Tag Archives: Four Square

Chronicles of an LBS Wanderer – 5

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

Location-based services (LBS) – like FoursquareGowalla, and Yelp – made a big splash last year as a fairly successful, yet niche, mobile tactic for brands aiming to reach consumers in the real-world. They are great platforms for rewarding loyalty, real-time consumer reviews & tips, and for those who like such a thing, keeping track of your friends/family. I’ve “played” Foursquare consistently for a year now and dabbled in the others – Gowalla, Yelp, LooptSCVNGR. There’s interesting potential with this sort of technology, particularly when integrated with placed-based signage. But as I’ve wandered over the last year, I’m left wondering if these technologies will stick and ultimately reach the average consumer. And more than that, what it will take for them to reach that point? Here are my chronicles.

Today, I recorded my 600th check-in on Foursquare. Here’s what it’s gotten me:

  • Maybe 5 specialty frites appetizers from Houlihans
  • Maybe 10 cheesecake chimichangas from Taco Bueno
  • Less than 5 mayorships, complete with their special badge and pronouncement to the world – of which, I currently hold onto 1 mayorship
  • Countless tweets, which some would consider spam
  • Familiarity and adeptness of the platform and others like it
  • 0 connections of any real value

I did the breakdown of time, too. If I spend 30 seconds on the check-in process, 600 check-ins equates to 5 hours of my time. Estimating my freebies, I would say that the total dollar value I’ve received is ~$40. That means my time, through the game, is roughly worth $8/hour. Hardly worth it looking through that lense.

However, 5 hours of total time, over at least a year is less than ½ hour a month. Through that lense, it’s minimal investment and I don’t feel that put out.

Is all this going to stop me from checking-in from this point forward? No.

Because why? Well, that’s kind of the point – why not? It’s easy. It’s minimal time on my part, and I actually get something in the end. Even if it, too, is minimal.

But here’s the thing – isn’t that the wrong question any new technology and/or brand and/or community should be eliciting? Instead of “why not,” don’t we want people to be driven by the “why?”

Why I want to spend my time with this technology and/or brand and/or community is because it gives me X value.

Not just because it’s easy.


Chronicles of an LBS Wanderer – 4

11th Screen | The Interactive Out of Home Blog

Location-based services (LBS) – like FoursquareGowalla, and Yelp – made a big splash last year as a fairly successful, yet niche, mobile tactic for brands aiming to reach consumers in the real-world. They are great platforms for rewarding loyalty, real-time consumer reviews & tips, and for those who like such a thing, keeping track of your friends/family. I’ve “played” Foursquare consistently for a year now and dabbled in the others – Gowalla, Yelp, LooptSCVNGR. There’s interesting potential with this sort of technology, particularly when integrated with placed-based signage. But as I’ve wandered over the last year, I’m left wondering if these technologies will stick and ultimately reach the average consumer. And more than that, what it will take for them to reach that point? Here are my chronicles.

This is not a blog for the data seekers. I just don’t get into much of that here. But I read something the other day from eMarketer that was filled with lots of interesting data around location-based services apps and I think it’s only appropriate to share in this forum. Especially, since part of the “wandering” is actually “wondering” if these apps will catch on.

It’s no surprise that so few people are actually aware of LBS apps. Almost half of all of those surveyed did not know about these apps.

Awareness Usage of LBSWhat I found to be somewhat surprising is that 2/3 of those who do know what they are do not use them. So, this suggests – outside of an awareness issue – that these services are perceived to provide little to no value.

What I found to be really surprising is the actual platforms that people use. My intuition would tell me Foursquare (since they’ve been successful at securing large partnerships) is the clear leader. And I know about the Facebook factor  in everything social, so they’d be up there, too (I even see my uncle – someone I would consider as the “average consumer” – using Facebook Places). But the numbers tell a different story.

Most Frequently Used LBSFacebook and Google – both not particularly known for their LBS presence or prowess – make up over 2/3 of the platforms used by those using LBS apps. To me, this puts in perspective how hard it is for the little, niche players in any industry, especially one that is already little and niche. Could the same be said about the little guys in the digital signage industry?

But the most fascinating thing in here, to me, was the “why.” Why do people use these apps? Many of my colleagues – in and out of work – have always pointed to incentives as the main ” why.” But according to this survey, the main value driver is connections.

