Last week, I read an intriguing article by Garrick Schmitt of Razorfish, titled How Demand for Physical Experiences is Transforming our Physical Spaces. In it, he points out how the entire physical world around us is becoming a screen and that consumers’ expectations have reached a point to where that physical world should be turned on in some form or fashion. This is a viewpoint that I have mostly gotten behind many times on this blog. I say mostly because of those consumer expectations. I’m not sure that, even now, in August 2011, consumers expect the physical spaces around them to be turned on, and even more, transformed into interactive experiences. I don’t know that average consumer capacity is ready for that. What do you think?
Guess when that article was written? 2 years ago, in September 2009. Awesome. In my opinion, Schmitt has always been on the forefront of these technology-led experiences in the real world around us. This is case-in-point.
I remember back during that time, it was around the time that I was leading the software development at imc2, for our interactive Out-of-Home solution. I always admired how Schmitt recognized the potential – and future demand – for these types of experiences.
Time is a funny thing, especially in regards to technology adoption. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re talking about here. Consumer demand is directly tied to their comfort level with any particular technology. We’re just now seeing smartphone use creep their way up to the majority. Smartphones have been around for years. But just now, after all these years, the average consumer is not intimidated by them. They know how to work them and, even more, know how they can make their lives better. It also helps that everyone can now afford them. Kinect is another great example. I wonder how comfortable people would have been with the idea of gesture control, at such an immersive level, two years ago?
In the article, Schmitt points to “Out-of-Home” examples that are driven by enabling technologies (mobile and RFID) and people themselves (social media).
I think it’s easy to think about touchscreen-this-and-that when you think about the world around us being turned on. But, as shown in the Schmitt article, and in some of the more recent engaging examples, actual public touchscreens are not part of these experiences. The place or the thing is the canvas and the interactivity is controlled outside of it, either through mobile phones or computers.
The effective thing with all of these examples – and the thing that I think we can all learn from – is that consumers want it all, in the most convenient way. What I mean is, consumers want information and connections and whatever else they deem valuable. And they’re always going to be driven by what they’re comfortable with because it’s usually the easiest. They’re used to being on computers, connecting with other people through their social networks. They’re used to navigating to whatever they want on their mobile phones. Are they used to walking up to a touchscreen and interacting with it?
As you can see, the experience spans the front of an entire NYC building. It’s obviously noticeable. Consumers are enticed by it. And, by the looks of this video, comfortable enough to go up and play with it.
Having lived and worked in NYC, to get anyone to stop and interact with a storefront, is a feat in and of itself.
Yes, people can also interact with this experience through their mobile phone. But this is largely a public-facing, touchscreen experience. And it doesn’t seem like anyone in the video is a) intimidated or b) unaware of how to use it.
Is this indicative of Anytown USA?
QR codes. What can be simpler? In the past year, they’ve gone from nothing to everything, at least in terms of visibility. My wife knows that “those are the things you can scan with your smartphone.”
They’re a great bridge between the real world with the virtual world and quite effective of turning those places/things around us “on.”
They’re everywhere now.
But the question is, despite their simplicity, why am I the only one who I ever see scan them?
Simplicity and comfort are not the only two linchpins to this demand that we all know is coming. You can bring up the Minority Report analogies all you want, but this is not a far-fetched representation of our future world. Glorified, perhaps. But not unrealistic.
Two years ago, all of these interactive Out-of-Home activations were novel enough to garner attention. Are we still in that novel stage?
Value. That’s really the question, right?
In this constantly-on physical world, what’s going to be noise and what’s going to be valuable?
I’ve explored many examples of what I would consider to be the 11th Screen solutions here – those that are in some way interactive, by nature, and occur outside of the four walls of your home or office. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the result of interactivity outside of your home is bridging the real world with the virtual world. And as you might have seen here, or observed on your own, there are many different ways that the bridge can be built.
