One of the most promising extensions of existing media to mobile has to be out-of-home. In fact, I wonder if eventually mobile marketing and advertising will be seen under the digital OOH category. I have already heard some agency executives talk about conceptualizing the mobile display and app platforms as extensions of their OOH strategy. Increasingly, as it uses location-based solutions, mobile feels less like a remote extension of the Web and something closer to being another screen in an out-of-home network, albeit a screen that is never predictably fixed.
And so it is heartening to see Clear Channel's new and very smart branded app for travelers. The iPhone FLYsmart app maps well against Clear Channel's billboard presence in airports nationwide. The app is a traveler's ready resource for most problems and questions that come up in an airport. What are the flight schedules and latest flight updates? How do I get from Concourse A to Concourse B? Where are the bathrooms? Where the hell am I?
The app is the result of a partnership between Clear Channel Advertising (CCA) and LBS-powered directory and media platform Geodelic. The app locates you in the airport and reveals the surrounding resources through maps or listings in various list or carousel formats. Geodelic has other apps for the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Santa Monica with the same base technology. But the FLYSmart app is especially elaborate, as it layers in live feeds of flight information and localized data about the city you are in. The project launches with ten major U.S. airports covered and a BlackBerry version in development.
While on the one hand it is a branded app, provided by Clear Channel, CCA is not a consumer-facing company and so its real value comes in extending the CCA ad network itself. The potential for seamlessly extending onto handsets the digital display CCA already deploys seems to me enormous.
I am sure the first step is just recruiting the restaurant and newsstand franchises that are interested in advertising and marketing into the handset. And this would be valuable, especially for proximity marketing. My suspicion is that people in airports, frustrated and in a hurry, would be more amenable to marketers pushing offers, coupons and easy solutions to them than they might be elsewhere.
But even more promising to me is the way in which OOH advertising could become more interactive. Outdoor digital displays could work in sync with handhelds. The phone could serve as a second screen and as a delivery mechanism for offers from the digital display. If the digital display network and handheld app are working in unison, then marketers who buy enormous presence within a given location would be iterated across screens. Talk about "run of site."