Tag Archives: Interactive Out of Home

My Debut on Cohen on Content

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

I had a chance to meet Phil Cohen at DSE and sat down with him for one of his Cohen on Content interviews. Here is mine.

I don’t think I did a great job of explaining the convergence of “out-of-home” and content with my current agency. Since I work for a PR firm – although I think it’s the most progressive, digitally-saavy PR firm in the world – we don’t deal with traditional “digital” out-of-home and certainly not with networks. But where I’ve found incredible opportunity, particularly with the proliferation of mobile devices, is being able to turn on the things around us (cars, posters, etc.), that we use in events that we concept and support. We take a very grassroots approach to interactive out-of-home.

And the story that I was going to tell was how we basically turned a car (a thing in the real-world) into a virtual scrapbook that allowed everyone who came into contact with it to not only consume content, but create and add their own content to it. In today’s social world, brands don’t need to create all of the content themselves. Consumers are creating content themselves and sharing with their networks. This is a treasure trove of content that brands can tap into.

For anyone putting together a content and/or engagement strategy, regardless of channel/screen, consider social content. It is powerful, effective, and for the most part, free.

Aside from that, I just wish someone would have told me to look at the camera more.

Friday’s 4-1-1, Core Story Style

My story

For the next 15 days, I’m going to participate in Reverb 10. It’s an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us.

Today’s prompt – CORE STORY: What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world?

It’s the end of the year, the final thoughts, the look-ahead, the last of the 2010 Friday 4-1-1’s, and the end of the Reverb10 series, all wrapped up into 1 post. And how fitting it is, stripping things down to the core, the thing that means the most – the story.

My story here has been an exploration. I didn’t start with much of a plan or many key message pillars and certainly nothing in mind for a “year later.” It all started pretty simple. I was open. But what’s happened through the exploration is that I’ve actually formed a story. It’s a story that’s centered around this wide-open space we call Out-of-Home, but it’s not about screens or technology. It’s about INTERACTIVITY, and ENGAGEMENT, and the PLACES/THINGS AROUND US being able to be TURNED ON, and more than anything, it’s about TELLING the BRAND’S STORY. These 4 themes have surfaced to the top in my exploration and it’s here – with these 4 themes – that I want to focus exploring more in the coming year. These are the core themes to my story. So, today’s Friday 4-1-1 is dedicated to them.

1. INTERACTIVITY – From the beginning, I’ve latched onto the concept that Interactive Out-of-Home is markedly different than Digital Out-of-Home. They’re both centered around technology, but different types of technology that do different types of things. I believe that you can make anything interactive, be it from a digital experience or not. But what deems something truly “interactive?” Is it just the fact that a consumer can take some sort of an action? Or is it deeper than that?

2. ENGAGEMENT – Interactivity and Engagement go hand-in-hand. Once something is interactive, it could be implied that it’s engaging. But not so fast. One does not necessarily make the other. The two are linked, yes, but true brand engagement might not be accomplished by simply taking an action. All actions are not created equal. If brands understand where consumers are in the funnel, they can drive true, meaningful brand engagement, all through some level of interactivity. Can this only happen with some scientific formula and an endless well of content?

3. PLACES/THINGS AROUND US TURNED “ON” – This is probably the most nebulous theme of them all, but I believe it’s just because we’re still quite a ways in front of the curve. In 2010, we saw bikes with brains. Trees that could talk. And interactive cars. But these are the exception. Technology is rapidly developing to the point where anything can be turned “on.” Will we see more and more places/things around us taking the place of physical “screens” in 2011? Or will we see more actual screens?

4. TELLING THE BRAND’S STORY – In college, me and my buddy had dreams of becoming the next Coen Brothers filmmaking dynamic duos. He’d direct, I’d write, and we’d both produce. It fit our skillsets and our passions perfectly. So, we grinded through the grind for many years trying to make that dream a reality, but in the end, it just wasn’t meant to be (ironically enough, he heads the film/video division for our company!) Every once in awhile, I get the itch to write another movie. I just haven’t been able to devote the long periods of time that it calls for with everything else going on in my life (I keep telling myself “when the kids are older.”) But over this holiday season, I’ve thought alot about that type of storytelling – the type with a beginning, middle, and end – compared to the brand type of storytelling – the type that’s structured around key messages and evolves over time – and how brands could write their story like a movie. It’s compelling and I’m going to dive deeper into it in the future. Can transmedia work for an automaker the same way it can work for a movie franchise? What does social media do to the story?