I think one of the simplest examples of this bridge is Redbox (the red movie kiosks). I’m sure you’ve all seen many different Redboxes along your daily journey. I probably have 6 of them on my way to the train station to/from work. In many ways, Redbox is the quintessential 11th Screen example. It’s an Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) solution that is enabled by touch. You don’t have to own the device to participate in the experience. It’s a solution that has achieved (mass) scale and perhaps most of all, it’s a revenue generator. There might not be a better utilitarian kiosk solution out there.
Recently, I’ve noticed a few additions to the Redbox kiosks near me and I find them fascinating. Because they’re scratching the surface of becoming effective multi-channel devices. They’re only scratching the surface, though, and I wonder if Redbox is at crucial tipping point. With the introduction and accessibility of live streaming through services like Netflix, the act of renting movies is becoming more and more about the convenience than anything else – more than the true cost associated, more than the experience, and more than the physical disk. And while Redbox has served as a convenient and accessible utilitarian device, the game is constantly changing, in terms of technology and consumer expectation. So, these additions that Redbox has introduced and continues to explore are good, but they have some bad and just plain ugly characteristics that they need to address – and in short order – to have a chance in this rapidly evolving technological world of ours.
First, let me start with the GOOD – as I mentioned, I’ve noticed their effort to become more accessible cross-channel. It makes perfect sense because the one thing that everyone carries with them when they’re outside of their homes is their mobile phone. So, they’re likely to have it right there with them when they interact with the Redbox kiosks. Over the weekend, I saw a special promotion on the front of the Redbox kiosks that drove people to use a SMS shortcode for special offers.
This is not a new tactic, but an effective one, especially for a physical kiosk like Redbox. The shortcode promotion instantly provides another channel to drive people back to the kiosk.
In addition to the shortcode, Redbox is using QR codes to make it easy on people to download the Redbox mobile app for iPhone and Android.
There could be a better way to drive people to the apps, but say what you will about QR codes, they provide instant, easy access directly to the app. And I think they’re more actionable than a standard text call-to-action.
Once you download it, the app is pretty handy. It shows you all of the Redboxes in your vicinity and allows you to search movies, which is an important feature since they’re not stocked with the newest releases right off the bat (which I think is one of the major downfalls).
All in all, these two extensions/gateways through mobile are both solid ways to keep people connected to the Redbox experience and drive them deeper in it.
But in my opinion, they are missing a major piece as it relates to connection, which is the glaringly BAD. Watching movies is a social activity. Where are any of the social hooks in the Redbox experience?
In many ways, the Redbox experience is a 1.0 web experience. There are no ways to connect with other people with similar interests, yet the sheer act of watching movies is a shared interest. What would this experience look like if the sign-up mechanism were initiated through Facebook Connect? Not only would sign-up be streamlined, people would have the ability to instantly let their friends/family know what they’re watching, what they like or dislike, and even tell or see others what they think about the movies. And I think that’s just the beginning of something like that.
IntoNow – the audio-recognition mobile app – does a good job of providing a deep experience on a seemingly surface-type of action. There, once you check-into the show that you’re watching, you have the ability to learn more about the show, the actors, the episodes, etc. They include a direct link to imdb.com, which is a deep experience into itself, especially for movie buffs. They’ve gone beyond the audio recognition and incorporated many smart social features, more than just sharing. What if Redbox had some sort of check-in and/or deeper “learn-more” experience like IntoNow?
Maybe Redbox has done just fine the way it’s been operating, in its 1.0 experience. But aren’t we at the point where playing the game has gotten more intense? Aren’t consumer expectations way beyond this type of experience?
I know I want more.
Then, there’s the UGLY. Redbox is an efficient machine. The fabrication and engineering of the box is really top notch. I think it’s a model for so many self-serve kiosks. But in all its glory, what is up with the sun flap?
That is the most awkward piece of fabric that I’ve ever had to deal with – even more than the baby sun shades for your car. If they would just create a simple latch, the process of renting movies in the sunlight would be so much more enjoyable.
