Tag Archives: LocaModa

Why I Love Domino’s Times Square Billboard (& What to Learn)

Domino's Times Square Billboard

What Domino’s is currently doing – by broadcasting (virtually) unfiltered comments on one of the biggest stages in the world (Times Square) – is something I applaud and would actually recommend to any client more times than not. Here’s why:

#1, it’s simple. There is absolutely no time/effort spent on content creation. Yes, they have to filter comments, but if there is human involvement, it’s not much.

#2, it’s coming from the right place. Simply, if a brand is coming at the experience and/or engagement – regardless of channel – from the right place, they’ll get credit. Regardless of any specific negative comments that might come their way. Domino’s has made a pledge – as a brand – to listen to their customers to get better. What can be a better place to come at it from? The community recognizes this and Domino’s will get credit, sales, and ultimately loyalty by being open. Remember, people want a say. Domino’s is going full tilt and giving it to them. Then, using it to make their product better.

#3, it’s big and out in the open. There’s no hiding from anything on any of those screens in Times Square. Not only is Domino’s being transparent by broadcasting these comments, they are putting those comments front and center for everyone to see. This is just another example of them showing how committed they are, as a brand, to improving. And in the process, kind of innovating.

In the digital signage industry, the concept of utilizing social media as content has seemed either a) intimidating and/or b) incompatible, to the point of not using it altogether. For whatever reason. LocaModa seems to be one of the only companies who has whole-heartedly embraced it, enough to build a thriving business around it.

I wrote a post the other day about fundamental human behaviors that are critical inputs to us as we create engagements using social media channels. I believe those behaviors apply to any marketing or communications across any channel. Including Out-of-Home (OOH) and digital signage.

Often times, I feel like the industry doesn’t know what to do and/or how to sell these screens that broadcast in public places. In the end, it probably always comes down to a question of content. While we see (and will continue to see) many examples of creative content being produced by brands and broadcast across various channels, it’s important to recognize that consumers, themselves, are creating buckets of content about the brands they love everyday.

So, from a strategic POV, why not tap into this? Brands will always open themselves up for negative comments on any social channel – be it online or off. More channels and more screens don’t alleviate that possibility. Those channels only give those voices more of a chance to be amplified. But this is not something to shy away from. Unless the brand is completely averse to change.

Almost always, the community wins. And not a single individual within the community, but the community as a whole. The brand is an enabler and a participant. That’s pretty much it.

Next time you’re sitting around trying to think of the golden piece of content, it might be right under your nose. In the social channels. Don’t be afraid.

Photo credit: Fast Company

Chronicles of an LBS Wanderer – 1

11th Screen Location Based Services Badge

Location-based services (LBS) – like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp – made a big splash last year as a fairly successful, yet niche, mobile tactic for brands aiming to reach consumers in the real-world. They are great platforms for rewarding loyalty, real-time consumer reviews & tips, and for those who like such a thing, keeping track of your friends/family. I’ve “played” Foursquare consistently for a year now and dabbled in the others – Gowalla, Yelp, Loopt, SCVNGR. There’s interesting potential with this sort of technology, particularly when integrated with placed-based signage. But as I’ve wandered over the last year, I’m left wondering if these technologies will stick and ultimately reach the average consumer. And more than that, what it will take for them to reach that point? Here are my chronicles.

I checked into my train station the other night. It was my 100th check-in and as a result, I received a “Century Club” badge. I also received a customized message – something to the effect, “they should put your name up on the wall for frequenting so often.” Or something.

First thought: cool, I got another badge.

Second thought: ugh, I don’t get anything other than this message.

Then, I got sour.

The badge wasn’t enough. I wanted a free 30-day pass. A free ride. Some sort of discount, at least. I’d even take my name scrolling across the digital ticker at the station.

But then, that would get old, and I’d want something else, something of value.

The fact that these technologies fit into our regular, everyday life is one barrier that they don’t have to overcome. The check-in couldn’t be easier. But the big barrier lies in the value. As with any emerging technology, there’s a novelty period where it can get by on the technology alone. But there quickly comes a point to where it loses the novel factor, and in order for it to become sustainable and gain scale, it has to create some sort of value.

And this is what I’m feeling right now. Little to no value.

It’s interesting because my expectations have changed in a very short amount of time. And if mine – an early adopter/user, not the “average” consumer – have changed, what will it take to reach the average consumer? And become part of their daily lives?

