Tag Archives: Mobile

QR Codes Strike Again…Diapers This Time

I just don’t know what to make of QR codes popping up everywhere, particularly in new, odd places. Like (smart) diapers.

I guess the one thing QR codes have going for them is they could be more novel to parents than the digirati, who no doubt scoff at them.

The idea here is good, but I can’t picture a world where we are scanning pee & poop-filled diapers. Can you?

When Technology is Too Much

An Austrian company is putting QR codes on gravestones so friends/family of the departed can view a digital catalogue of their lives.

Now, cemeteries will be another place to whip out your phone and start pointing & shooting & watching to gain an “experience.” Maybe I’m too cynical on this one, but the cemetery is no place for an emerging experience.

Neat(ish) idea. Just seems too insensitive for me.

“Let’s look at the memories” vs. “Let’s remember the memories.” This is how I interpret this move and I suppose, this is the crux of my uneasiness of this – technology makes things too easy, to the point of enabling laziness. We don’t put half of our brain to use because we can rely on technology to do it for us. This fundamental notion of storing things away in our brain to call back on in times of despair or joy – these memories – is being dulled by technology that enables us to store it and ignore it.

Who knows? This might be the way of the future, even in cemeteries. I wouldn’t be surprised. But it sure doesn’t make me feel good.

Maybe the Only Good Thing About QR Codes

Last night at the dinner table, my daughter pulls a sticker with a QR code on it off of a banana. She starts making jokes, doing what she can to make her little brothers laugh, and then says, “this is for your smartphone. And an app or something like that.”

Both me and my wife looked at each other like, “did you tell her that?”

And I said, “what do you mean?”

Daughter said, “you need your smartphone for this sticker.”

And I said, “what makes you think that?”

She said, “this little box is for your smartphone.”

“You’re exactly right,” I said.

Hmmm. Again, me and my wife look at each other, kind of amazed. Then, my wife says, to me, “I didn’t even know that until a few months ago.”

This teaches me a couple of things:

1. Children inherently get technology.

2. Children understand what technology, specifically mobile technology (in this case), is needed for. My daughter didn’t know it was a QR code or what necessarily happened with it, but she knew that you need your smartphone to do something with it.

3. There could easily be an expectation with younger generations that real-world stuff just won’t work without technology.

And that’s the point that I don’t think we can lose sight of. Are QR codes a useful enabling technology for marketers and consumers? Likely not. But this is a great case of the reverberation effect of technologies like this whereby the association of what they are and what they are used with has a great impact.

My daughter might not ever use a QR code, but she knows more and more that technology is needed to turn something physical (sticker) into something that makes it “work.”

What Vegas Can Teach Us


Vegas is very good at this.

“Mr. Cearley” – I get it when I check in, at the front desk. When I get online. Even when I turn on my TV.

Technology enables a lot of this to happen now. Time plays a part in it, too. People are trained here to take the time to address everyone in a very personal way.

This is one of the touches that we – as consumers – are requiring now. Make it personal.

Social platforms enable people and brands to connect on a personal level like never before. Technology, particularly mobile, enable personalization on a new level, too.

Are you making things personal?

QR Codes on a car? Maybe not such a bad idea…

Check this out:

QR code on car

A QR code on a car. Right on the back there. No context whatsoever. But if you know what it is, you don’t really need context. You know that you could probably scan that thing, just like all of the ones you can scan on posters or in magazines.

On the back of a car?

My first inclination was to put this into the category of “what in the world are you doing?” But after giving it some thought, maybe there’s something to it.

Before I get into that, I have said many things about QR codes and setting them up for success. They must be:

1. Accessible

2. Convenient

3. Valuable

All too often, none of these are addressed. Just because it’s simple to slap a QR code on anything, brands and marketers do it with the expectation that people are just going to do something with them.

Well, no.

Especially on the back of a car. What is accessible, convenient and valuable out of that whole scenario?

Not so fast, though. Maybe. This is where it got me thinking, for this “valuable” proposition. Now, I have no idea what is behind the code here, if anything. I would presume that it unlocks some sort of information about the vehicle. I don’t know how anyone would find that valuable, but given the way people throw these on anything, value has little to do with any sort of rhyme or reason.

What would be really interesting, however, is if the code unlocked something about the person behind the vehicle. Another dimension to your real self, as told through the lense of technology. I’m not necessarily talking about attaching a name, address, social – any personal information – to it. I’m talking about adding characteristics or traits that embody you. Think about it – someone wants to know more about the person who really is behind this vehicle and they can find things about their personality or passions just by scanning a code attached to the car. And for you, the car owner, it’s another form of self-expression.

Now, how this would really play out on a car, I don’t know. The car would have to be parked or not moving in order to scan it and even more, do something with the information it provides. To what extent that could actually connect people is not certain. But what is certain is this – technology is showing us every single day that real-world objects (like cars) can instantly be made interactive. This technology can bring these things to life.

