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Archive for November, 2010

Fig.1. Seven Stages Of Place-Based Social Media Engagement (Click to enlarge).

In Part 1 of 15 Seconds Or More, I covered the three different types of place-based social media. In this post, I cover the seven steps in the user engagement path that map across the three modes of place-based social media:

1. Recognize Ability to Participate
2. What’s In It For Me?
3. Start to Participate
4. Send Message
5. Receive Response
6. Screen Updates
7. Reaction

Content that indicates an ability to be influenced by its audience and/or invites a dialogue has a greater potential to stand out from content that is perceived as a one-way conversation between marketer and audience. Even if the audience doesn’t have the time to participate (which is the case in the short time availability of passive place-based social media), they can be more receptive if it is obvious that other people have participated in the messaging.

Passive place-based social media needs to promote aspects of its participatory nature very quickly. It can do this in a number of ways:

- By using user generated content from social streams such as Twitter , Foursquare, Facebook, mobile photos and text messages.
- By clearly indicating the sources of the content used for example, by using profile pictures, user comments, or displaying logos of content sources.
- Color can used to highlight keywords or tagged words to emphasize the fact that these messages have been user generated and how it was directed to that DOOH screen. (Also see the advice under SCREEN UPDATES, as many of the design considerations for attracting attention apply here.)

NOTE: Social network logos are becoming shorthand for a call to action. Just as www is a recognized acronym in advertising, Twitter or Facebook addresses, hashtags, or calls to “check-in” on Foursquare or Facebook Places are not only recognized by users of those services but are also becoming used in mainstream media including television and radio.

According to a white paper on the Marketing at Retail Initiative (MARI) “Shoppers rely on a subconscious response to the displays and products that come into their vision. Once interest is engaged there is a direct and measurable visual response to the object in vision. At this point a rational cognitive decision making process is engaged during which the buy/don’t buy decision is made. (The report goes on to conclude that a shopper is exposed to 1.5 pieces of marketing at retail material every second, then looks at and engages with an individual display every 4.3 seconds.)

Having noticed the media and perceived an ability to participate, the user has to care about participating. I like to think there are three “Fs” that address the “what’s in it for me” question: Fun, Fame or Fortune.

- An example of “Fun” is the DOOH game Jumbli which people play in locations and on line. Several players have amassed over 1 million points, which is the equivalent of many days of play.
- Fame – If the act of participation get’s a user’s message, picture or vote on the screen, that too can give the user enough of a reward for their participation (Jumbi displays the players words on all DOOH screens, including a screen in Times Square).
- Finally, if there is some reward – for example, an offer, discount or two-for-one opportunity, that can also tip the user into engaging (again, in Jumbli, AT&T, one of the game’s sponsors, offered free phones for the highest scoring words of the day).

Participation, especially in a short dwell time requires the simplest call to action and ideally multiple opportunities/channels to engage. For example:

- Use a memorable call to action. A user will find it easier to remember a call to action such as “Find us at facebook.com/target” rather than having to remember a long telephone number.
- Display familiar interaction methods for example text messaging, Twitter, Mobile photos, Mobile downloads, Facebook etc.
- Offer multiple channels of connectivity e.g. “Find us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter.”

Depending on the application, context and the capability of the DOOH network, sending a message should result in some immediate feedback. This feedback can be to the user’s mobile phone (in Active and Interactive Place-Based Social Media) and/or on the DOOH screen (only in Interactive Place-Based Social Media).

As mentioned above in the case Active and Interactive Place-Based Social Media the DOOH system should be able to send immediate feedback to the user’s phone. Such a reply is typically sent with 5 seconds of the user sending the message.
The reply should not only confirm the user’s interaction, for example, thanking them for engaging or responding to a specific command, instruction or question, but also contain the necessary statutory messages required by the mobile carriers.

