About sixteen months ago, I published a post entitled First Steps To a DOOH Ecosystem. By our standards, it was widely read. The post examined the emergence of an ecosystem that was effectively digital signage-centric. The closing thought contemplated what would be next:
That ecosystem can expand well beyond the diagram above to include mobile applications, web tools and more. Customers will demand it, and it will happen. Me? I can’t wait.
In line with the notion of an ecosystem, that expansion would be analagous to the concept of Biodiversity within a natural ecosystem. Wikipedia identifies the role of Biodiversity as follows:
A greater degree of species or biological diversity – commonly referred to as Biodiversity – of an ecosystem may contribute to greater resilience of an ecosystem, because there are more species present at a location to respond to change and thus “absorb” or reduce its effects.
It seems like enough time has passed, the wait is nearly over and the digital signage ecosystem is in position to become a part of a more “biodiverse” OOH marketing and messaging ecosystem. That expanded ecosystem would be customer-centric. This is a good transition, as it drags us into the realm of strategic apps, the goal of all new technologies.
Here are some of the essential characteristics of the extended ecosystem:
Multiple points of integration
The on site systems, including digital signage, customer-based mobile apps and POS systems as depicted above, must be integrated with each other to provide maximum benefit. This can occur in a number of ways and will vary by implementation, objective and business rules. Additionally, they must be integrated with external systems including corporate applications (customer management, inventory management, etc.) and media planning applications.
Each of the systems referred to above generates data that can be analyzed and used for multiple purposes. Clearly, the data must be captured, organized, stored and accessed in a manner that makes it useful to downstream systems for proof of play, sales impact analysis, content assessment and offer refinement, to name a few. The ability to gain insights through advanced analytics speeds reaction time to trends and allows for near real time adjustment of offers and content, as well as subsequent measurement of impact.
Given that the integrated marketing system generates data from applications that may be owned by the venue owner (POS), the network operator (digital signage) and many customers (mobile apps), the analytics database and applications may best be positioned as cloud-based services, whether that cloud is public or private. Using analytics, advertisers will be able to jump on trends by increasing frequency, changing content, or segmenting a buy via a cloud based ad server. Inside marketers will be able to refine promotions on its one-to many platform, digital signage. Similarly, they will be able to customize messaging and offers to individuals thru the mobile platform using a cloud based application fueled by analytics.
Is this getting too far ahead of today’s reality? I don’t think so. We have to recognize that digital signs are one type of endpoint in the OOH world, and that digital signage platforms are point solutions. Our value is best realized by integrating with and supporting other endpoints and applications to advance an overall marketing and communications strategy. The tools are there, the need is growing. The wait is nearly over.