The tools that marketers typically use to entice check-ins, deals and discounts, did not hold much appeal for respondents to the survey. Most smartphone users believed social connections were the biggest draw to location-based apps. Among those who were familiar with them, 41% said connecting to people they knew or could meet was the main benefit, followed by finding places their friends liked (21%) and being able to keep track of their movement patterns over time (17%). Just 8% thought discounts and rewards were the most important benefit, and only 4% cared about the gaming elements of checking in.

People want to be connected. It’s just that simple. Technology – be it LBS apps or digital signage or anything in between – is only the barrier when it does NOT enable connections. I think this is an important note and growing trend that I hope my friends in the digital signage industry recognize. The key is to enable connections. Connections cannot be made through static, push, one-way messages. It’s just that simple.

Here’s the rub, though. And it’s in the privacy. Which, according to the article, is the biggest problem with consumer adoption.

Nielsen surveyed US app downloaders in April 2011 about their feelings around location-based apps and privacy and found those fears ran throughout the population. In every age group broken out, at least half of respondents said they were “concerned,” with no more than 13% saying they were “not concerned.” Analyzed by gender, the results were the same: Majorities of both men and women were concerned.

As interaction with screens around us become more and more expected and the places and things around us become more and more turned on, adoption might be slow going. Especially to the point of diving deep into a brand experience. But I think the point is made in the data and it is a human point. It’s a connections point. Regardless of what technology is new today and tomorrow, we want to be connected with each other (this is even more a truth with the younger, millennial generation).

And I suppose that should never be a surprise.

Out & About: DFW Airport Touch Screen Terminal Assistant

So there I was walking through Terminal D of the DFW Airport close to midnight and all I wanted to do is get to my car so I could go home. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see this – another 11th Screen (IOOH) example – a large display that looked like it was just inviting a touch. So, of course, I stopped, got my trusty flip cam out, and started to poke around on it.

Let’s dust the scorecard off and put ‘er to the test.

Purpose – This is simply an interactive information kiosk that just happens to be an 80″+ touch screen. It’s designed solely to give travelers all of the essential information they need while they’re in the terminal – places to eat, where to shop, where to get your shoes shined, where the restrooms are, flight information – anything any traveler needs to know. Right at their fingertips. On an 80″+ touch screen. Mission accomplished.

Drama – When does an 80″+ touch screen not create a sense of drama? For the experience, I think it’s a bit like using a bazooka when you need a pea shooter. But the size is the thing that tipped me off to its interactivity. Ironically, I think it’s too well designed because the screen and structure fit right in to everything else in the terminal, so one could easily pass right by it thinking it’s just a big sign. And that’s the biggest problem. There was no clear call-to-action on the screen, nothing really that says, “hey there, why don’t you stop and touch this screen because I’ll give you some great information.” Instead, it’s just a silent 80″+ screen.

Usability – This is a simple experience so it’s usable. Or maybe it’s the other way around? In any case, this was an easy experience to navigate through. It wasn’t deep with content, so after you drill down a couple of times, you’ve hit the end of the path. But the GUI is laid out in a way that allows you to get to other pieces of content in a single press. As far as the functionality goes, I would underwhelmed with this experience. I wanted more and as you can see in the video, I expected it to function different than it actually did. With a large touch screen like this, I expect the functionality to be just as big. Not complex or obnoxious, but in some way commiserate with the size of the screen.

Interactivity – This is a single touch, single user touch screen experience. For a screen this big, they could have planned for multi-user interaction and created a rich experience. As it stands – in its current state – it’s as basic as you can get. The response and its functionality, after you press one of the buttons, is not distinct enough to let you know that something has happened. So, while the screen is responsive to your touch, the action (or seeming lack thereof) makes you think that it doesn’t work.

Information – To me, this succeeds at 1.0 information, but fails miserably at 2.0 information. Yes, it contains all of the information that it promises. But it’s base-level information – the name, the place, and the location. This experience could be made instantly better by integrating LBS (Foursquare, Gowalla) and/or consumer reviews/comments (Yelp?). Our friends at LocaModa would have a field day with this experience.

Personalization – There was no personalization in this experience. I think a social component – check-ins, reviews, comments – could add a welcome level of personalization to this. It would be relatively low user commitment, especially compared to the high level of benefit this sort of information would provide.

Overall, the lack of social integration has been a huge theme in these touch screen experiences over the last year. I am starting to feel like single-source information is not good enough anymore. But these are the things I pay attention to. I’m not sure that the average consumer – or traveler in this case – cares so much about it. Here’s the thing though – when their first impression includes social content, they feel like this is just another extension of what they’re used to when they use their computers or their phones. When it doesn’t include social content, I think we run the risk of not providing the type of value they need (based on their not-yet-completely-understood expectation).

