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Posts Tagged ‘text messaging’

Once upon a time, American’s didn’t believe in text messaging. Believe me, as a newly arrived Brit, obsessed with mobile tech, my American colleagues used to say I was insane to think a small screen could ever be as interactive or engaging as the Internet. They told me on numerous occasions that what works in Europe or Japan is irrelevant in USA.

I’d seen the roadmaps of the then leading handset companies as a founding exec at Symbian. I believed (and still do) that the human requirement to find the best communication tools, be they cave paintings, morse code or text messages, transcends even the weirdest cultural differences between USA, Europe and Asia.

OK – I was right on that one.

And they do say history repeats itself.

So here we are some 10 years on, and yes, many people are talking about social media, but not so many companies are actually practicing what they preach.

So will the messaging market once again be tipped by Simon Cowell? I think so.

Last week, in his new hit reality pop culture show, The X Factor, he announced that the TV audience (once passive) could start voting via Twitter.

This is more than a sign of the times, it’s really smart.

Voters will have to follow the show before they can Direct Message “DM” their votes. This will create waves of trending mentions (even more than it currently gets) in the “Twittersphere”. That will in turn help promote the buzz around the show.

Mark my words, here we go again. Once a “cool” technology goes mainstream, companies have to do or die.


Interactive screens, mobile technology and Shakespeare are unlikely bedfellows.

‘Tis true, but Scholastic, the global education and media company, focused on helping children around the world to read and learn, is using LocaModa’s Wiffiti to make learning Shakespeare more fun.

In their Lesson Plan 5: Summarizing by Text-Messaging Shakespeare, they set out how teachers can safely use mobile technology and interactive screens to engage students.

I’ve taken the following excerpt from their website (the link above is well visiting – they do an excellent job of clearly explaining how to set up an interactive screen experience.):

1. The teacher goes over mobile safety and appropriate use before beginning this lesson.
2. Before students begin reading Romeo and Juliet, the teacher reads the opening prologue. The teacher may also want students to be looking at the words as it is being read by projecting them on an overhead.
3. The teacher asks students to think about the prologue, and to summarize it in 140 characters by using their cell phones to send a text message to the Wiffiti screen that the teacher previously set up.
4. The teacher projects the Wiffiti screen along with the information on how to text to the screen (this automatically shows up on each Wiffiti screen).
5. The students begin to send their summaries to the Wiffiti screen via their cell phones.
6. Once the summaries are all up on the screen, the teacher reads through them and asks the students to vote on which one they think best summarized the prologue.
7. The teacher then selects a piece of dialogue or a scene from Romeo and Juliet, reads it, and has the students summarize the same way as above.

I find this so inspiring – not only in terms of the innovation in education (I wish I had such interesting classes when I was force-fed the Bard) but also because every day it is more and more obvious that media professionals HAVE to embrace technologies that enable dialogues with their audiences.

DOOH pros, where art thou?


I’m happy to see that Shelly Palmer is giving a keynote at next month’s DSE on “DOOH Disrupted: Paths To A Connected Future.”

Words like Mobile, Multi-channel, Cross-channel, Social, etc are high on our agendas and prominent in all our market forecasts. And of course, all these words and technologies are by-products of the connected world we live in. So I hope that Shelly emphasizes in his talk that connectedness can never be an afterthought. It’s strategic and critically important. Our screens, players, media, infrastructure and data cannot survive as islands. Our industry is clearly moving in the right direction – it wasn’t so long ago that most out-of-home screens were playing video tapes!

The opportunity is for more DOOH media (for example DOOH applications, messaging and adverts) to work across channels. This can only hasten industry growth in scale and value.

I gave a talk at last year’s Screen Media Expo in London titled The Future Is Now which I think is worth re-visiting. You can view the presentation here. At the end of that presentation, I suggested a ten question “connectivity test” as a fun way to provoke discussion (I’m sure some of those questions could be better framed today but hey it’s free!).

