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Archive for June, 2011


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I rarely use this blog to blatantly plug LocaModa products, but I’m really excited about LocaModa Community Board, an application that we launched today. A link to the PR is at the end of this post, but I think there’s a more important strategic angle unfolding in the DOOH market that can’t be told in a product press release – so I wanted to blog about it here.

There are over 300 DOOH content management systems (CMSs).

That’s a problem that would get in the way of any market taking off.

Let’s be honest, brands, agencies and retailers really couldn’t care less about CMSs. And they certainly don’t want to have to wrestle with more than one. They want simple, non-proprietary, scaleable solutions. Ideally, a designer wants to build it once and know it can run everywhere.

We’ve been here before. The Internet took off with the invention of the browser which was simple, powerful and useful and provided a unified interface on top of proprietary operating systems.

I think a similar strategy has to unfold in DOOH to enable more frictionless distribution and greater scale. And I hope (for LocaModa’s strategic value) that it will happen via Community Board.

Community Board is also simple, powerful and useful and provides a unified interface on top of proprietary operating systems.

The value of community boards is in their connection to real people. A digital version of a community board takes a familiar metaphor and enables locations and brands to reach those communities. Packaging a DOOH application this way, makes it easier to understand by the entire value chain. It provides a utility that venue owners and brands can relate to. Brands can also be confident that their ad units (passive, active or interactive) will work in a consistent manner on all community boards, regardless of network capabilities. And community boards have a place and value in multiple verticals – health clubs, grocery stores, pharmacies, retail, offices, cafes, quick serve restaurants…

Very few companies are as focused on making DOOH applications and ad units work across multiple networks, multiple CMS, multiple channels – That’s what LocaModa has been resolutely focused on. As more and more DOOH networks seek mobile + social + local solutions in order to engage audiences and attract interactive media dollars (i.e. survive) they MUST adopt non-propriatary solutions. Simply put, even the largest networks cannot operate as islands.

LocaModa Community Board is launching nationally on six networks and two premier brands have already purchased media for Q3 and Q4. I’m excited for this application and LocaModa – but also because I can see how the DOOH market can grow like the web via such unifying applications.

Hey, an entrepreneur has to have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) – mine is to enable The Web Outside. I think Community Board is a critical part of achieving that goal.

The official press release is here.

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Making social DOOH media work across different networks – each with different caching policies, content management systems and player configurations – is the stuff that LocaModans wrestle with every day. That’s challenging in and of itself, but we added the complexity of ensuring that future cross platform/cross channel apps are also easier to develop – without having to be a brain surgeon. So I’m happy that the big brained engineers at LocaModa have been busying themselves for a major release. Here are some details…

Key features:

· Messaging: Flexible and extensible message classification system – makes it easy for developers to add message types and/or message sources.

· Moderation: Enhanced moderation and filtering/curation options of content based on tags, words, phrases, profanity and users/accounts.

· Local Caching Support: Like the Energizer Bunny, we keep going and going! LocaModa apps now support both Network Outage Mode (Network/Internet failure while SWF is playing) and Offline Mode (No network/internet connection prior to/up to SWF launch time). LocaModa apps now have Network/Venue options for configuring offline storage of device info, configuration info, messages, and assets using a pragmatic approach with a garbage collection system to ensure minimal device overhead. Due to the different caching policies of every DOOH network, this feature has been pretty challenging – hats off to the team who have persevered to make this work across multiple networks, OSs and CMSs. This is a big deal in my humble opinion.

· Enhanced Application Configuration: Again, regardless of a network’s CMS, OS and their screen specs, networks and/or venues can configure LocaModa apps and aspects of their appearance easily. For example, we include a configurable banner component that allows the network or venue to determine: the banner location, background, and transparency, the text font and color, and the rotation schedule. The banner and text autosize to the screen. Networks and venues can also configure the font, color and hang time of brand and user generated messages. No big deal for any competent CMS these days, but offering this flexibility for an application running on top of multiple proprietary CMSs makes a huge difference for venue owners or agencies that don’t want to have to learn about multiple DS systems just to change their messaging.

· Standardized Ad Units: We’ve been running standardized ad units across multiple networks for some time now, but now there’s more magic to the “write once run anyway” manner in which the same ad unit can resize in LocaModa applications regardless of network/screen configurations. We’re also introducing new sponsored ad units in response to great feedback from our Community Board application that enhances advertising opportunities and engages the audience. All apps and ad units now have an enhanced suite of analytics (Proof of play anyone?) and remote debugging tools.

· And not to mention a LocaModa SDK! (I said not to mention that!)

Some of these features have already begun rolling out on our latest campaigns. Stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks.

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LocaModa’s very own Greg Stellato tells me that if you get a chance to visit the windy city this summer, you should check out (and check in) Miller Lite’s use of LocaModa fullscreen foursquare in select bars. If you do, you could win some epic prizes like an LA flyaway, Yacht Charter on Lake Michigan or a private yacht that hops around the Virgin Islands!

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If I’m asked, one of the greatest challenges to executing social media applications is….

the legal department.

So it comes as no surprise after writing a couple of days ago that Complexity Kills, and explaining to the agency concerned that their call to action would almost certainly result in an underwhelming user experience, that they told us “It’s been blessed by legal – we dare not rock the boat.”

Well, there you have it. Sometimes it’s better to keep the lawyers happy than your customers.

Ho hum.

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A client just sent us their creative for a call to action on a forthcoming LocaModa campaign. Without giving away any names or clues, their call to action was something like “Text AYT9Q31628ZB for a chance to win…” To make matters worse – this CTA is to be displayed for 8 seconds.

Coincidently, at the same time as people here were pulling their hair out and trying to jump off ledges, I was reading this line in a blog post “Anybody who has looked at their customer acquisition funnel knows how even minor usability problems can drive away vast swaths of people.”

Sometimes I want to shoot myself in the head. It usually happens around the time a client is shooting themselves in the foot.

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