More than that, though – when you’re going to do anything with an 80″+ touch screen, the experience better be 80″+.

Chronicles of an LBS Wanderer – 3

11th Screen Location Based Services Badge

Location-based services (LBS) – like FoursquareGowalla, and Yelp – made a big splash last year as a fairly successful, yet niche, mobile tactic for brands aiming to reach consumers in the real-world. They are great platforms for rewarding loyalty, real-time consumer reviews & tips, and for those who like such a thing, keeping track of your friends/family. I’ve “played” Foursquare consistently for a year now and dabbled in the others – Gowalla, Yelp, LooptSCVNGR. There’s interesting potential with this sort of technology, particularly when integrated with placed-based signage. But as I’ve wandered over the last year, I’m left wondering if these technologies will stick and ultimately reach the average consumer. And more than that, what it will take for them to reach that point? Here are my chronicles.

This is a follow-up post to yesterday’s. This first paragraph is the same, but everything after that is new!

Although I’ve spent my last few days at SXSW, I wasn’t really at SXSW. Working the conference means that you operate in a bubble and even the big news rarely penetrates it. From what I hear, though, location and gamification are two of the most prevalent themes. This is important because SXSW is known as the launching pad for emerging trends and start-ups. I suspect Foursquare and SCVNGR – both emerging in their own right – will reap the benefits of being highly present at SXSW this year.

Right before the conference, Foursquare announced a partnership program with American Express aimed at recognizing loyalty at local businesses. Some Austin favorites – like Stubbs BBQ and Whole Foods – are participating in the pilot program that gives consumers $5 back when they spend $5 using their AmEx card. Interesting.

It’s big news for Foursquare, for sure. This is the type of association they need to make the average consumer aware and familiar with “Foursquare.” And it’s something like this – a partner with a major merchant – that gives them hope of actually affecting consumer behavior enough that it makes a lasting impact on their business.

But will it work?

Who knows. That remains to be the million dollar question. Quite literally.

I think, for both SCVNGR and Foursquare, these announcements provide more clarity of their place (and use) in the market. SCVNGR is becoming more and more the mobile game that brands and consumers can engage with in out in the real world. Foursquare is becoming more and more the mobile loyalty tool that brands can use to reward their most loyal customers.

This definition is a good thing. It lessens the I-want-to-do-everything-for-everyone syndrome that is easy to adopt, especially as a start-up company. (Although SCVNGR did announce a new venture, LevelUp, that combines group-based daily deals with loyalty.)

But the real question remains – will consumers care enough to engage through one/both/more of these mobile emerging technologies more than once?

The rise and proliferation of mobility, beyond mobile phones, will certainly help. I have been using my iPad 2 since I purchased it over the weekend. One thing that stuck out to me was the diverse audience in the lines. That just says to me that there is a growing appetite, by many more people, for more and different mobile devices. More and more people want to experiment and if the experience is good enough, they’ll adopt. So, the technology and the behavior that drives using technology in a specific way will continue to evolve, and for technologies like Foursquare and SCVNGR, this is half of the battle.

The other half of the battle is answering the value question. Just because it’s available doesn’t mean people are going to engage. Just because it’s more game-like doesn’t mean people are going to engage. Rewarding loyalty? I can see that driving engagement. But it has to be more wide spread than a single, typically more exclusive merchant than American Express. I couldn’t have participated in the promotion because I don’t carry an AmEx card. I, like many average consumers, am conscious of spending and one of the mantras driving my purchases is, “if you can’t pay cash, you shouldn’t buy it.” I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who lets that mantra drive their purchase behavior. I’m also willing to bet that I’m in the overwhelming majority of average consumers who don’t carry an AmEx card. So, what does a promotion like this leave me with?




Nothing really.

It’s just another example of the value I got out of checking in while I was at SXSW. Nothing.

But, you know what? I keep doing it. Because I can. Because it’s a little fun for me. Because I have a tinge of hope of uncovering something new, even if it is a badge.

But those are hardly sustainable.

For now, though, I keep wandering and wondering.


Chronicles of an LBS Wanderer – 1

11th Screen Location Based Services Badge

Location-based services (LBS) – like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp – made a big splash last year as a fairly successful, yet niche, mobile tactic for brands aiming to reach consumers in the real-world. They are great platforms for rewarding loyalty, real-time consumer reviews & tips, and for those who like such a thing, keeping track of your friends/family. I’ve “played” Foursquare consistently for a year now and dabbled in the others – Gowalla, Yelp, Loopt, SCVNGR. There’s interesting potential with this sort of technology, particularly when integrated with placed-based signage. But as I’ve wandered over the last year, I’m left wondering if these technologies will stick and ultimately reach the average consumer. And more than that, what it will take for them to reach that point? Here are my chronicles.