The sun flap is an afterthought. And afterthoughts, to me, are short-term solutions. And short-term solutions tend to turn into headaches. This is what I think Redbox is dealing with now. A headache that perhaps they don’t want to get rid of.
But here’s the question – in the game of convenience, why create an experience that might just be good enough? In the end, that’s what I walk away from Redbox with – it’s a good experience.
As marketers and communicators, I think balance is key to so many things we do. I’m going to explore some of those things here, over the coming days. My first post was around the balance between sales & relationships (marketing & communication). Today’s is one of the favorite topics among my colleagues and myself – the balance between personalization and privacy.
One of the common themes here at the 11th Screen is the ability for consumers to connect with each other and the brands they love all the time, especially when they’re out and about, on-the-go. We don’t need physical screens outside of the home (“digital signs”) to deliver messages and enable engagement. The places and things around us have the ability to be turned on and it’s more of an exercise in strategy & creativity (in how to connect consumers) than it is in figuring out technology.
The notion that the real and virtual world can be more hyper-connected than it is today (which is light years more than it ever has been in the past) is something that is both exciting and scary. It’s exciting because:
We can talk to anyone, anytime, on/through multiple devices, and we like this
We aren’t confined to a computer screen or a TV screen to connect and engage, and we like this
Mobile, to me, is becoming the screen of choice. And it doesn’t have to be a mobile phone – iPad anyone? And this is what we want.
We can efficiently fulfill tasks that previously required us to go to a store, stand in lines, and deal with people (see Redbox, or better yet, see Netflix streaming service on your TV), and we like this
We can, essentially, control the terms of engagement with everything and everyone in our lives. While we might have a different level of control placed on friends/family than we do services/brands, the major benefit for all of this is that we’re having to alter our lifestyle less and less. It’s just easy. All of these connections now fit into our crazy, busy, on-the-go lifestyle. (This actually opens up another balancing act, which is disconnecting while always being connected – we’ll get to that in another post.)
From a brand & marketer/communicator standpoint, with this hyper-connection comes the potential to hyper-target. Outside of the computer. It provides the ability to personalize experiences based on past experience, preferences, demographic, and a slew of other personal data. “Right message at the right time” is something that I hear all the time in the digital signage circles. This is not a new concept, but it gets everyone excited with the possibility of truly reaching people with the right message at the right time, regardless of where they are. This is one of the things I find most exciting about the true potential of interactive out-of-home (IOOH). Right now, I think everyone would agree that there’s a lot of noise out there. Even on the web. But certainly when you’re outside of your home. Personalization helps reduce the noise.
But herein is the balancing act – personalization requires consumers loosening their grip on (potentially many) aspects of their privacy. And this is the scary thing about an always-on, hyper-connected world. This has a tendency to freak people out. Rightfully so. There are some creepy things that happen out there on the web and it doesn’t take many stories to scare people into not exploring or completely shutting down. This behavior is counterproductive to the potential of the new out-of-home. If no one will interact with the places and things around us, those places and things will be rendered worthless.
Here’s my take on privacy – if you can experience the benefit of giving up more information about yourself, you’re more likely to, in favor of a better experience. But you’ve got to experience it. And it’s got to benefit you.
I think Facebook and LinkedIn have done a wonderful job of letting people experience the benefits of giving up more of their private information. Facebook makes connections seem seemless, particularly around interests. LinkedIn enables you to connect very specifically with the type of people you want to connect with. Both are more powerful for you with more of your information. This power is in the personalization.
So, does it just boil down to benefit and experience? I’m afraid not. I think we still have a ways to go until giving up more personal information than less is the norm. I think technology will drive a lot of this, as it has in the past few years, but people don’t want to be creeped out. It’s just that simple. They want to feel safe. At the same time, whether or not they can verbalize it, I think they want to reduce the noise.
