Tag Archives: MS Tags

Microsoft’s Microsoft Tag for Microsoft Office FTW!

Good post today by my buddy, David Weinfeld, about 2-D barcodes, specifically how much they’ve been used this year, even citing a ScanLife report that shows a 700% increase in barcode scanning.  It’s a big number, but you must consider that it almost started at 0 in January.  The number of people who actually use this technology is still small.  What I found more interesting in the report was a) 1/2 of the barcode users were 35-45 skewing more male (I found this a high demo – would have thought it would be younger) and b) the most popular smartphone platform among users was the Google Android platform, followed by BlackBerry, then by iPhone.  It’s one of the few times I’ve seen anything led by something non-iPhone, particularly with the use of new technology.

This morning, I came across a Microsoft ad that featured one of their Microsoft Tags.

I had high expectations for this experience, it being a Microsoft Tag on a Microsoft ad about Microsoft Office.  (I didn’t quite get the 3-D thing on the text – don’t know if you can see it, but I looked past it).  What I got was a nice, easy site with videos.  My first impression was that it was good, but really, it just left me feeling like it was any other code/scanning experience that I’ve seen.

Then, I looked closer and went through the experience again. I have to say, it’s well thought-out and includes some little things that really separate it from others that I’ve seen. First, the videos are highly produced and there are lots of them! And they’re all sharable via Facebook and/or Twitter. The social integration is smooth and it pre-polpulates an #Office2010 hashtag. Besides that, it gives you a blank field to draft your own tweet. (Having done this before, I’ve elected to pre-draft the entire tweet for the user, including the hashtag, just for the ease of experience. In the end, people are used to drafting tweets on their phone so I suppose it doesn’t make much of a difference). The most important aspect here is that this feature extends the brand experience beyond this particular “channel.”

They extend channels via another feature, too – an email sign up to “receive details on how to get a free trial of Office 2010.”  This not only drives the user deeper into the brand, it drives them one step closer to purchase, which is the end goal, right?  Smart.

And on top of it all, navigating this mobile site is like navigating any good website on your computer.

This is what I expect from one of these experiences, particularly from a maker of this type of technology.  I’m glad I looked again, because it gave me a chance to notice things I should notice.  It doesn’t always have to be unique right off the bat, upon first glance.  Often times, regardless of what technology or channel it’s in, the elegance is in the details.  As is the case here.

700% shows awareness of this technology.  That’s a great indicator of widespread adoption.  What’s on the other end of the scan, as David and anyone else who’s dealt with/analyzed these technologies says, is going to be the key to real adoption.

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!

The Coaster That Doesn’t Miss an Opportunity

I’ve been meaning to get around to this since my vacation in July, but I’m just finding the time.  I’m always looking for examples of brands utilizing offline materials (places & things) to drive deeper engagement “online” (not necessarily on a computer).  I’m most fascinated when this online experience occurs on something other than a standard computer screen (ie. the places and things around us).  Mobile, however, has really changed the game.  This offline/online convergence doesn’t always drive experiences back to the world wide web; as mobile shows us, this convergence is often enabled through apps and simple tools like SMS/MMS.  So, it was in July, when my wife and I were sitting in a bar in St. Augustine, and I looked down at the coaster sitting on our table.

Mobile promotions like this are standard fare.  So standard, in fact, they might be overlooked more often than not.  We can debate the effectiveness of coasters like this driving conversions (opt-ins), but here’s the thing – this is such a “no duh” utilization of pieces like this in the brand’s advertising mix.  Coors Light is going to print coasters regardless.  Why not plan to print something that drives a deeper brand engagement on the coaster vs. just putting a logo and artwork on it?  Same thing can be said for posters or magazine ads.  How many posters do you see that enable you to have a deeper brand experience beyond the “paper”?  Magazine ads?  Not many.

