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Archive for September, 2010

At A Crossroads On The DOOH Slope Of Enlightenment

In my post about the DOOH Slope Of Enlightenment, I deliberately did not include the above picture, hoping to show it at next week’s DS Investor Conference. But my panel is opting for a Q&A style session, so I have some nice slides to use elsewhere – so here ya go…

I’d like to get feedback on where you think DOOH is on the Hype Cycle of Emerging Technology. I believe DOOH is at a crossroads, so I placed my marker near the end of the Shakeout Phase.

During the Fool’s Gold and Shakeout periods it looks like we’re all on the same track, but of course we are not. Many companies are heading southeast without knowledge of the northeast track. I think there are some critical strategies for DOOH companies to employ to get on the right track and I’m sure to be speaking to that point at the DS Investors conference. Hope to see you there.

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LocaModa screen at GameOn, Boston

A potential advantage of DOOH is that it’s ideally placed to sell itself. It’s a medium that is in the faces of millions of people every month. That’s what we sell. So I was delighted to hear what happened last week with one of our applications.

Cue flashback effects……

The story starts 3 months ago at Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar, adjacent to Fenway, home of the RedSox (I have to mention that as not everyone is as familiar or fanatical about baseball as this town is).

Remy’s met with RocketFarm, a local iPhone developer to discuss applications that could help help engage customers. RocketFarm work with LocaModa (they developed an iPhone version of our Jumbli app) and showed Remy’s our applications. Remy’s wanted a LocaModa screen at their venue, so we helped get a social media loop running on their system. The Remy’s screen features real time tweets mentioning Remy’s, RedSox, and also displays FourSquare checkins and mayor info.

Less than a month later, GameOn, a bar actually in historic Fenway and just a few blocks from Remy’s, contacted LocaModa to get their own dedicated social media screen. Once again, we were happy to oblige.

The Remy’s screen today has over 1,700 check ins and Game On has over 2,500 check ins. Both bars get heavy Twitter and mobile engagement – especially when the Sox are playing.

Fast forward to last week…

A Best Buy manager walks into Game On and loves the LocaModa screen. He starts to think about how it can help engage his customers. He goes to Wiffiti.com and creates a free screen to experiment with and soon he has five screens running on three floors at Best Buy. Now the manager at the local Best Buy is talking about LocaModa applications to other regional stores and invites LocaModa to meet the larger group of managers.

To be conintued…

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It’s the last day of summer and I guess we’ve reached the time of the year when smart guys make predictions for next year. Ken Goldberg’s post (re-posted on the DSE blog here) is a fine example of such punditry and it’s difficult to disagree with any of his predications. I even tweeted a comment agreeing with his mobile prediction “Mobile will matter more, but networks will struggle with the best way to utilize it.”

But as I was moving on to my morning coffee, I started to think about Ken’s mobile predication differently. So many industry predictions are so broad they are no better than a fairground tarot card reader. So I really want to stick my neck out with a prediction on mobile….

I predict that in 2011, more DOOH networks will fail BECAUSE THEY ARE STILL EXPERIMENTING WITH MOBILE AND SOCIAL CHANNELS.

Every DOOH network still experimenting with mobile/social solutions risks that their competitors gain traction at their expense. While DOOH networks experiment with mobile and social technologies, their customers (locations, agencies or brands) are moving beyond experimentation. Mobile/Social channels are not just cool features (which is how too many DOOH networks approach them) they are rapidly becoming a universal channel and a method of determining audience engagement and measurement. Mobile/Social channels will undoubtedly become the lingua franca for agencies, brands and location owners to leverage DOOH in a more meaningful way. i.e. If they can’t measure engagement (ideally in real time) it doesn’t exist.

I also predict there’s a reasonable chance I’ll be predicting the same thing in 12 months.

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In collecting my thoughts for the upcoming Digital Signage Investor Conference next month in NY where I’m talking on a panel, I revisited one of the slides I presented at Screen Media Expo Europe last April in London (that deck is on Slideshare here).

What Gartner calls The Hype Cycle of Emerging Technology maps market expectations against time. When technology is in its infancy, the market tends towards a “Peak of Inflated Expectations” as the market experiences a fool’s gold rush and invariably early adopters pay the price for being early. The market adjusts downwards towards a “Trough of Disillusionment” at which stage companies can actually release products that now exceed users’ expectations. At that point, the market can start to move up the “Slope of Enlightenment.”

From its earliest narrowcast beginnings, the Digital Out of Home market maps very predictably to the hype cycle. I hope we can say we have seen the Peak of Inflated Expectations and are currently at or near the bottom of the Trough of Disillusionment.

Of course not all companies moving through these cycles will reach the Slope of Enlightenment. The trajectory of the Internet, as it evolved into the web was a perfect example of the Hype Cycle of Emerging Technology. Early incumbents like AOL, Prodigy and Compuserve weren’t threatened by young whippersnappers like Amazon and Google. Pundits where happy to write those crazy startups off when the bubble burst, but we know how that story played out.

And like the web, many DOOH companies won’t make it to the Slope of Enlightenment. Some DOOH companies have bet on the wrong architecture or business model, have been too early, or too late, and the Darwinian way is for fitter companies to displace them. The fitter companies survive by betting on the right technologies at the right time, the deep pockets of their investors, or street smarts.

Here’s my bet (and it is literally my bet, as an investor and entrepreneur in DOOH).

DOOH platform companies will fail if they don’t minimally enable connected users, cross channel media (easily and with less friction) and real time measurability (i.e. it’s the web, not broadcast). The gold isn’t in commoditized content management systems, hardware, or cap-ex laden networks. The DOOH gold is in the real time connection to audiences (of ad networks) or customers (of marketing networks).

In other words, like the web, companies that address the opportunity of “connectedness” will have the best chance of succeeding.

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Shibuya Station, with over 65,000 checkins, is the top Foursquare location.

It’s sometimes easy to forget or discount how social media is being adopted so rapidly in other countries.

In Japan, the early adoption of iMode as a standardized mobile web experience was largely due to the control that the national carrier NTT DoCoMo had over Japanese mobile handset design. What was a uniquely Japanese experience didn’t translate to other markets but today DoCoMo’s influence is coming under multiple threats – not least because the Japanese consumer is attracted to either an Apple iPhone or Google Android flavor of the mobile web.

The impact isn’t just that consumers in Japan are starting to adopt a western mobile experience, its also that they are being exposed to and rapidly embracing what could now be regarded as a global mobile experience.

The globalization of the mobile experience is continuing with the recent announcement by Facebook that it is bringing Facebook Places to Japan, the second market after USA.

And another clue this is really taking hold: When I was in Tokyo earlier this summer, I displayed a LocaModa Foursquare screen showing activity in Shibuya Station. I was surprised to see that Shibuya had over 65,000 checkins. (Grand Central Station has 58,000 checkins – and that’s much closer to the epicenter of Foursuare’s home turf!) Tristan Walker, biz dev honcho at Foursquare tells me Shibuya has the most checkins of all Foursquare locations. Amazing.

One takeaway is that companies leveraging social media now have a platform to connect globally.

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