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Archive for October, 2010

There are few questions that get me as steamed up as “Will smartphones kill DOOH?”

Video didn’t kill the radio star – at least not all of them. TV hasn’t killed Cinema, the web hasn’t killed TV and smartphones will not kill DOOH. All screens are evolving.

Of course as a DOOH advocate, I would say that. And I’d probably add – “Smartphones will compliment DOOH” – but I thought the question deserved being laid to rest once and for all. Here are my top ten reasons why smartphones won’t kill DOOH – EVER:

1. Targeting. Smartphones are not a replacement for advertisers seeking a targeted out of home audience. Advertisers cannot push messages to phones (and good thing too) not only because that would be a bad user experience but also because of the CanSpam Act that legally prevents them doing so (See #2 re Push Notifications).

2. Push Notifications and Geo Targeting is NEVER a solution. The often described use-case where a user is walking past Starbucks, and receives an offer for coffee on their phones (smartphone or otherwise) deserves to be debunked. As mentioned in #1 – messages can’t be pushed to users without their explicit permission/opt-in. If that message is an update inside a smartphone app, not all users will have push notifications enabled, so will be unable to receive updates if the app isn’t running. After receiving more than a couple of offers, how many people do you think will keep that feature on? My guess is that unless the app is capable of mind reading, it’ll be turned off like pop-ups on browsers. (Internet Explorer 6+, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari all block pop-ups by default.)

3. Location-Based Services (LBS) are not the enemy. LBS on smartphones such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places are great fun and potentially valuable services for locations. The primary users for these services today are consumers not locations. The LBS companies want to address that, but dealing with thousands of stores is a very different business to dealing with millions of consumers. Some enterprising store managers are adopting LBS applications – offering discounts to mayors etc, but many do not have the time or understanding to properly leverage the power of LBS. DOOH has an important role to play here. DOOH screens are much more likely to be looked after by store managers who see them every day than a profile page on the web. Every time LocaModa displays Foursquare on a venue’s screen, that venue sees increases in user engagement. Consequently, it is much more valuable for the venue to promote their offers on their DOOH screen (perhaps within the DOOH version of their LocaModa Foursquare page).

4. Discovery. Smartphones do not provide a unified media distribution solution for brands and agencies. Apps and ads need to support multiple platforms – Android, iPhone, Symbian, RIM, HP/Palm. Consequently, it’s not easy to get a message to multiple handsets and know that message is going to be seen. Will that message be an iAd or a banner insider a Twitter client? Will the app be available in the Apple app store or Android marketplace? If it is, how will it be discovered? With over 300,000 iPhone applications to choose from, what are the chances that the user will discover and download the app?

5. Availability. Mobility and Availability are different considerations. When consumers are mobile, they typically have a purpose and are less receptive to stopping, getting a phone out of their pockets, and clicking on something to browse or play. In a mobile-mode they are however exposed to DOOH and OOH. Once a person’s mode changes to “dwelling”, they are open to environmental distractions such as menus, posters, DOOH screens etc. Of course many such environments are so unenageing that consumers do start to “self entertain” – read books, newspapers, iPhones etc. BUT that does not mean that the environment has disappeared. If the most entertaining or information-rich screen is not in front of them, the user might have other options, but those options are only attractive if those screens are more readily available than the location’s screens. For example, if a station had no obvious information, a user would most likely wander around for a few minutes seeking it. The act of pulling out a phone, finding an app or website, searching for the right information etc is more than a few clicks away and might be less available that find the information at the location.

6. Locations Are Users Too. DOOH is not just there for audience entertainment, but for information, reduction of perceived wait time, advertising etc. The location can’t replace it’s menu boards with an assumption that all of its customers will have smartphones.

7. The 3 Click Rule. UI designers will often tell you that between 30% to 60% of users abandon a process with every click. To be conservative let’s assume the lower number, that still means you have only 2-3 interactions before you’ve lost most of your users. A smartphone will not satisfy all opportunities to inform or entertain in less 3 interactions – and as long as there are more readily available solutions on DOOH, many people will not seek alternatives.