I have been surprised at how many magazine ads I’ve seen this year (some featured on this blog) where brands have experimented with things like QR codes/MS Tags, JagTags/etc..  And while I still don’t know how effective they are (I don’t see many brands paying it off that well), I have to give them credit for at least opening up the gate to go deeper into the brand.  That’s what I mean by mobile changing the “OOH” game.  Brands don’t need a “digital” origination point to drive interactivity.  Out of Home initiatives, whether traditional or digital, can always be made interactive, in large part due to mobile capabilities.

In the end, it’s important to understand that all of the “channels” (Out of Home being one of them, coasters being a delivery mechanism for OOH) in a brand’s advertising mix are just part of their ecosystem.  The brand’s challenge (and agency’s partnering with them) is to make sure their story is a) consistent and b) evolving across all of the channels and mediums.  Often times, initiatives are developed, implemented, and activated in silos – OOH, DOOH falls within their own silo – and regardless of how big or neat or (even) effective they are, if they’re only happening in 1 silo, many opportunities are missed.  So, next time you see something as simple as a coaster or a poster or a magazine ad that capitalizes on the opportunity to drive you deeper into the brand, take a minute and go through the experience.  Try not to judge the experience, just appreciate the fact that they’re not missing an additional opportunity to take you, as a consumer, deeper into their brand via this standard-fare, see-it-everyday, ho-hum, gotta-advertise-on-it-anyway gateway.

Great Mobile Engagement from Kioskcom

Yesterday, I wrote about Pongr, a new mobile technology that I experienced over the past week and found to be valuable and easy – two traits that should aim to be the bedrock of any campaign, certainly any mobile campaign.  Today, I’ll show you another example, but from the standpoint of a brand doing this, through the use of another valuable & easy technology.

Kioskcom/The Digital Signage Show – the brand in this case – did a commendable job of extending the experience through mobile last week during their conference, particularly with the use MS Tags and SMS.  I was delighted when I registered and picked up the guide/agenda/planner and saw a MS Tag at the bottom of the guide:

With instructions, no less.  Again, it’s such a small thing that is often overlooked, but I think you can never be too detailed on instructions with new technology.  They provided step-by-step instructions so anyone (literally, anyone) could follow:

Since I’ve done work with MS Tags, I already had the app installed on my phone, so I immediately took a picture of it.  I was directed to the Kioskcom home page where I could navigate wherever I wanted.  This wasn’t necessarily what I found to be the most valuable.  It was when I opened the guide and saw MS Tags on every page:

This was where the value to me came in.  First, this guide was the only reference material that I used throughout the conference and I actually liked it.  It fit in my bag, was easy to manage, included everything I needed about the show, to the succint detail that I needed, and then with the use of these tags, I was able to get the one-off details that I needed, when I needed them.  For instance, if I wanted to see one of the speakers’ bios, I could easily access it through the tag.  If I wanted to see details on exhibitors, I could easily access them through the tag.  I didn’t have to thumb through a big, hard-to-manage show guide that most often comes with any of these shows.

And if that weren’t enough, they set up a special short code to “opt-in” to receive regular show updates via SMS.  So, instead of relying on any of the kiosks or digital signs (ironically enough) or audio announcements, I was again able to get the information I wanted when I wanted it, through the channel I wanted it on.

This, really, is a perfect example of a brand utilizing many channels to engage with their audience in the most appropriate way – here, the intention was to extend utility.  Mission accomplished.

I think the true power of “out of home” as an advertising and communications platform is that it can bridge the gap in the story – the story that you can get from your TV, then all of the different stories you can find on your computer, and now even more on your mobile phone.  Marketers utilize these channels on a daily basis and they’re engrained in the ecosystem.  I think traditional out of home is in this mix, too, but I think we have such a unique opportunity in front of us with all of the new technologies at our disposal that the true value is extending the story through interactivity outside of the home.  And “out of home” to me is not necessarily billboards or kiosks or “digital” signs.  It can really be anything that we interact with outside of our homes – tables, floors, cars, magazines – whatever.  Pretty soon, everything will probably be considered a “sign,” so I like to think of the space as extremely broad.  (Tangent – in fact, “digital signage” is still immature right now and I don’t know that we’ll see it become mature.  I think we have a great chance of leapfrogging its maturity and welcoming something entirely different to the mix.  This would be everything around us.  For another post, I know….)

