Tag Archives: Engagement

My Out-of-Home Picture Drawings

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.

Today’s prompt – PHOTO:  Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

The holidays have gotten the best of me and I haven’t been as diligent about this Reverb series as I hoped to be. Now, since I’ve missed a few days, I have a well of prompts to choose from. So over the next two days, I’m going to pick a few out to share. When I initially saw this prompt, I wasn’t too excited about it. But then I got to thinking about some of the OOH graphics I’ve drawn and thought it was an ideal one. Again, this is not a literal response to the prompt, but in the same family.

You’ve probably seen an iteration of this in a previous post. It’s my model of all of the components in any OOH initiative, and specifically, their combined results in the experience (as indicated by the overlaps). It wasn’t as pretty then as it is now (thanks to my design team!), and I’ve actually tweaked it a little since then – the difference being where Place & Content overlap (Consumer Engagement) and Equipment & Content overlap (Technology Experience).

Out of Home componentsIn the original version, I didn’t call out the technology component, rather it was a result that was implied by the each of the overlaps. However, after thinking about it a little bit more, it was apparent to me that it was an oversight and it was an essential component. Now, with this tweak, I feel like it’s a complete model. If you’re thinking about how to develop any interactive Out-of-Home solution, this model is intended to break down – in simple terms – all of the different components and enable you to think through all of the aspects of the experience. I hope it’s helpful and as always, am open to suggestions/refinement.

The other drawings were inspiration for another previous post – Awareness vs. Engagement OOH – and I haven’t shared them here before. In that post, I outlined the big differences between the two, but to get to those differences, I had to draw first. I’m such a big advocate of speaking in pictures vs. words, although I haven’t done much of that here (one of my 2011 resolutions). If done right, the picture can tell you in an instant what it usually takes many words to do.

So, here is my version of AWARENESS OOH:

Awareness Out of Home

Here, it’s simple – the brand is at the center and is pushing out messages to individuals. It’s a one-way communication “about the brand.” Digital signage allows for these messages to be pushed in a more efficient way, but in the end, it’s just a push/one-way message. Nothing more.

Now, the model drastically changes when you’re talking about ENGAGEMENT OOH:

Engagement Out of Home

Here, the model gets more complicated (but not really). First, the messages don’t have to begin with the brand and they certainly don’t have to begin with the brand pushing them out. They can begin anywhere, really. Individuals are already talking about the brand, in and out of the home. So, in Engagement OOH, it’s about being aware of that fact and whatever you do – as a brand – is secondary to the conversation. Here, the brand primarily serves as a connection between the individuals and its goal should be to add value to the brand experience. They can only add true, meaningful value to the experience by creating and participating in a two-way discussion.

The “hows” of all of this are not easy. There are many ways to do this and be effective. The main thing to be aware of, though, is consumers expectations are changing rapidly. With that change comes a change in the value that consumers are going to find in any Out-of-Home execution. We’ve recently seen a couple of great examples in Intel’s Smart TV interactive rotunda in NYC and Yahoo’s Bus Stop Derby in SF and to me, these are a sign of things to come.

Engagement, and everything it means, is going to be key for 2011 and I’m excited to see how both brands and consumers evolve in their Out-of-Home communications. There are many things at play to make all of this happen successfully, and I hope these drawings help in your process, regardless of whether you’re looking at this from a provider’s POV, a media POV, an agency POV, a brand POV, or a consumer’s POV.

Would love to hear your thoughts if you have them….

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?

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 CETW Style

Yup, doing Friday’s 4-1-1 on Saturday for the first time.  And hopefully the last.  The week was just a bear for me and I finally found myself at 10:00 last night weighing whether or not to push on through the blog post or call it a night and get some rest.  I chose rest.  So, here we are, early Saturday morning trying to play catch up, which is the feeling I’ve had all week.  I was preparing for a huge pitch (which happened on Thursday), trying to tie up a couple of large initiatives that we’ve been working on for a few months, and participating in the office-wide move (we basically “flipped” wings on our floor), and that’s just work.  2 of the 3 kids at home came down with strep throat this week and on top of that, just generally, they’re about to drive my wife crazy (the boys are in their destructo mode, treating the house and each other like coloring books, punching bags, and jungle gyms.)  But enough of all that.  Let’s get into this week’s 4-1-1.  I wrote yesterday about the session I’m participating in at CETW next week, but I failed to talk about what else is going on at the conference.  I’m looking forward to the entire conference.  It looks to be a good one.  So, today’s 4-1-1 is all about looking ahead to what I’m excited to see next week.