Transparency always helps. Utilizing systems where people have given personal information (Facebook) is good, too. This enables the experience to be seemless and easy. Education will be critical, especially from all of those involved in the out-of-home channel, because those turned-on-places-and-things-around-us can positively effect our daily lives. It’s going to require personal information, though.
As much as I talk about personalization, it’s important to realize anything can only be made personal through information. And that’s letting go of pieces of privacy. And that’s the balance that we all have to find.
So, that’s my take. What about yours? I’d love to hear it!
RFID technology is great for utility. Walmart uses it to track inventory. Companies use it to allow employees access to parking garages and office buildings. Hotels use it for the same, and even enable purchases through it (more on that in a bit). For utility, it’s a smart & efficient technology. But how many times have you actually seen RFID used to create experiences? The only two I can think of are Mini’s customized billboard messages and The Great Piggy Bank Adventure at Epcot Center. For whatever reason, it’s a hard technology to implement at scale. (The technology is relatively cheap now – not a huge barrier – but it requires multiple pieces of hardware to work. And proximity plays a part, too.) But it sure can do some cool things. Right now, on my family vacation, I’m seeing, firsthand, another one of those examples.
My family and I are vacationing at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. I’ve heard stories about how they use RFID for everything here, but I’ve never made my way out to check it all out myself. Until now. Those stories are true. They use it for everything. And it fulfills a utility need as well as an experience one.
First, on the utility – they use it for any sort of transaction you need to make. I say that literally. Anything. Here are specific examples of how they’re using it:
1. Room keys – this wristband is our room key. You see that little chip there, behind the “M”? Well, that’s the thing that gives us access into our room.
My wife has said to me a couple of times, “man, I love this key thing.” I start telling her about the technology and her eyes glaze over. She doesn’t care about that. She just cares about the fact that she doesn’t have to carry a key around with her all the time, and even more, worry about what all she’d have to go through if she actually forgot a key at some point during our stay. Our in-laws have joined us on the trip and are staying in the room next door. My wife went next door to get something and our door shut behind her. As I’m getting the kids ready for bed, I look over at the door and realize I didn’t prop it open with the latch. A second later, she walks in thanks to her handy dandy wristband. She said it again, “man, I love this key thing.” She called it, “brilliant.”
2. Locker keys – this place is an indoor waterpark more than it is a hotel. So, anytime you want to reserve a locker, you don’t have to carry around yet another key that comes with all of the same anxiety as the room key. You just use your wristband. Done and done.
3. Payments – want to pay for food? Souvenirs? Arcade games? No problem. Just put some money on your wristband via a kiosk and a credit card and viola, you don’t have to carry around any cash. Everything is tied to this wristband. Literally, everything. If you want to carry cash around with you or for whatever other reason, you don’t want to put cash on the wristband, you don’t have to. You can do it old school. But through this technology, you have the option of ultra convenience.
These three things encapsulate everything I’ve had to do throughout the course of our day here, and it has afforded us an extra piece of mind that we didn’t know existed. We haven’t had to carry around and/or keep track of anything all day long. It’s attached to our wrist.
Now, here’s where it gets really interesting. And it’s how they create experiences through the technology:
They have this game called MagiQuest inside the resort and when people aren’t playing at the waterpark, they’re running around the hotel playing this game.
It seems to be a cross between an adventure game and a scavenger hunt and all it requires is a wand and a book, like these:
The wand is where the technology comes into play. It’s programmed to your “account” and as you make your way through the game, you build up points and achievements. This is not only important because it adds a level of personalization to the game right off the bat, but since this is an ongoing game, this technology enables an ongoing history. As long as the wand stays with you, regardless of how long you play the game, it’s going to build upon what you’ve already done.
I’m sure the kids playing this game (and even most of the adults) could care less about the technology (much like my wife). No one ever hardly does. But the important thing here revolves around expectations. With the proliferation of platforms like Facebook and Pandora that allow you to personalize your experience down to the T, I feel like the millennial generation expects a certain level of personalization in everything they do. Although these kids could care less about the technology, I would argue that many of them would feel like it’s “lame” if it didn’t keep track of everything they did along the way. This level of personalization is table stakes. This technology enables that personalization for them.