“Uh-huh” – At the end of the day, from a brand’s perspective, it’s all about building relationships with consumers. These four themes are at the heart of doing just that. It’s not easy to do, but I want to uncover who’s doing a good job at it vs. who isn’t, especially when they’re reaching people outside of their home.

“Duh” – I hope to not write as much about QR codes in the coming year. Yes, they provide a level of interactivity and engagement, and in some cases, drive the consumer deeper into the brand experience, but the complete solution – from a brand’s POV – needs to be improved. Mobile and Out-of-Home are linked together, and hopefully we’ll see more and more rich experiences involving the two. I’ve got to relax on the QR codes.

So there you have it. I’m excited about this direction in 2011. Thank you all for joining me on this exploration. Your readership and support means an incredible amount to me. I truly appreciate every one of you. I hope you all have a safe, enjoyable and prosperous new year! See you on the flipside.

My Out-of-Home Picture Drawings

For the next 15 days, I’m going to participate in Reverb 10. It’s an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us.

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

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

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

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

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

So, here is my version of AWARENESS OOH:

Awareness Out of Home

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

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

Engagement Out of Home

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

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

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

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

Out & About: Kohl’s Kiosk

Remember those boots that I talked about my wife finding at JC Penney, the last time I wrote an Out & About (their “Find More” kiosk)? Well, they really didn’t work out – they weren’t the right boots. So, the past couple of weeks have been “mission-on” again to find the right boots. She/we’ve searched offline and online at virtually every store to find these boots, and finally, at our local Kohl’s, we found what seemed to be a solid substitute – the perfect combination of style, color, versatility, and something that can’t be overlooked insofar as women’s shoes go – price. As was the case at JC Penney, while my wife found boots, I found another example of Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) – the Kohl’s Kiosk.

This was some kiosk, if you ask me. They seem to be getting better and better, the more I see. My first impression was positive, but I had to put it up against the scorecard to get the full picture. So, let’s take a look.

Purpose – the common purpose for all of these in-store kiosks is to obviously drive the consumer to purchase. Those are the table stakes – you want to put a kiosk like this in a store – how is going to help the store drive sales? Once that question is answered, I think it’s important to also understand if & how the kiosks are making the shopping experience easier for the consumer and in any way, making the life of the store employee better. It stands to reason that if the kiosk accomplishes those goals, they’re going to drive a fair amount of sales. So, it is here – both in making the consumer’s experience easier and the employee’s life better. These kiosks are a price-checker, in-store catalog, and check-out machine all in one. What else do you need, other than human-to-human contact? This is an element that shouldn’t be overlooked, but I think now more than ever, consumers are more purposeful shoppers vs. casual shoppers. They know what they want and don’t need a lot of help & interaction when they’re in this mindset. All they really need is the Kohl’s Kiosk.

Drama – I think these are fabricated and located just right. They’re not obnoxious in their form, but they’re prominent and noticeable. They don’t block any major traffic areas, but they’re convenient to access via those major traffic areas. In our local Kohl’s, I saw 2 of these kiosks (1 in the shoe department, 1 near the frames), and they were both next to/facing the isle, and whether or not you were looking, you were bound to notice them. The smart thing in their form – they occupy space from floor to ceiling, all of the interaction points are well-placed (touchscreen at eye/torso level and price-scanning/check-out at waist level), and include multiple awareness points (high above the clothes and fixtures, there is a 4-sided “Kohl’s Kiosk” sign and again, at eye level, there is a looping animation with a clear “Touch Screen” indicator/call-to-action). Everything about the form and placement seems to be well thought-out and purposeful.

Usability – blah. I understand that these kiosks need to access the real-time database and as a result, are going to run a little bit slower than I’d like. This is probably not an issue to the average consumer. All in all, considering the vast inventory, it wasn’t bad at all. I just hate seeing the arrow & hourglass. They modified this experience from their website experience, namely to adjust to the touchscreen form. The buttons were big enough and spaced out nicely. The information was presented in a clear, easy-to-use way, and the navigation was intuitive (no different than a good web experience). I also liked the fact that they had a global navigation menu docked to the bottom of the screen that allows the user to access any of the main categories in a click.

Interactivity – this was a single user, single touch experience and for the most part, the touchscreen was responsive. The true value in this kiosk, for me, comes in the form of the other interactive elements, aside from its touchscreen. Consumers have the ability to take any piece of merchandise with a UPC tag and scan it. In return, they’ll see the price, the quantity, and where in-store it’s located. In addition, to take it one step further, if the consumer wants to pay out via credit/debit card straight from the kiosk, they have that ability to do that, too. Important to note – this means that these systems must tie to the store’s POS system, which means there is a level of complexity and integration to the solution, which means this was not an afterthought. Impressive.