This example here might not connect people to each other in this way. But if a car brand used a technique like this to show other consumers what characteristics (ie, laid back, analytical, fun-loving, etc.) and/or passions (ie, loves the outdoors, kids extracurricular activities, going to the gym, etc) belonged to people who drove a particular car, that could be a very intriguing insight. Particularly to a car shopper. It could be something that influences that kind of purchasing decision. Which, by the way, should be the whole point of any technology, much less QR codes.

Who knows. How much good would something like this ultimately be? Really? The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a crazy idea that provides little/no value.

But then again, so does an unmarked QR code on the back of a car.



DOOH + mobile + social is not always THE great formula

Digital billboard + mobile + social

I think this is a great formula. The holy grail, in fact.

This is where I see the real potential in truly using the places and things around us to engage. Not just through one, but all three.

ING recently created one such experience in Germany:

Here’s the thing – the problem right now is not whether or not the technology can do it. The real problem is cost and complexity. This is what prohibits scale. But you can even see how compelling something like this could be out in the real world, and then the reach it could potentially have in the virtual world. It’s a combination that could really spark engagement beyond an “experiential” level – something that we could see as a normal part of our everyday lives as we go about the real world around us.

Here’s the other thing, which to me, is more interesting. The tie-in between virtual basketball – regardless of how novel it is and how integrated the experience is – and ING is completely lost on me. They indicate that they wanted to “demonstrate how easy and efficient banking can be” with ING, but how that idea manifests itself through a virtual free throw is beyond me. I get that they wanted to reach a younger demo, but even still, is this demo going to remember ING is the one that brought this experience to them? It just seems too disconnected.

So, something like will get attention for sure. Right now, only a relative few might use it. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before more “non-technologically-curious” people would interact with something like this. But, the bigger concern should be to remain on brand. This, along with great technological integration like this, will be the true holy grail.

On brand communications/idea + integrated technology solution

This is where it’s at.

If it’s always on, will people ever turn it off?

“Always On” technology or “Sometimes Off” technology? What are we striving for?

I would say that right now, we are in a precious moment in time where we experience “Sometimes Off” technology – smartphone adoption, while rising, still has a ways to go, same for tablets, digital signage..well, we know where that is right now. We are on the cusp of “Always On” technology, but if I stop to think about where we are – the masses – I can actually find myself relishing it.

Now, I’m as plugged in as anyone and I look forward to a day where the places and things around us are turned on. I know that is where we are going and I actually think we’ll get there much quicker than people might be ready for. But as I think about this idea, of truly everyone being plugged in and turned on, it’s hard not to think about the days where we didn’t even have cell phones. I think of when I was a kid and was lucky to have a laser disk player + TV and a standard wall-jacked phone (remember those cords?!?).And then I think of my kids right now with iPods and iPhones and iPads and computers and DVD players and everything. They don’t know anything else. They know technology and to them, it probably is always on.

But what happens when it truly is always on? What will we have then?

Yes, it will just be another thing to manage. But it’s a lot easier to manage when it’s not there vs. when it always is and you must turn it off. Fascinating thought, to me. Will people turn it off?


I Stand Corrected

I am willing to admit when I am wrong. I have not been as in-tune with the DSE as I should be. Yesterday, I posted about an NFC bootcamp and how the ‘industry’ does not focus on the right things. I still maintain that there is not education enough around or willingness to learn/adapt social media into the content mix of digital out-of-home solutions (but that’s for another day and for time to only tell). However, the DSF (group behind the DSE) has gone to great lengths to educate those within and outside of the industry around important tenets of communication and connections, of which social media and emerging technologies like NFC fall within.

Geri Wolff, member of the DSF board of directors, rightfully posted a comment to yesterday’s blog pointing out all of the efforts (through sessions) they are making at DSE to educate attendees on the value of social media. While I think the session titles do not necessarily lend themselves to be visible “social media” sessions, it seems like it is clearly a focus. Her response has good session information in it:


Hey Mike, In case it was not previously clear, DSE 2012 will offer a variety of educational opportunities on how social media can help ignite DS messaging to better engage audiences. In case you did not see it, there is a half day session on Tuesday, 3/6 entitled “Mobile Models You Can Believe In” (See http://www.digitalsignageexpo.net/new-mobile-models-you-can-believe).

On Wednesday, 3/7, Session 11 “Mobile Campaign Integration with DOOH” also addresses social integration with DS, along with other options. Also on Wednesday, Session 6 “Creating a Multi-Screen Strategy: Connecting DS to What Matters,” also deals with mobile convergence and ways to leverage social media with DS.

As a matter of fact, mobile strategies and the whole issue of convergence is a common thread that runs through most of the seminar sessions.

See the entire DSE 2012 Conference Schedule at http://www.digitalsignageexpo.net/schedule

If anyone is attending the conference, I hope you stop by these sessions to see what they’re all about. I would love to hear about the social media education going on. The DSE is a good show, I am very grateful to Geri and the DSF and the show organizers for what they have done for me, personally, and the industry, and I think this industry has much potential to be realized. This blog has always intended to serve as a vehicle to bring forth a perspective that others who have a passion for digital/interactive out-of-home might not have. I will continue doing that, but hope to be more diligent in my research next time. :-)


The Wrong Bootcamp, if You Ask Me

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

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

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

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

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