1.  Increasing the Number of Customer Touch Points – I’m not familiar with Vernon Slack (speaker) or AOpen America (his company), but the description of his session has sold me.  The first two lines – “Customers want to be engaged, a part of the action. They want to “experience” your business.” Yes, Vernon they do.  We’re talking the same language, man.  I will be there to hear what you have to say.  Although this is focused specifically on “in-store,” I’m sure the things he’ll share enable consumers the ability to “experience” your brand/business outside of those 4 walls of the store.  We’ll see.  (Session is Wednesday morning at 11.)

2.  Lessons Learned From Health & Beauty Augmented Reality Programs – I believe Augmented Reality is a powerful enabling technology that allows “out of home” to become an engagement vehicle, not just an awareness vehicle.  This session looks to focus on the health & beauty industry only, but this niche of an industry is smart for using this type of technology.  Here, in this industry, Augmented Reality actually serves a purpose (which I think is the holy grail for AR.  It can be really cool, but it can also be really useful and solve business problems), and at the same time, provides a rich, engaging consumer experience.  (Session is Wednesday morning at 11:45.)

3.  Who Moved My Customer?  Engaging & Empowering the New Digital Consumer – first, Nanonation is top notch, so I suspect anything they talk about will be enlightening.  Second, this session is aligned with what I’ve been talking about for awhile – engaging consumers, not just talking to them.  Consumers expectations are increasing – we see this in social media, we’re starting to see this in mobile, and the “out of home” world is staring this fact right in the face. I believe that consumers already expect brands to make them aware via any channel, digital or not.  When they walk into a store, they expect a monitor with moving images and messages.  When they’re walking down the street, they expect a sign that moves.  I believe their expectation, sooner rather than later, is for those “screens” to give them the ability to engage with a brand on a personal level.  I look forward to hearing another POV on this in this session.  (Session is Thursday morning at 11:15.)

4.  Driving Customer Experience:  Using Digital Signage to Engage Customers and Increase Repeat Business – one of the last sessions of the conference looks to be one of my favorite.  Again, the session description speaks right to my heart – “The greatest potential of “Digital Signage and Interactive New Media” is the opportunity to facilitate a one-on-one relationship with each of your customers.” This session looks to be more geared to CRM as a whole, not just focused on “out of home.”  If it is what it sounds like, I completely agree with the concept (touching a consumer “out of home” is only one touchpoint in their relationship with the brand) and again, look forward to hearing another’s POV on what I believe to be true, too.

“Uh-huh” – overall, I just get a feel from the sessions that it’s all about using this channel as an engagement channel, not an awareness channel.  There are multiple mobile sessions (my buddy, David Weinfeld is moderating one – Integrating Mobile into your Customer Engagement Solutions – Wednesday at 2), multiple multi-channel sessions, multiple strategy sessions, and the two keynotes are specifically geared around “engagement.”

“Duh” – yes, this is a no-duh – the conference is now called, “Customer Engagement Technology World,” but it’s one thing to talk about it and position yourself in one way, it’s another to actually do it.  I felt, earlier in the year, that this conference recognized the need to showcase how we can use this channel as an engagement channel and not just as an awareness channel.  I was excited that they even changed the name of their conference, which before didn’t say what it seems like they want to say.

So there you have it.  I, no doubt, left out some good sessions.  I’m going to try to fill my day – both days – with these sessions.  There are plenty and it will be easy to fill my day.  If you’re around and want to chat, let me know.  I’d love to.

Awareness OOH vs. Engagement OOH


Over the last couple of weeks (and year, really), I’ve tried to wrap my hands around all of the “OOH” thinking going on in my head.  I’ve put a couple of stakes in the ground along the way.  First there was my definition, then there were the basics of displays and their relationship with technology and what those two combined really mean and most recently, I explored the different components of the “new” OOH.

I feel like, conceptually, they’re all pretty close, but they’re not quite there.  They don’t tell a complete story.  That’s the thing that’s bugging me – the incomplete story.  It’s a complex story, no doubt.  Media consumption and consumer behavior and “always on” technology have evolved to such a high point that there is no longer an easy formula for moving someone down the decision/purchase funnel.  That same technology has transformed the places and things around us into consumption & interaction “screens” – “Out of Home” is no longer just the mass awareness platform that agencies and brands have relied on in their media mix to achieve maximum impressions.