I checked into my train station the other night. It was my 100th check-in and as a result, I received a “Century Club” badge. I also received a customized message – something to the effect, “they should put your name up on the wall for frequenting so often.” Or something.

First thought: cool, I got another badge.

Second thought: ugh, I don’t get anything other than this message.

Then, I got sour.

The badge wasn’t enough. I wanted a free 30-day pass. A free ride. Some sort of discount, at least. I’d even take my name scrolling across the digital ticker at the station.

But then, that would get old, and I’d want something else, something of value.

The fact that these technologies fit into our regular, everyday life is one barrier that they don’t have to overcome. The check-in couldn’t be easier. But the big barrier lies in the value. As with any emerging technology, there’s a novelty period where it can get by on the technology alone. But there quickly comes a point to where it loses the novel factor, and in order for it to become sustainable and gain scale, it has to create some sort of value.

And this is what I’m feeling right now. Little to no value.

It’s interesting because my expectations have changed in a very short amount of time. And if mine – an early adopter/user, not the “average” consumer – have changed, what will it take to reach the average consumer? And become part of their daily lives?

The digital signage industry, and the places and things around us, can certainly help to create a sense of value. Stephen Randall and LocaModa have made a living targeting this very combination. Stephen’s specific take on this is that the value lies in the 3 Fs:  Fun, fame, and fortune. These are the keys that motivate consumers to interact with LBS, and digital signage is a perfect platform to maximize their effect. Everyone likes to see their name “in lights” (fame) and by nature, most of these technologies are game-like and fun.

The key is “fortune.” Value. Is virtual currency enough, even when you see yourself in the middle of a Times Square billboard? I was willing to accept my name scrolling on the train station ticker. But I’m still left empty.

I want more.

Friday’s 4-1-1, Gamification Style

I work in a fairly small group in a fairly large company.  We have about 25 people in our group, specifically.  Come to find out, 4 of us are all alumni of the same college – Texas State University (at the time that 3 of us were going to school, it was called Southwest Texas State.  Although this dates us with the younger kids, it’s something that we’re proud of and never hesitate to distinguish).  As far as colleges go and as far as colleges go in Texas, it’s a smaller school, so it’s unusual (and random) that we find ourselves all working in the same group.  Recently, an opportunity came available to us at our alma mater, speaking at the annual Mass Comm Week.  So, this past Tuesday, the 4 of us loaded up in a car and took the 4-hour roadtrip down to San Marcos for the day and spoke on a panel together about Going Digital:  Changes in the Advertising & PR Industry.  After the discussion, one of the students in the crowd asked me about “gamification” and what our views on it were.  First, it was a fancy word (one that I liked nonetheless) and second, it was fun to answer her!  The concept of life becoming like a game is pretty deep if you truly think about it.  The implications are freaky, and whether we like it or not, not far from reality.  So, today, I bring you the Gamification 4-1-1:

1.  Nike Turns London Into a Game Board to Get People Running – Very simply, Nike makes a game out of running.  They wanted to extend their message on the importance of being active, so instead of creating billboards or other “standard” media extensions, they decided to make the campaign into a game.  Online, everything begins and ends on the GRID website.


I loved this quote from Tom Coates from Yahoo – “GRID is part of a growing category of ideas that sits within, as Tom Coates of Yahoo! describes, the ‘real world web,'” Douglas writes, “connected things that blur the physical and virtual spaces–things that thrive primarily because they excite us as humans, rather than being a vehicle for demonstrating technical capability.” This ability to connect the physical (offline) and virtual (online) worlds is really the “true” potential of OOH.  This “new” OOH is not about making people aware of the message by putting it up as big as you can on a billboard or on the side of a bus or throwing some display technology at it.  It’s about getting that message across through engagement.  This is a perfect example.

2.  Puma Makes Everything a Game – Shoe-makers and their gamification.  What is it?

Puma Scoreboard

I found the usability frustrating, but the concept is great.  And it just goes to show that there is definitely something to this gamification thing.  Everyone wants to make everything a game nowadays, and technology has enabled it to the point to where it actually can be.  Look no further than Foursquare, Gowalla, and/or MyTown.  Actually, look no further than Nike or Puma.