What’s your DOOH connectivity score?


Fig.1. Place-Based Social Media Modes (Click to enlarge).

I’ve just returned from a road trip where I’ve been explaining the different types of place-based social media to brands, agencies and networks. I’m committing my talks to a white paper, but in the meantime, I thought it would be useful to post parts of it here.

This first post describes three types of place-based social media engagement; Passive, Active and Interactive.

Place-based social media does not have to be real-time, interactive or require a specific lean-forward mode of engagement. Understanding how to optimize out of home engagement requires an awareness of the end user’s availability (to consume content) and ability to participate as well as an appreciation of the environment for their engagement, the Digital Out of Home network’s capabilities and the stakeholder’s objectives. Those considerations map to three modes of out-of-home engagement; Passive, Active and Interactive (See Fig.1), each of which maps to distinct applications that can optimize the engagement strategy for locations (retail, hospitality, fitness, health care etc) and brands.

Passive place-based social media is best used where the dwell time and or the available time on the DOOH content loop is under 30 seconds. The key attributes of passive place-based social media are:
- It displays contextual, targeted, curated, social media on DOOH screens without a call to action.
- It cannot be influenced by the DOOH audience.
- It can be operated by DOOH networks of any capability.
- As its name implies, passive place-based social media, without a call to action or enough time to engage, does not support any DOOH user interactions.

Active place-based social media is best used where the dwell time and or the available time on the DOOH content loop is at least 30 seconds. The key attributes of active place –based social media are:
- It displays contextual, targeted, curated, social media on DOOH screens with a call to action.
- It can be influenced by the DOOH audience but not in real time – either due to limitations of infrastructure or time required by brands/venues to ensure content is adequately filtered, moderated and/or curated.
- It can be operated by DOOH networks with minimum Internet connectivity.
- Active place-based social media, with a call to action and up to 15 seconds to engage, typically has enough time for only one DOOH user interaction.

Interactive place-based social media is best used where the dwell time and or the available time on the DOOH content loop is at least 60 seconds. The key attributes of interactive place-based social media are:
Displays real-time contextual, targeted, curated, social media on DOOH screens.
- Can be influenced by the DOOH audience in real time.
- Can be operated by DOOH networks of with real-time Internet connectivity.
- Interactive place-based social media, with a call to action and at least 60 seconds to engage, typically has enough time for more than one DOOH user interaction and supports more complex interaction models.

In 15 Seconds Or More (Part 2) I’ll cover the seven steps in the user engagement path.


There are few questions that get me as steamed up as “Will smartphones kill DOOH?”

Video didn’t kill the radio star – at least not all of them. TV hasn’t killed Cinema, the web hasn’t killed TV and smartphones will not kill DOOH. All screens are evolving.

Of course as a DOOH advocate, I would say that. And I’d probably add – “Smartphones will compliment DOOH” – but I thought the question deserved being laid to rest once and for all. Here are my top ten reasons why smartphones won’t kill DOOH – EVER:

1. Targeting. Smartphones are not a replacement for advertisers seeking a targeted out of home audience. Advertisers cannot push messages to phones (and good thing too) not only because that would be a bad user experience but also because of the CanSpam Act that legally prevents them doing so (See #2 re Push Notifications).

2. Push Notifications and Geo Targeting is NEVER a solution. The often described use-case where a user is walking past Starbucks, and receives an offer for coffee on their phones (smartphone or otherwise) deserves to be debunked. As mentioned in #1 – messages can’t be pushed to users without their explicit permission/opt-in. If that message is an update inside a smartphone app, not all users will have push notifications enabled, so will be unable to receive updates if the app isn’t running. After receiving more than a couple of offers, how many people do you think will keep that feature on? My guess is that unless the app is capable of mind reading, it’ll be turned off like pop-ups on browsers. (Internet Explorer 6+, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari all block pop-ups by default.)