The digital signage industry, and the places and things around us, can certainly help to create a sense of value. Stephen Randall and LocaModa have made a living targeting this very combination. Stephen’s specific take on this is that the value lies in the 3 Fs:  Fun, fame, and fortune. These are the keys that motivate consumers to interact with LBS, and digital signage is a perfect platform to maximize their effect. Everyone likes to see their name “in lights” (fame) and by nature, most of these technologies are game-like and fun.

The key is “fortune.” Value. Is virtual currency enough, even when you see yourself in the middle of a Times Square billboard? I was willing to accept my name scrolling on the train station ticker. But I’m still left empty.

I want more.

Friday’s 4-1-1, Gamification Style

I work in a fairly small group in a fairly large company.  We have about 25 people in our group, specifically.  Come to find out, 4 of us are all alumni of the same college – Texas State University (at the time that 3 of us were going to school, it was called Southwest Texas State.  Although this dates us with the younger kids, it’s something that we’re proud of and never hesitate to distinguish).  As far as colleges go and as far as colleges go in Texas, it’s a smaller school, so it’s unusual (and random) that we find ourselves all working in the same group.  Recently, an opportunity came available to us at our alma mater, speaking at the annual Mass Comm Week.  So, this past Tuesday, the 4 of us loaded up in a car and took the 4-hour roadtrip down to San Marcos for the day and spoke on a panel together about Going Digital:  Changes in the Advertising & PR Industry.  After the discussion, one of the students in the crowd asked me about “gamification” and what our views on it were.  First, it was a fancy word (one that I liked nonetheless) and second, it was fun to answer her!  The concept of life becoming like a game is pretty deep if you truly think about it.  The implications are freaky, and whether we like it or not, not far from reality.  So, today, I bring you the Gamification 4-1-1:

1.  Nike Turns London Into a Game Board to Get People Running – Very simply, Nike makes a game out of running.  They wanted to extend their message on the importance of being active, so instead of creating billboards or other “standard” media extensions, they decided to make the campaign into a game.  Online, everything begins and ends on the GRID website.


I loved this quote from Tom Coates from Yahoo – “GRID is part of a growing category of ideas that sits within, as Tom Coates of Yahoo! describes, the ‘real world web,'” Douglas writes, “connected things that blur the physical and virtual spaces–things that thrive primarily because they excite us as humans, rather than being a vehicle for demonstrating technical capability.” This ability to connect the physical (offline) and virtual (online) worlds is really the “true” potential of OOH.  This “new” OOH is not about making people aware of the message by putting it up as big as you can on a billboard or on the side of a bus or throwing some display technology at it.  It’s about getting that message across through engagement.  This is a perfect example.

2.  Puma Makes Everything a Game – Shoe-makers and their gamification.  What is it?

Puma Scoreboard

I found the usability frustrating, but the concept is great.  And it just goes to show that there is definitely something to this gamification thing.  Everyone wants to make everything a game nowadays, and technology has enabled it to the point to where it actually can be.  Look no further than Foursquare, Gowalla, and/or MyTown.  Actually, look no further than Nike or Puma.

3.  Microsoft’s Newest Acquisition is About 3-D Gesture Controls – So, I wrote about Microsoft’s gaming/motion-sensing device, Kinect, a couple of months ago when it was officially announced.  Now, today, comes interesting news that they are acquiring Canesta, “the manufacturer of semiconductor chips capable of sensing movement and gestures in 3-D.”  Just watch the demo:

So, yeah, the Minority Report/Iron Man whiz-bang isn’t too far off now, is it?  These are great strides.  Obviously, technology is mind-blowing.  I don’t know how long it’s going to be until technology like this is part of our normal lives, but it’s coming.  And if the industry is still talking about integrating “Digital” OOH into the marketing mix in a year, I’m afraid “Interactive” OOH into the experience mix is going to be quite a surprise.  By nature, this is (non)tangible extension to the fancy gamification.

4.  10 Reasons Why Smartphones Won’t Kill DOOH – Ever – Another thought-provoking piece from LocaModa, this time a good analysis between mobile and DOOH.  While all of Stephen’s points are relevant to the larger discussion, they are not to the gamification discussion.  Point #8, though – “Multichannel” – is quite relevant:  The smartphone screen isn’t the only screen competing for a user’s attention. With mobile, computers, TVs, cinemas and DOOH, advertisers are taking a multiple channel approach to their messaging. This means that ultimately ALL screens will be connected. Rather than a one size fits all approach, the media landscape is actually becoming more fragemented and micro-targeted as a result. This means that the phone screen is often part of a 360 degree solution – it’s not the entire solution – and neither is DOOH. All screens will be connected.  The places and things around us will become “screens.”  Everyone is connected, too.  See a theme here?  Sounds like the constructs of a game to me.

