Tag Archives: GPS

The Evolution of OOH – Pt. 2

In my new exploration to try to find the 3.0 versions of OOH executions, I don’t think I’m going to have to search hard. They seem to be popping up every single day. The problem is in their scale. They’re typically one-off, experimental examples. Nonetheless, they deserve attention. This time, a billboard:

The 1.0 version

Billboards for Everyone 1.0

And the 3.0 version

Billboards for Everyone 3.0

An augmented-reality, GPS-based personal billboard that can be shared with your own social network. Instead of expressing your road-rage and/or road-delight expressions with cars and/or other drivers next to you, just hold up your phone, pick an emoticon and post it to your Facebook wall. (You can see more in the video below.)

This is a great example of how to make billboards interactive, but there are only a handful of places this would work. Somewhere where stop and go traffic, er gridlock, is the norm. Somewhere like NYC, right outside of the Holland Tunnel. Where this happens to be placed. So, they’ve got that working for them.

This has all of the characteristics of a 3.0 execution:

1. The experience – you can interact with the static billboard through your mobile phone. Just launch the AR application, point it at the billboard and the billboard will tell you how it feels and/or you can tell others how you feel, vis-a-vis the billboard.

2. Sharability – an interactive billboard like this is unique, so it’s more likely to drive a little bit more interest than normal. In a place like New York, it might drive a lot of interest. But aside from the interest, once people start to engage with the experience, sharing is at the center of it. What good is it to keep your emotions all pent up inside yourself? Especially in today’s hyperconnected world when everyone wants to share how they’re feeling, what they’re doing, and just generally, what they think of everything in the universe? Why not share how you’re feeling when sitting in traffic? Sounds reasonable to me.

3. Smart – traveling in and out of New York can be a bear. You can literally sit in one spot for an hour. While the message here is not groundbreaking, it does give travelers another way to express themselves, which everyone loves to do anyway. And to me, this is one of those smile things. When you engage in the experience, it can bring a smile to your face. Having sat in this particular place many times, before, after and/or during a busy New York day, I can say that smiles are not only good, they’re needed. Now, New Yorkers could care less about smiling or interacting with a silly billboard. But me, I like it.

4. Scalability – Billboard space is all over so we’ve got that going for the scalability of this execution. Smart phones will soon not be a barrier to something like this. A technology like augmented reality might. I still don’t know if the average consumer knows and/or cares to know about a technology like this. And if they do, how many times will the actually use it? If it unlocks experiences like this, perhaps it will increase interest and demand enough to break the barrier.

How many times would I engage with this billboard? After the first time, probably not too many. But what if most, if not all billboards could be personalized in an experience like this? It would completely change the way we interact with our surroundings. And that is the power of this new – 3.0 versioned – OOH space. It is inherently interactive. Not static. Not digital. Interactive.

Note – This unique billboard is part of the ADstruc’s ‘Billboards for Everyone’ campaign that partners with artists and designers to help promote creativity and innovation in the outdoor space. Very cool stuff. Check them out.

OK Go Uses the Streets of LA as a Canvas to Make Geo-Art

The crazy kids of OK Go (the guys who did the treadmill dance) are at it again.  This time, putting their creative skills to test and helping Range Rover launch a new car at the LA Auto Show today.

OK Go continue their adventures in musical innovation, collaborating with Range Rover in the Evoque Pulse of the City project to create an amazing, geo-mapping, street parade in celebration of their home city, Los Angeles.

The band are going to take to the streets with their instruments and, with the help of GPS technology and the Pulse of the City app, will make a giant geo-art OK Go sign, literally branding themselves into the fabric of the city streets.

But that’s just the beginning. Because once it’s done you’re going to get involved too, with your own streets in your own city and your own designs, using the same technology to write, draw, dance and scream out loud the things you want to tell the world about the place you live and love. When that’s done the band will pick the best ones to accompany an exclusive video launching in January 2011.

Keep track of OK Go on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to find out more details about the event.

As they say themselves, “The idea is that we are using the world as our palette and our GPS devices (mobile) as our brush.”

See, this is another perfect example of the “new” OOH.  “Screens” are all around us and technology enables the real world to switch “on.”  Brands are slowly but surely seeing this opportunity, coupled with ideas of super creative people, and starting to experiment with this always-on trend outside of the 4 walls of someone’s home.

I couldn’t help but share my favorite OK Go video, although after today, I’m sure I’ll have a new favorite.  For now, this one is awesome:

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.

Applying Technology to my OOH Basics

A couple of days ago, I shared my vision of OOH.  It’s pretty simple.  In my view, OOH is broken down into 3 buckets – categories of displays if you will – billboards, posters & kiosks.  They are separated by 3 differentiating factors – amount of information, length of engagement and potential for human interaction.