This potential of the “new” OOH is something that I’ve explored since day 1 on this blog, but many disparate thoughts do not a complete story make.  I’m a little closer today than I was yesterday.

If you’re a regular reader here, you know how much I dislike the “Digital Out-of-Home/DOOH” moniker.  I’m starting to dislike “digital signage” just as much, but unfortunately, these are the two most widely-used terms in the industry.  Ask anyone in the industry what they actually do, and 9 people out of 10 (if not all 10) will give you a response with “DOOH” or “digital signage” in it.  And if you asked them what exactly that is, I’d put a solid bet on a response that included something like this – “it’s a network of screens held together by digital technology.

Network.  Screens.  Digital technology.

That’s so 1995.

In all seriousness, here’s my newest stake in the ground (and it’s not groundbreaking, but I think it provides clarity) – OOH, DOOH, and digital signage is Awareness Out-of-Home.  Digital signage (technology + a display) has enabled brands to be more effective at creating awareness, with dynamic loop times and dayparting and on-the-fly content updates, but at the end of the day, it’s all about pushing content out to as many eyeballs as they can.  It’s about impressions.  OOH/DOOH can be an extremely effective channel at achieving those impressions.

Here’s the thing(s) about Awareness though:

  • Relies more heavily on the channel (or “screen”) than it does on the brand story
  • The media component is driven by mass reach, not targeted personalization
  • Brand is at the center, communication is to many
  • It’s a push message, meaning it’s a “talk-to” communication, meaning it’s a 1-way communication, meaning there is no real brand/consumer engagement
  • Consumers are guided down the funnel, literally, by screen (the placement of the screen guides the brand story)
  • The technology is the thing keeps everything connected

So, sure, if you want to talk about networks and technology, er “DOOH” & “digital signage”, here’s where we should be talking.  This is what the industry is talking about now – hardware and software and networks and installations and everything else.  If you boil it down, it’s all an awareness discussion.  This is where my thinking differs from many in the industry (communications, advertising and digital signage industries) that I’ve heard.  I don’t see the potential in using the OOH/DOOH channel as an awareness channel.  It’s an evolved 1995 discussion, with the introduction of new “digital” display technologies, but it’s just display.  Display technologies drive more consumption; they don’t drive more engagement.  And this is the big differentiator – do you want to use OOH, even DOOH as an awareness channel?  Or do you believe that the places and things around us have the ability to engage consumers where they are and actually drive them deeper into the brand experience?  This is the “new” OOH and this is its potential.

Engagement Out-of-Home is predicated on the understanding that a) everyone and everything is connected and b) the places and things around us have the ability to be turned “on.”  Everything is a screen, but the screen is not what makes up the network in Engagement OOH, the people make up the network.  They are made stronger by technology – enabling technologies here, not display technologies – and brands can and should take advantage of these developments.

Just last week, I gave my thoughts on a similar concept, something that LocaModa and Posterscope call “Sociable Media.”  (I spoke to a couple of guys at LocaModa late last week and they provided great insight to their POV.)  We’re all talking about basically the same thing, but I think where I differ is that I think Engagement OOH provides a unique opportunity for brands to go beyond just being there and allows them to tell their story in a way that they would not have otherwise been able to tell it – in an individual, 1-to-1 engagement.  (And it doesn’t have to be on a mobile phone.  It can be on a floor in a store.)  It’s less about the technology and more about the interaction.  That’s the nut – engagement OOH enables brands to be more effective at driving interaction – not awareness – on everything around us.

As compared to Awareness OOH, Engagement OOH:

  • Relies more heavily on the brand story than it does on the channel (or “screen”)
  • The media component is driven by targeted personalization, not mass reach
  • In one sense, the brand is can be the center, but communicate to one.  In another sense, the consumer is at the center and the brand has the ability to engage with them.  The key is that it’s a personalized communication
  • It’s a push/pull message, meaning it’s a “talk-with” communication, meaning it’s a 2-way communication, meaning there is actually real brand/consumer engagement
  • Consumers are guided down the funnel by interaction
  • The brand story is the thing keeps everything connected

So, maybe we still need to be talking in 1995 speak.  I have a feeling that the industry is going to continue to talk in these terms, at least for the foreseeable future.  If you look at social media and the way it had been talked about until the last year or so, it was all talked about differently, too.  Now, there are enough buzz words that can make someone feel sick.  But whenever I hear “DOOH” or “digital signage,” I always stop and give it pause and really try to determine what people are talking about.  And most of the time, they are talking about true “digital” Out-of-Home or true “digital” signage.  Interactivity is either an afterthought or void from the thought altogether.