“Uh-huh” – Last week, I posted a story about how Mini created a “reality gaming” experience around one of their cars in Stockholm.  Yet another example of bringing us and the world around us together in an experience to engage in unique ways with brands and each other.  It’s quite appropriate in this week’s discussion, too.

“Duh” – Although not gamification-related, this is related to our panel discussion this week at Mass Comm week.  I said something that came out wrong and it’s bugged me ever since.  Just for some brief context – one of the unique aspects to the 4 of us alum working in the same group now is that we all come from different backgrounds.  I have an acting degree, another one has a directing degree, another one has a traditional PR/Comm degree, and the other one, well, I’m not sure what degree he has, but it’s different than all the rest of us.  Anyway, when we introduced ourselves, we gave a brief synopsis of our background and our journeys leading us up to working together right now.  I said something like this, “I got an acting degree, and there’s not anything from that degree (“what I learned in school”) that I use to make money other than maybe being able to speak in front of people.”  Ugh.  I knew, as I was saying it, it was all coming out wrong.  But I couldn’t stop.  First, these students don’t need to hear, “what you’re going to school for now, it’s really irrelevant, so why worry??”  No, that’s not the message I wanted to get across.  I’m a firm believer in life experience.  And no matter what you do, what jobs you’ve done, what you graduated with, all of the skills and experiences used during those times can help you in your present situation.  You’ve got to be aware of those things and constantly looking to call on those things, but it can all be used.  And it should.  What I meant to say is, “it’s less about the degree that you get because in reality, the real-world is much different than the college-world.  That said, these classes and this training prepares you for going out and doing your thing.  You’ll have to adjust many times throughout your career, and if you’re successful at adjusting, you’ll more than likely be successful in your career.”  At least that’s what I’ve found to be true.  Anyway, we were there for the students, and I really don’t feel like that one moment from me did them the best service.  So, if any of you guys are reading this now, take note. :)

Well, what a week.  I’m sure that this weekend, it being Halloween and all, with 3 kids ready to go trick-or-treating, I’m going to experience my fair share of gamification, even if it’s not the 2.0 version.

The Irony of “Sociable Media” is that it’s not Sociable (at least not to me)

I read an interesting whitepaper today written by Stephen Randall of LocaModa and a partnering agency, Posterscope, titled Sociable Media: Seven ways to connect online and offline social experiences to deliver engagement, advocacy, and brand affinity.  In fact, I’ve read it four or five times, each time with a more detailed eye than the last.  And I find myself scratching my head more than wanting to forward it to all of my colleagues.

The authors, and certainly both companies responsible for the whitepaper, are clearly experienced in mobile and (digital) OOH engagement and by virtue, seem credible enough.  I’ve seen Stephen speak on various panels this year and he is a smart man leading the charge, one that I stand firmly behind.  I have not met any of the contributors from Posterscope, but by the looks of their history, they know what’s going on in the space.

Unfortunately, this knowledge-base and experience might very well be the downfall of the whitepaper.  My first question is, “who is the intended audience?”  This is not a 101-type whitepaper.  This is advanced theory, language, and practice – advanced enough that a good portion (if not a majority) of marketers, communicators, brands, and consumers will not know what in the world they’re talking about.  Brands are having a hard enough time catching up to social media – using it in a way that creates and adds value to the ‘community’ and themselves.  Much less a new, albeit interesting concept – sociable media.  This is way ahead of the curve, and if I’m left scratching my head (I, at least, speak this same language and know/understand all of the practices and technologies mentioned), what is everyone else left doing?  How does everyone else digest this?

