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

Feb. 6, 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 two. Read part one here. - Ed.)

DST: So, picking up where we left off, if you have content that's exclusive to the mobile device, how does that fit with omnichannel consistency? The big discussion these days is about how everything should be consistent across all channels, but how do you make that work if you have differentiated content?

Damiani: Basically I would say that consistency is different than something being exactly the same. I think you could have a consistent campaign with a consistent message, but have content that is different.

So, for example, take a movie: You have a studio and they have a 30-second spot they're running on the digital screen, and then you have the mobile experience. And in the mobile experience, instead of just giving [consumers] that exact 30-second spot that they just saw on the screen, you give them something that is consistent with that campaign but different. Again it could be behind-the-scenes footage, a note from one of the actors, it could be a mobile game of that movie.

So you have something that you can't see on the screen — you can't play the mobile game on the screen — but if you've created a mobile game specifically for that movie, once the consumer engages you can give them the ability to play that mobile game. And then also, if you want as another option, and usually the way we do these things is, it's not just one experience that you tap into. Instead you then have a couple of options basically at your fingertips — and [the consumer] can say, okay, I want to watch the trailer; I want to play the game, I want to check out the show times at the nearest movie theaters.

So again, instead of just taking exactly verbatim or the exact same content that you have on the big screen and then reformatting it for the mobile device and giving them that exact same thing, you basically enhance the experience. You take that experience and you translate it and you expand it from just video into additional things that are, again, still consistent with overall messaging and the overall campaign but unique to the mobile device and different between the different mediums that you're serving it on.

So, I don't think the two are mutually exclusive at all.

DST: So, getting back to QR codes and NFC. One hasn't been done very well and the other isn't widespread enough to people instinctual for people the way touch is. So how do you go about educating consumers about that, and then what are strategies you can use to make that engagement happen?

Damiani: With respect to digital signage, it's usually, or in many scenarios, the digital signage screen is not within reach of the consumer. And so what we do is we create an offshoot static placard or something that sits adjacent to the screen or sits at the point of sale or somewhere where it's within the line of sight of the screen but not necessarily on the screen itself. And that accomplishes two things: one, it's a permanent fixture for the QR as well — specifically with NFC, it's always a permanent fixture; it's an actual chip — because with QR, people have tried to do that on digital signage and it doesn't work that well ... by the time that loop appears with the QR and by the time that person gets out their handset to take a picture of it, it's already off the screen. What the placard allows us to do is have the QR always present.

And the screen itself can show people how to find the placard near the point of sale. It has a picture of it as part of the video, and then telling consumers to tap it or scan it with their phone and it has an animation of somebody taking an NC phone and actually tapping the placard or somebody with a camera scanning the QR code.

So it kind of shows you with the digital screen, and that's one of the things we like about digital signage versus static signage is you have more inventory to work with on the educational front. You have 15 seconds, 30 seconds to actually visually show somebody exactly what to do. And then that person can make that correlation between the placard they see on the screen and the placard that's sitting right in front of them on the point of sale. And they can tap it or scan it at their discretion, so they don't have to do it exactly when that loop is on. Once that loop disappears that placard stays there and they can come back to it, re-engage, whatever they want to do.

So I'd say from a logistical standpoint, the way we do it, that's No. 1, and then No. 2, in terms of strategies we employ to educate the consumer, again what we like to do is kind of a twofold process. So within the ad itself we'll usually create some kind of frame or border or something that's always present across the bottom of the screen – and then the ad has disappeared it blows up into a bigger, full-screen size of how to do it ... So the ad itself tells you what you'll get ... and then shows you exactly how you can get that experience.

DST: Can you talk a bit about the benefits of this kind of solution to the deployer — tangible or intangible benefits, or both?

Damiani: I think it's a combination. So I think on the one hand, from an intangible standpoint, again you have the ability to drive two things, brand awareness, which is kind of digital signage, right? You're driving branding, awareness, impressions, and now you could also enhance that with an engagement where somebody can come and take an action right there and then, which is something that's lacking in many scenarios in out-of-home. So from an intangible standpoint you have the ability that now your medium accomplishes two tasks: It does both branding and it does engagement and action.

From the tangibles standpoint ... obviously you have the tracking. So you have the impressions that you're driving on the screen for the branding, but then you also have the actions and the engagements of the users who are taking an action right there and then through the mobile portal. And what that allows the deployers to do and digital signage companies to do, in our opinion, is to drive a greater share of wallet from brands and agencies to that medium, so whereas before you're only getting the share of wallet for the out-of-home buy or purchase or media campaign, now you have the ability to also integrate and add some mobile capability and create a new sales channel that you didn't have before.

DST: Wrapping up, is there anything that maybe seems obvious to someone who works with mobile every day but that deployers might miss or not even think about?

Damiani: I'd say one thing that is something that underpins our philosophy versus companies we've seen come and go over the past few years is the fact that it's not about the technology.

I think a lot of people get hung up about the technology when they discuss these things, and a lot of companies come in and they present it as a technology sales pitch. And that's the thing, mobile is constantly evolving. As I said, six years ago it was Bluetooth that we started with; then we added Wi-Fi, SMS, QR, NFC, all of these things. It's going to continuously change. Who knows what it's going to be two, three years from now?

And so if you get hung up on the technology itself, for one thing, you confuse marketers. If you walk into a meeting with an agency and you sit down and start getting down to the nitty-gritty of NFC and how it works, the wavelength and the frequencies ... That shouldn't even come up as part of the conversation.

To us it's about mobile; it's about creating that connection between brands and consumers using the mobile device as the conduit. The technology is secondary. So the first things you have to figure out are, who you want to target and what your message is. What's the objective? The mobile mechanism by which you do that is just a gateway. It's a tool, it's an enabler to achieve that goal, so I think that is kind of just a little bit of a different way to look at mobile than we see a lot of people do, and we believe it's the right approach.

Again, as long as we get people and brands and agencies thinking about mobile, then it doesn't matter what the technology is behind it. And even if it keeps evolving they'll still have mobile on their minds, and they'll get ingrained and used to doing something within the mobile space, and they'll be open to using different technologies — again as long as it fits in with that overall strategy.

Learn more about digital signage and mobile interactivity.

Topics: FAQ , Mobile Interactivity , Trends / Statistics

Christopher Hall / Christopher is the editor of A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.
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