This is an ideal 11th screen example – an Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) homerun, if you will. RFID is the enabling technology that serves a critical function in the resort and patron operation (utility). It saves everyone time, money and anxiety that you didn’t even know you had. In addition, it enables a deep and rich experience – one that is personalized – through this wand, other objects (static) and screens (digital) throughout the resort.
Disclosure – Great Wolf Lodge is actually a client of Fleishman-Hillard’s (my company). However, I do not work on the account and in fact, our office doesn’t service any piece of the account. Our account team and the kind people at Great Wolf Lodge have been gracious enough to set up a meeting for me with the resort’s IT director tomorrow morning where I’m sure I’ll get many more details. Which will be Part 2 of this story…
This morning when I was buying my train pass, I witnessed the collision of enabling technologies. Normally, this would excite me, seeing more than 1 enabling technology in a solution, something that equates to an Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) technological explosion. But it didn’t.
There’s my kiosk (enabling technology #1).
It’s a friendly kiosk. Easy to use. It’s always done exactly what I wanted it to do. In fact, I’ve got it down to where I can execute my transaction in a matter of seconds now. Just what I want from a utilitarian kiosk.
But I noticed something different about it this morning. Something I’ve never noticed before.
That’s right. A QR Code (enabling technology #2).
My kiosk just became a little bit more interesting. So I read (squinting – white type on light blue background is hard to read and I have pretty good eyesight) about what it offered.
Learn more about using this kiosk.
So, let me step outside of myself – someone who knows a) how to make myself around most any type of interactive technology b) what QR codes are c) how to use them and most basically, d) how to use this kiosk – and get this straight. I walk up to a touch screen kiosk, something that might be a little bit confusing and intimidating, even if I’ve used an ATM before. And for the sake of this example, let’s just assume I get frustrated and don’t know how to make my way around it, I can now take out my smart phone and scan a QR Code to solve my problems?
If I don’t feel comfortable using a basic kiosk, how in the world am I going to feel more comfortable scanning a QR Code on my smart phone to get a quick tutorial?
I. Don’t. Get. It.
Well, I had to scan the thing. So, I did. In scanning, I had to crouch down low enough to get a good shot of it. In doing so, caught the attention of everyone else walking by me, I’m sure, wondering, “what is he doing?!?! With his phone, taking a picture of that kiosk, bent all the way down like that?!?! Better him than me.”
I think this is a good lesson in placement. If you want people to use anything like this – any sort of code/image recognition – it’s best to put it in standing range. People feel much more comfortable being discreet when they are doing something that no one else around them is doing. Or rather, people don’t want to do anything extra to draw attention to themselves, especially if no one else is doing the same thing. Simply, don’t make them crouch or bend down or stand on their tippy toes to take the action.
Anyway, after scanning the code, I was led to a simple page with a video and social sharing features.
While ultra low-fi, I actually think their concept is pretty smart. If you strip everything away, their purpose is to give people more information about how accessible, easy, and versatile their kiosks are.
Noble. Useful. I’m assuming they spent quite a bit of money making enhancements to the new kiosks and they want everyone to know.
But is the best answer really to put a QR code on a low part of the kiosk?
And even more, to be vague about actually getting that information?
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:
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.
Last week, I posted the briefest post ever here and it was centered around the evolution of signage. I was on my way to work and within 1 mile of each other, I saw a traditional (1.0) sign at one Walgreens and then a digital (2.0) sign at another Walgreens. This got me thinking about the 3.0 version of this one particular sign. What would that be?
Well, then, I started thinking more generally about the OOH space and what 3.0 signage and/or experiences are. I think it’s easy to assume that if you throw some sort of interactive technology at any sign, you’ll have the next generation, 3.0 version of anything. But the more I think about it and the more examples I see, the more I doubt that assumption.
