All screens are part of the continuity of marketing and messages including the increasingly powerful pocket screen. It really comes down to what businesses we are in — on the retail side, on the advertising side, or on the corporate communications side. These are all distinct categories of digital screen media, digital out-of-home and digital signage. This marks my seventh annual Top 10 Trends for the industry — trends that are changing in exciting ways, trends that always include the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.
Last year my No. 1 trend was "Go big or go small," and I submit to you how going small and big were high on everyone's list from restaurant tables to corporate lobbies to conversion of billboards.
For 2015, I would like to open up a dialog with readers with some thought-provoking predictions in an effort to gauge and better understand readers' reactions. For the first time, you get to tell us what you think the No. 10 trend is.
The main goal of engaging the consumer is to have conversation between the brand and the consumer and ultimately sell something! I submit to to you that everything we do is simple: The brand converses with the consumer and vice versa. So as companies look at what they are really doing in this business, does this realign their goals and thinking?
And now … on to 2015.
1. "Moment of Truth" is now "Moment of Everywhere"
Brands and retailers are finding new ways to partner to increase sales and gain loyalty while aligning goals between them with omnichannel strategies, brand power, content and technology. Large brands are looking for, and continue to support, innovation to reach consumers in ways that are meaningful and provide ROI. Just like the video camera controversy five years ago, now tracking where the consumer is in-store has taken front stage. This too will become a moot point as the consumer learns of the benefits of iBeacon, Wi-Fi technologies. This moment of truth is when, wherever and whatever the consumer buys. Yes, it still happens in retail environments, but then again it's everywhere, and it's here now.
Look for the interconnection between digital screens and notice of where the consumer is (location) and the number of visits the consumer makes, their smartphone, their daily patterns both online and off line to arrive at the moment of truth.
2. My Smartphone is now my smart button? Or is the IoT (Internet of Things) now the IoE (Internet of Everything)?
It seems that one of the largest impacts on the digital signage industry is the smartphone. Although it really depends upon the type of network one is talking about, still there is no doubt we are connecting with the smartphone. Intel is driving the chipset down to the size of a button, and then there is Edison, a miniature computer based on the same technology condensed into the form factor of an SD card, which has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in based on Linux. This wearable-type technology can have impacts in retail that are just now becoming apparent. This is an early trend in the marketplace. Imagine if you will, that my smartphone is a roll-up screen and the rest of my computing power is dispersed among the cloud, e.g., the Chromebook where everything is in the cloud. With distributed technology, I could walk up to a shelf, and the shelf would know what product I have been buying and even suggest another product that is complementary. What if my cart was using wearable technology that knows my list of standard groceries that I buy 99 percent of the time and then adds a couple of variations to my screen or a coupon offer to my loyalty program while in the store? Perhaps my favorite ice cream is now calling me – yes, really calling me on my screen -- and a virtual cow is now moooving my purchase into reality. The integrated chips are so small and connected that every product can have one next to it for the latest in healthy snacks, or how to BBQ that steak with the new rub … The cloud knows everything.
Look for experimental projects that use this newfound chip to drive new experiences in retail.
3. BYOS – bring your own screen
Again with the smartphone, I know. But in the world we live in we must connect the brand with the smartphone consumer. Interactions can be driven with larger screens by creating deep experiences, even product specific experiences that are tailored exactly to the consumer and brand. In a world where everyone has a smartphone and they bring it with them everywhere, one must take advantage of this as a brand and retailer. In DOOH there are deployments using the connection between the brand and the smartphone in several ways. It's not just one technology to drive this connection, but many.
Look for more inventive ways that brands will use all screens in the marketplace to make the connection to the consumer's smartphone in an attempt to carry on the conversation, even if it means giving something away to get that phone number and the opt in.