Information – A+ on all of the product information and access to the in-store and online merchandise. If you want it at Kohl’s, you can get it through this kiosk. But I’m still not seeing a consistent social integration through these. There are many ways to approach this, from being able to access the brand’s social presences, to allowing the consumer to “like” a particular product, to letting them “share this” to their own social communities after purchasing a product, to consumer/social reviews. I hope to see more of this type of content in future iterations of these in-store experiences.

Personalization – no real personalization to speak of through the kiosks, but they have an incredible opportunity to do something special via a loyalty program or simply through their credit cards. The card-scanning mechanism is already in place. With a couple of back-end hooks, they could make this a unique experience for their most loyal customers.

Hands-down, this is the most versatile in-store kiosk I’ve seen this year. I think it should be a model for retailers who are considering one of these in their store. I anticipate seeing more social integration in the coming year. An interesting thought that hit me this morning – I’ve seen and reviewed experiences like this in stores like Walmart, Target, JC Penney, and Kohl’s – staples in middle-class America shopping. Exposing these consumers to technology like this and getting them comfortable with it not only shows confidence in what they consumer will do/interact with, it is also gives us hope that this could be something that is adopted by the masses sooner rather than later.

Have you seen any of these kiosks? What were your impressions? Would love to hear them!

Offering Up Real Value

50/50.  I think that’s my success rate so far this year on this blog.  And that might even be too generous on the “success” side, I don’t know.  But I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I’m offering here, and I just feel like I’ve missed the mark at least half of the time.

It all begins and ends with value.  I talk to my clients about this every day and there are many posts on these pages that talk about the same thing.  But when I step back and ask myself if I’m offering value on this blog, I don’t come away with an overwhelming majority of “yeses.”   I think now, more than ever, there are many “experts” in many fields and they all talk about things like they know it all.  I’d lump myself into this group, although I’ve never claimed to be an expert on anything.  But I’m here, in this forum, offering up my opinion and chiming in on many things.  But I think there is a big difference between talking about and actually doing.  That’s how one really becomes an “expert” – by doing.  And it’s not just a “I-did-it-once-so-I’m-an-expert” type of thing.  It’s doing it many times over a period of months and years.  Think of the 10,000 rule.

So, from this perspective, I feel like I have a lot of value to offer.  I’ve been working in the “digital” business for over 10 years now, in the “storytelling” business for ~17 years (since I was in college) and in the “living-and-working” business for well over half of my life.  And, as I said when I started this blog, I spent the last 4 years of my life developing software for an Interactive Out-of-Home solution.  And now, since I’ve been with FH, we’ve been doing things in and out of the social space, in and out of the digital space, and even in and out of the home.  All of this to say that I feel like I have something to offer – otherwise, I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s time.  But I don’t feel like I do as good a job as I should be here with imparting my experience and learnings.  So, this is a renewed commitment to take it to the level of trying to provide real value in everything I write from this point on.

I’m going to CETW next week and rather than just provide a regurgitation of the sessions I attend, I’m going to spend more time doing things like talking to the exhibitors and learning about who does what and who does it well.  I’m afraid I’ll hear more of what I normally hear – “we do it all, soup to nuts” – but I’ll try to cut through all that and get to the core of other people’s value.

Friday’s 4-1-1, Fast Company Style

Today marks a milestone of accomplishment here on this blog – for the first time ever, I have blogged every day this week! I hope everyone’s enjoyed the posts. I have my own opinions on blogging and everything behind it and at the end of the day, I’m just another voice in the sea of opinions that now have access to be heard. I don’t really like to write here unless I feel like my perspective is beneficial (and no, I don’t feel like it’s beneficial on everything, and I’m sure I’ve missed the mark here, on a number of occasions) – this week, I saw many different things that I really wanted to write about and share. So, today, I hope to close the week out strong, at least semi-strong.

I’m a huge fan of Fast Company and I’m a little sour to admit that I still don’t have an iPad. I’m kicking it old school with the print magazine – hence, today’s 4-1-1 is inspired by this month’s edition of Fast Company:

1. Ford continues to use enabling technology – still being a print magazine guy, I see MS Tags on most every one of Ford’s print ads, just like this:

The site that it sends you back to is nothing impressive, but it is driving consumers deeper into the brand.  And I still maintain that as long as you’re using print, why not include tags like this?  It just makes all the sense in the world.  I love the fact that they’ve chosen MS Tags, the scanning code/technology that I believe is the easiest, device-agnostic, user-friendly to use.

