Commentary

Where Social Media Intersects with Digital Out-of-Home

creepy eyes

Sometimes when you hear about the cutting edge of media technology you say "wow that's awesome!" Other times -- or sometimes at the same time -- you want to say "wow that's creepy!"

Today I hosted a panel discussion at the MediaPost Digital Out-of-Home Forum where I found myself saying both. One of the most interesting new areas of development in the DO arena is the ongoing merger with social media, which came up during several panel discussions, including the one I moderated ("Is Digital Out of Home Getting Too Creepy?"). Multiple speakers seemed to agree that mobile devices are the key to the convergence of DO and social media.

Basically, my understanding is: by checking into social networks with mobile devices equipped with Bluetooth, WiFi, or some other variant of near-field communication technology, consumers technically make it feasible to fuse online and place-based advertising. If you were able to exploit interactivity, behavioral targeting, and racial recognition, this gets pretty amazing, but potentially creepy (in keeping with the title of the panel).

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Here's a hypothetical situation I imagined, which is probably not actionable now but technically feasible: suppose that a consumer opted in to allow high-intensity online behavioral marketing, and was also willing to allow their social media profile photos to serve as data for facial recognition by digital out-of-home displays. Finally, suppose that they allowed these two functions to share data with each other.

In this scenario, behavioral tracking software notes that someone is searching for local eateries. Merging this data with live information from Foursquare, a local advertiser could deliver an ad saying, for example, "Looking for pizza? Your Foursquare friend Mike is at Sal's Pizzeria at 180 Main Street. If you check in there in the next two hours you can get $5 off a large pizza." Then, digital signage at the restaurant could encourage you to check in to Foursquare again, or simply identify you using facial recognition technology, and deliver ads for a local movie theater with a movie recommendation based on your earlier online behavior -- and the movies you've seen with Mike in the past. When the movie ends, digital signage in the lobby could identify you, address you buy your first name, and say "someone you know is hanging out at a bar within a quarter-mile of this theater! Check into Foursquare to find out who!"

Obviously I'm not a digital marketer, so I can't even imagine the full implications of social media-DO convergence. I'm willing to bet even more amazing things are possible -- presuming full opt-in, a crucial point -- once really creative marketers started mulling the options. I'd be really interested to hear "blue sky" musings from real practitioners.

5 comments about "Where Social Media Intersects with Digital Out-of-Home".
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  1. Kacy Maxwell from GAPRC Group, May 13, 2010 at 6:03 p.m.

    " If you were able to exploit interactivity, behavioral targeting, and racial recognition, this gets..."

    Did you mean 'Facial recognition?'

  2. Kirsten Osolind from RE:INVENTION, May 13, 2010 at 7:08 p.m.

    Virtual stalking is a real world problem for social media. Public policy and legislation is brewing over online behavioral targeting, instant personalization, and privacy standards. It's going to get ugly.

    Kirsten Osolind
    CEO
    RE:INVENTION, Inc.
    www.reinventioninc.com

  3. Stephen Randall from LocaModa, May 13, 2010 at 10:45 p.m.

    Many people over-think the connection between social and mobile technologies and location. ANY phone (ie not just smart phones) can respond to a specific call to action and have that response treated as a "click" or checkin, or form of loyalty. It does not require Bluetooth, WiFI, or any exotic wireless connection - indeed, the connection should ideally work on the most commonly available pipes - a mobile phone's cellular or web interfaces. eg Send a txt message, a checkin or Tweet via 3G. This can be very simple and extremely effective.

  4. Marni Salup from The Salup Group, May 15, 2010 at 12:17 a.m.

    I agree. Reaching people on thier mobile phones, which they aways have on hand, through thier favorite social networks will be the ultimate marketing tool. I think advertisers have to be savvy and focus on pull as opposed to push activity but the demographic/psychographic date that can be aggregated from mobil app use and geolocation is huge. Marketing to mobile devices reminds me building local PR campigns. Local media always drives traffic on a retail level. A combination of Twiddish, the food photo and review social network and app and an app called Snapfinger, an ordering/POS app, could be a great strategy. Twiddsh is already proving to drive traffic and fill seats in restaurants nationwide. Full disclosure-we helped launch Twiddish in its first two months and I am still a fan.

  5. Kelly Monroe from Brief Attention Span, June 7, 2010 at 1:37 p.m.

    There is a webinar coming up that addresses this exact issue that I just registered for: http://bit.ly/cR80Al. Looks like it is really going to explore the concepts of social media in the workplace on a different level

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