Valuable and easy.  Two traits personified again through the use of mobile technology, thanks to Kioskcom/The Digital Signage Show – or should I say the new, appropriately named brand, Customer Engagement Technology World.

Shout if you have other examples of valuable and easy through mobile.  I’d love to hear them.

SXSW….with a little more IOOH

(Full Disclosure – I’ll be at SXSW as part of the Chevrolet SXSW Team.  Chevrolet is an official sponsor this year of SXSW.)

So, the road trip came to an end last night.  All of the teams made it to Austin safe and sound.  They generated tons of great content.  It was fun to watch.  I think the IOOH experiment was successful.  (A few people told me last night that they really enjoyed the interaction.)  I greatly underestimated the logistical component of those clues, though.  We had to ship and coordinate with ~16 different hotels, all different days to be delivered, and different times to check-in.  There were many variables that made this particular component challenging.  That’s to be expected, though, when using a guerilla-like approach.  We couldn’t do much – this isn’t a sophisticated use of OOH – but the point was to try to be as innovative as we could with this element of the experience.

To me, this is an interesting, very realistic way to give people more information/engagement with something as simple and as ubiquitous as post cards.  If I were in charge of a city/state branding initiative, where we were responsible for doing the “standards”, like post cards, I would immediately print the cards with some sort of tags/codes like QR codes/MS tags.  There would be so many opportunities for deeper, more dynamic engagement and content.  You could drive to videos of city/state leaders, citizens, even b-roll-type footage. Even fun facts about the city/state.  Even a website (which I know is not preferred, but could be tailored to the content on the card.) Or if you wanted to get a little more creative, you could drive people from a card of say, The Statue of Liberty, to The Empire State building, just the way we did with the scavenger-hunt post cards.  It could actually add a refreshing element to these otherwise novel (at best) objects.  I suppose in this scenario, these wouldn’t necessarily be true IOOH because the user would, in most cases, end up owning the card, but it’s still a vehicle to enable deeper engagement through an emerging technology.

And yes, I think QR codes are an emerging technology in the US.  I don’t know if they’ll catch on here, but SXSW is doing their part to introduce them to a large, influential audience.  I’ve said it before, but I think one of the top stories coming out of SXSW is going to be QR codes.  They’re on the badges, they’re posted around the convention center, and we’re contributing by using them in various ways.  We’ve placed them on all of the ride & drive Chevy vehicles so that people can learn more about each vehicle that they’re riding in or seeing out in the open spaces around the convention center.  And we’re placing them on a new car – the Cruze – as a way for people to interact with it because here, they can’t drive it or even get inside it.  All of the codes are placed on the car in locations that are specific to the content that they’ll receive.  So, if someone wants to learn about the Cruze’s engine, they’ll take a picture of the code on the hood of the car.

The content behind the codes, though, is really going to be key to make these things compelling and show their potential in how they can benefit the user.  We’re incorporating Chevy-in-pop-culture facts centered around film & music with the ride & drive vehicles, as well as special product content.  With the Cruze, we’re incorporating quizzes and exclusive video content that people can only experience in this way – through these QR codes at SXSW.  The payoff has to equal, or preferably, outweigh the buildup.  Otherwise, it just makes for a bad experience and bad experiences are, well….bad.

I’m confident in ours. Tomorrow, we’ll find out.

Example of our QR codes on the Cruze:

QR Codes, Chevy Cruze

More to come tomorrow, after the booth opens and the Cruze is covered in codes.  Farewell for the night from Austin!