8. Multi-channel. The smartphone screen isn’t the only screen competing for a user’s attention. With mobile, computers, TVs, cinemas and DOOH, advertisers are taking a multiple channel approach to their messaging. This means that ultimately ALL screens will be connected. Rather than a one size fits all approach, the media landscape is actually becoming more fragemented and micro-targeted as a result. This means that the phone screen is often part of a 360 degree solution – it’s not the entire solution – and neither is DOOH.

9. Attention is the currency. As far as screens go, people are attracted to the most compelling screen that addresses the context of that moment. If a DOOH screen is engaging, the user will notice it, if not, the user might be tempted to play with her iPhone. However, it’s as ridiculous to suggest that smartphones will kill DOOH as it would be to suggest that smartphones will stop people noticing the opposite sex. OK – I accept that most DOOH is not as interesting as the opposite sex – but that isn’t a smartphone problem, it’s a DOOH problem. And size matters – a large attractive screen should be more compelling than a small attractive screen. The challenge, as always, is to ensure the large screen is actually compelling.

10. Only Bad DOOH Will Kill DOOH. This is really repeating #9 but I think it’s worth repeating. The only real threat to DOOH (and it’s a big threat) is bad DOOH.

So the next time anyone suggests that smartphones will kill (or bypass) DOOH, you take your pick from the above answers.

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Example “Trending Celebrities” Place-Based Social Media App

This morning LocaModa announced that we have signed a agreement with Premier Retail Networks, Inc. (PRN) to deliver cross-channel social media on their Checkout TV® Network in supermarkets.

As mentioned in the press release here, PRN and LocaModa will jointly develop a suite of cross-channel ad units designed to enhance customer engagement at checkout by integrating mobile and Web with digital place-based media. PRN’s advertising solutions now include the ability to display filtered, localized social media components with curated user-influenced content and trending topics collected via mobile texts, Twitter and Facebook. The new place-based ad units are measurable and connect PRN’s Checkout TV® Network to mobile phones and social networks. The ad units can be configured to display the most important shopping items according to local customers’ comments. Audiences can participate via mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter or brand Web sites, and see aggregated results on the Checkout TV® Network screens as well as online.

The above screen shots show one example of a place-based social media application that displays the popularity of celebrities trending locally, determined by shopper mobile votes, on-line Facebook votes and changes in the number of fans for celebrity Twitter accounts. In the lower right screen shot, the place based social media ad unit for the Checkout TV Network displays near real-time results on a branded right hand panel of the DOOH screen, complimenting a video ad unit.

What our recent announcements with Posterscope and FUJIFILM Imagetec have in common with today’s news is the tsunami-like demand from brands and agencies for mobile and social media connectivity.

As Cathy Stauffer, PRN executive vice president, market development states in the press release: “Today’s audience enjoys media that is socially connected. LocaModa’s platform helps us create a dialogue between our advertisers and consumers through content displayed on Checkout TV® Network screens in supermarkets that can be continued on other platforms, helping to contribute to even deeper brand engagement.”

Anyone in a media-related business knows that they have to have a good answer when their customers ask them for “mobile and social media solutions.” As challenging as our industry can be (prize for understatement of the day goes to me!), it is telling when influential players across the value chain start to align on the message that “all screens are connected” and a strategy to “make sure we’re connected too.”

Now consumers can enjoy social media in line and on line. Someone should use that as a tag line!

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LocaModa Place-Based Social Media Screens At FUJIFILM Imagetec Co. Ltd.

I’m delighted to announce LocaModa’s relationship with FUJIFILM Imagetec Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of FUJIFILM Corporation. The press release can be found here.

I went to Tokyo earlier in the year to understand the potential of the market. Screens in stations, public spaces, stadiums, retail stores and even Karaoke bars are starting to be networked in interesting and innovative ways. Companies that for decades have provided the leading traditional advertising solutions for those spaces are now moving into digital solutions.

The recent success of Twitter in Japan has opened the market up to the power of social media. I commented earlier in the year that Shubuya Station is Foursquare’s busiest location for checkins. When I posted about that here, it had 65k checkins, today, barely 4 weeks later, that number is over 78,000.

Japan has for many years led the world in mobile technology and I have to say, their phones are still way ahead of what we typically see in US. However, the innovative but proprietary iMode framwork for apps and services that was standardized and directed by DoCoMo, Japan’s dominant wireless carrier has been rocked by Apple. The iPhone has almost single-handedley moved many Japanese companies to move to web-based mobile apps as their previous iMode sites look like postage stamps on an iPhone or Android device.

