Tag Archives: Interactive Out of Home

Self Serve vs. Human Connection

self-serve food kiosk

I spend a lot of time in the Detroit airport nowadays and last week, I encountered something interesting and little bit frustrating – a self-serve only kiosk to order your food.

In theory, this is more interesting than frustrating, but when you have 3 people – employees of the establishment – standing right behind the kiosks and no one else in line to order the food, it tipped the scale to frustrating.

There I was, in a hurry, trying to catch my flight, and within the span of 30 seconds, I could have given my order to one of the employees. And within a couple of minutes, could have gotten my meal and jet-setted to my jet. Rather, I had to spend a good 1.5-2 minutes going through the kiosk to place my order. Wait another couple of minutes to get it and viola, an experience that should have taken less than 5 minutes, suddenly took at least 5 minutes.

I’m all one for self-serve, interactive ordering and ticketing and the like. But the balance with this sort of technology, out in the real world like this, is how much is takes away from or supplements customer service. That’s right, good, old fashioned customer service.

See, I want to take care of my business quickly and efficiently. Technology like this can help. But I also have a need for some sort of human interaction, particularly if it helps me take care of my business more quickly and efficiently. When we replace one with the other, we are shifting the balance of what technology can really do for us. We are deeming it just as good, just as quick, just as efficient – if not more – than what we as humans can provide. This is scary. It’s not a complete replacement. It should be a comprehensive supplement.

The voice, the smile, the service. That’s something that a Siri-like device can give us now and in the future. It will likely be even more real. But it’s not. And it never will be. And that’s the point. Human interaction, at our core, is a consistent point of connection and that will never go away. Even when we have more and more technology and kiosks and computers and Siris.

Right now, a complete substitute is just frustrating. In the future, well….I just hope that we can hold on to that human connection.

Teenagers’ Simple Thoughts About OOH Technology

Coke's touch screen fountain

Remember this machine? You’ve probably seen them more and more in restaurants.

Last night, I was out and here’s what I overheard from 2 girls, probably 14-16 years old.

Girl 1: “This is weird.”

Girl 2: “Ahhh. Awesome.”

Then, they both promptly figured it out, got their sodas, and continued on with 14-16 year-old conversation.

Technology like this is not disruptive for this group. It is expected. And it doesn’t phase them at all.

Another (Scary) Reason that Technology Alone is Not the Answer

The case against one-way push advertising keeps getting stronger and stronger. Intuitively and based on my own experiences, I feel like the time to capture someone’s attention, certainly to the point of engaging them, is dwindling at a rapid pace. Our lives are busier, we have more and more media choices, and as such, there is a premium put on content that we will give our attention to.

But there’s not tons of research out there to back this up. This year, in fact, I’ve seen more and more centered around multi-channel use and it is something that I anticipate seeing more and more of – bigger studies, looking deeper into consumer behaviors across channels/devices/media – in the very near future.

Sometimes these studies – and corresponding results – are staggering. Like this one – “commissioned by Time Warner’s Time Inc. and conducted by Boston’s Innerscope Research. Though it had only 30 participants, the study offers at least directional insight into a generation that always has a smartphone at arm’s length and flips from a big TV set to a smaller tablet screen and back again at a moment’s notice.”

The study “found that consumers in their 20s (“digital natives”) switch media venues about 27 times per nonworking hour—the equivalent of more than 13 times during a standard half-hour TV show.” This, compared to “”digital immigrants” (consumers who grew up with old-school technologies, such as TV, radio and print, and adapted to newer ones). Immigrants switched media venues just 17 times per nonworking hour. Put another way, natives switch about 35% more than immigrants.”

Either way, there is no doubting that with the availability and adoption of so many different media choices (through technology) + our yearning to consume only what we want, the expectations of content delivery – despite what “channel” – are higher than ever. And it’s going to continue getting higher and higher.

When we think about the idea of interactive out-of-home, the places and things around us being turned “on,” and having the ability to interact with whatever we want, when we want, it’s clearer than ever that the technology alone will do nothing. It simply enables more noise or more engagement.

Question is – what are you producing? Are you producing content that just “goes” with the screen/channel? Or are you producing content that enables a deeper connection to the story? Something that is relevant and engaging? Something that is not pushed down someone’s throat?

