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Archive for August, 2010

Here are a couple of pics from West Virginia University’s Student welcome yesterday. 4,500 students attended with over 1,200 text messages and 150 Twitter messages sent to the giant Jumbotrons and two displays mounted on either side of the stage, all powered by LocaModa. The whole event was being moderated in real time on an iPad using the LocaModa TJ tool.

LocaModa at WVU

LocaModa's Text Jocky moderation tool being used at WVU

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A few months ago I wrote about the importance of location based services to digital out of home networks. Here’s a link to that post.

Yesterday, Facebook announced their platform approach to location based services, called Places. In the very near future Google will also announce their location based services product rumored also to be called Places.

Places allows users to “check-in” to locations, like they can with the Yelp, Gowalla and Foursquare, and then leave notes for their friends – or see which of their friends are near by. Chris Cox, Facebook’s VP product management, gave an example that “stories could be pinned to a physical location, so that maybe in 20 years our children will be able to say this is where our parents had their first kiss.”

But so far there has been little or no mention of how Places can benefit places!

If any of us in the DOOH industry has software running in a “place”, this is the moment we’ve been waiting for. “Places” is mainstream.

Er, so what does DOOH do with Places? Here are just a few ideas. You know where to go to find more where these come from….

Display a Place’s activity (number of checkins, who’s checkin in, who’s the major etc). Display curated user tips (or stories as per Chris Cox’s discription above) and offers/info from the location.

Connect the place’s jukebox to a Place’s social stream/fan page/website – what music is playing, what’s the most played music, who played it?

By displaying this data in the Place and beyond, we can search for a place that plays music we like, where our friends hang out etc. We can literally put a place on our own map – not in a static sense, but much more dynamically – showing activity in real time at or close to the location.

Places is going mainstream. So this is a chance for DOOH to take a bigger role in the development in the exciting social media explosion. DOOH is a perfect distribution model for place based media. Location based service platforms from Facebook, Google, Foursquare et al are great at connecting users to location based data. We can connect these two exciting (but otherwise disconnected markets).

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Photo by Shivaelektra

If content is still king, its crown is definitely losing it’s luster. The King’s reign is presiding over more interactive, engaging and measurable media. Content is being forced to be richer and in some cases, it’s evolving into applications.

Users are drawn to the most engaging screen – in the past that has been a TV or cinema screen. Today it’s more likely to be a PC or mobile screen. Even in a location where there’s less competition from other big screens, a captive audience is not enough to win attention. A boring screen (of any size) will simply inspire the user to seek a less boring screen, for example their ever present mobile screen.

As far as the digital out of home opportunity is concerned, the solution is not to throw commoditized weather icons or event listings on to a screen and claim the experience is hyper local. It’s also not good enough bolting Bluetooth downloads, mobile marketing short codes or 3D bar codes to passive media in a vain attempt to share some of mobile’s limelight. Disconnected, siloed content doesn’t allow the user to be part of the conversation and cannot therefore pretend to be king for much longer.

We’ve moved from impressions to expressions, so media has to be a more localized and connected experience. The user must be given the chance to feel included. That means that the location experience needs to be tuned to the context of the user – not simply re-purposed TV or web content.

Place based social media is a solution to this problem, but it cannot be treated in the same way as passive content. It needs to be part of a network’s strategy – not an afterthought. It’s closer to an application than pure content.

The king is dead. Long live the king.

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Photo via http://www.flickr.com/photos/sabine01/

For a few years now, I’ve been telling a story that starts with the phrase “suspend disbelief”. The story is intended to help illustrate the power of having a dialogue rather than a monologue with customers. These days there’s really little belief to suspend, as the story is unfolding for real, yet surprisingly, I meet people who think its lesson doesn’t apply to them. I of course think they’re wrong. So here goes…

Suspend disbelief. Imagine two politicians waiting to engage with a gathering crowd, a majority with cell phones. The first politician stands up on a soapbox and addressing the crowd says, “In an effort to be completely transparent, please text, tweet or email your comments, ideas or questions to the screen behind me and I’ll do my best to address you all. Of course we have to moderate messages to ensure nothing defamatory or illegal is displayed, but other than that, let it rip. Let’s start a dialogue…” Several minutes later, after a passionate dialogue with the crowd, the first politician sits down, and the second politician walks over to the screen, turns it off, then faces the crowd and starts his monologue.

Whatever we think about the first politician’s potential exposure to “negative voices” our knee-jerk reaction to the second politician is “He must be hiding something. Why doesn’t he want hear us. What’s he afraid of?”

I’m surprised that today, so many businesses will say they understand the importance of a dialogue with their customers but they still insist on metaphorically turning their screens off. In a society where increasingly, every screen is connected, every screen is a channel and an opportunity for a two way conversation. User generated content – negative or positive – can be an opportunity to learn from, retain or acquire customers.

Some good examples of companies using multiple channels to have a dialogue with their customers and encourage user generated feedback include Whole Foods’ Twitter page and Ford’s TheFordStory.

With some excellent and simple moderation and curation tools and services, (some purpose built real time moderation and curation tools are provided by LocaModa here) there is no excuse for any company not to engage in a dialogue with their customers via multiple screens – those screens can be Facebook, Twitter, blogs and yes, digital out of home screens in locations such as bars, cafes, colleges, stadiums, restaurants.

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