibilities, push them to show how strong they are.

But then you have the other school of thought – how is the audience really going to interact with them?   I understand that we can’t underestimate the audience.  When I was in college, in screenwriting classes, I heard over and over again – “don’t underestimate your audience.  They’re smart.”  Same thing applies here, especially since this sort of marketing is more experiential.  But we can’t overestimate them either.  From my point of view, and most people around me, we know how these technologies work and we’re anxious to play with them.  We’re in the minority.  Most people, particularly over a certain age, don’t feel completely comfortable in front of their computer and don’t fully understand the capability of that device.  Same thing with mobile phones.  Forget about something that they’re required to go up and touch, especially if it doesn’t look touchable.  Or something that they’re required to hold up to a webcam.  I’ve seen over and over again that in most cases, you have to keep it simple, which is counter to really utilizing these emerging technologies to their full extent.

And this is so indicative to where we are in the industry right now.  This sort of marketing and experience – IOOH – is intimidating.  I think people see the hassle or the “weirdness” of it all instead of seeing its potential – a new way of learning and communicating.  We can create experiences through these types of technologies that can make people’s experiences outside of their home much better, much more seamless, much more effective.  By and large, they just don’t know it yet.

So, I’d just say, it’s always important to think about the capabilities of these technologies.  Always know what they can do, but create solutions – regardless of how “much” it utilizes the true power of the technology – that are most appropriate to your audience.  The basic fundamentals of marketing still apply – know who you’re talking to before you come up with a solution.  To be most effective in this new field, keeping it simple will pay more dividends and help out in the long run, more than whiz-banging people right off the bat with this newfangled technology.  We can be just as capable of creating innovative solutions.   

Thoughts?  Let me hear them.

Guide to Looking at OOH Solutions – 11th Screen Style

I’m a little bit late to the game because this particular solution has been out for quite some time. It’s worth more attention, though, albeit not-so-timely. These boys know how to do it. True 11th screen material. They built the world’s biggest multi-touch, multi-user wall at a race track complex in Germany.

ring°wall from SENSORY-MINDS on Vimeo.

I’ve developed a guide that helps me look at solutions like this – 11th Screen solutions, if you will – in a consistent manner.  It’s not a measurement tool, by any means.  It’s not designed as a magic formula to produce quantitative results.  It’s simply designed to help me look for the same components across all kinds of IOOH (11th Screen) solutions.  It’s my attempt at leveling the playing field in an area where the field is far from level.   For each “criteria,” I simply give a PASS or FAIL.

So here, we’ll use the Ring Wall to inaugurate the official 11th Screen perspective.  Understand that I have not interacted with the wall in person.  I’ve only watched demonstrations.  My comments about the wall are made entirely from observation. 

Purpose – What is the purpose of the solution?  Is it to drive awareness?  Acquisition?  Loyalty?  What is the brand trying to accomplish in this medium?

In my mind, this is the most important question to ask.  It should define the exact solution.  Brands can do one thing through a billboard and something entirely different through a kiosk.  More often than not, I believe that brands utilize the OOH medium as an awareness-only medium.  I think there is always an opportunity to drive consumers deeper into the brand, even from the biggest “awareness-driven” installation – a standard billboard.

Here, the Ring Wall looks like one big awareness machine.  It enables many users to experience information, but it’s the same information for every user.  There is no “deep dive” for data capture, personalization, or even an extended experience. 

11th Screen Score:  If the objective was awareness, I don’t know how they could have done any better.  Taking that assumption into account, they PASS. 

Drama – Does the solution make a big impact on the user?  Does it make them stop and interact?

Since everything we’re talking about is interacted with in the physical spaces around us, it must have some drama to it to entice people to interact.  This can be accomplished a number of ways – the physical installation, its movement, its content and its call-to-action. 

The Ring Wall has an immense amount of drama.  First of all, it’s huge, the largest of its kind.  Second, gesture-based technology allows content to move with the user as they walk by, engaging them without even a touch.  I think where it falls short, if any place, is providing the user a clear call-to-action.  It might seem simple to have a big “Touch Me” call-to-action rolling throughout, but I think intimidation is still a big barrier with acceptance and use of most touch screen installations.  The clearer you can be with the action you want the user to take, the more success you should have at breaking down that barrier.

11th Screen Score:  I don’t know how much more dramatic one can get.  PASS. 

Usability – Can the user navigate through the experience with ease?  Are the paths to information intuitive?  There’s also an element of functions, too, but I think that is much more subjective.  Do the functions enhance the user experience?

The biggest killer to any touch screen installation, once the user starts interacting with it, is not knowing what to do and/or how to get to the desired information.  It’s critically important that foundational elements like content grouping(s) and navigation hierarchy are intuitive.  Herein lies the challenge though.  Old website standards are most often not applicable because interaction in this medium is so open, non-linear, and tactile.  Navigating a website with a mouse on a computer is different from navigating a website with your finger on a touch screen.   It’s vital to understand the audience when concepting and creating an experience like this.  You and I might be able to walk up to this wall and use it effectively, but would our mom or dad?

Here, the Ring Wall’s user interface seems to be intuitive.  The navigation looks to be consistent with a standard website homepage (primary navigation at the top, eye level with 3 callouts below the main content area) and as a result, clear.  Also, the user has multiple ways to navigate in the experience.  They can use the scroll wheel above the gallery to navigate as well as the FORWARD/BACK arrows on the main images.  It doesn’t hurt that every ‘panel’ displays the same UI, too.  And the functions look fluid and cool :) 

11th Screen Score:  It’s hard to give a definitive score in this category without touching it and using it myself.  From the interactions I can observe, it looks to have a good user experience, thus PASS.

Interactivity – How does the user interact with it?  Is it gesture-based?  Is it touch-based?  Can the user interact with it through any other enabling technology?