2.  Why Environmental Activists Embrace Social Media – this article specifically talks about PR and social media and BP being caught with their pants down.  Obviously very interesting for me to read, being that I work for the largest PR company in the world.  Here’s what I say to any company about social media (in addition to the points made in this article that I agree with) – you need to create a baseline of a presence, regardless of the climate of the industry and what your competitors are doing.  In other words, start with something – a blog, for instance – that allows you to get your voice out there and establish a baseline of presence and credibility.  That way, god forbid something happens and you need to respond to crisis (just as BP did), you’re not forced to go 0-60 in a day.  Even now, there are many companies who don’t want to get involved with social media unless they’re “forced” to (ie – when they need to deal with a crisis).  It’s hard to react to something critical when you haven’t even defined your presence.  And it takes time.

3.  The Ultimate Guide to Rapper Names (Infographic) – I’m a visual person.  I love infographics.  As you can see (follow the link to see infographic), “Lil”, names centered around “Royalty” and “Criminals” are some of the most popular.  What a world we live in.

4.  Online Retailers’ $44 Billion Customer Experience Problem (Another Infographic) – pretty cool stuff shown here.  The point is (aside from poor design/workflow in online shopping experiences) – many people don’t like to bother with going in stores.  They’d rather do it online, in the convenience of their own surroundings.  I’d love to see something like this showing the impact on digital/interactive Out of Home that allows consumers to shop outside of their home, without going into the store.  We’ll get there.  Still, the digital shopping experience can’t be ignored.  (Images look better on the Fast Company site vs. here, so check it out there).

“Uh-huh” – “Heroes” Creator Tim Kring Looks to the Future – I found this article fascinating.  #1 – I like the term “transmedia” which as he puts it, is a “fancy word at this point for a simple concept:  telling stories across multiple platforms.”  What I always talk about!!  And #2 – what I like even more, he follows that up with, “It will be a short-lived word, because it’ll just become the norm – the trans will stop and it’ll just be media”.  Wow, this dude is dialed in and he gets it on a level that I believe few people do.  His ideas are no doubt cool.  And although I didn’t watch every episode of Heroes and follow the different stories across all of the channels, it was a groundbreaking way to extend and evolve a story across multiple platforms.  (Just as Lost did as well).  #3 – what really got me thinking is, in agencies, particularly new agencies of the future – the gold might be in finding storytellers of the filmmaking nature vs. “creatives” specializing in design or copywriting.  Hmm.

“Duh” – Technology Changes the Face of Politicking – I don’t know if this is a “duh,” really.  But I don’t know that I really get the level of the true impact that politicians think that geo-location services like Gowalla actually make.  I like Gowalla and have worked with them multiple times before, and I’m happy that they’re exploring a new arena, but I don’t know how this is going to be the next social media “game changer.”  Seems a little strong to me.  Would love to hear your thoughts, though, if you feel differently.

So, there you go.  Closing out the week (semi-) strong.  Happy weekend, everyone!

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!

My First Friday 4-1-1

In an effort to write more regularly, I’m going to implement something that every other blogger on the planet does – a regular series.  It’s called the Friday 4-1-1.  And here’s how it breaks down:

Each week, on Friday, I’ll highlight 4 stories/events/implementations that I’ve seen during that week and give my impressions.  On top of that, I’ll highlight the best “uh-huh” (rockin’) thing I’ve seen and the worst “duh” (what were they thinking?) thing I’ve seen.  And we’ll see how it works.  So, here we go.

1. Interactive Technology to Enhance Museum Experience – an affiliate museum of the Smithsonian, The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Washington state, is piloting a “Passport to Discovery” project that sounds a lot like the myLOC passport system (set up in the Library of Congress).  Solid idea – make the user’s experience smarter each time they visit, based on their actions/interactions from the last visit, but my question is – how much of a pain is it to keep track of a passport-like tchotchke?  I would either lose it, forget it, or be annoyed that I have to sift through my catch-all drawer every time I need it.  Tie this into the one thing that people keep track of and don’t leave home without – their mobile phone – and you have something.