3.  Microsoft’s Newest Acquisition is About 3-D Gesture Controls – So, I wrote about Microsoft’s gaming/motion-sensing device, Kinect, a couple of months ago when it was officially announced.  Now, today, comes interesting news that they are acquiring Canesta, “the manufacturer of semiconductor chips capable of sensing movement and gestures in 3-D.”  Just watch the demo:

So, yeah, the Minority Report/Iron Man whiz-bang isn’t too far off now, is it?  These are great strides.  Obviously, technology is mind-blowing.  I don’t know how long it’s going to be until technology like this is part of our normal lives, but it’s coming.  And if the industry is still talking about integrating “Digital” OOH into the marketing mix in a year, I’m afraid “Interactive” OOH into the experience mix is going to be quite a surprise.  By nature, this is (non)tangible extension to the fancy gamification.

4.  10 Reasons Why Smartphones Won’t Kill DOOH – Ever – Another thought-provoking piece from LocaModa, this time a good analysis between mobile and DOOH.  While all of Stephen’s points are relevant to the larger discussion, they are not to the gamification discussion.  Point #8, though – “Multichannel” – is quite relevant:  The smartphone screen isn’t the only screen competing for a user’s attention. With mobile, computers, TVs, cinemas and DOOH, advertisers are taking a multiple channel approach to their messaging. This means that ultimately ALL screens will be connected. Rather than a one size fits all approach, the media landscape is actually becoming more fragemented and micro-targeted as a result. This means that the phone screen is often part of a 360 degree solution – it’s not the entire solution – and neither is DOOH. All screens will be connected.  The places and things around us will become “screens.”  Everyone is connected, too.  See a theme here?  Sounds like the constructs of a game to me.

“Uh-huh” – Last week, I posted a story about how Mini created a “reality gaming” experience around one of their cars in Stockholm.  Yet another example of bringing us and the world around us together in an experience to engage in unique ways with brands and each other.  It’s quite appropriate in this week’s discussion, too.

“Duh” – Although not gamification-related, this is related to our panel discussion this week at Mass Comm week.  I said something that came out wrong and it’s bugged me ever since.  Just for some brief context – one of the unique aspects to the 4 of us alum working in the same group now is that we all come from different backgrounds.  I have an acting degree, another one has a directing degree, another one has a traditional PR/Comm degree, and the other one, well, I’m not sure what degree he has, but it’s different than all the rest of us.  Anyway, when we introduced ourselves, we gave a brief synopsis of our background and our journeys leading us up to working together right now.  I said something like this, “I got an acting degree, and there’s not anything from that degree (“what I learned in school”) that I use to make money other than maybe being able to speak in front of people.”  Ugh.  I knew, as I was saying it, it was all coming out wrong.  But I couldn’t stop.  First, these students don’t need to hear, “what you’re going to school for now, it’s really irrelevant, so why worry??”  No, that’s not the message I wanted to get across.  I’m a firm believer in life experience.  And no matter what you do, what jobs you’ve done, what you graduated with, all of the skills and experiences used during those times can help you in your present situation.  You’ve got to be aware of those things and constantly looking to call on those things, but it can all be used.  And it should.  What I meant to say is, “it’s less about the degree that you get because in reality, the real-world is much different than the college-world.  That said, these classes and this training prepares you for going out and doing your thing.  You’ll have to adjust many times throughout your career, and if you’re successful at adjusting, you’ll more than likely be successful in your career.”  At least that’s what I’ve found to be true.  Anyway, we were there for the students, and I really don’t feel like that one moment from me did them the best service.  So, if any of you guys are reading this now, take note. :)

Well, what a week.  I’m sure that this weekend, it being Halloween and all, with 3 kids ready to go trick-or-treating, I’m going to experience my fair share of gamification, even if it’s not the 2.0 version.

Friday’s 4-1-1, ScreenScape Style

A little late to the game this Friday, but found a great nugget in this article where small business owners discuss the benefits of geo-location-based services.  I’m a big proponent of geo-location apps and like many others, see the natural integration with digital signage.  In this article, a couple of the business owners mention a platform called ScreenScape – a simple, internet-based program (software) that allows “anyone” (like small business owners) to operate digital signage.  This is the first I’ve heard of these guys, and my question is – can they be the X factor in digital signage adoption?  Today’s 4-1-1 is dedicated to one of my new favorite companies (I don’t know anyone there, haven’t met anyone there, but next week, I’m going to reach out to them to learn more about their product.)

1.  Advantage #1 – cost.  I suppose this depends which side of the fence you’re on – $10/month subscription makes digital/interactive signage attainable for just about anyone now.  It makes you wonder how successful they can be based on this model, but there are group licenses available for larger subscribers.