In the case of Interactive Place-Based Social media, the DOOH screen can display feedback of the user’s engagement. Feedback should occur within 5 seconds to be effective and keep the dialogue alive. There should be some obvious clues on the DOOH screen that some of what is happening on the screen is happening as a result of user (rather than brand) direction. For example, the famous Boston sport’s bar Game On in the Fenway, runs LocaModa screens that display Twitter messages containing the words Red Sox. Those messages highlight the keywords Red and Sox, and the audience is immediately aware that they too could send a message to Twitter containing those words and (subject to moderation/curation rules) have their message appear on the Game On screen. Displaying applications such as Twitter and Foursquare with specific local calls to action results in a 30-60% increase in interactions in the venue.

At the same time as the DOOH screen updates, the DOOH system should be able to update other screens that are connected to the same application, for example, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds etc. Wherever possible, these screens should also update within immediately.

NOTE: The ability of a screen to update in real-time is limited by rules and/or the APIs (application programming interfaces) of social networks or messaging systems used. It will also be limited by the capability of the website to update from push/dynamic messages.
Here are a few other tips to help simplify messaging and aid interactivity:

- Use capitals or color to differentiate action words. For example, the Call To Action (CTA) “text Vote to 87884” is easier to comprehend when it is displayed as Text VOTE to 87884 or TEXT VOTE TO 87884
- Use existing paradigms wherever possible, especially if the engagement time is short.
- Sometimes it is better to simplify engagement at the expense of gaining more granular location-based data. For example, some systems can generate very localized data, but require the user to enter a longer keyword, hashtag or screen ID. The marketer needs to decide if the campaign’s goals are based on user engagement or granularity of the data (or other criteria). With good design, engagement and granularity of data can be maximized.

We can only hope that having motivated the user to participate, that we have started a process that can continue beyond a single interaction. However, this will not only depend on the system, but also on how compelling the experience actually is. For example, once a user has checked in to venue, they might not be motivated to post a tip or do anything else to win

More details about how to maximize the effectiveness of DOOH displays and campaigns to encourage/support the appropriate user behavior will be covered in Part 3 and in my white paper which will be coming soon.


LocaModa’s typical work involves enabling channel partners’ place-based social media apps (for example the Sports Bites application for Zoom Marketing and Media and the NYTimesToday.com Twitter application for RMG) and building fully integrated advertising campaigns for brands such as AT&T, Vans, Verizon etc.

But we also have a self-serve business over at www.wiffiti.com (soon to be renamed to fall under the LocaModa brand). The site’s primary purpose is to help end-users build and spread simple place-based social media apps. And it also gives us insights into how people are using our platform.

The result? Today the site clocked its 45,000th application, with over 50 apps built by midday today! A surprising number of the applications have been built by teachers seeking a more direct and fun way to connect to their students (see this Web 2.0 EDU blog post on “5 Way To Teach With Wiffiti In The Classroom”).

Some screens have been used in churches for similar reasons – audiences of all types clearly want to connect. The site also helps professional users “try before they buy” (that’s the “freemium” business model) for use at conferences (here’s an example from the Mashable Media Summit), events, concerts and a even stand-up comedian!

Self-serve equates to roughly 10% of our business. There will always be a requirement for custom applications and professional services for larger DOOH networks and campaigns, but we have to wonder if that percentage is indicative of the wider DOOH opportunity.


Hi.  I’m Susan Dalton, VP of Engineering & Operations at LocaModa.  I’m new to LocaModa and new to the DOOH industry.  I’ve been here for two months and this is my first blog post.

I spent the last ten years selling and deploying Internet products to the Yellow Pages’ industry.   It was really frustrating; the industry leaders went to market with online local search features years after availability.  This was because the rare forward thinking YP executive was held hostage by a sales force that made good money, knew how to sell print ads, and had virtually no comprehension of the Internet.  What would compel a six figure commissioned sales person to sell a product that they didn’t understand?  Well, nothing, really. 

In the early years, 2000 – 2004, we heard the broken record from the YP industry. 

The book is here to stay. 

People have everything they need in the book.

Consumers don’t understand the Internet.

The advertisers don’t want it.