2. Google Introduces Branded Map Icons – simple – brands can now “brand” their locations into Google maps.  For OOH/DOOH/IOOH, brands can benefit in a major way.  They not only benefit from the brand recognition when Google maps is integrated into a digital/interactive sign, they benefit from the native functionality that allows users to automatically click-through to details about the brand.  I’m big on driving deeper brand experiences through all mediums, particularly OOH/DOOH/IOOH, and this is an example of an API unlocking that feature.  This feature has been available before now, but for a brand, there is a big difference from their location being tagged by a grey dot and being tagged by their logo, especially on an interactive sign, when you want to make it as enticing as possible.  Of course, this feature is only available to paying brands (using this as a form of advertising).  :)

3. Eye Expands Mobile Marketing at Malls, Sans “Big Brother” Effect – this is cool, but I just wonder for the end-consumer, if they make any distinction with geo-location ads.  The average consumer probably thinks it’s still creepy, regardless of “how” it’s done.  EYE and Ace Marketing & Promotions are working a system based on phone proximity, nothing GPS-related.  Here’s where I think digital/interactive signage (I don’t even think you’d need a “digital” sign) serves an ideal purpose – the sign is the bridge between the smart-but-creepy ad and the not-knowing-and-wary consumer.  Imagine in a mall, you walk up to a sign that lets you know what to expect on your phone – in terms of store advertisements – just because you’re “in the area.”  Viola, without doing anything other than being in that place, you’re pleasantly delighted when you look at your phone and see that Gap is having a sale on jeans.  You don’t walk away creeped out.  We need as much of this “non-creepy” interaction/advertising as possible right now – it will only help in the acceptance of digital/interactive signs (that have the potential to be very smart).

4.  Seahawks Utilize iPad Kiosks for Fan Registration – first, I can’t wait for football to begin next Thursday.  Second, anytime interactive technology and football are mentioned in the same sentence, my ears perk up.  So, I was delighted to read about the Seattle Seahawks building kiosks with iPads to “register over 20,000 fans” at their training camp this summer.  Sounds like they were also able to allow the fans to experience some premier content, which I would fully expect on devices like that.  I think this is a great, relatively cost-effective solution to explore when wanting an interactive out-of-home solution.  Take a $800 sophisticated piece of hardware & software, build a nice unit around it and you have yourself a feature-rich, well-functioning IOOH solution.

“Uh-huh” – I give this the “uh-huh” head nod each time I see it.  Imagine what could be done with this interactive film – The Wilderness Downtown – in an out-of-home setting?  Not only would the current iteration be sticky enough for people to stop, interact, and gather around, it sure would be cool to integrate the point where people are interacting with it and the point where they ultimately go (their hometown house).  That idea goes against what I said earlier about the “creepiness” factor, but it would be cool.

“Duh” – I don’t know if this is the right word for this category.  Nor do I know if it’s a “what were they thinking” category.  I just know it’s opposite of the cool, “uh-huh” category.  But this week’s installment of the un-cool comes in the form of QR codes.  And not one specific implementation.  Just as an overall solution.  I saw this one and this one, not to mention this one in a magazine I was reading:

Now, look, there’s not another enabling technology that I’ve written about more than QR codes, but the more I learn, read, see, not to mention actually work with QR codes and other mobile technologies, the more I question whether or not the average consumer knows what the heck to do with them.  It’s all about the audience – the JFK/Twitter example will probably get more interaction because Twitter, in and of itself, does not attract the “average” consumer, but I just might be at the point of QR code over saturation.  Good to see so many examples this year, but are they working?  Jury is still way out.

So, there you have it.  My first Friday 4-1-1.  What do you think?

Out & About: DFW Airport’s Touch Screen

I recently travelled to/from Detroit and saw various IOOH experiences in both airports (Detroit & DFW).  I’m always trying to catch standby on earlier flights out of Detroit so I have yet to stop and capture those IOOH experiences.  I’ve seen two different ones there and every time I’ve gone by each of them (since last October), no one is interacting with them.  I keep telling myself that next time I’m here, I’m going to capture them.  Next time.

When I got back to Dallas, I passed these touchscreen experiences in the baggage claim area.  I’ve passed these thousands of times and just like Detroit, I haven’t ever seen anyone interact with them.  So I decided this night, I would give them a run and see what they had to offer.

Some good, some bad.  Let’s break it down.

Purpose – clearly, the purpose is to help travelers find “things to do” in the DFW area – Accomodations, Dining, Transportation, Shopping, and City Attractions.  I think this is a good idea, but I wish each category had more content.  From the standpoint of accomplishing its purpose, I’d say it halfway did because it shows me things to do, but it doesn’t show me everything I can do.  It suffers from a lack of deep content.