2.  Advantage #2 – ease.  The platform is Internet-based.  You don’t need any special technical skills to work your way around the “administrator” dashboard.  And by dragging content here and dropping it there, with the push of a button (and a computer, and a display, and an Internet connection), you’ve got yourself a digital signage solution.  And network if you need it.

3.  Advantage #3 – flexibility.  I’m talking about flexibility with content here.  Images, video, text, RSS feeds – you can include any of these as pieces of content that will wind up in the end-display.  (The program basically converts everything to a flash file.)  There are drawbacks with this, of course.  Processor, connection, file size, load on the computer, etc…  But look, it’s $10/month so to me, if you’re the right “brand” to use something like this, the value and benefit totally outweighs the downfalls.  One of the coolest things about this system – and it’s core to their business model – is allowing the community to share content with each other (they call it “venue networking.”)  This is yet another “cost” advantage to people like small business owners who are strapped for money and resources.

4.  Advantage #4 – integration.  With Foursquare, in particular.  On September 14, they launched a “Foursquare widget” that allows the software to integrate and pull in check-ins for the location (where the screen is placed).  The widget ultimately allows consumers to see things like who the mayor of the place is, the actual “mayor offer,” total check-ins, and everyone else who has checked in.  To me, this feature is critical – to both the brand and the consumer.  The consumer gets to see their name in lights (“fame” as Stephen Randall says) and the brand has just given another reason for the consumer to interact with them (via their screen).  A simple example:

“Uh-huh” – a year ago, Mashable featured Screenscape in their Spark of Genius series.  It’s interesting reading that article now.  Case in point that no one knows how to talk about “digital signage” though.  The term was not used once in the article and I’m pretty sure it’s been around for much longer than a year.  Kudos for flagging it, though.

“Duh” – am I giving them too much credit?  Or is there any merit to them giving a shot in the arm to digital signage?  I think this is a true “duh” because it seems like to me, as long as the brand has ownership of a screen and a connection, and is in-tune with reaching consumers in new ways, why not?  What’s the drawback here?

I think this is beautiful because it taps into what geo-location has tapped into for brands (especially “small” brands) – it’s no/low cost, it’s relevant, it’s engaging, and most of all, it’s a way to connect with people while they’re “outside of the home” on a device that they’re glued to.  For $10/month, you can advertise it/them for everyone to see and hopefully, keep them coming back for more.

Panel 2 – Digital PR Summit – The Next Generation of SM Tools

Panel 2 of the day – this should be interesting.  Again – best part is the questions at the end!  Maybe I’ll start just recapping questions?

Panelist – Jason Winocour (Hunter PR)

He’s going to talk about geo-location apps today.  Not going to get into privacy today.  Show of hands in the room – who’s on FourSquare, Gowalla, FB Places – only 50-75 raised their hands, out of a room of 400+.  Giving 101 overview of FourSquare, Gowalla and FB Places.  The thing about FourSquare that’s problematic is that their BD team is overwhelmed right now.  It’s difficult to work with them.  (AMEN!)

He’s geting into case studies, starting with Starbucks/FourSquare.  Another case study – Market Fair Mall in New Jersey – mayors got special parking spots (primo) at the mall parking lot.  Nice.

Gowalla – he’s focusing on our Chevrolet/SXSW case study!  Specifically, talking about our free rides to/from the airport when people checked into the airport on Gowalla.  Very nice.

FB Places – Are they going to become the Walmart of geo-location?  No rewards, incentives, gaming element YET.

Scvngr – involves skill along with just basic checking in b/c it’s a real-life scavenger hunt.

Now, out of geo-location, he’s going to talk about blogging platforms.  Alot of people are blogging.  Alot of people are reading blogs.  What’s the new way to blog?  Introducing Tumblr and Posterous.  Both are good platforms.  Stronger social aspect – allows re-blogging and “liking.”  Bloggers can post from email/SMS.

Another panelist – Nick Mendoza (Zeno)

The tools he’s going to focus on: video, social media management, group buying.

Video – users watch an average of 15 hours/month of online video.  Ooh – learned something new – you can edit YouTube videos with Tube Chop.  Where have I been?!

Alot of people haven’t developed a social video strategy, much less a live video strategy (using tools like UStream).

Effective videos sell and entertain.

Show of hands again – how many people use social media management tools to listen?  About 50% of the room raised hands.  I want to look into Sprout Social.  Tools like this are important to understand what’s being said about you/your brand, and gives you better insight as to how to respond/engage.  Also allows for syndication of content.

