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Archive for July, 2010

I’ll keep saying this until I’m red in the face, Minority Report is not the future of outdoor advertising.

Some writers and presenters are prone to cut and paste Hollywood’s visionary concepts into their blogs or presentations without a basic understanding of user experience, business models, or the strategic imperatives that drive or block market-wide innovation. There was such a post on a new DOOH blog this week but I’ll spare linking to it, as the writer is clearly well intentioned and passionate about our industry and I don’t want to dissipate his positive energy. (I did post a response to his post, but at the time of writing, that hadn’t been accepted.)

In the classic Minority Report scene (linked below), as Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderson walks through a shopping mall, camera’s scan his retinas and trigger targeted advertisements displayed on public screens for brands including Guinness (“John Anderton you could use a Guinness right now…”) and American Express (John Anderton, member since 2037). This scene either rallies digital out of home scaremongers or beguiles media technology junkies. In reality it should not interest either camp.

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Does anyone really think this Minority Report user scenario is a future that consumers would embrace?

Today, the USER has the remote control NOT the brand. The connection between brand and consumer is a multi-way DIALOGUE not a one-way MONOLOGUE. (Sorry for the shouting caps – but actually this kind of thing fires me up!)

The CAN-SPAM act, which would probably encompass the user scenarios in Minority Report, makes it illegal to send any message to a consumer without their explicit permission – often requiring a double opt-in.

Location based services (sometimes also referred to as location based applications) are just restarting to get off the ground after several attempts in the past decade before the infrastructure and mobile devices were mature enough to provide compelling experiences. The best location based services are still being hotly debated by users as either being the start of a new media revolution (I take this side) or trivial games. The difference between user adoption of the successful location based services is that they are designed around what USESR want, not what brands want.

When a user subscribes to location-based services, they need ways to toggle those services on and off and/or control public and private modes as their mood and the context dictates. This is something software cannot determine automatically and get right all the time. Get it wrong once, and the user will turn off their service, or throw their phone through the digital screen!

For example, with Google Latitude, Google states before any application, website, or feature you’ve chosen to use can access your Latitude data, you must specifically grant access to the app developer and will see exactly what access or data they’re requesting.

Similarly with applications such as Foursquare, which encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward them for “checking in” and telling their friends where they are, every check in can be set to private or public. On their website, Foursquare’s approach to the user’s privacy is spelled out very clearly and sensibly: “We take your privacy very seriously. That’s why every time you checkin we ask you whether you want to share your location with your friends, whether you want to push it to Twitter, whether you want to push it to Facebook.”

So the next time someone suggests that interactive digital out of home media or place based social media is in some way similar to or inspired by Minority Report, remind them that the plot of that movie was all about predicting a future crime and preventing it from happening. The crime of public spam will be prevented before it happens – even if my name isn’t Tom Cruise.


Photo by xJasonRogersx

On the 13th February, 2006, “Critical Fluff” a local, irreverent blog raved about LocaModa and awarded us “Unlimited Pineapples”. Clearly, “Unlimited Pineapples” was a measure that by the blog’s standards was about as great as anyone or anything could achieve. I commented on that blog, thanking the writer.

And that’s how we met Jayne Karolow, the blogger and voice behind “Critical Fluff”.

It is with sadness but also some pride that I announce that after four years with us, Jayne is leaving LocaModa to manage the marketing for a group of uber trendy local restaurants. (We’re confident that those restaurants will soon be sporting LocaModa enabled place based social media screens, so every cloud has a silver lining, but I digress.)

Jayne built and managed and was the principal voice of The Web Outside. Today, The Web Outside is one of the most respected and informative blogs in our industry. For her work on The Web Outside, I award Jayne unlimited pineapples. (Jayne will continue posting from time to time but will now have the unique view from the venue’s side of the experience.)

Jayne also project managed (or project wrangled) some of the most chaotic, innovative, award winning, cross channel, place based social media for the biggest clients in our industry including Calvin Klein, Captain Morgan, Stride, Sprint, VH1, AT&T, GM, Vans and Verizon. For her project management skills, I also award Jayne unlimited pineapples.

As a serial entrepreneur, I recognize that as a startup evolves, it attracts different people at different stages of their careers. A colleague once described startups as “leggy” meaning that they are like Bambie when he tried to stand for the first time. Jayne regularly and diplomatically dealt with our legginess. She calmed chaotic Mad Man and was a bridge between what sales people promise and what engineers have to deliver. All part of a typical day dealing with media agencies, digital out of home networks, creative directors (and their egos), lawyers and tech teams.

As startups grow up, they (hopefully) get less leggy, but they unfortunately can lose great people – especially those accustomed to legginess.

We wish Jayne the very best of luck and, if ANYONE wants a reference for Jayne from me – I can honestly and unequivocally give her unlimited pineapples.

Good luck Jayne, we’ll miss you.


A poll on Experiate last week questioned the designation of ‘industry’ for the digital out of home ideaspace. I quote:

Do we see ourselves as a unique and growing industry with a specific architecture (rules, regulations, trade shows, organizations) that works in tandem with other forms of communication, like our TV at home, computers, and iPhones?

Or do we see ourselves as an application inside a multi-channel communication culture with standards and practices that we should adopt?

The results thus far (from a fairly limited sample set of 47 votes) favor the latter, but only marginally.

David Weinfeld offers his insight on the close tallies:
“Digital signage is an industry, in and of itself; and digital signage is not an industry… Approaching digital signage from the technology side of the equation, it most certainly is an independent sector. [Yet]… When framing digital signage within the world of media, it is but a piece of a much larger ecosystem. In the same way that the word “mobile” will cease to have meaning in an increasingly untethered world, so too will digital signage meld into a world of free flowing media.”

I have to agree with David here… a “yes to both” is really the only way to make sure the relationship among media in the current climate (DS included) is properly represented. The main takeaway here is far less about the semantic designation and far more about developing an evolving set of best practices that both define DS conceptually within the mediascape, while also respecting the unique technical and UX demands required for successful deployment.

Cast your vote here.
It may be time to rally for a write-in option…


So apparently LocaModa CEO Stephen Randall took some time away from karaoke and Beatles cover bands during his recent trip to Japan to stand up as a thought leader in place based social media…


LocaModa CEO Stephen Randall and Senior Systems Engineer Jacob Elder are headed home this weekend after quite the week in Japan. Let’s put any business details aside for a moment and focus on the fact that they met the Japanese Beatles! Stephen is lucky enough to have met the real Paul twice… but now he can really add some substance to his celeb track record!