This view is important to me because of what happens when you start to add technology onto it.  What exactly does that technology do?  And what is the true impact of technology on this medium?  So, first, to show my view on the most overused moniker in the industry – Digital Out of Home (DOOH):

When you add digital to this model, you get the same exact model with just a little different shading.  It doesn’t change much other than the fact that there is now some sort of technology applied to the medium.  In this case, “digital” is just the addition of display technology.  As I’ve said before, display technologies are a finite list of technologies – LCD, LED, projection.  All it does is enable a static display to become dynamic.  For advertisers, this, of course, has a substantial impact, both with advertising-based displays/networks and non-advertising-based displays/networks.  But the true effect on the consumer’s experience isn’t drastically different.  When you apply a display technology to a billboard, you get a different type of billboard, but by and large, it has the same effect.  Ditto for posters and kiosks.  As a consumer, I’m still getting the same amount of information, I’m still engaging with it the same length of time and the potential for my interaction with it hasn’t changed.  The primary difference is that it now moves.  Is it more effective?  Maybe.  If I respond better to moving images rather than static display.  If the content is compelling.  But I don’t think it moves the needle by itself.  The true magic happens when you make OOH & DOOH interactive, which I’m calling Interactive Out of Home (IOOH).   


Now, not only is the model shaded even more differently, it takes on a completely different form.  Interactive billboards become something closer to posters.  Interactive posters become something closer to kiosks.  And kiosks become something they’ve never been.  Interactivity and the technologies that enable it have a profound impact on OOH & DOOH.  I call these technologies enabling technologies – technologies that enable personalized experiences from each of these displays.  Technologies like touch screens, motion sensors, RFID, NFC, Bluetooth, mobile and its enabling technologies like GPS, 2D/3D barcode scanners and Augmented Reality – the list is certainly larger than the display technology list, but still finite (at least right now.  I have no doubt it will grow with time.)  But they all drastically effect the experience in the same fundamental way – they enable a level of personalization that is deeper than any of these displays provide in their raw, even digital, forms.  This personalization is really the key to effective communication, which is the key to creating and sustaining relationships between brands and their audiences.  This is the special effect that I believe OOH, as a medium, can and will have on marketers and consumers in this new day and age, particularly as newer technologies are introduced.  But it’s all about the interactivity.  A traditional OOH installation can be made interactive, just as a DOOH installation can be made interactive.  In some cases, I believe the technology inherent in DOOH makes it easier to incorporate enabling technologies, but this is not always the case.  It does not need to be “digital” to include interactivity.  A perfect example of this is our QR code initiative at SXSW.  A static (non-digital) QR code was added to a static display (car, which in this case, I would consider a “poster” in my model – not that it includes a wealth of information, but a static car like that, in that type of environment, provides a level of human interaction and length of engagement similar to a traditional poster) and with the use of mobile as the enabling technology, attendees were able to experience a deeper, personal engagement with the brand.  This is why I think it’s critical to make a distinction between “digital” and “interactive” in this way.  Interactivity allows the consumer to experience more information, and engage and interact with it in a deeper way.  It is worlds different than just “digital.” 

This sort of engagement opens up an exciting and scary world of possibilities.  Brands will sooner or later understand that they can (and should) use the spaces and things around us, in our everyday lives, as effective communication tools.  It has a drastic impact on them and their ability to touch their audience anywhere they want/need.  We’re a ways off though, as you’ve heard me say before.  But make no mistake, technology – specifically enabling technologies (not display technologies) – transforms the OOH world into something that has only truly been applied in books and movies.  For now, we keep pushing and experimenting.

Cutting Through the Clutter at DSE 2010

Man, that was intense.  Particularly, the juggling of mediums to report on and with.  It’s hard to blog, Tweet, take pictures, videos, post to this site and that site in such a short amount of time.  Especially with no WiFi throughout the Convention Center.  (I could only get online in a couple of places in the Convention Center.)  It’s a process that I have not perfected by any means.  But it doesn’t take away from the fun of it all, or the knowledge gained.

That’s the big question that everyone has asked me – more than, “how much fun did you have?”, it’s “what did you learn?”  The short answer to that question is that I learned a lot.  And more importantly, I met a lot of really good, bright people, who are all advocates of this space.  You get people who are passionate about the same thing in a room and you can’t help but learn things.  But there is a longer answer to that question……

While I did learn about many things, it wasn’t necessarily all things that I cared about learning.  There’s always a lot of clutter at conventions like this and I can tell pretty quickly if it’s something that I a) care about b) want to be informed of or c) can’t process because it’s too complicated.  And I’m not necessarily talking about “complicated” as in “over my head.”  I’m talking about “complicated” as in “harder than it needs to be,” or “unnecessary.”  There was lots of clutter this week – in messages, in technology, in “stories.”  I have even contributed to the clutter, myself, with the rapid-fire regurgitation of information.  This is the first conference that I’ve reported on like this so I’m still up in the air as to the best way to balance the barrage and sharing of information with well thought-out observations and opinions.  I feel like I was much more heavily weighted on the former rather than the latter.  Just like much of this conference felt to me.

