How to make mobile work for digital signage (and vice versa), pt. I

Feb. 5, 2013 | by Christopher Hall

Mobile phones are in everyone's hands, back pockets and purses — so brands and marketers everywhere want to tap into the mobile channel to get to those hands and their wallets. Digital signage can get lost in the marketing mix between online and mobile, but some in the space tout digital signage as the best way to activate the mobile channel.

But how?

Digital Signage Today recently spoke to Mikhail Damiani, CEO and co-founder of mobile-marketing solutions provider Blue Bite, about just that subject, and what was planned as a simple and short interview turned into a longer — and more informative look — into mobile. (It was so informative, in fact, that we decided to separate the interview Q and A into two parts to try to get as much of it into print as possible. Here is part one. - Ed.)

DST: To start off with, can you talk a bit about the intersection of digital signage or digital out-of-home and mobile, and where it can go? QR codes haven't been the success they were predicted to be, and NFC is still developing, so...

Damiani: Basically since the beginning our core focus has always been taking out-of-home media, whether it's digital signage in this case or static media, and enhancing it with the mobile capability, so we've never been a pure play mobile company. It's always been about taking those two and marrying the two mediums. And there are reasons on both sides of the fence of why to do it from both the mobile side and the digital signage side.

From the mobile side, one of the main things that we wanted to do was to educate the consumer. Six years ago mobile was young, it's still very young today, and so one of our biggest challenges is still educating the consumer, letting them know, No. 1, how to engage with that location or brand or sign and, No. 2, why should they engage?

And I think those are the two most important aspects — with the second one probably being even more important to say why should somebody take the time out of their day to take out their phone, open an app — or in the case of NFC, it doesn't need to be an app; just unlock your phone — and tap or scan whatever action you're taking. Why should they do that?

On QR codes getting a bad rap:

Damiani: I agree that QR isn't the easiest best tool out there, but it is effective and it does work — but only when it's done correctly. I'd say the majority of use cases, the majority of implementations of QR I've seen, have been done incorrectly. And what do I mean by that? I think it's a twofold approach: No. 1, it has to be implemented correctly on the creative itself. So the QR code has to be visible; it's got to be large enough for people to scan ... I can't tell you how many times I walk past a billboard or a poster in New York and you have a poster that's maybe 3 feet by 4 by 5 feet and then you have a little matchbox size QR in some bottom right corner ... Of course nobody's going to scan that. You don't have to be a marketing professional to know that you're going to get zero results before that campaign even starts.

And unfortunately people don't think about that, they just slap it up there. And the same goes for NFC: If you just put up an NFC chip but you don't tell people how or where to get it or what they're going to get if they tap it, nobody's going to tap it either. So a lot of the same things we've learned with QR apply directly to NFC.

For us it's not just about NFC, it's about mobile in general. Right now it's NFC; four years from now it may be some other acronym that we don't know about yet. But the mobile part is going to remain relevant, obviously.

The more features we keep putting into our phones — mobile payments, mobile wallets, rewards, mobile for transit — all of that is coming around the corner, so it's definitely not going away anytime soon. If anything it's going to become more important in our daily routine, and as such I think brands and agencies are going to continue to use mobile as a medium to connect with their audience on a greater scale with each year.

On benefits for DOOH:

Damiani: On the out-of-home side, on the digital signage side, [the benefit] is if you want to take your medium from just an impression-based medium where you're counting eyeballs and at that still not really counting them that effectively — you still don't have an exact measure of how many people are looking or paying attention to your ad. With mobile you have that exact accountability and measurement. You know exactly how many people are scanning your QR code; you know exactly how many people are tapping the NFC tag at that location minute by minute, day by day, location by location. You have that full accountability, and I think that's one of the things from a tangible standpoint that mobile adds to digital signage.

DST: You talk about educating consumers about why they should engage via mobile. So, why should they?

Damiani: To us, the way we break it down is, it's also a two-step process: The first thing is there are three things that have to be kept in mind for it to make sense. So, No. 1 has to be relevance — and that's actually another reason why we like pairing mobile with out-of-home, because we can target people in a specific location based on what kind of people are in that location. So if for example we're doing a campaign for Hotel Tonight — it's an app targeting business travelers — we'll take that and we'll deploy it in airports because they have a higher saturation of business travelers than potentially a movie theater. So the out-of-home or digital signage piece allows us to target consumers who are most relevant to that brand. So that's the first one, relevance.

The second one is, what is that value that we're delivering? So the engagement has to be valuable to the end-user, and we break that down actually into four buckets of value: the first one being entertainment value; the second one being monetary value; the third one being functional value; and the last one is informational value.

And I can elaborate a little bit on each one:

So, entertainment could be anything, from a trailer to a movie or behind the scenes footage; it could be music; it could be a song; it could be an e-book; wallpapers; again, any form of entertainment content.

Monetary is an incentive, an offer, a coupon, something that you could redeem.

Functional is something that you can use. So an app like the hotel tonight app is a prime example of a functional value, where you could download the app by just tapping your phone, and then you can use that app within your relevant environment to book a deal.

And then informational is kind of the lowest on the totem pole, and if you're just providing informational value it has to be really relevant to your environment — so if you're in a museum and you're walking around, you're going to tap to see some information about that exhibit, or if you're in a train station and you're tapping to see the schedules, that's kind of informational value. But those are specific use cases. I would say informational is less relevant for a national marketing campaign.

What we like to do and what we say is to the extent [that] you can pair the values together, you can combine a couple of those, that's the most effective campaign. So for hotel tonight, which is the app, we paired the functional value of the app plus an incentive for actually downloading, I think it was $25 or $30 off your first booking if you downloaded.

Same thing for entertainment, you can give somebody a trailer to a movie and then you give them some kind of coupon to the movie or for a coke or something like that, where you basically combine the different values together to make it a stronger proposition.

And then the last point — so the first one is it's got to be relevant; the second one is it has to be valuable, fit into one or multiple of those value buckets — and the last thing is, the content has to be exclusive to the mobile device.

And that's something we've struggled with for a couple years, and I think we've gotten better at getting brands and agencies to realize the fact that users would rather get — say it's entertainment value — they'd rather watch a trailer on a 42-inch HD display than they would on a four-inch display.

So to the extent [that] you take something that's repurposed and something that somebody can get somewhere else and you try to serve them that on the mobile device, they're less likely to take that action because they can get it elsewhere

So what we like to say is, whatever you're giving to the end-user through the mobile experience, make sure they could only get it by taking that action. And that'll entice them to take that action versus doing something else, because they know this is the only way they could possibly get it.

(Check back tomorrow for part two of the DST interview with Damiani, in which he discusses how to deploy NFC and the tangible benefits to deployers of integrated mobile and digital signage campaigns.)

Learn more about digital signage and mobile interactivity.

Topics: FAQ , Mobile Interactivity

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