Do you think story can really play a role on a screen that’s meant to be engaged with in terms of seconds?
I think it depends on the concept and on the story you are trying to convey. If you attempt to capture people’s attention by expecting them to watch something in 15 seconds, you’ve fundamentally failed.
If you go back to creating an old-school style of press ad in terms of a stopper – something that has stopping power when you walk past it – that glance only takes a second to understand. Then you can roll into a story where you’ve got their undivided attention.
You have to be very aware of your audience and be clever about how you communicate. Through digital outdoors, you still need to get people’s attention, but you have additional benefits including interactivity, built-in cameras, and eyeball detection.
This was used in a great Amnesty ad about domestic abuse: The violence went away when someone looked at the poster, and it started again when the person looked away – just like it does in reality.
The digital billboard is still being used and created for like a poster, but it’s not a poster. It’s an interactive format, it’s a server, it’s a wireless connection, it’s a touch-screen device. You have to think about it as a content management system. You have to think about the possibilities that the medium can deliver, and then you can create stand-out campaigns.
You’ve worked and won awards in both the online and offline marketing worlds. Do you foresee a world where the two will go hand in hand?
We just created a campaign for one of our clients where users can create things on Facebook that feed to outdoor screens. So we’re now taking online content and placing it in offline environments.
This type of campaign is exciting; it can drive revenue for the client and generate fame for the product, and it creates a need for advertising, which could ultimately include branded content from television sponsorships and programs.
Ultimately it depends on who your audience is. If they’re 65-70, which the majority of the world is going to be soon, then some of those people might be more interested in passive media like television. There wouldn’t be much point in doing a Facebook campaign for them.
Once you understand where your target audience or customer is, then you can develop a campaign and select the media that will interact with them in their space. We don’t expect them to come to us; we place a lot of our content where we think they might be.
I always say, “Never technology for technology’s sake.” The technologies should enhance the ideas and, ultimately, deliver a better experience.
How do you measure the success of a digital out-of-home campaign that may reach hundreds of transient “users” from around the world?
It’s complicated because it’s almost going back to the old-school advertising way of measuring things in terms of up points and down points and those sorts of metrics.
For a mobile campaign, you can check the amount of people who have turned on their Bluetooth or dialed a short code on a poster and have ultimately had some form of interaction from that, and you can check by the amount of messages you have pushed back to their mobile once they have engaged and interacted with that experience.
Within the technology behind digital posters, you can build intelligence into them to track certain forms of interaction. It is not standardized by any means in terms of digital outdoors.
What effect do you think engaging with screens all day has on our attention spans and our ability to process information? For instance, I’ve read that advertisers have started taking into account the fast-forward rates of TiVo viewers in the pacing and structure of their advertisements. Do you think we’re able to predict messages more and more quickly by filling in the blanks?
I don’t think people are getting quicker at understanding messages. If anything, the world we live in today is more complicated because we have more media delivering complicated messages instead of a single ad with a clever, static headline.
Simplicity is always key to cutting through the noise and getting your message across. Just because we can say more doesn’t mean we should. Maybe a single-minded message with a witty headline will capture attention more quickly than a 15-frame rotation of animation.
Once you’ve got their attention, then take them on a journey – then they are a captive audience. Use technology to enhance an idea and bring it to life or to add another dimension to what you’re doing. Then it resonates a lot more.
Sparksheet is the official media partner of Love Content, an international showcase of digital-out-of home storytelling. This is part of a series of original think pieces and in-depth Q&As built around the initiative.