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Archive for July, 2011

A typical call to LocaModa goes something like this (animated version here):

CALLER: “My company is interested in LocaModa’s products.”

LOCAMODA: “Thank you for your interest. Please tell me more about your company.”

CALLER: “We are a digital out of home network focused on (select one: cafes/bars/health clubs/supermarkets/hospitals/waiting rooms/QSRs/public spaces/cinemas…)”

LOCAMODA: “Sounds interesting. How large is your network?”

CALLER: “We are rolling out nationally.”

LOCAMODA: “OK. How many locations are you in today?”

CALLER: “We will have over 1,000 within 12 months.”

LOCAMODA: “How many do you have installed today.”

CALLER: “We have commitments for 1,000.”

LOCAMODA: “How many are actually deployed today?”

CALLER. “We’re just closing our funding for the full roll out.”

LOCAMODA: “So do you have any screens deployed today?”

CALLER: “Later this month we’re starting the pilot.”

LOCAMODA: “So you don’t actually have any screens deployed today?”

CALLER: “We’re all seasoned entrepreneurs and we’re confident that we’ll hit out targets and we have a very solid business model and…..”

LOCAMODA: (Genuinely) “Good luck with the funding and the pilot. We’d love to talk to you when you have a minimum of 50 screens in a major market.”

We used to be less discriminating about spending time developing every lead, after all, who knows which opportunity will be the next big deal? But do you know how many how many of those “about to fund/roll-out 1,000 nationally” calls actually did what they said they were going to do?

None. Correction – one :)

Experience has to teach us something – and for me, it’s simply that to be a good partner, we must focus our resources on deals that have a real chance of success – especially as we’ll inevitably be committing opportunity costs and resources to helping make that success a reality.

So last week when someone tweeted:

“So @LocaModa looks awesome but man it is expensive. Per screen cost is fine, but requiring a minimum of 50 screens to start? #DOOH #DOOHWTF”

We retweeted it because, yes, we think the product is awesome. And yes we agree the per screen cost is fine. And yes, we require our licensees to be of sufficient size (a minimum of 50 screens in a key market).

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I try to be a good Twitter citizen. Sure, I promote what LocaModa is doing from time to time and RT a few LocaModa tweets. But I balance marketing messages with a supply of tweets that link to posts that I find informative, amusing or inspiring.

Twitter is both a discovery platform and a marketing platform. I use it 75% for discovery and 25% for marketing. Of course it’s up to each person to use it as they fit, and to that end, I unfollow people who use Twitter only for self promotion – and add little or no value.

Of late, I’m getting really annoyed by people in the DOOH community who regularly tweet the same message and/or regularly RT from multiple accounts.

I think that occasionally it’s OK to tweet the same message a couple of times – but more than twice is spam in my books and if you tweet every message at least twice, it’s just annoying. Likewise, occasionally it’s OK to RT a company message on your private Twitter account but that shouldn’t be the majority of your content in my opinion.

So offenders of the above bad practices, consider yourselves unfollowed.

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So few Location-Based Marketing platforms have been built for real-world applications.

As location-based applications from Foursquare, Facebook, Google and others have gained attention, most locations have been somewhat frustrated by how much effort is needed to embrace these platforms.

Limited functionality and/or complexity has thus far led to results that have not lived up to the red hot hype. For example, it is really difficult to create messages and/or deals for multiple locations without having to go into each location’s account – which can be too time consuming for larger retail groups. And in a business where 15 minutes spent on a website is 15 minutes not spent stocking shelves or hiring a waiter, simplicity and RoI count for more than “cool.”

So it’s good news that this week saw both Foursquare and Facebook update their interfaces for merchants.

Foursquare has been on a roll – raising $50 million, partnering with AMEX for deals, and this week, opening up their API for locations to be able to create their own deals via any platform (LocaModa for example – shameless plug). So now venues can use one interface (LocaModa for example – another shameless plug) – to create/edit/monitor their offers. More info via Foursquare here.

Facebook updated Facebook Pages with a Location feature and introduced a Deals API. The new Facebook Locations tab displays the “parent/child” relationship of claimed Facebook Places locations in one place. This means that large groups of stores (Parents) can change all their pages in one interface while still enabling a single store (child) to control their own messaging. More info via Facebook here.

This is all welcome news BUT it’s still likely that for the foreseeable future, brands and location owners won’t quite know what to put on their location pages or Facebook walls. The experience greeting many users may therefore still be rather underwhelming at best. A blank wall at worst.

(Drum roll) THAT’S AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DOOH.

We know how much time and effort has been spent on creating local content and information for screens in the locations – menus in cafes, announcements in health-clubs, deals in stores etc. This content can now more easily flow back to Foursquare and Facebook – as well as enabling any content created on those platforms finding its way to the location signage.

From a DOOH perspective, I like to say that screens need to have a range of miles, not feet. With a screen connected to Facebook or Foursquare (or Twitter et al), a screen can reach many more people and be more contextually interesting to the local audience, an on-line audience and advertisers. And connected DOOH screens are ever more measurable via the interactions of these audiences.

Thinking about a “Build or Buy” decision for a DOOH-ready social-media platform? It should more obvious than ever that this is a full time business with API changes from social media companies happening almost in real time – and in order to monetize the technology, the solution not only needs to be robust, extensible and scalable, but also needs to be network agnostic to attract brands who need to be wherever their target audience is.

As locations join the social graph, their technologies – not least the screens hanging on their walls – simply have to become more socially connected.

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The photo above shows Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group with Carla Buzasi, Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post UK. They’re at Charing Cross Station, London, tweeting to a LocaModa-enabled screen, running a real-time place-based social media campaign for the launch of Huffington Post UK.

I didn’t realize until last week that traditional street hoardings in UK are not familiar things to folks on this side of the pond. The memory of a guy with ink-stained fingers shouting something completely unintelligible to commuters is all part of British daily life. So I was really happy that LocaModa was asked to develop a place-based social media version of a newspaper street hoarding for Huffington’s Post’s UK launch this week.

The creative, like its traditional counterpart, features a live bold headline which grabs attention, and a moderated real-time tweet, hashtagged #HuffPostUK which helps emphasize the new media chops of the brand, as well as suggest to the viewer that this “poster” isn’t what it might first appear to be.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to mention all the players involved in this campaign – but I would like to thank them all for the excellent team work, especially as much of the back-room work was unfolding during the July 4th weekend over here.

The campaign is running prominently in major train stations all over the UK. Another trip down memory lane for me as I used to commute to Waterloo Station every day when I was at Symbian and Paddington Station (where the bear comes from) is over the road from St Mary’s Hospital where I was born. Keeping it real.

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