This is where we’re going. We are a connected society who gets connected quicker and more seamlessly every day. As such, the substance of what we’re connecting with is going to always rise to the top.

This is gut and experience talking. For those of us who might need the data to be convinced, hold on. It’s not a matter of when that data will come, it’s a matter of what that data will say. Are you ready?

A New Way to Think About Interactive Out-of-Home: Project Glass

I always talk about the places and things around us having the ability to be turned on. What I have not talked about is our ability to be turned on and interact with the places & things around us. This cool, kind of creepy technology from Google – Project Glass – shows just that. With a pair of glasses, look what you can do to and with the world around you:

I can imagine a day where this is reality, but I wonder if technology like this – to this extreme – will connect us more or divide us more? When everything is enabled through technology, what happens to the human aspect? Now, multiply that by about a billion. What do you think?

Evolution – Interactive Kiosks

First, it was banks and the ATM.

Then, the airport, with self check-ins.

Then came grocery stores with self check-outs.

Now, hotels and some restaurants.

Convenience is the theme.

Technology is enabling the world around us to address our needs. This will always be the movement and we will see more and more evolutions.

The day will come soon when our desires – those that do not make our lives better because of convenience – will be enhanced through technology and the real-world around us. In the big scheme of things, it will be rapid.

Could Some of the Most Memorable OOH Executions be Counterproductive to Brands?

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

I’ve passed this tire many times over the past few months. Every time I pass it, I wonder what it signifies. So, finally on Friday, as I was passing by it again, I had a conversation with a friend who is also a local. It uncovered something interesting as it relates to the ‘experience’ of anything-out-of-home. Can the experience – in this case, the unique execution – actually be counterproductive to a brand? Here’s the conversation that leads me to question:

Mike: “What is that?”

Friend: “A big tire.”

Mike: “Right. But what does it signify?”

Friend: “I don’t know.”

Mike: “Is Uniroyal’s factory there or something?”

Friend: “No. I don’t think so. I think it’s just a billboard.”

Mike: “Hmm.”

Friend: “One of those crazy billboards.”

Mike: “Yeah.”

This is the first time, after months of passing it, I ever thought of the notion that it was an advertisement (more than a landmark). I carried on.

Mike: “I guess the problem with that is – I don’t ever remember Uniroyal.”

Friend: “Oh, yeah, you forget that part. It’s just the big tire.”

It’s just the big tire. I wonder what Uniroyal would say about that. If it is, in fact, a billboard, it’s the thing that is the most memorable. Not the brand who is bringing the thing to you.

So, this makes me wonder about big, awesome, whiz-bang things that catch our eye – and even make us stop and engage – when we’re outside of the home, captive or not. Could be that those big, awesome whiz-bang things are so big, awesome and whiz-bang that the brand either gets lost or forgotten, or even worse – not associated with the thing altogether.

The Wrong Bootcamp, if You Ask Me

Digital Signage Expo (DSE) is the largest digital signage show in the U.S. and in a couple of weeks, people are going to converge on Las Vegas to attend. I just read something touting an “NFC Bootcamp” – a half-day educational session centered around mobile’s (specifically, NFC’s) impact/integration into digital signage.

The title of the half-day session is ‘Near Field Communication: Changing the Digital Signage Value Proposition.

My first thought – when talking about changing the value proposition of digital signage, why are people so concerned about the latest, greatest technology and not concerned about how people actually communicate now through social media? Seems like that has a greater impact on the value proposition.

I’m one for exploring the latest emerging technology like NFC, particularly as it relates to maximizing the potential of digital signs/place/things around us. But to me, this is yet another example of the ‘industry’ focusing on what it wants to vs. the actual need. The thing that’s right in front of them.

I would dare say, without knowledge or experience in social media – by anyone involved in bringing digital/interactive out-of-home solutions to life – the solutions will always be unattainable at scale. Because they’ll be driven by technology whosits and whatsits and not the connections that the technology can enable.