Drama – well, as you can see by the entire, wall-length unit, there’s no missing the fact that this is the place to find information about the area.  The screens within the unit get lost, but I do like the fact that there is a big, static map.  That, in and of itself, could attract visitors, then they’d see the touchscreen.  Once they see that, even though it’s up in the top corner, there’s a blinking red call-to-action enticing (doesn’t it scream enticing) people to “Select a Category.”

Usability – this is a web-based experience and the paths throughout the experience were linear.  There is only one way to go until you dead-end and even then, you only have a few options (Learn More, Print, etc..).  It’s simple.  This type of experience is good for the everyday visitor/user.  If anyone ever interacted with this thing, I have to believe they could navigate where they wanted to go pretty easily.

Interactivity – this was touch-based only (single-touch) and was very responsive.  Once I got into the experience, I wish everything (like the map) was “clickable” but for the most part, this reacted exactly as I would expect.

Information – this is where I feel the experience really fell down.  If this is to enable visitors to find the things to do in DF, it doesn’t completely deliver.  It certainly doesn’t deliver on the best things to do in DFW (which would be a great category).  As you can see, the first hotel area that I selected didn’t have any listings.  This isn’t right.  I’m not completely familiar with airport/city partnerships, but the DFW metropolitan area has multiple websites from which to pull the information for this experience – any of them would make this experience richer than it is.  The one nice surprise was on one of the “Transportation” printouts.  Using this kiosk, I am able to redeem the printout for $2.00 off on my return trip.  In theory, this is a good way to get repeat service, but they are missing a huge opportunity for business by not advertising this deal in this experience.  I wouldn’t have known that I could get this discount if I didn’t randomly select this particular path.  (It would also be a great way to get people to interact with the entire experience – other companies could offer the same thing.)

Personalization – this discount ticket was the extent of personalization in this experience.  It’s a step in the right direction, but as a user, if I don’t know that this offer is waiting for me, I’m likely not going to ever see it.

As a bonus, I stopped by a kiosk at the end of the “Welcome to DFW” unit to see what it had to offer, and as you can see, it’s different content.  I question whether or not they need to be different or if they could just be lumped into the same experience.  From an experience standpoint, it could easily be integrated and not hamper the current experience.

All told, interactive touchscreens with this sort of information in airports are a great idea.  But the execution here is lacking on a number of fronts.  Pull me to it, attract me, give me an impression of the city by this experience, and make me want to find out this sort of information through this channel vs. something like my mobile phone.  Yes?

What a Baseball Great can Teach Brands

Yesterday, Bob Sheppard – the longtime, great NY Yankees announcer – passed away and left behind a huge void for Yankees, baseball, and sports fans alike.  As someone who’s gone to many Yankees games and heard his voice, the man was awesome.  And anyone who was involved with sports and baseball over the past half century would probably say that there’s no one better.  He was even called the “Voice of God” (by one of my personal favorites, Reggie Jackson).  His voice was that distinctive.  His presence was that profound.

I heard a soundbite from him this morning talking about his viewpoint on announcing.  He basically said that today’s announcers are loud and flamboyant, but his own view on announcing has never changed – he’s approached it in simple terms from the time he started:  he aimed to always be, “clear, concise, and correct.”

Even though this isn’t an announcement from one of his games, you can hear him in action – clear, concise, and correct.

Distinctive, right?  And timeless.

Does your brand or the brand(s) you represent have a distinctive voice?  For that matter, do you?  Do people know who you are and what you represent when they “hear” you?  Is your voice clear, concise, and correct?

This can be a challenge for brands, even established brands who have been around a long time.  As I said at Kioskcom, the most successful brands at utilizing various channels, particularly the 11th screen (IOOH), are those who not only understand their audience, they understand their brand.  They know their voice.  They are distinctive in the marketplace, so they can use whatever channel needed to tell their story in the most effective way.

Social media adds a unique element into this mix.  The very nature of it allows for other voices to be heard in concert with the brand’s, and in the case of launch (or re-launch) brands who are in the process of defining their “official voice,” it can either help inform and define or hinder and prolong definition.  When undefined, it can surface a distinctive voice or it can muddy the waters.  And no matter how flamboyant or loud you are, I don’t believe you (or your brand) can sustain.

In the end, if you approach your brand like Bob Sheppard approached announcing – with the intention of always being clear, concise, and correct – you might have a great shot of being a distinctive voice in the marketplace and one with a profound presence.  And that, my friends, is timeless, and something that can be sustained.