Maybe one of the problems with all spaces and things becoming interactive is the fact that the actual spaces and things are not set up to be interactive. That is, there are many accessibility issues that need to considered and worked through. As an example, this was an ad hanging above an escalator.
The only access to the ad and the code was riding the escalator. And even though escalators escalate at a nice, slow pace, they’re moving way too fast to take an action like scanning a QR code. It was a mad scramble to do what I could to take a picture of this, much less launch an app and then scan the code.
I understand that many times, decisions for any OOH campaign at scale can’t alleviate all accessibility issues. This ad might be hanging in an extremely appropriate and accessible place in another environment. When dealing with environments and buying ad space in those varied environments, I imagine there’s a percentage of “dead” ads because of all of the spaces that they’re going to be put in. For every bad placement (one that is not accessible), perhaps there are ten good placements (with no accessibility issues.) As someone who is responsible for budgets, however, that sort of thing makes my head want to explode. I want all of them to be accessible. That’s what I’m paying for.
This is one of the challenges of all things having the ability to become interactive. This problem of accessibility is of no concern if this is a standard ad. Or a standard digital screen. Or a standard billboard. Anything that is just push messaging – it’s all about eyeballs and an ad hanging right above an escalator generates a lot of eyeballs.
But when you try to make that placement work for interactivity, it fails miserably.
So, I guess what I would say is this – if you’re going to spend money to create an interactive “thing,” be it a print ad or a digital screen or a kiosk, do a little bit of digging into the entire media buy. Do what you can to really understand all of the placements. Making something interactive nowadays can’t just be, “let’s plop a code on this or a touchscreen on this and make it interactive.” The spaces that you’re buying could be great for eyeballs, but for anything beyond that, for any action, they’re no good.
It becomes a waste of money and expectations. No way people are going to scan the QR code in this particular ad. If that is a key metric, this advertiser will have a hard time believing in this particular form of interactive, enabling technology, despite its potential. They’ll just go back to the boring ol’ awareness-only, push-messaging, let’s-get-as-many-eyeballs-on-this-as-possible mentality.
Is there more noise out there than quality content? Or is it just harder and harder to find the quality content, given all the creators and channels to consume it on? These are more rhetorical than not, especially since these questions have surfaced in different forms over the past few years. But each day, it becomes easier and easier for anyone to create good content and distribute it across many different channels. (What was once intended for Twitter can now be seen on a billboard in the middle of Times Square.) And with that, it becomes harder and harder to focus on and find the quality content. That is, the content that I want, need, and like.
As one of my colleagues recently said to me, we don’t need more platforms to consume and share content on, we need 1 tool to shut out all the noise. So, there you go, inventors – an identified and growing need.
When I think of content – either producing it or consuming it – it’s not about the type of content that is most important to me. Meaning, just because it’s video content (dynamic, moving, all that), does not mean that I will consume it. In fact, that’s really the least important factor. It takes much more than that to make me stop, consume and ultimately, interact with it. Here’s what’s important to me, in order:
What is it about? The subject matter is the key. If it’s about Dave Matthews Band, I’ll consume it. If it’s about baseball, I won’t. However, if it’s about the Texas Rangers, I will. It’s important to understand the generality and specificity of your audience/community when planning content.
Who is producing it? Where is it coming from? Take the examples above – if Dave Matthews Band is producing the content, I want to see it. It’s about them, by them. If my wife forwards me a piece of DMB content, I want to see it. It’s about them, by them, yes, but in this case, passed on to me by someone that I trust, especially about “quality” content pertaining to DMB. If someone close to me – be it friends or family – sends me something or posts something, I want to make sure that I consume it. If it’s someone who I think is credible on any particular subject, I’ll consume it. Otherwise, it’s harder and harder for me to even give it a chance.
What type of content is it? I think too much emphasis is put on type of content above all. Not that great looking content isn’t compelling enough to get me to consume it, but it’s certainly much harder if it’s not something I care about – and even more, am passionate about – or it’s not coming from someone I trust.
Maybe the type of content is enough to get my attention, especially when I’m out in the real world. But if it stands any chance of getting me to actually spend time with it, much less do something with it, it takes much more than that.
So, whether your making content for a website or a OOH digital sign, what drives your content creation? The answer could be the difference between noise and consumption. Maybe even action.
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!
As much as I can, I like speaking to pictures, not words, so the presentation might be a bit difficult to understand. For regular readers of this blog, my story and view of the Out-of-Home space has been chronicled here many times and the presentation is a brief consolidation of those thoughts. For those new readers, there are a few key themes in my view of Out-of-Home that are reflected in this presentation:
I am not a media person (like Jennifer). I don’t make my living working for a DOOH network (like Brian). I work for a communications company and I am an experience person. I’m very much in the connections business and one of the opportunities that I am faced with is how we can connect people with each other and the brands/organizations they support while they are physically outside of their homes. In a way, I have a grassroots approach to Out-of-Home, but that’s primarily due to the realistic application I can affect given my job. I’m fascinated by the space and the experiences brands can now create Out-of-Home so I think I have a pretty broad perspective, based on experience and study.
