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As some in the Out of Home (OOH) world head out to Vegas for DSE2014 (Digital Signage Expo), Monster Media today announced that it has been granted a patent for social media on Out-of-Home screens.

The patent, 8,615,565 “Automatic content retrieval based on location based screen tags,” relates to the automatic retrieval and display of social media on location-based screens such as Out-of-Home networks and signage at venues, events and arenas.

Monster Media’s growing intellectual property (IP) portfolio contains two issued patents and numerous other applications focused on interactive engagement technologies primarily for Out-of-Home applications covering mobile, social, touch and gesture technologies.

The granted patent describes how to amplify audience engagement on Out-of-Home screens. LocaModa, a company acquired by Monster Media in August 2013 (full disclosure, I was the founder and CEO of LocaModa) invented a number of products that improve engagement for Out-of-Home networks.

Automatically creating a sustainably interesting screen was a problem that needed to be solved for our industry. Simply using local messages or single content sources gets boring very quickly as audiences lose interest if content is repeated. We solved the problem by leveraging conversations across multiple networks and tagging those conversions with keywords that the local screens then subscribe to. Of course we filter the content to make sure that it is appropriate for each venue, but the result is an automatic system that increases interest in and value of the media.

Monster Media’s IP, which pre-dates the now popular use of hashtags in social media, is regularly used to systematically aggregate, filter and display Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram on Out-of-Home and event-based screens. The company’s technology platform enables Out-of-Home campaigns reaching more than 100 million people every month for brands including AT&T, Clorox, ESPN, Levis, Gap, Pepsi, Sony, Paramount, Tide, New York Rangers, Miami Dolphins and Ciroc.

As some know, LocaModa, the company I founded over 10 years ago, developed a number of firsts for the OOH and DOOH market. Way ahead of our time, we patented a suite of technologies that made screens more engaging and measurable.

In my opinion, this is a biggie – it’s a core part of Monster Meida’s value proposition and it’s fundamental to the best practices and industry standard that I helped draft for the OAAA (that Stephen Freitas will be speaking to at the OOH session at DSE2014 this week).

In essence, the predominant way social media is being used on OOH networks and at events hits this patent and clearly, as our market get serious about leveraging real time media to enable more engaging OOH screens and events, it has to be mindful about IP issues.

One side impact of this patent is that it can help remove friction from our market. By way of an example, assume network A and network use different content management systems, have different screens formats, but use the same standardized method of deploying social media. A brand or agency can now deploy social media to both networks without needing to worry about their different CMSs and screen formats. This means we (finally) get less friction in our market.

In much the same way as the internet exploded only once the browser sat on top of different platforms – and resulted in the revolution of frictionless media, we can only hope that something similar happens in the OOH industry.

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Today (Jan 28th, 2014) in Canada marks the fourth year for Bell Let’s Talk Day, dedicated to increasing awareness, reducing stigma and helping to change behaviours and attitudes about mental health issues.

Monster Media, together with Media Experts and creative agency LG2 launched the #BellLetsTalk campaign over three Canadian OOH networks; Lamar, Pattison, Cogeco in French and English.

Bell is donating 5c for every tweet, phone call, text message and Facebook photo share.

As I write this post at 9.30 am, they have already received over 12 million messages!

Great work team!

UPDATE 1.30PM The total is currently over 35,000,000 messages = over $1.5 million raised.

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Although I’ve lived in Boston these past 10 years and now spend much of my time in Orlando at Monster Media HQ, I grew up in London and many things British tug at my heart and remind me of my roots.

I’m not sure if I can really explain what the mere mention of the sea-side town of Blackpool means to a Brit. It’s loved for it’s ’50′s authenticity, Victorian heritage, piers, tower, amusements, its many famous and successful soccer players and musicians (including Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, David Ball of Soft Cell, Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys, Graham Nash of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Robert Smith of The Cure, Lemmy of Motorhead….)

As Blackpool competes with other tourist destinations, it is turning to digital marketing strategies to connect to people far and wide to spread the word about this jewel in the UK’s crown.

UK digital out of home advertising solutions company, Digital Guys called Monster Media to leverage our LocaModa social media platform. The same approach that attracts millions of people to tweet photos to screens in Vegas, Times Sq and thousands of bars, clubs, stadia in US and beyond, is being used by Blackpool to amplify its appeal.

The juxtaposition of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc and Blackpool’s Victorian appeal might seem odd at first, but actually makes perfect sense. Any subject that touches the passions of followers is a good starting point for a marketing strategy.

The campaign doesn’t start until the 28th November but it’s already getting the right kind of attention.

Digital Guys are cleverly and efficiently using multiple digital channels to promote, connect to and extend the Blackpool brand. They are leveraging Monster’s LocaModa platform to aggregate, filter and display tweets and Instagram photos around the hashtag #LoveBPL. They are then amplifying this attention via facebook and google+. They are doing this right by actively working all these channels: monitoring the conversations, responding, retweeting, and promoting their campaign in blogs. And it’s working. Quickly.