That coupled with a decades old culture steeped in the mantra – no mistakes:  we can’t fix them for a year – paralyzed forward progress on the YP websites.  Google, Yahoo! and others envied the countess SMB relationships and the plethora of enhanced content of the YPs.  But the YPs were not able to leverage that content.  The industry found itself burdened by a naïve sales force – whose ignorant resistence overpowered the momentum to transition to online.

The result?  The industry collapsed (just check out market caps from 2000 to 2010 of the leaders).  And the print book emerged as the enigma for the generations that followed.

Here we are again.  This time, it’s signage.  Why would a digital signage network want to connect to the Internet?  Why would a DOOH network want to connect their OOH signs with Facebook, text messaging, and tweets?  It’s oh so similar because the arguments are all the same.

They say:         The users don’t want it.

                        People like what we have.

                        Consumers don’t understand how to use it.

                        The brands aren’t buying in.

They mean:      I don’t understand Facebook.

                        What’s a tweet?

                        How can we deploy a campaign across multiple mediums?

New industry.  New company.  This time around, I hope we are all smarter.  We need to ensure that the front line is not burdened with fear and naïveté.  Whatever it takes, the industry leaders need to propel the sales force in to an aggressive campaign to sell a comprehensive DOOH solution.  Because if we don’t, isn’t the future predictable?




Fig.1. Place-Based Social Media Modes (Click to enlarge).

I’ve just returned from a road trip where I’ve been explaining the different types of place-based social media to brands, agencies and networks. I’m committing my talks to a white paper, but in the meantime, I thought it would be useful to post parts of it here.

This first post describes three types of place-based social media engagement; Passive, Active and Interactive.

Place-based social media does not have to be real-time, interactive or require a specific lean-forward mode of engagement. Understanding how to optimize out of home engagement requires an awareness of the end user’s availability (to consume content) and ability to participate as well as an appreciation of the environment for their engagement, the Digital Out of Home network’s capabilities and the stakeholder’s objectives. Those considerations map to three modes of out-of-home engagement; Passive, Active and Interactive (See Fig.1), each of which maps to distinct applications that can optimize the engagement strategy for locations (retail, hospitality, fitness, health care etc) and brands.

Passive place-based social media is best used where the dwell time and or the available time on the DOOH content loop is under 30 seconds. The key attributes of passive place-based social media are:
- It displays contextual, targeted, curated, social media on DOOH screens without a call to action.
- It cannot be influenced by the DOOH audience.
- It can be operated by DOOH networks of any capability.
- As its name implies, passive place-based social media, without a call to action or enough time to engage, does not support any DOOH user interactions.

Active place-based social media is best used where the dwell time and or the available time on the DOOH content loop is at least 30 seconds. The key attributes of active place –based social media are:
- It displays contextual, targeted, curated, social media on DOOH screens with a call to action.
- It can be influenced by the DOOH audience but not in real time – either due to limitations of infrastructure or time required by brands/venues to ensure content is adequately filtered, moderated and/or curated.
- It can be operated by DOOH networks with minimum Internet connectivity.
- Active place-based social media, with a call to action and up to 15 seconds to engage, typically has enough time for only one DOOH user interaction.

Interactive place-based social media is best used where the dwell time and or the available time on the DOOH content loop is at least 60 seconds. The key attributes of interactive place-based social media are:
Displays real-time contextual, targeted, curated, social media on DOOH screens.
- Can be influenced by the DOOH audience in real time.
- Can be operated by DOOH networks of with real-time Internet connectivity.
- Interactive place-based social media, with a call to action and at least 60 seconds to engage, typically has enough time for more than one DOOH user interaction and supports more complex interaction models.

In 15 Seconds Or More (Part 2) I’ll cover the seven steps in the user engagement path.


LocaModa Ninjas

Bill Nast, LocaModa VP Business Development and I have just returned to Boston from a week in Japan, and brought home some headbands for the team. The meanings of the symbols we’re wearing are Success, Victory, Ninja, Number One and Coming Happiness.