I’ve heard “Digital Out-of-Home” (DOOH) referred to as the 4th Screen (Nielsen dubbed it as such) and the 5th Screen and even the 6th Screen. People are coming up with “screen” names for the space that are pretty funny. So, when I started this blog, I picked a random number and ran with it. Thus, the 11th Screen. It’s actually been kind of serendipitous because in the past two years, I’ve realized more and more that we will not need physical screens to interact and engage with while outside of our homes. Technology now enables the places and things around us to be turned on and I think the future is not going to be defined by “screens” at all. So, the idea of the 11th Screen speaks to this notion of our physical world being projected on, interacted with, and made into rich experiences. At least that’s the story I’m running with. :-)
I see this “Out-of-Home” space as a blank canvas to create connections. Our society (and world) is based on human connections. Technology (especially mobile) has enabled broader and more efficient connections. It’s no longer the barrier. In fact, it’s a powerful enabler. So, the opportunity for brands to connect with people while they’re outside of their homes, on the go, is greater today than it ever has been. At the heart of connections is communication and effective communication is 2-way. This is important. Because it requires listening and engaging. Both ways.
Out-of-Home has typically been a great Awareness channel. Effective at getting as many eyeballs on an ad as possible.
The introduction of “digital” to the Out-of-Home mix, insofar as making the display digital, does nothing to channel other than to make it more efficient. Moving images and bling make it into “Digital Out-of-Home,” but it does not fundamentally change the channel.
What does fundamentally change the channel is a different kind of technology – “enabling” technology. Technology that enables connection with the brand or with other people. Technology like touch or gesture or Bluetooth or geo-location or image recognition. There are a fair amount of technologies that enable something digital or non-digital (bling or not) to drive connections. This kind of technology changes the channel from an effective Awareness channel to an Engagement channel, and this is the true potential, and the future, of Out-of-Home. In my opinion.
Then, some examples – the first Walgreens example represents the difference between non-digital Out-of-Home and Digital Out-of-Home. Adding a display technology onto the sign does nothing other than provide more space to advertise.
But, as soon as you introduce a short-code to drive connections on that digital sign, it instantly becomes another way into the brand, a way to connect with them.
Then, you can see other examples of the “Awareness” execution of the space compared to the “Engagement” execution of the space. And the space, again in my opinion, is no longer just billboards, posters, or kiosks. It’s the places and things around us in the real world – like products and packages – that are becoming channels into the brand experience themselves. This is the future. And to me, I’m afraid it can’t be defined as “Digital Out-of-Home.” That is much, much too limiting.
If you have any questions on the presentation, feel free to drop me a line. I’m more than happy to discuss in more detail. As always, thanks for reading!
More and more, people are consuming media through multiple channels at the same time. TV and Twitter seem to be today’s peanut butter and jelly. Same can be said for digital signage and mobile. In fact, last week RMG announced a huge partnership with BlueBite, ScreenReach, and Locamoda (separately) that will enable mobile integration into their massive network of screens all over the U.S. Consumers have the ability and preference to be connected in more ways than one. And they’re doing it. The day of single-channel media consumption is gone.
Last night, when I was watching Glee, I noticed a smart addition (and it’s not Kristin Chenoweth) to the show. The #Glee hashtag watermarked on the screen throughout the entire episode.
Glee is certainly not the only show to advertise a specific hashtag, but it’s the first (that I’ve seen) to do it in this way. Constant. Throughout.
Now, I’d be curious to know if the average consumer knows a) what a hashtag is and if they do, b) how to use them. While Twitter adoption has certainly grown, I wonder about the finer nuances of the tool, like the use of hashtags. It’s an easy concept, though, and just as easy to apply.
Hashtags are used for 1 simple reason: to aggregate conversation around a single subject. Twitter and Facebook and blogs and any other social media channel you can think of have enabled consumer opinion/conversation to be more accessible than ever before. Those opinions and conversation influence what someone watches or buys or even talks about.
From a brand’s perspective, aggregating conversation that is already happening around a product/brand/subject is extremely important. It helps bring the conversation into one “stream” and show the totality of conversation. From a consumer’s perspective, it’s another way to connect and converse with like-minded people.
I think brand strategists and storytellers, who are responsible for telling a brand’s story and/or representing them across the multi-channel media ecosystem (which definitely includes digital signage/any sort of OOH), can take this page out of Glee’s playbook: Add a hashtag to your message/story. Constant. And throughout.