So, I’m going to document another exploration – this one focused on the evolution of OOH. I’m not interested in one version of anything. I’m interested in exploring multiple versions of a similar medium (billboards, posters, kiosks) – like the Walgreens sign. I’d love for you to be involved, too. If you come across any examples, I’d welcome you sharing them here. I think this is a topic ripe for discussion and would love to have more voices represented here than my own.
I don’t think there is much definition in this space, even around those things that have been defined. So, let’s mix it up a little bit more. And maybe in the process, provide some clarity in this ever-evolving space called Out of Home.
Here is a simple 1.0 version of a standard poster:
And here’s an example of another poster, this one powered by electricity from oranges. That’s right, oranges. This, to me, is an example of a 3.0 version of a poster.
I just think this is creatively brilliant. But that alone certainly does not signify the next generation of OOH. I think there are a few characteristics of 3.0 OOH that can help differentiate it from everything else that we see. While this is not a complete list, it’s a starter:
1. The experience – I really believe the critical difference between current (1.0 & 2.0) executions and next generation (3.0) executions is in the experience. Nothing more. I think you can create an experience around any execution in many different ways, but in the end, there’s something fundamentally different in 3.0 executions and it has to do the experience.
I think it’s simple to get to the bottom of different versions by asking 1 question – “is there an experience?” If there is, you can dig a little bit deeper to try to understand if the experience is new and/or unique and constitutes the next generation.
Here, there’s a clear experience – different from most any poster you’ll ever see – and that is to see behind the scenes, so to speak. The oranges fundamentally change the experience. If there weren’t any oranges, or a unique power supply for that matter, we’re looking at a standard digital poster. And a fairly boring one at that.
2. Sharability – Through any experience comes sharing, from straight-up offline word-of-mouth to online social communities to everything in between. Technology has enabled sharing with masses easier and quicker, but if the experience is not worthy enough (be it the biggest, best, worst or first), no one is going to want to share it, regardless of how easy it might be. Ease of sharing from the experience might separate the execution from others, but the real difference will be in the sharability factor – is this something that people want to share?
Here, there are no (share) buttons to press or codes to interact with or anything like that. But it is an execution that is unique and different and probably the first one that people have seen like it. It has a natural sharability factor. As you can see in the video, people want to capture it in some way and I’d bet that the photo and/or video doesn’t stay in that digital device for their eyes only.
3. Smart – On one hand, you can approach this by asking, “is this execution smart enough to tailor messages to me?” Does it and/or how effective is it at distributing the right content at the right time to the right people? These are some of the things that digital signage enables in an efficient manner – the ability to customize messages/advertisements based on things like time of day, audience demographics, and actual placement. But to me, these are now table stakes and they don’t separate standard digital signage from being a 2.0 execution. 3.0 executions have to do more. They have to be smarter, or at least appear to be smarter.
On the other hand, there’s a completely subjective aspect to how smart something is. And I think it has to do more with creativity than anything else. Both aspects here can separate 3.0 versions from the others.
I would consider this execution a smart execution. To realize the true power in oranges, enough to generate electricity and to power a poster is just smart. No two ways about it.
Oh yeah, there’s a fairly substantial potential energy impact it could have, too. That’s pretty smart, too.
4. Scalability – This is obviously an important factor to change the landscape and/or consumer behavior and/or how we interact with the outside world. If it’s not scalable, it’s probably not going to change much and its novelty will fade away at some point.
I have a feeling that many 3.0 examples we see are not going to be scalable. At least not right now. For the most part, they’re going to be experimental in nature. The result of these one-off experiments, however, could be one step on the innovation ladder to a larger, scalable, 3.0 execution.
