Screenmedia Expo: The convergence of DOOH and mobile

At this year's Screenmedia Expo Europe 2010 in London, Symon's Steven Gurley rang a warning bell about the the importance — and risks — of media and mobile convergence.

The marketing senior vice president at visual communication solutions provider Symon Communications, Gurley initially focused on value chain and business workflow development before joining Symon to oversee the marketing processes related to mobility and convergence and their relation with visual communications.

Acknowledging that he was "preaching to the choir" of a mobile-dedicated audience, Gurley delivered a warning message about the converging digital out-of-home and mobile worlds.

Convergence trends

Gurley started off his broadside by first outlining the current trends of the convergence market.

Content consumption has increased and has changed shape, progressively moving online and away from traditional print and TV media. There has been widespread growth of location-based approaches with rich media interactive content, and that has been combined with an increasingly complex web-based support of applications.

Social media on mobile has also grown dramatically, while new methods of content consumption have been introduced — namely the linkage of news stories from Twitter and Facebook accounts. The result is the development of a very different framework for media consumption that may be difficult to grasp appropriately and in its entirety.

One application symptomatic of this trend is the rise of FourSquare — which links geolocation to a reward system based on place points when users check in from certain places — emerging as a potential "next big thing." As MIT Research suggests, we will probably frame our lifestyles on reward point collection in the future.

Mobile has been evolving since the first voice call made in 1973, followed by the implementation of the first digital network in 1995. After a second era of personal productivity, the third era was based on the iPhone ecosystem, which saw the rise of mobile ads, followed by a phase of much increased app use introducing the concept of lifestyle management.

The mobile world has been busy with technological challenges in connectivity, software, interface and revenue infrastructure, the latter culminating with Google and Apple respectively buying AdMob and Quattro Wireless as the cornerstones of their positioning strategies in the ad app application market.
 
Gurley outlined other technological evolution patterns related to mobile: in 2008 alone, the Apple Appstore reached 3 billion downloads, while in the previous 10 years only half a billion apps were downloaded from analogous systems. The resulting heavy traffic is becoming a major hindrance for growth. Additionally, Android arrived in the mobile market in 2008, introducing a new interface, while the Apple OS4 promises to support a more interactive experience with tailored ads integrated in the control interface.

Basis for convergence

DOOH converged with mobile mainly as a tool to control digital signage, to implement a response to the call-to-action, to extend customer relationships from a 1-to-1 mode to a 1-to-many mode, and to augment content quality.

Gurley outlined the points of contact between the two technologies, which are also the reasons for convergence. Primarily these points meet at the technological infrastructure for interfacing the two, such as the web software infrastructure for HTML5 and custom apps for ad delivery, for example. Applicable technologies include touchtones, SMS, Bluetooth, 2D barcodes, visual recognition, and mobile web (especially adaptation to screen formats).

The crucial aspect is that app spending and investment goes where ads are monitored and delivered exactly where it is preferred by the customer. Therefore, technologies are needed to support apps to be successful in interface usability. Necessarily, a sector-centric "sealed" approach gives way to a more holistic approach where concerted deployment of technology and software are called on as supports.

Holistic approach

DOOH may become a victim unless it learns how to play in this market arena, Gurley says. The importance relies on the access to the market outlets for ad spends. DOOH together with mobility may find a bright future within this framework. The warning bell rung by Gurley is calling attention to the necessity of widening the industry's vision beyond strict sector walls, and advocating for a more holistic approach, one capable of advancing DOOH without leaving even more opportunities behind.

Marco Ruocco is a freelance writer based in Milan, Italy.

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