Group buying now – he’s talking Groupon and the like.  Yipit – look into this.  This company aggregates all of these deals into 1 place.  Group buying is all about the DEAL (D = daily, E = experience, A = awareness, L = local).  One of the unique benefits of group buying is that it enables conversation to extend into people’s own social communities.

Questions – what do you think is going to be the next Twitter or Facebook?  Nick – 3 pillars right now – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter.  What’s next – Scvngr, FourSquare – something related to mobile because people have their mobile phone in their pocket every day, all the time.  He talked about Facetime on iPhone 4 and the power of using video, real-time services.

Jason – agree with everything Nick said, but he extends it into Augmented Reality.  Walking down the street, you can see deals, information on businesses you’re passing (nice that he mentioned this, although he didn’t specifically say Out-of-Home or Interactive Out-of-Home).  Also mentioned gaming.

Question – people are just starting to come around to social media, much less these “new” tools.  What can you say about that?  Jason – in terms of getting buy-in, geo-location has to be a natural tie-in with the brand and what they’re trying to accomplish.  Does it make sense?  Don’t try to force fit, don’t do it for the sake of doing it.  You don’t want it to seem like you’re buying a new “toy.”

Nick – a big challenge is legal.  A lot of these initiatives haven’t ever been done before so that might cause trepidation.

Question – hard time convincing marketing executives that when consumers are engaged in these types of engagements, they’re skeptical that the brand should be “involved” in the space.  What’s the opportunity?  Nick – any social network out there is NOT a marketing platform.  We’re there to talk to our friends/communities.  He offered up some research, but didn’t really answer the question.

Jason – people are receptive to hearing from brands.  There’s a balance between commercial content and user-generated content.  It’s about having the right metrics to show how far you can push this.

Foursquare, Booyah, and AKQA Talk Location

I watched a good panel discussion last week from CAT in New York.  The panel talked about “Location,” specifically as it relates to mobile geo-location.  Members of the panel were from Foursquare, Booyah, and AKQA.  Interesting panel make-up, all with good perspectives.  The one thing missing from all of them – how mobile, specifically “location-based advertising,” fits into the larger brand marketing ecosystem.  The discussion was all around mobile as its own silo.  They all talked about how important it is for brands to create deeper, meaningful engagement with vs. “advertising” to their customers, which is definitely hitting on something larger than a single silo.  But they really weren’t purposeful about talking how effective their apps (Foursquare and MyTown) could be cross-channel, particularly with OOH (the “new” OOH is much more than a canvas to broadcast messages to masses).  All in all, though, it’s good to hear other perspectives and get a glimpse into how companies (providers and agencies) are thinking about location-based/behavioral targeting and advertising.  We need one of these on OOH!!  (The video is a little long ~20 minutes, but worth a listen!)  

Friday’s 4-1-1, Mobile-Style

It’s Friday and time for the 2nd Friday 4-1-1 series.  This installation is all about mobile, particularly the specific enabling technologies associated with mobile that have an opportunity to make brand interaction richer & deeper when coupled with OOH/DOOH/IOOH.  If you’re a new reader, I think there is a difference between what makes “digital” Out of Home and “interactive” Out of Home – “digital” is made possible through display technology, “interactive” is made possible through enabling technologies.  These technologies enable deeper interaction with a brand and its OOH/DOOH installation.  You can think of it like this:

Enabling technology (and there are many of them) + OOH/DOOH = IOOH (Interactive Out of Home)

Display technology + OOH = DOOH

My premise is “Digital” Out of Home cannot be made interactive without any of these enabling technologies.  So, today, I’ll focus on 3 mobile enabling technologies – augmented reality, geo-location, and of course, QR codes.  Here’s the 4-1-1:

1.  Facebook Places Propels SCVNGR to 100,000 Downloads in 48 Hours – reality check, first of all – the “general” consumer doesn’t use geo-location apps like FourSquare, much less a new app like SCVNGR.  The penetration numbers for “digital” users who use geo-location apps are low (~4% according to Forrester).  However, I believe there is loads of potential for geo-location apps like FourSquare, Gowalla, FB Places, and SCVNGR (and the others).  These apps really enable a feature that I believe is core to a brand’s success in the new “Out of Home” space – reaching consumers where they are (out of home) and driving deep(er) engagement with the brand.  There are few brands who have really figured out how best to do this, but there are many who are experimenting.  As far as SCVNGR goes, their platform is really based on the idea of a Scavenger Hunt – users go around to different places (called “Treks”), when there, they have to complete a challenge, get rewarded via points, and then ultimately get rewarded with badges.  For brands, this platform is significant because it’s a built-out mobile platform, specifically intended to provide challenge-based scavenger hunt game-play experiences.  Yes, you can pretty much do the same thing with FourSquare (you have to work through FourSquare) and Gowalla (users themselves can set up “trips”), but they weren’t built for this very thing (neither of them are based on “challenges”).  In my opinion, it’s a better way to reward consumers who are loyal enough to your brand to go through a challenge-based scavenger hunt (again, outside of their home) vs. just checking in repeatedly at a single place.