SXSW….with a little IOOH

(Full Disclosure – I’ll be at SXSW as part of the Chevrolet SXSW TeamChevrolet is an official sponsor this year of SXSW.)

Wow.  I have been buried in work, specifically gearing up for SXSW – the premier interactive, film and music festival in the nation.  Yes, I am a little partial because I’m from Austin (where it’s held) but anyone who’s anyone, particularly in the interactive world, attends.  With its heavy technology focus, “trends” tend to appear here before they go mainstream.

We have spent the last few months planning a huge integrated program for one of our clients, Chevy.  And honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of everything we’ve done and are doing.  Chevy has been great to work with and it is our expectation that we will enhance the SXSW experience for everyone.  I won’t get much into all of our program right now, but suffice it to say, we have developed a heavy social + mobile + OOH program.  Here, it’s the OOH program that I really want to focus on.

Yesterday, 8 teams of roadtrippers from across the nation (influential SM-types) set off, all in Chevy vehicles, en route to Austin, where they will all arrive on Thursday 3/11.  Along the way, they are accomplishing “tasks” (which have been crowdsourced over the past month) and broadcasting them across the world wide web.  In addition, they’re receiving clues that lead them from destination to destination. (It’s like the Amazing Race 2.0.)  This is where we’ve introduced one of the OOH components.  We’ve made postcards with QR Codes and MS Tags that have been/are being delivered to the teams’ various hotels.  When they check-in at their hotels, they receive a package that contains these postcards, and when they interact with the postcards, they receive their next clue. Each team gets 1 QR Code postcard (that leads them to a Twitter account) and 1 MS Tag postcard (that generates an SMS).

Since this is such a technology-rich conference, we really wanted to introduce these roadtrippers to different types of emerging technologies (they also receive a clue via “checking in” with Gowalla) before they arrived in Austin.  We felt that it was the perfect way to set the stage for everything that they will experience in the days to come.

One of our QR Code post cards: 

QR Code

One of our MS Tag post cards:

Microsoft Tag

More to come as we get closer to SXSW.  If you’re interested, follow all of the action, from Chevy’s perspective here.

DOOH, Duh, or Huh?

In my opinion, the term “Digital” Out of Home, or “DOOH” is becoming widely overused.  So much so that I think it dilutes the space, minimizes the impact of what can truly be done through technology outside of the home, and ultimately, confuses people – advertisers, marketers and brands alike. 

I look at the term through a simple lense.  Digital Out of Home (DOOH), to me, is nothing more than adding display technology to an otherwise static OOH installation.  So, let’s take a billboard for instance.  The standard OOH installation is a static billboard.  The digital OOH installation is created by simply adding some sort of display technology onto the the static billboard.  This can be through LEDs (as is the case with billboards), LCDs, plasmas, or projection.  It’s a finite list, but apply any of them to any static OOH installation and voila, you now have a digital version of said installation – Digital Out of Home. 

I think it’s important to make this distinction, especially with the introduction of other technologies that make our surroundings, including these billboards, come to life.  As mentioned in a previous post, I call these sorts of technologies enabling technology.  Right now, I think it, too, is a finite list, but it’s a bigger list than display technology.  RFID, for example, is an enabling technology.  GPS is an enabling technology.  Mobile, albeit more broad, is also an enabling technology.  But within mobile, I think you start to see a subset of enabling technologies like Augmented Reality, QR Codes, MS Tags, and Bluetooth.  Then, you have touch screen technology (single and multi-touch, even gesture-based) that is on the list, too.   The point is – these technologies enable personal interactions with an otherwise digital installation.  At this level, it is not Digital Out of Home to me.

I sense more and more that the industry and many of the players in it call everything Digital Out of Home just because it occurs outside of the home through any sort of technology.  But unless we start talking about it in consistent terms, how can we expect it to catch on and even grow?  Do you agree?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.