What Children can Teach us About Simplicity, Intuition & Curiosity

It is simple – if you want to make a touch screen anything, for it to be successful, the experience must be intuitive. And if you want to make it intuitive, here’s a few suggestions:

1. Look at what Apple has done

2. Look at your mobile device(s)

3. Look at your favorite websites

4. Watch children interact with them

That’s right. Children. The key to making successful touch screen experiences might just lie in the children.

Watch how my daughter (6) works through this experience that we came across at the Dallas Zoo:

And, now, watch how my son (3) works through the same experience:

Both, intuitively know what to do – press a picture or a button. In my daughter’s case (who has had computer training), her first instinct is to look for the pointer and drag it to the button or picture. Im my son’s case (who has only had phone/iPad training), his first instinct is to press the colorful thing(s) on the screen. This particular experience was laid out in a very simple format and flow. Simplicity certainly helps.

I found it interesting that they both instantly wanted to interact with these screens. I did see a few adults interacting with the screens, but the children that I saw just wanted to touch it and play with it. I think they might liken anything touch screen to games, but their curiosity drives their wish to interact.

Isn’t it funny that our curiosity becomes much more selective as we grow older, specifically around new technology? How can we capture the curiosity of a child for an everyday, grown-up experience? We have to continue getting creative, continue pushing. But we also need to get back to basics and create things that are simple and intuitive.

Easy Encourages and Effects Engagement

Easy Encourages and Effects Engagement

I just got an iPhone and it’s awesome. Before this, I had a Droid 2. Before that, I had an HTC something or other and before that, I had a 1st generation Blackberry Storm. All this over the past 5 years.

In a matter of a couple of days, since I’ve had the iPhone, my mobile usage behavior has undergone what I would call a profound change. I’ve always been able to access more with each of my phones, and with each evolution, a little bit more and a little bit easier. It’s been a fairly steady progression since I’ve operated on all-things-other-than-iPhone. But a very rapid progression in the last couple of days. And it’s not necessarily that I’ve done SO much more than I used to; rather, if my behavior thus far (which is different, for sure) is an indication of how I will now operate in the real and virtual world, I know it’s going to be drastically different.

I can sense that the most profound change will be how I connect. With people. With products. With things. I’m not talking about connecting through features like texting (although as a caveat, my mom, a normal Baby Boomer mom – her behavior completely changed when she got her iPhone. She texts now more than ever and even that change, is a profound one when you’re talking about communications.), I’m talking about connecting through features like seamless integration into social networks and all the apps you could ever want and rich content like photo and video. Everything is just so easy.

And here’s the thing about easy – easy is an encourager. Easy makes you want to engage and explore and do things differently. It’s all about ease of use when you’re talking about adopting any sort of emerging technology.

Like any forms of interactive out-of-home.

If those who are creating ads or materials or experiences for out-of-home recognize the profound power of mobile devices – particularly the best mobile devices of today (because they will be the standard for everyone in the not-so-distant-future) – and how easy they make things, and what that could do for deeper engagement, what out-of-home is today will look drastically different in that not-so-distant-future.

When We’ll Really Get to “Interactive” Out-of-Home

In order for us to really get to the point of interacting with the places and things around us, 2 things need to happen:

1. The technology has to be there. We’re getting closer and closer every day where those things that were previously not “on” are so now.

2. People have to be comfortable using it on that scale. On any given regular day, how many times do you see someone interacting with a poster or a billboard or a kiosk? Unless it’s an ATM, I don’t. Despite how far we’ve come in a short amount of time (read: mobile), we’re still uncomfortable with any new technology, particularly when it’s out in public spaces.

But we’re not far off.

Look no further than this:

McDonalds digital playground

The digital playground. For the generation growing up right now. Their world is shaped by technology. If they’re not carrying it around by the time they’re 8, they have it at their fingertips. In schools. At homes. On playgrounds.

In short order, the technology will be there. Also in short order, the comfort, familiarity, and even more, expectation will be that of a world turned “on” by those who live, work and play in it everyday.

If you have children or just observe, look at what they’re doing sometime, especially out in the public. Chances are, you’ll see some sort of technology at their fingertips. Like it or not, this is the world they know. Like it or not, this is the world they will expect. And like it or not, this is the world that technology will give them.

Soon. Very soon.