Within just 3 days a blog post about their campaign received over 12,000 views and over 400 shares.

Joanna Kay, from DigitalGuys, said: “Blackpool is great and so much more than a summer season resort. But just talking to people in London and elsewhere, too many people think it is all rock and donkeys. We want to raise awareness of everything else that goes on here from the people that live and work here. Blackpool has got the £220m Central Business District development, and all the culture and entertainments to offer.”

As I have reported we have been working with a number of networks and brands on similar approaches. It’s really important to not lose sight that such campaigns are short term tactics. When they are over, the brand and the networks need to continue to engage and have a dialog with their audiences. Having a long term approach, is where this works and impacts brand equity and revenue opportunities (sponsorships, ticket sales etc).

Imagine a not-too-distant future Blackpool with a famous interactive billboard on its North Pier displaying kiss-me-quick Instagram photos and filtered tweets and connecting to multiple social channels and screens to keep the Blackpool brand front of mind.

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When the OAAA publishes a document called Mobile and Social Guidelines, a document about how important social media is to the Out-of-Home (OOH) industry, you know that the times they are changing.

That document can be downloaded here and it’s well worth a read if you’re an agency, brand, network or any business needing to leverage out-of-home audiences.

Disclosure: I was involved in drafting these recommendations with a committee of motivated industry leaders. We had the shared agenda of establishing agnostic, cross channel standards that we hope will remove much of the friction for brands and agencies to buy and deploy social and mobile media in our market.

Nicholas Negroponte (he of MediaLab fame) said in his book “Being Digital” that we are moving from a world of atoms to bits. Bits talks to each other. Bits thrive in a world where they can be shared. They are not static like paper and paste.

So it’s only timely and fitting that the OAAA has taken a leadership role in defining how bits need to flow across a rapidly growing percentage of a global market that in 2012 was worth $33.4 billion market (Source PWC).

Appropriately, the OAAA does not push any specific companies or platforms but it does talk about what we all need to do help move the market forward. As the document’s introduction states, these standards will allow media agencies to efficiently and effectively plan campaigns across multiple providers and platforms.

If you need the Cliff NOtes, the main thrust is that while there are many methods of engaging with consumers through social and mobile OOH (something I call SoHO), these campaigns can be categorized into four variants that cover:

one-way (180 degree)
two-way (360 degree)
real-time and
non-real-time programs

It would great to get to the point when an agency RFP specifies a social OOH 360 realtime program and we know that there are say 1,000 screens available for that program or a Social OOH 180 non-real-time program and know that there are 250,000 screens available. OOH/DOOH networks would be able to declare that their screens are compatible with any or all of the four flavors of the standard and digital markets (for that IS the world we are in) will eventually be better able to match OOH buyers and sellers.

Ultimately, mobile and social engagement opportunities enable advertisers to connect with consumers in a more meaningful way and create a dialogue rather than a monologue with those consumers. And that connection is critical to the success of our market.

The document is available to any interested parties NOT JUST OAAA MEMBERS. Another fine example of industry leadership.

Congratulations to Stephen Freitas and his team at OAAA for their stewardship on this standard.

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My phone rang the moment news hit the wires that Monster Media had acquired LocaModa. And it hasn’t stopped. Less than one month after that announcement, with my head still buzzing, I thought it would be a good time to open up about the rationale for the deal and the opportunity ahead.

The announcement can be found here but as you might expect, the real news was not really the mechanics behind the purchase, but the strategy.

Monster and LocaModa have been in competitive bids for a few years now – whenever brands wanted a dominant interactive solution, Monster would frequently be their choice. When brands wanted a solution on existing networks, inside a loop, their choice was frequently LocaModa.

Together, Monster + LocaModa can now run campaigns for global clients on any screen, any network and any channel. The agnostic and scalable nature of LocaModa enables this – but that’s not all.

Anyone who knows me or has had the dubious pleasure of listening to me speak about the DOOH space for more than a few minutes will know that I’ve been passionate and outspoken about a vision for what I’ve dubbed “The Web Outside” – a world where all screens are connected and more engaging. That vision was early, but today more brands are asking for what we have patented.

We believe the rising tide of social and mobile will only lift our market if networks can connect to those channels. Put another way, without a scaleable and agnostic solution, the rising tide of mobile and social media will create network islands out of many DOOH networks and erode the value of their proprietary platforms.

Monster has a mouthwatering client base and 70+ super smart people making award-winning media. Together we have a far more scaleable opportunity and we are gearing up to leverage our IP, knowhow and platform to reduce friction for brands and agencies to engage with DOOH.

My role at Monster is EVP Mobile and Social. Expect me to be as outspoken and passionate in that role as I have been at LocaModa.

I’d welcome the chance to chat about this and answer any questions. Feel free to email me at my new email stephen dot randall at monstermedia dot net

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