Tag Archives: gaming

Out & About: Target’s Gaming Touch Screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Recap of a Recap (this time CaT)

I’m getting at this a bit late, especially in Internet time, but I came across an article recapping an Innovation conference (called “Creativity and Technology“) from a couple weeks ago. As the name suggests, this is a conference that combines creative thinking with emerging technology (brought to us by Ad Age). It is very much for an agency audience, featuring some of the biggest names in the agency world. These guys are on the front lines of pushing the boundaries, enough so that they are creating new boundaries themselves.

This particular article was a recap on the topic of “Breaking Down Barriers Between Fields,” and I found even the brief recap fascinating.  I love hearing different perspectives from (smart) people.  The reporter broke it down with 5 takeaways that I’ll mirror here and give my own thoughts, as these are things I think about every day, for good or bad.

1. Don’t separate “Interactive” – This is not an easy thing to do, particularly as agencies try to expand their competencies and do more and more.  I like what Ivan Askwith, director of strategy, at Big Spaceship said here – “Our focus should not be on emerging tech, but emerging cultural practices.”  From an agency perspective, it’s not about what new technologies look like and how we can use them.  It’s about how we integrate the right talent in the right way into the organization so we can tell the story across the right platform (or “screen” in my world, “field” in this article).  The possibilities of the type of work agencies and brands can produce shouldn’t drive the ship.  The possibilities of people, fueled by the right environment, given the right tools, should always drive the work.  These are aspects that result in a particular culture.  Again, not easy to do, but the agencies who abide by this and learn how to do it first and practice it will be one step ahead.  This is the look – a mandatory – for the “new” agency.

2. Consider platform storytelling – This is the one that I wish I had more information on.  What was reported here and the actual “takeaway” topic don’t quite match up to me.  The quote here, from Patrick Gardner, CEO of Perfect Fools – “Create frameworks so people can create their own stories and pipe that back to the brand.”  True, but to me, this is only part of the story of “storytelling.”  #1 brands have to understand that their “story” is no longer only narrated by them (to Mr. Gardner’s point).  But #2, their story is no longer narrated for a particular medium (I call them “screens,” these guys call them “platforms.”)  We operate in a world that is connected and almost platform agnostic.  From an agency and brand’s perspective, understanding how the story continues across “platforms” is the first step in a new way of communicating.  Executing that story in the right way, given many authors and many platforms, is the golden ticket.  No one wants to leave part of the story on the table.

3. Partner with tech companies, not just media companies – as technology advances, so do the skills required.  We sell our thinking, but we don’t want anyone else to execute it, so we must be executioners, too.  A “new” agency has the capabilities, either in-house, in-network, or through strategic partnerships to do it all, even technical execution.

4. Game mechanics is the new marketing – My takeaway quote here is from Kevin Slavin, co-founder of social TV platform Starling and entertainment marketing firm Area/Code – “Game mechanics motivate consumer behavior.”  I see the point here, and it’s interesting, and I do believe that that there is truth to this, but only for a small cross-section of consumers.  Gaming is a hot trend right now – FourSquare and MyTown and even Kinect – but I think, today, this is more aspirational.  Gaming, especially advances like the aforementioned, doesn’t pass my mom test and while she is increasingly falling out of “target markets,” I still think it’s an aspect to think about – interacting in different ways.  I like interacting with brands, even incorporating a different type of interaction through my every day life through gaming, but I don’t believe everyone’s there yet.

5. It’s hard to laugh alone – I think the point here is that human instinct is to be connected to others.  Technology, particularly social technology like Facebook and Twitter, enables us to connect in ways like never before.  True.

This is one of the conferences I identified at the beginning of the year to go to and, of course, due to other commitments, missed it.  There should be another one coming up in November, this time in London that I’ll pencil in as soon as the dates are announced.  Anyone out there attend this past one in New York?  Or either of the previous two?  If so, I’d love to hear some of your takeaways.

Thanks, everyone, for reading!