From what I have seen in my extensive dealings with brands (big and small), the vast majority are not ready for interactive/experiential OOH right now.  They want to play in the mobile space just to play in the mobile space, and as mentioned above, they are trying to put the infrastructure/process/guidelines in place for their social media efforts.  But many of them are not there yet.  Sure, there are the Nikes and Minis of the world who are out in front, but like geo-location applications themselves (the basis of many of the points in this whitepaper), adoption and proliferation of interactive/experiential OOH is a ways away.  I want brands to get there quickly.  On some days, I feel like we’re on the cusp, with technologies that span various channels like this, but on most days, I realize that we’re far from it.  In fairness, I’m looking through this through an advertising/PR/communications lense, not through a lense that deals with this particular niche (mobile + OOH) everyday.  But my lense grounds me in online and offline social, both of which are incorporated into 95% of what we do and have been doing for years.  And while I appreciate the idea of “sociable media,” I am left wondering, “what else?”

From a brand’s perspective, social media is predicated on the idea of adding value to a conversation that is already happening, and then the goal is to grow it to the point of building trust.  The most successful brands in “social media” are those who understand their story and their voice.  Both are vital components in establishing a credible presence that adds value to the conversation and builds into a trust-based relationship over time.  In an effort not to bang you over the head with social-media-speak, in short – the story is the thing.  Even in “social” media where the brand “doesn’t own the story.”  Look across any channel, be it digital, mobile, OOH, even social, and the most successful brands are those who know their story and merely use those channels as distribution mechanisms.  Even in the case of “social,” the brand’s story is still distributed, just in a more open way.  This right here, this interplay with channels and story and technology is where I’m struggling to shape into what I believe to be true.  At the end of the day, which one of these drives a brand?  Is it the technology?  Is it the channel?  Or is it the story?

I think all three are important and I have thoughts on each of them and their particular interplay, but they’re not baked enough to share right now.  I would love to know what you all think??

Regardless, a connection that I did not get in this whitepaper’s “story,” was the connection of how this sort of engagement continues with brands, after the interaction with this screen, or person.  How is the conversation continued?  Much of it seems like a one-stop hit if it’s based on location, more specifically checking into a location.  The engagement is sustainable if the brand’s story is brought to the forefront instead of the actual location.  And then, continues beyond the location.  Where is the brand’s value here, on these screens, in this social media discussion?  It can’t be by just providing a place or a screen or a reward.  Right?

This is one of the barriers to the new OOH.  It’s all around us, not just on billboards or posters or screens – everything’s a “screen,” really.  Technology is blessing this medium in a way that enables it to be very powerful and “on” more often than not.  It’s easy to be driven by the technology.  And the channel.  And the location.  But do these enable the brand to tell their story in a more effective way?  Or do they just enable the brand to just be there?  Is it enough just to be there?

I have a hard time answering this, but I do believe that the most successful brands will be the ones who go beyond just being there.  As is the case in the social channel, the goal is build enough trust to have a long-lasting relationship (loyalty).  To that point, the paper talks about creating engagement (awareness), advocacy (preference), and affinity (loyalty), but in a way that leads me to believe achieving them revolves around location and channel, and not the brand story.  The authors do point out that the paper is not “completely comprehensive,” and I have to believe that this is not their intention.

It is about the channel, I get that.  That’s really the whole point to the whitepaper.  But here’s the promise on the front page of the paper – “Seven ways to connect online and offline social experiences to deliver engagement, advocacy and brand affinity.”  Those cannot be achieved without the brand story and I missed that whole section of this story.

There is much value to publishing whitepapers like this because the first to say is the first to own.  I applaud them, and anyone else who publishes these.  As a reader and absorber, though, I feel like there is a responsibility to talk to me in a way that can be understood, and most importantly, applied.  I want to be able to forward these to my colleagues.  I want to share the knowledge.  But if I don’t even know what the “7 ways” are, how am I ever going to get what “sociable media” is and how/why it can make an impact with me and my business?

Top 5 Moments of DSE 2010

As you’ve read from previous posts, I found DSE to be very rewarding.  My top 5 moments:

1.  Hard Rock Café Access – My first impressions from everything there were mixed – overwhelmed, underwhelmed (in a weird sort of way), giddy, and confused.  Stepping away from it all, I’m able to digest all that I experienced there.  No matter what, that Rock Wall really does rock.  MS Surfaces are fun to play around with and I’m sure that if I were dining there, I would play with the booth touch screens to the point where it would probably be annoying.  Truth be told, with all of the interactivity there, there might not be a better place for lovers of the 11th Screen world to go, including me.  Interestingly enough, I just saw that these were featured in what I consider to be the gold standard in industry recognition – the new Communication Arts Interactive Annual (yet to be published online).