I just look at it a little bit differently.  For every action, there is a reaction and we have the responsibility, not to mention the opportunity, to be there and interact and have a 2-way communication so the relationship doesn’t end as soon as they walk away.  It gets stronger.  I believe that can only happen through engagement.

It’s important to note that I am not a media guy and never have been.  I’ve always been an experience guy, so that’s immediately where my mind goes, regardless of the “channel.”  I love this space because it truly is a blank canvas, not confined by structure or surface, or technology or medium – only by the limits of our imagination and the strength of a brand’s story.  I’m going to be speaking at CETW in a couple of weeks on Incorporating Digital/Interactive Out-of-Home into Campaign Strategy and from my point of view, after we understand who we’re talking to, the very next question I would want to answer is, “is it Awareness OOH” or “Engagement OOH?”  What do we want to create?  Do we want to push messages out?  Or do we want to engage with consumers around our messages?  This would tell me what technology (or not) I need – display technology or enabling technology – thus defining what the “true” OOH was.

My story still isn’t complete.  It isn’t as focused as I’d like it to be, but I think it’s getting there.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you care to share them.  This is truly an evolving space that requires evolving thought, so in my opinion, the more the merrier.

The “New” OOH, as Seen in my Mind

I appreciate drawings.  I’m a big visual thinker.  And particularly at work, I draw more than write.  I’m not a good artist, but I don’t think it takes a good artist to draw effective models – I like to think I make by pretty good.  Anyway, I’ve been working on distilling my thoughts into something that is easy for people to understand what this space is all about.  Here’s where I am:

Basically, I believe that all OOH solutions are made up of 3 main components:

1. Equipment

2. Place

3. Content

The Equipment really speaks to the “How” the message is delivered.  It has 2 components: hardware and software.  I know there are many other pieces included in those two (network, installation, maintenance, etc..), but in the end, you’ve got hardware and software that need to run the actual solution.  It’s as easy as that.

The Place is the actual location the solution will be seen in – the “where”.  From my standpoint, this is a strict media play – it’s either “Paid” media (you have to buy placement) or “Owned” media (you own the place where the solution will be seen).  Again, I think pretty easy.

But the final component – one that is easy in concept, but hardest to execute in my opinion – is the Content component.  Content is the “what” part of the solution and there are different pieces that make up the “what,” most notably Planning and Strategy.  These two pieces are critical to storytelling because it provides the proper context in which to tell the story.  Not necessarily what story needs to be told, but who exactly you want to tell the story to and how.

And around everything, there is an Execution piece.  There will likely be multiple players in the game that are responsible for executing their component.  This model helps identify what kind of players those are so you can create your own OOH solution.

Where this gets interesting, and I have to thank one of my partners-in-crime here, Matt Dickman, for seeing this – it’s the intersection of these components and what they really define.  The result of “How” + “Where” is “Environmental Design.”  What is this installation going to be in the place where it’s going to be seen?  What opportunities do you have based on where it’s going to be seen?  How much does that dictate what exact equipment is used?

The result of “Where” + “What” is the Consumer “Experience.”  This is how the consumer is actually going to experience the solution.  My experience is different if I’m in the middle of Times Square experiencing a billboard than it is if I’m in the middle of a tradeshow booth experiencing a kiosk.  More, if I know where this story is going to be seen, I can optimize it to create the best “experience.”

And the result of “What” + “How” is the type of “Engagement” that the consumer is (or is not) involved in.  This is where enabling technologies come most into play.  What equipment do I need to absorb (and hopefully, literally, engage with) the story?

These results are the deeper components of the solution that I feel need to be thought about if you really want to maximize your OOH solution.  These are the components that really define what I believe to be the power and potential of the “new” OOH.

So, that’s where I’m at.  What do you think?  Would love to hear opinions!