4. Go big, go small or go home
This trend is still very strong in the industry; we see not only tablets being used in restaurants at the table, we see them used at the shelf in luxury goods. On the big-screen side, technology and costs are now allowing us to deploy large-screen experiences that drive highly experiential engagements in retail and DOOH. This trend will continue for years to come. Creating large-screen experiences has a profound impact on the viewer in several ways: 1. The mind converts 4K and high-def into a window, rather than a picture, creating a false reality with a memorable impression. 2. With large life-size images the mind immediately goes into a flight or fight mode. This is an instinct that happens in a nanosecond. By understanding these driving factors, one can create large-screen experiences that have a lasting impact that laser-burns the brand into the consumer's mind.
Look for more deployments of small screens (tablets) and big-screen experiences that are out of this world and that connect with the consumer.
5. Content and emotive understanding
Understanding what drives an emotional reaction and understanding when a customer is happy, agitated, angry, etc. are at a basic level the key ingredient to create an experience with great content. The bottom line is that we want to make the customer feel something, and if we can make them feel happy, then guess what? They buy.
Using technology-driven algorithms to see how a consumer reacts emotively will drive new content that will make the customer happy. Yes, we could actually create the happiest place on earth with every piece of content that is created.
Look for more feel good content that has been tested with software facial algorithms and proven to makes us happy.
6. Digitizing America, are we there yet?
The digitization of American business is well underway. How does this affect the digital screen media business?
As the Internet of Everything and back-end systems are becoming aligned with front-end experiences something very cool happens: relevancy, personalization and conversation.
The omnichannel experience in which a story can start and end on any device or screen creates what is known as the "transmedia" experience. Transmedia content is several stories across multiple forms of media in order to deliver unique pieces of the story that together make up the whole -- content created to be displayed in such a way that the continuity and narrative of the whole is only apparent when we experience all of it. Combine the transmedia experience with power to purchase with the back-end digital infrastructure, and wow!
Look for experiences that cross not only the digital world but the physical world to create a total transmedia experience that crosses the path to purchase in personal and time-interrupted chunks that bring us to the brand and the product to buy.
7. Bigger data, smaller chunks, big picture
Data collection on every move we make is more apparent than ever before. It's been creeping up on us over the last few years. For anyone that has used Google maps, you can go to https://maps.google.com/locationhistory on your smartphone and see where you have been.
Ok, did you look? A little scary … get over it. In combination with what I buy online, where I go and which stores I shop at, and what I buy at those stores, the big picture of me gets clearer and clearer every day to the brands that want to reach me. Yes, I am plugged in, tracked down and exposed to the brands I love (and don't care about). And I'm OK with it. It makes my life easier to go somewhere where I have been before, to buy my favorite jeans or make reservations at my favorite restaurant. The "Big Picture of Me" is what the brands know I do. This translates to better, more personalized experiences for me.
Look for innovative ways that will take the collection of big data and make it useful for the retail, hospitality and travel industries to capture attention and pamper you to purchase through every screen you touch.
8. New business models
As retail changes up its business model and new cool technology arrives on the scene, this changes the very screen media business that we are in. This creates new business models that are taking advantage of the vast changes in technology upon the world. Anything from how we connect, shop and drive, to robots that will help us. We need to nimble, innovative and aware to survive. It truly is a rush to 2020.
Look for new business models that will make the experience transparent and frictionless along the path to purchase.
9. DOOH growth
Yes, it's been a decade in the making, but agencies are on board more than ever. Programmatic buying of media is also a significant factor. This really gets to the core of getting the brand message out to the consumer in multiple channels, and it is changing the world for this industry. We say it's about time. Why is it changing? Standards, commitments from major agencies, the work the industry has done and proof that it is working. There is no better time to own an advertising network than now. We will also see consolidation as this trend ramps up this year.
Look for tremendous growth in this DOOH sector that will take it to new heights along with consolidation.
10. We Leave this trend open and up to you. Send your insights and what you think this trend is to , tweet at us with the hashtag #Top10Trend, or leave a prediction in the comments section below. Get your thoughts in today and look for a post on the No. 10 trend, based on your input, in February.