These facts all point to the web re-establishing itself as the backbone for services and media.

Companies such as FUJIFILM Imagetec are adopting web strategies in order to establish themselves as responsive and innovative solutions in the DOOH space. It’s a very exciting time, and we look forward to helping our partners develop leading edge solutions.

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Hey, I’m Greg Stellato, a Sales Planner at LocaModa and this is my first company blog post.  In addition to sales planning I also speak with brands and agencies most of the day, handle some of our social media and irritate the engineers with my lack of headphones.   I grew up in the digital world and everything in it comes second nature to me.  I hope you enjoy the post.

Razorfish, one of the largest digital advertising agencies in the world held their 10th annual client summit last week.  Roughly two-thirds of the attendees were Razorfish clients from 100 brands and eight countries.  For the majority of its history, the summit has been a client-and-employee only event but Razorfish has opened the summit for a third year to trusted partners like LocaModa and I was fortunate enough to attend.  I had many great discussions over the three days and I met several senior level people from Razorfish, brands and even spent time with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

The digital and analog worlds are crashing together, and it means that entirely new experiences are available to marketers that can be applied to previously analog channels.  Digital no longer means you are tethered to a keyboard or mouse. Bob Lord, Global Chief Executive Officer said it best, “clients can’t be the only ones integrating across silos – their agencies need to do so for them as well”.

The theme of the summit was ‘Evolve’ and Razorfish placed their trust in eight partners to help advance the collective understanding of what the future of digital looks like.  Attendees in the Marketing Lab used a spray paint remote to create digital graffiti, played games with gesture-recognition technology, saw the latest in set top boxes, experienced in-depth interactive commercials and engaged with place-based social media. The atmosphere was energetic and inspiring.

My key takeaways are:

Generate a conversation your customers care about

Meet people where they are

How to monetize social media is the wrong question

If you do nothing (with social media), you will become irrelevant

Don’t scream sale when the customer isn’t interested. – Brian Dunn, Chief Executive Officer, Best Buy

Use platforms what they’re meant for

QR Code 2, Business Cards 50+

The majority of my takeaways confirm my beliefs in what we’re doing and why I find it imperative to educate brands and agencies on the entire digital landscape.  I have to advocate for Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook before I describe what it is LocaModa does.  The one downfall of growing up with social media and being around it everyday is that I need to step back and remind myself that most of the brands and agencies I speak with don’t have a strong understanding of each but when I tell a story (another key topic at the event, story telling) of how their brand can appeal to their customers where they are and be part of a conversation their customers care about while speaking to them in a language they understand, then it takes a whole new meaning.

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James Davies, Chief Strategy Officer of Posterscope and I have just released a white paper: “Sociable Media. Seven ways to connect online and offline social experiences to deliver engagement, advocacy and brand affinity.” You can download it free here.

Working with James on the white paper exposed me to some of his and his agency’s thinking about the role of OOH as a critical compliment to other channels. Prior to meeting James, I had been guilty of thinking of the digitization of OOH only in terms of digital billboards. But digital billboards are not the most significant movement of OOH towards all things D. In fact less than 1% of billboards are digital (according to the OAAA).

The more significant evolution in OOH is its ability to work in conjuction with other channels so well. OOH has been quietly pioneering cross-channel connectivity because it has to. It recognized (as all media should) that it has to be a complimentary channel because the customer today is not captive to any screen.

The familiar phone number on OOH billboards is today often replaced with easier to comprehend (or remember) Text short codes, QR codes, Twitter hashtags, Facebook fan pages and urls.

As the white paper’s introduction states, a unique new communications dynamic is being created by the convergence of four media opportunities: online social networks, social networks in the real world, mobile and Out-of-Home media, especially digital and experiential. The paper outlines how advertisers can leverage these channels in various combinations to turbo-charge the effects of both online and Out-of-Home activity and enable a more sociable approach to consumer engagement.

In addition to understanding the role of new media channels in isolation, advertisers need to be mindful of how they interact with each other and with traditional media.

The message time and time again is this simple: As media fragments, the ability to work across channels is one of THE most important features of any communications strategy. Traditional media is “getting digital” fast.

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