But now that I’m able to step away from it all, I am very pleased with all of the non-clutter that filled my experience.  More than anything, as I said, I learned that there are some really great, passionate people in the industry.  While this is not a new industry (digital signage has been around for a long time), it is a new medium to effectively engage and connect with people, and in that respect, we are all forging new ground here.  I feel like right now, we’re where social media was 4-5 years ago.  And just now, brands, marketers, and communicators are really starting to embrace social media and trying to use it as a tool for more than personal benefit.  We are in the infant DOOH/IOOH stages.  And we have some fantastic experts who have been doing this for many years.  I was able to meet many of those people this week and I benefited greatly from it.

My hosts were great, too.  The folks at DSE are excellent.  They are accommodating, they run a tight ship, and enable loads of access to industry experts, trends, and real-life examples.  I really appreciate everything they did for me.

The information was good, too.  I don’t know that I necessarily learned anything ground-breaking that I didn’t already know (but that’s a good thing).  It’s always good to have affirmation of thoughts, philosophies, and direction.  The resounding theme for the week was “content.”  It’s all about content, not the technology.  Perhaps it was the nature of the sessions and people that I gravitated to, but this is not about technology.  Technology is an enabler.  We have nothing without meaningful, relevant, and appropriate-for-the-medium content.  It gets back to my fundamentals – who are we talking to (audience), what are we trying to say (content), then how are we going to say it (technology)?  A huge barrier for us, as advocates of this medium, is the desire for the next “bright, shiny object” and the perception that “once I have a digital and/or interactive screen, I’ll automatically get results.”  (First of all, let’s define “results.”  But that’s for another post.)  I think there is a tremendous need for education, particularly in really utilizing this medium in the most effective ways.  Technology is certainly a big part of it, but true effectiveness lies in understanding your audience and how to reach them in the places they go “outside of their home,” which all leads back to the content.  Many people reinforced this in their own words this week.  

There was also a contingent of people who see where this medium is going and it’s not “digital.”  It’s interactive.  And as you know, by reading this blog, this is music to my ears.  It’s funny because last year when I was here, everyone was showing the latest and greatest in true digital displays.  There were big displays, thin displays, 3-D displays – all displays.  Hardly any interactive displays.  This year, it was all about interactive displays.  Single touch, multi-touch, gestural.  Interactive was hot.  But it was confined to interaction with the display screen only.  I saw very few other enabling technologies, like mobile or GPS.  The ones I saw though, (to be mentioned in the next post), made an impression on me.  I think there is a group who is behind the curve, catching up to what the audience needs in interactivity (basic touch or gestural) and then there is a group who is ahead of the curve, accounting for what the audience wants in interactivity (connection through mobile/social).  Regardless, it’s all interactive.  This is the future, make no mistake.

As far as the technology goes, I learned that there are a lot of companies doing the exact same thing.  There are many powerful solutions out there, from the displays themselves to the boxes that enable them to the systems that run them.  For the most part, they are whoosits and whatsits to me.  I want to create a certain experience and I want someone else to tell me what the best technological solution (display, box, system) is to achieve that experience.  That level of detail makes my head want to explode.  God bless the technology providers and experts.  I would just ask that there be a friendly consolidation.  Can’t we all just get along?

So there you have it.  I’m sure that I’ll have moments in the coming week that inspire me to post something that I know I forgot, but that’s a good feel for what I learned.  How’s all that for a long answer?

DOOH, Duh, or Huh?

In my opinion, the term “Digital” Out of Home, or “DOOH” is becoming widely overused.  So much so that I think it dilutes the space, minimizes the impact of what can truly be done through technology outside of the home, and ultimately, confuses people – advertisers, marketers and brands alike. 

I look at the term through a simple lense.  Digital Out of Home (DOOH), to me, is nothing more than adding display technology to an otherwise static OOH installation.  So, let’s take a billboard for instance.  The standard OOH installation is a static billboard.  The digital OOH installation is created by simply adding some sort of display technology onto the the static billboard.  This can be through LEDs (as is the case with billboards), LCDs, plasmas, or projection.  It’s a finite list, but apply any of them to any static OOH installation and voila, you now have a digital version of said installation – Digital Out of Home. 

I think it’s important to make this distinction, especially with the introduction of other technologies that make our surroundings, including these billboards, come to life.  As mentioned in a previous post, I call these sorts of technologies enabling technology.  Right now, I think it, too, is a finite list, but it’s a bigger list than display technology.  RFID, for example, is an enabling technology.  GPS is an enabling technology.  Mobile, albeit more broad, is also an enabling technology.  But within mobile, I think you start to see a subset of enabling technologies like Augmented Reality, QR Codes, MS Tags, and Bluetooth.  Then, you have touch screen technology (single and multi-touch, even gesture-based) that is on the list, too.   The point is – these technologies enable personal interactions with an otherwise digital installation.  At this level, it is not Digital Out of Home to me.

I sense more and more that the industry and many of the players in it call everything Digital Out of Home just because it occurs outside of the home through any sort of technology.  But unless we start talking about it in consistent terms, how can we expect it to catch on and even grow?  Do you agree?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.