Digital Out of Home Hits The Next Level

by , Sep 28, 2012, 2:00 PM
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CohenThanks to social media, out-of-home turns into an immersive experience

There was a time, not that long ago, when digital out-of-home meant screens in bars. Or the Jumbotron at the concert, the 15-second spot in a coffee bar, or the intrusions in taxi cabs. Essentially, a non-engaging transfer of content from one medium to another.

Today, thanks in part to social media forcing the industry’s hand, digital out-of-home has the opportunity to be a memorable, discrete, interactive and immersive brand opportunity with connective dna to other media in the mix, both earned and paid. I like to refer to it as the Gateway Medium. Done correctly, it does, and should, lead to other media coverage and expression.

We’ve learned that simple brand messaging can no longer make a lasting impression. As consumers walk around with their heads in their phones, brands need to stand out, go big and create persuasive relevance with technique and substance. To make an impact in this time of numbing information overload, brands are creating unique digital experiences that incorporate interactive and distinctive technology, producing ongoing conversations about, and with, your brand. 

Several innovative mediums are breaking the mold, allowing consumers to be the endorsers of your brand, share brand information and create conversations in social media. On the forefront are custom interactive digital out-of-home experiences that allow consumers to engage with screens and messages using technologies like touch/gesture/augmented reality/photo capture and more — all tied to instant social sharing, providing consumers with the gratification that they are in control of the brand messaging, can create their own experiences and provide something of value that they want to share.

For example, at Pearl Media we created an interactive crime scene for a new drama series on the TNT Network. Consumers were challenged to visit a vacant storefront that was constructed to resemble a makeshift crime scene with broken furniture, cracked bottles — even a corpse. Next to the crime scene, a large touch-enabled digital crime lab urged consumers to solve the mystery by asking suspects questions, dusting for fingerprints, and more. Upon solving the crime, participants were able to instantly take a photo with the stars of the show and share their photos and results with thousands online via Facebook and Twitter. The storefront was also armed with qr codes and nfc technology, allowing consumers to download a mobile version of the crime scene to play on their smartphones as well as imbed a reminder to watch the show. The result: Thousands of consumers not only played on site, but thousands more engaged in the experience online via shared content directly from the digital out-of-home experience. Through this interactive digital ooh brand experience, tnt allowed consumers to touch, feel and discuss the brand through attraction and engagement. Consumers were in control of their own brand retention and the experience provided added value, allowing them to become onsite detectives. 

Another disruptive digital experience that consumers want to share is 3-D projection mapping, which allows brands to play off consumers’ emotions and imagination, delivering something that has never been seen before. It’s the art of using projection, lighting, shadows and stellar animation to manipulate the surface, look and reality of a structure. Usually done on facades of buildings, the medium provides brands with a playful canvas that instantly becomes a memorable experience.

Over the past 18 months we’ve executed numerous 3-D projection programs for all sorts of brands from auto to entertainment to packaged goods. The result is consistent: Consumers are awestruck. Their natural reaction is to pull out their smartphones and start shooting, which ends up creating free content and exposure for the client. The average 3-D projection will be seen by 10,000-20,000 people on the street, but is viewed online by hundreds of thousands within days. Put that in terms of media dollars: If the average 3-D projection is five minutes, how much would you have to pay for your brand to be viewed online by 500,000 people for five minutes? Then factor in the impression your brand makes and the conversations your brand has created. Sharing links with friends is an instant endorsement of your brand within the consumer’s network. As we all know, an insider’s endorsement comes with more credibility and influence than if it came from the brand directly. 

As information becomes more accessible and consumers’ opinions become more visible, brands need to reach deep to engage through powerful media that deliver a positive, lasting impression. Interactive digital media and 3-D projection mapping are two mediums that are currently leaving consumers with memorable moments that are shared and endorsed from the screen to millions online and other earned media. Today, when everyone has a critical opinion and everything has an online rating or comment section, creating brand content that is consumer endorsed is critical to passing the media gateway and gaining consumer acceptance.

Joshua Cohen is president and CEO of Pearl Media

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