Looking for something?

Archive for May, 2011

I’ve just returned from London where I gave a couple of keynotes at ScreenMediaExpo and a workshop for Imperative Group’s excellent ngage conference. One of my themes was to help guide decision makers to ask the right questions and expose some DOOH BS (or at least differentiate between DOOH hype and reality).

For anyone who couldn’t witness the exposure of all things frothy, here is one of my points….

Before you think about a technology-focused DOOH solution, think FEET FIRST.

Mobile is a behavior before it’s a technology.

If someone is walking, queueing, standing, sitting or driving, their ability to notice, react and engage with media will be different.

There was an excellent screen at the entrance of ScreenMediaExpo (made by the folks at SignageLive I believe) which displayed the show’s Events, Tweets and yes, even a QR code (to download the agenda). But that screen was designed for a close (less than 10ft) standing experience. NONE of that content would work if the screen was hanging more 20 ft from viewers in a high traffic area.

Many DOOH networks have loops with 10, 15 and 30 second spots. THAT ISN’T ENOUGH TIME TO INTERACT WITH A SCREEN UNLESS YOU’RE A GUN SLINGER!

In my keynotes, I wanted to prove this point, so before I advanced to the next slide, I got out my iPhone and started its stopwatch app. Then without saying anything, I displayed the next slide which had a QR code full screen, and the simple headline HOW FAST CAN YOU SCAN THIS QR CODE?

I said nothing. And waited.

10 seconds… 15 seconds… 20 seconds…

I then pointed out that typically an audience wouldn’t be so captive and facing a screen…

30 seconds… 40 seconds… 45 seconds…

A man started to attempt to scan the QR code – but he couldn’t from 20ft away.

60 seconds… 75 seconds… 90 seconds…


Had they managed to, they would have got the message “If you managed to scan this QR Code in under 15 seconds, you made Stephen Randall look pretty stupid”.

So before falling in love with anything requiring interactivity and a screen, make sure you have enough time to succeed!

That’s why at LocaModa, we’ve designed what we call Passive, Active and Interactive apps – we don’t believe that one size fits all.

My slides from ScreenMediaExpo can be seen here.

If you go into this business Tech First instead of Feet First, you could trip up.


Last week we received a call from a potential licensee. After setting out our standard terms, they commented that they’d rather get our solution from a (name withheld) digital signage company that was bundling LocaModa for free. Problem was the digital signage company in question did not have a license to resell or sub-license LocaModa. We had never even spoken to them!

We visited the rogue company’s website and there was the LocaModa logo as part of their solution! We called them directly and asked them if they could supply a LocaModa-enabled solution. Of course they couldn’t. Let’s just say, a conversation ensued and they’ve now ceased and desisted and removed our logo and fictitious claims from their site.

Social + Mobile + Local is hot. That means there are a lot of gold diggers out there. The good news is there is gold in them there hills – the bad news is some of it is fool’s gold.

Our industry is far too embryonic to turn a blind eye to shysters that damage our reputation and can harm the market. We must encourage best practices that foster trust with buyers (advertisers, networks and/or venues). To that end, regarding what happened to LocaModa, I suggest:

Don’t only evaluate a DOOH solution technically and commercially – check it’s legally sound.

It might not be your first question, but before agreeing to a solution that will inevitably cost you and your business time and money, you must confirm that your supplier has licenses and/or patents and will stand behind any potential infringement issues that could close your system down.

The reputational and operational impact of IP owners shutting down infringing systems could be huge. A license agreement should make it clear that the supplier has appropriate rights to all the technology they are licensing, in which case, you should expect them to stand behind any potential costs of defending the IP they claim is theirs.


Businesses can no longer afford to opt-out of social media. They need to be part of the conversation, otherwise they risk letting their competitors gain an edge. Brands fostering a dialog with users are pulling ahead of the pack – Coke is great example of a brand that “gets it” as demonstrated by the conversations it’s having with more than 26 million fans on Facebook and more than 260,000 followers on Twitter.

But user generated content is not always friendly or kind to businesses. For example, if a location-based social media application displays tips and offers for places near by, that might be fine for users (and the places near by), but it’s not great for the place the user is in when they get that tip. If a brand or venue can’t stick it’s head in the sand, the concept of “Venue Safe” social media becomes a critical requirement if they’re planning a DOOH investment.

The three critical components of Venue Safe social media are: Filters, Moderation and Venue Messages.

Simplistically, content filters have a configurable database of undesirable words, banned users, and competitors that a venue/brand does not want to see on their screens. But, however smart filters are, they can’t be relied on to remove ALL troublesome content (e.g. the message “The beer is warm” would be difficult for a system to recognize as negative).

Moderation (and Zap)
Moderation software can be used to intercept messages before they get to a screen(s). Good moderation software should be able to accommodate multiple screens, multiple streams (i.e. from Foursquare, text messages, Twitter, Photos etc) – and support multiple web-based moderators for high volume events/campaigns. Moderation is not expensive, especially when amortized into the cost of events/campaigns, but it can slow down a real-time experience – if only by a few seconds.

To accommodate the shortfalls of time-consuming moderation (and the limitations of computer filtering), an enterprise system should also include a real-time override. At LocaModa, we enable mobile moderation via a “Zap” command that an authenticated user can send from their cell phone. Zap can delete any message (containing a specific word/user), or an entire screen – instantly.

Venue Messages
A truly Venue Safe system, combines filters, moderation AND venue messaging, to create a balanced display of user generated content and venue content. Venue messaging can be used to replace some or all user tips, for example a bar might display “Try our half-price buffet this week-end.” However, with such features, it is important that a venue does not abuse it’s share of the voice. The blend of user and venue messages must still result in an authentic mix of engaging content. If the venue replaced every message with “this place rocks” the audience will soon work out that the place probably sucks.

In summary – to be Venue Safe, a DOOH system needs the combination of filters, moderation and venue messaging.

While there might be a few use-cases where all three components of a Venue Safe system are not required, we are yet to discover a scenario when all are not needed sooner or later. Pro systems need these robust features to deal with the real world, in real time, every time.