Last week Jason Kates wrote An Open Letter to the Digital Out-Of-Home Industry.
Jason has his detractors, but he’s been in the industry longer than most of us and has deep experience (and war wounds) of all the problems we still stubbornly have in our industry. He’s been a platform guy, a signage guy, a network guy and most recently, an ad platform guy. He’s smart, and understands the influence of the web on media. Something not enough people in DOOH do. He might not be completely right about Social TV, but I suspect he’s not completely wrong. So I prefer to look at what he might be right about.
Many people misunderstand what interactivity in DOOH means. Outside of touch screens, it is rarely about literally interacting in front of a screen. Of course a screen can trigger interaction, but that is by far the less common case for engagement. And if that literal version of interactivity is what people think about when they dismiss social engagement, they are barking up the wrong tree.
Most DOOH doesn’t have the dwell time or spot length for engagement. There are exceptions (bars and sports stadiums) but they are unlikely to be business cases for the next Google.
Interactivity to me at least (and to the growing number of people not focused on DOOH, but on screens that engage regardless of acronym) means that there’s some pulse somewhere on a network. When someone interacts, that interaction, be it a fan, a follow, a tweet, a text, a photo, a game play, a song play etc, can be reflected on multiple screens to help those screens be more interesting. A passive screen might then display What’s Playing Here, Who’s Here Now, What’s On Offer, What’s Happening…
A screen that doesn’t do this is dead. Dead to audiences, dead to advertisers and dead to investors.
That’s why TV is trying to redefine itself. At least it’s trying! And that’s why DOOH needs to do the same.
If DOOH practitioners don’t understand the scope and potential of 360 degree interactivity, they will have a blind spot for how social and mobile actually impact DOOH.
Ken Goldberg gets it right here in my opinion.
We have to find better ways to make DOOH relevant.
Let’s not get (conveniently) distracted by the definition of Social TV – it already means different things to different people. I am confident that companies like Bluefin Labs could disrupt Neilson. I am also confident that Twitter and Facebook will be mainstays of DOOH content (when done right and not infringing patents!)
So, assuming we all have a healthy respect for an argument, I do not agree with our favorite Brit (well he has more followers than me) Adrian Cotterill, when he tweeted his response to Jason’s open letter that “SocialTV is kinda orthogonal to the whole DS/DOOH issue I have never ever read such RUBBISH…”
Like Mr Kates, I suspect Adrian is not completely right. There’s more to Social TV than 140 characters can say.