This consideration is really an extension of Usability.  But whereas the Usability consideration focuses more on how the content experience is laid out, the Interactivity consideration focuses on how much effort is required to interact with the physical experience.  If it’s gesture-based, how responsive is it based on the user’s interaction?  If it’s touch-based, how responsive is it based on the user’s touch?  If it requires an enabling technology, how easy, instant and accurate is it based on the user’s actions?  This is the second biggest killer to any touch screen installation.  If it doesn’t respond to the user’s touch, the user will either give up or get upset.  Either way, they’re not going to interact with it anymore.  (And they might tell their friends not to interact with it.  And their friends might tell their friends and….anyway, this is food for another post.)

The Ring Wall is both gesture-based and touch-based.  When the user walks by, the wall seems responsive.  When the user touches the screen, it also seems responsive. 

11th Screen Score:  Again, it’s hard to give a definitive score in this category without touching it and using it myself.  From everything I can see, PASS.

Information – How much and what kind of content is available for the user to interact with? 

A system like this is set up to be an endless well of content.  I think this is good as long as the user isn’t overwhelmed with that content, meaning they don’t have to see everything “behind the curtain.”  Let them know what they’re going to expect and how to get there and leave the rest to them.  Drive them deeper into the experience instead of away from the experience.  A critical element of this is the type of content in the experience.  The Ring Wall includes a good combination of copy and rich multimedia content (images & video).  And the video looks like it plays fluidly.

11th Screen Score:  There looks to be a deep well of information for the user to interact with in one experience.  PASS.

Personalization – What level of personalization does the experience provide?

In my observations over the past few years, this is the one area that I am the most underwhelmed with.  The opportunity that we have in this medium, and really the opportunity that I feel has been the least capitalized on, is the level of personalization to the experience.  On the surface, any multi-user touch screen includes a level of personalization that allows each user to have their own, unique experience.  But on a deeper level, the content is the same for every user.  The opportunity that I see is for all of that content to be customized for each user.  Simply put – everyone sees what they want to see, even if they don’t know what it is they want to see.  And they don’t see the stuff that doesn’t matter to them.  This level of personalization requires some level of data gathering from the user, which is always touchy, but can enhance an experience greatly. 

Perhaps another way to look at this is ‘does it account for various stages in the relationship process?’  Does it accommodate someone that is interacting for the 1st time?  Or the 3rd time?  Or the 30th time? 

Here, the Ring Wall doesn’t seem to have any personalization built into the experience.  It treats everyone the same, whether they are interacting with it for the 1st time or the 30th time.  There is an opportunity to personalize each experience, though – be it through a couple of “preference” questions or a higher level of technology like RFID, each user could have an experience most suitable for them.

11th Screen Score:  FAIL.    

Overall, I just think this is awesome.  Major kudos have to be handed out, not only to the development team, but to the clients themselves.  They get it.  To take the leap on technology like this (both hardware and software) is remarkable, not to mention that the decision was made a year and a half ago, well before the idea of DOOH and/or IOOH was halfway mature, certainly on this scale.  It’s combinations like this, with both forward-thinking marketers and clients, that are going to create a new level of interacting with each other and our physical spaces around us that is the norm instead of a novelty.

What do you think of this thing?  By “thing,” I really mean the wall, but I’d love to know your thoughts on the scorecard, too.  Do you feel like anything needs to be shaped differently on it?  Added to it?  Just like the space we’re in, I expect it to evolve as we look at other solutions.  Comments gladly accepted.


Thankfully, I was too busy with work yesterday, particularly in the morning, to tune into the Steveosphere.  I knew the news.  I know the news.  The iPad.  I get it.  I don’t like the name, but I get it.  I have read so many opinions pre-news and now, post-news, that I’m already tired of it.  But, alas, here we are and I’m writing about it.  I think it’s important.  I think it’s revolutionary.  And I think it’s rockin’. 

I’ve used tablet PCs for the past few years in events that we supported, so I was really interested to see what my meeting/event colleagues had to say about the iPad.  I keep up with two in particular, Samuel J. Smith and Midori Connolly, and they’re right on point with their thinking around how the iPad will impact conferences and events – for both attendees and brands/exhibitors.  They’re projecting and predicting all of the different ways that this device will enable deeper, richer, more meaningful interactions betweens brands and consumers.  (Read them, follow them if you’re interested in this space.)

These events are “closed” environments where technology that fulfills multiple needs is used and effective.  In my experience, we found tablets to be effective at displaying digital (and interactive) content for intimate, 1:1 scenarios.  This focused, 1:1 time was very meaningful for the brands and the relationships they were developing with key attendees.  We also hooked bar-code scanners up to the tablets so we could capture leads directly into our system.  The bar-code scanners were clunky, but highly effective at data capture and expanding our footprint in the booth.  The mobility of tablets is perhaps their greatest strength, especially in a setting like this.  They allowed us to use the entire booth to our advantage rather than limiting attendees to stationary screens.  And on top of everything else, they’re cool, which tends to work in the brands’ favor more often than not.  

Right now, I think this is the most reasonable expectation for “mass” use – a closed environment with specific needs.  Attendees won’t need to own them.  They’re a low cost to brands/exhibitors.  But to both audiences, they present a huge value proposition – exposure, expanded capabilities, enhanced experiences and we can’t forget the cool factor.  I hope brands/exhibitors will listen to the Samuel’s and Midori’s of the world when planning their next event.  Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the brick & mortar events are going away anytime soon.  Certainly not before these things can be used effectively in this environment.

Out of this environment, they’ll eventually catch on for the masses.  Eventually, they will be part of our lives.  Eventually, they will be my kids’ Trapper Keeper, which, as a lover of organization, is an awesome thought.

Whatchou got?