2.  One-on-one discussions – the information and knowledge that I took away from the formal sessions paled in comparison to all of the one-on-one discussions I had.  Guys at the Preset GroupSymon Communications, Reflect Systems, Muzak, Digital Signage Today, Daily DOOH, Arinc, and Daktronics – I enjoyed meeting you all and I look forward to continuing the conversation.  We are all excited about the future of digital/interactive out of home.

3.  The different & consistent perspectives of the future of DOOH – everyone talked about the future of digital out of home being bright.  They also talked about the barriers we face – lack of consistency, measurement, and stories.  There are many companies in the industry doing the same exact thing, but there are far too few stories and proven success.  The industry, agencies, media planners/buyers, and clients need all three of these things – consistency, measurement standards, and stories.

4.  The on-the-floor workshops – I attended Keith Kelsen’s and Gary Kayye’s small workshops and they were, hands down, the best formalized sessions offered at the show.  Both are industry leaders and visionaries and I would recommend everyone hear them talk.

5.  Mobile and social integration into digital signage – by extension, mobile and social integration into digital signage makes it interactive signage.  I look at this as interactive out of home – 11th screen.  I believe that this is the immediate future of DOOH.  Content will always reign, and the better, more relevant the content is, the more people will be compelled to interact with it.  But once you connect people through content, you have deeper engagement.  And with deeper engagement, you strengthen relationships.  With strong relationships, you have trust and with trust, you have loyalty and advocacy.  I saw two companies integrating mobile & social – LocaModa (who you’ve probably all heard of, thanks to Jumbli) and Aerva (who I just heard of) – watch out for them both, especially Aerva.  They have a great offering(s).

Again, none of this would have happened without the folks at DSE.  They were really good to me and “thanks” on paper just doesn’t seem like it can capture my gratitude.  I look forward to seeing them again.

How about you guys?  What were your top moments of DSE?

2nd (and last) Official Session of the Day: #40

This looks to be a cool session, even though it is in the last group of sessions for the conference.  By this time, most everyone has gone home.  Not me.  I’m looking forward to it:  Integrating Multi-Channel Strategies: A Roadmap for Digital Cross-Platform Success

There are only two speakers, but two interesting speakers.

Chris Borek from Target

Stephen Randall from LocaModa

Stephen up first…

First words out of his mouth – “Place-based social media.” 

He’s giving some really great one-liners.  In a split second of processing, they sound great anyway.

“If TV is being disrupted by the web, than TV outside is not a better proposition.”

“Media needs to be frictionless, networks need to be connected.”

Everybody is connected.  We get our information from the web.  Google.  Amazon.  We need to provide a continuum of that web experience.

Metcalfe’s Law – this is what they strive for with their work.  Connecting people across the “network” so they understand each other.  This is where you find true value.  Connecting to your audience is the challenge that most people don’t realize they’re failing at.  This cross-channel idea is an idea of connectedness.  If you don’t architect your roadmap of connectivity, you might get left behind.

If a screen is a digital version of a poster, then arguably it is no better than the poster. 

A “screen” should have a range of miles.  Have this by connecting content through a network.  Through a computer.  Through a mobile phone.

Every venue is like a website.  Every customer is someone interacting with your website.  So, the venue needs to think about what can I do with these customers?  How can I make it more engaging?

3 Fs:  Fun, fame, fortune – motivates people to interact.

Chris is up now…

Target.com – #3 most trafficked online retailer.  #28 most trafficked site.

Target has lots of assets, so they try to utilize them across as many channels as possible.

“Multi-channel is a conscious effort, not a tradeoff” – Target’s President.  She doesn’t think about one channel over another, she just thinks about Target.  She wants consistency and relevance.

When they think about social, they “take it to the next level.”  Word of mouth marketing.  They can be social media vessels.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Face to face interaction.  Doesn’t always have to be digital.

It’s about interacting with the customer on their (the customer’s) terms, on their schedule.  It’s not about being there all the time, it’s about being there when they need it. 

It’s not just content, it’s connection.

My thoughts – Clearly two very bright guys who have had success doing what they do.  The message throughout, from both guys, was connecting.  I love Target’s philosophy of  interacting with the customer when they need it, not all the time.  The thought is, “when I need X, Target is there.  How convenient.  I love that.”  It’s a good way to think about things.  This was easily the best session for tweetable nuggets. 

My question is – how do you blog, tweet, take photos, videos, meet people – everything that goes along with these things.  Balance, Mike, balance.  Remember.