2.  Four Seasons Joins Geo-Social Gold Rush With California Campaign – I’ve put together a number of campaigns with Gowalla – it’s not the Austin-based connection that I am high on with them, it’s really the experience they provide vs. FourSquare.  (In fairness, if I could put together any geo-location-based campaign, regardless of budget/time constraints, I would probably look at using both of them, but Gowalla is easier/more accommodating to work with.  FourSquare has sheer numbers, Gowalla has a more engaging experience, particularly on the brand side, in my opinion.)  So, it was nice to read about a brand like Four Seasons hopping on the geo-location bandwagon.  Again, this is yet another example of a brand driving engagement with consumers while they’re out and about, going through their normal day-to-day activities.  Who would have ever thought that just by “checking in” some place through your mobile phone, you could get rewarded with a hotel-stay voucher.

3.  Toys “R” Us Unveils Multichannel Mobiel CRM Tactics – here’s my QR code example this week.  Only problem with this is that it’s launching in Hong Kong only.  At least right now.  Solid concept though – targeted at their loyalty card holders, those loyal consumers can unlock exclusive content through these “R” (what Toys R Us is calling them) codes and from the sounds of it, with each scan, can earn more “loyalty” points, which is of benefit to them with real-world merchandise.  QR codes are commonplace in that part of the world, so I suspect this is going to be widely used.  Hopefully, the campaign will make its way here and even more hopefully, US consumers will actually know what to do when they see this weird code in front of them.

4.  Augmented Reality Campaign for Lustucru Pasta in 500 Supermarkets – pasta + a martian + tomatoes + Augmented Reality = AWESOME.  Forget about checking into places, whoever thought they could play a game with a martian just by purchasing a box of pasta?  Augmented Reality has come so far in a few short months.  Now, instead of needing a black-bound box that serves as a marker and a webcam, all you need is an AR application on your mobile phone.  It’s really unbelievable.  For this, though, I guess the question is, “does this drive more sales?”  Don’t know.  After I play the game, would I want to play it again?  Does it build?  Is there anything deeper?  If so, it could be the reason that I’d want to continue buying this pasta when I need pasta.  If not, on the surface, it’s a good engagement, but what does it do to achieve longer-terms goals?  It makes me smile, though.  Check it out:

“Uh-huh” – Reggie Bush hit the Holy Grail by combining geo-location (FourSquare) with social media (Twitter/Facebook) and the real-world (with StickyBits).  This is the perfect combination of driving Reggie Bush-brand engagement through the use of various mediums/channels, including a strong OOH play.  Basically, Reggie used FourSquare like a scavenger-hunt service (should have used SCVNGR!) so that fans could find autographed footballs around the city of New Orleans in anticipation of last night’s opening NFL game.  They could then attach messages to StickyBits for Reggie.  Great cross-channel program.

Before I get into this week’s “Duh,” I’ll say this – I think that “OOH” as a media channel has changed drastically in the past few years.  My definition of “OOH” is “anything that the user doesn’t have to own to have an experience with.”  In these cases, a user needs a mobile phone, but the point in which that experience originates is always OOH and from something that they don’t need to own – checking in at a location doesn’t require you to own the location, using a QR code doesn’t require you to own the QR code, and even playing a game from a box of pasta doesn’t require you to necessarily own the box of pasta.  Lines are certainly more grey than they used to be in terms of “OOH” and it’s in this grey area that I believe lives the 11th Screen.

Now, my “Duh” – it’s not an example this week, it’s a piece of advice based on a few experiences that I’ve had this week.  Slow down.  Life and work move very fast and most often, we make decisions in split seconds.  Those decisions can have a profound impact on other people and your own work (substitute “life” with “work” if you want to).  There is nothing wrong with slowing down, taking a deep breath, having a think on it, and then moving forward.

I hope you guys have a great weekend.  Would love to hear anything you’ve got to say about any of this.  Just shout!