3. Location-Based Services (LBS) are not the enemy. LBS on smartphones such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places are great fun and potentially valuable services for locations. The primary users for these services today are consumers not locations. The LBS companies want to address that, but dealing with thousands of stores is a very different business to dealing with millions of consumers. Some enterprising store managers are adopting LBS applications – offering discounts to mayors etc, but many do not have the time or understanding to properly leverage the power of LBS. DOOH has an important role to play here. DOOH screens are much more likely to be looked after by store managers who see them every day than a profile page on the web. Every time LocaModa displays Foursquare on a venue’s screen, that venue sees increases in user engagement. Consequently, it is much more valuable for the venue to promote their offers on their DOOH screen (perhaps within the DOOH version of their LocaModa Foursquare page).

4. Discovery. Smartphones do not provide a unified media distribution solution for brands and agencies. Apps and ads need to support multiple platforms – Android, iPhone, Symbian, RIM, HP/Palm. Consequently, it’s not easy to get a message to multiple handsets and know that message is going to be seen. Will that message be an iAd or a banner insider a Twitter client? Will the app be available in the Apple app store or Android marketplace? If it is, how will it be discovered? With over 300,000 iPhone applications to choose from, what are the chances that the user will discover and download the app?

5. Availability. Mobility and Availability are different considerations. When consumers are mobile, they typically have a purpose and are less receptive to stopping, getting a phone out of their pockets, and clicking on something to browse or play. In a mobile-mode they are however exposed to DOOH and OOH. Once a person’s mode changes to “dwelling”, they are open to environmental distractions such as menus, posters, DOOH screens etc. Of course many such environments are so unenageing that consumers do start to “self entertain” – read books, newspapers, iPhones etc. BUT that does not mean that the environment has disappeared. If the most entertaining or information-rich screen is not in front of them, the user might have other options, but those options are only attractive if those screens are more readily available than the location’s screens. For example, if a station had no obvious information, a user would most likely wander around for a few minutes seeking it. The act of pulling out a phone, finding an app or website, searching for the right information etc is more than a few clicks away and might be less available that find the information at the location.

6. Locations Are Users Too. DOOH is not just there for audience entertainment, but for information, reduction of perceived wait time, advertising etc. The location can’t replace it’s menu boards with an assumption that all of its customers will have smartphones.

7. The 3 Click Rule. UI designers will often tell you that between 30% to 60% of users abandon a process with every click. To be conservative let’s assume the lower number, that still means you have only 2-3 interactions before you’ve lost most of your users. A smartphone will not satisfy all opportunities to inform or entertain in less 3 interactions – and as long as there are more readily available solutions on DOOH, many people will not seek alternatives.

8. Multi-channel. The smartphone screen isn’t the only screen competing for a user’s attention. With mobile, computers, TVs, cinemas and DOOH, advertisers are taking a multiple channel approach to their messaging. This means that ultimately ALL screens will be connected. Rather than a one size fits all approach, the media landscape is actually becoming more fragemented and micro-targeted as a result. This means that the phone screen is often part of a 360 degree solution – it’s not the entire solution – and neither is DOOH.

9. Attention is the currency. As far as screens go, people are attracted to the most compelling screen that addresses the context of that moment. If a DOOH screen is engaging, the user will notice it, if not, the user might be tempted to play with her iPhone. However, it’s as ridiculous to suggest that smartphones will kill DOOH as it would be to suggest that smartphones will stop people noticing the opposite sex. OK – I accept that most DOOH is not as interesting as the opposite sex – but that isn’t a smartphone problem, it’s a DOOH problem. And size matters – a large attractive screen should be more compelling than a small attractive screen. The challenge, as always, is to ensure the large screen is actually compelling.

10. Only Bad DOOH Will Kill DOOH. This is really repeating #9 but I think it’s worth repeating. The only real threat to DOOH (and it’s a big threat) is bad DOOH.

So the next time anyone suggests that smartphones will kill (or bypass) DOOH, you take your pick from the above answers.