Again, this is the beginning of this exploration. I’m sure as I (and hopefully, we) encounter more examples, we will continue refining this lense. I’d love to hear and see your thoughts. Think I missed anything that separates 3.0 experiences from all others? Share them here. Find an example? Drop it here. I just think this space is fascinating and full of potential. With some creativity and thought (not necessarily new technology), these 3.0 solutions can make our lives easier – not creepier – easier. And regardless of how cool or novel something might be, the exciting thing is in the potential impact it could have on our lives.
I live in the country. No two ways about it. So, when I look around at all the (or lack of) technology in my everyday path out in the real world, on a daily basis, I’m certainly seeing the lite version. When I go closer to the city, or god forbid, in the city itself, it’s drastically different. Last month at SXSW in Austin, everywhere I turned there was a different technology, either displaying something in my face or enticing me to interact with it. And Austin, as a city, is completely different from Dallas as a city, as far as outdoor technology goes. I’m often actually amazed at how naked downtown Dallas is compared to other major cities like Austin or Chicago or NYC. Still, technology is all around us, everywhere we look, even in a naked city like Dallas, and even in the country where I live.
This morning, I stopped by every digital sign and interactive kiosk I noticed on my journey from my house to the train. And even though I live in a rural part of the country, I still encountered technology all along the way. Here’s that journey:
The sign outside the City Hall/Library, then the local Walgreens sign, then the Redbox outside its front doors, then the church’s sign, then the bank ATM, then the (boring) car wash clock, followed by the train ticket kiosk, then the train station sign, and finally, the sign inside the train. That’s the journey every morning.
So, I want to use today’s Friday 4-1-1 to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly of this technologically-fascinating & rich journey.
1. Snooze-fest – man, oh man, how boring can you get in terms of digital signage/interactive kiosks? These are the quintessential examples. The 1.o of both. And they’re all around because I mean, if they’re all the way out here in the country, they’re surely in the city, too. But you know what? I notice them because they’re….
2. Attention-getting – even if it is for a split second, I notice digital signs like these. Because they’re moving and/or colorful. Not for any other reason. Whereas it takes something more for me to notice a traditional billboard or poster – it usually has to stand out creatively. So, digital has that going for it. But the thing is – after I notice it, there are many times I instantly turn it off. If it’s not something and/or somewhere that interests me, I don’t care. So, in this regard (at least to me), digital signage is more effective at getting eyeballs (awareness) to see more messages (reach), but not necessarily more effective at affecting consideration. Regardless, there is still an opportunity to drive consumers deeper into the brand through the sign…
3. As a connector – even boring signs like these have the ability to drive consumers deeper – at the very least, to a website. I’m amazed at how many of these signs that don’t do anything other than slam those (scrolling) messages right down our throat and pay no attention to the opportunity to do a little bit more. It’s ironic that whoever is making those decisions – like the one to install digital signage – is choosing not push the consumer farther down the brand experience path. I know it’s hard. But welcome to 2011.
4. Utility machines – yes, digital signage and kiosks like this are good for something. And it’s utility. Not experience. I talk a lot about always looking for ways to create an experience through channels/platforms like these, but it can’t, and shouldn’t, be done all the time. I do wonder what the 3.0 version of these will be, though.
“Duh” – technology makes delivering messages more efficient. That’s probably the most obvious thing I’ve ever said on this blog?!?! But here’s the thing – how fancy do you need to get when the only objective is to deliver more messages, more efficiently? Seems to me that there would be a couple of solutions out there in the market that could handle all of the different ways and scale to achieve this objective. As it is now, it seems like there are 100’s of solutions. Why?
“Uh-huh” – sometime in the (near) future, these signs will all be connected – to each other and to us. The Internet of Things, while futuristic and fantastical, is real and coming. If we don’t see a 3.0 version of these signs before then, well, I guess we will then. I wonder if network operators and the whoosits and whatsits in the industry understand?
Yes, my daily journey is low-fi, in terms of DOOH/IOOH. But I notice it all and on a level, appreciate it. For the most part, it serves its purpose.
What do you see on your regular daily activities? Is it anything like this?