People are connected to multiple devices at any given time. They’re constantly talking to their own social networks. And chances are, they’re consuming media in more volume throughout their days. So, when they consume your media, on whatever channel – in and out of their homes – make it easier for them to connect with others around your product/brand/story. Make it easier on yourself to start to aggregate that conversation. In the end, you’ll be making the entire experience easier on consumers, your fans and yourself.
1. The technology in the wand is NOT RFID. It behaves a lot like RFID, but it’s a proprietary technology that includes infrared and a chip. The chip is programmed to the user and keeps an ongoing history of the user, not the wand. This is important because if someone loses their wand, they can easily get a replacement and have it re-programmed to their user history. According to my discussion this morning, the primary reason that RFID was not used in the wand was proximity. The game-makers wanted the wand to work within proximity, not through touch. Infrared has a wider range than RFID.
The technology here isn’t important. What is important is what the technology enables – a personalized experience that continually drives you deeper into the brand (in this case, the game). This particular technology is smart enough to keep a running history of personal achievement. That’s cool. And that’s the power of what any sort of interactivity provides in this blank canvas called Out-of-Home.
2. Active RFID is a whole different ballgame than passive RFID. All of the RFID that I experienced at Great Wolf Lodge is passive RFID. In yesterday’s post, you can see how powerful it is. Active RFID enables some cool things in this environment, particularly around tracking and safety. If those wristbands were active RFID, they would essentially become tracking beacons that could show where anyone was on the property at any given time. At a resort like this, can you imagine how easy it would be to find a lost child or a lost parent? It has a lot of advantages and it’s something that GWL continues to explore. Thing is, active RFID requires large antennas to pick up the signals. So, you can imagine what kind of operational challenges this presents.Being a theme-park, they have options. Turn them into large trees? It could happen.
3. They are always looking to innovate. But they don’t want to add something on that doesn’t utilize the existing technology. They want to make sure it works with what’s already going on. I was glad to hear that they are constantly looking for ways to innovate, but this whole thing didn’t surprise me. A large business like this would be foolish to not filter additional technology through what they’ve already got. And for GWL, who purposefully wants to provide an unparalleled level of convenience to their guests, they don’t want to risk complicating the experience by latching on to the latest, greatest.
4. Digital signage is not important to them. There are posters everywhere. They line the hallways. They’re in the usual places like elevators, the lobby, and the waterpark. I think digital signage could help in some places – menu boards or waiting in lines (for rides) – but other than that, I don’t think it makes sense. GWL is obviously a closed-in space, so they don’t advertise anything other than what’s going on in their own house. What they have now – lots of static posters – is just fine for them. I think if they felt confident in a way they could use digital signs with their existing technology, and it added a tremendous difference in value to what they already have – they’d explore it even more.
All of this technology and the entire experience it enabled just inspires me even more about the potential of creating solutions outside of the home. There are many ways to achieve different levels of interactivity, but the interactivity is the thing. It can make experiences easier, or better, or more convenient, or more fun. Thing is – it’s an experience.
And if you’re into this sort of thing, you can find one at Great Wolf Lodge.
It’s crazy to think that mobile will not have a profound impact on the digital signage industry and even more, the channel that is out-of-home (OOH). Mobile alters it to the point where those static displays – be them digital or print – instantly become interactive. Through SMS short codes or image/code recognition or GPS. Or a host of other enabling technologies. Every day, it seems like someone is coming up with another way to use mobile devices to power more meaningful, deeper experiences. For the purpose of connection. Or convenience. Or entertainment. Or as we’re seeing more and more with brands and marketers, to conduct business.
Yesterday, Pepsi announced an interesting test program using one of these new, enabling technologies – “audio fingerprinting,” which is basically audio recognition. It works through an app on a mobile device (phone or tablet) and when it’s “on” (listening to audio coming from another screen), it can recognize the programming and take action on it. Earlier in the year, Grey’s Anatomy used a similar technology that allowed people who were watching Grey’s Anatomy and using the Grey’s Anatomy app to have an interactive, customized experience on their mobile device. It recognized what episode you were watching and then served up engaging content – polls, quizzes, cast videos, etc… – relative to that particular episode. Just by “listening” to the program.
Well, here, Pepsi is doing the same thing. But instead of serving up additional content, they’re serving up a coupon (for a free Pepsi Max). When the mobile device hears this Pepsi commercial, it rewards you for watching it by giving you a coupon.
The implications of this sort of technology on a “static” (push-only) digital sign are huge. This now enables any of that boring, one-way content to a) become interactive and most importantly, b) not have to be altered. The mobile device actually takes care of everything.
Yes, this is another example of how mobile can dramatically change all those digital screens, but on a bigger scale, this is another example of how those places and things around us are being turned on and instantly connecting us with each other and the brands we love.
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.