Blog: Mike Cearley 

Mike Cearley (bio)
SVP, Digital Strategy

Monday, 24 October 2011
When I think of the future and how digital signage plays out and how mobile plays out, here’s what I think:
  1. Digital signage won’t go away. It will have its place, but to what extent? – I guess that’s the question. Will it be more like billboards, where it’s primarily push? Or will it be, by and large, interactive?
  2. We won’t need digital signs to interact with the outside world because of mobile phones and tablets and their capabilities. Specifically, their capabilities to "turn anything on" and even more, provide personal experiences on a personal screen.
Mobile technologies will have a profound impact on the future of digital signage. It’s just that simple.

Part of the reason is that innovation is happening in mobile in a short amount of time. For the past few years, we’ve all been talking about whether or not this is going to be the year of mobile. Well, if we weren’t there last year, we’re certainly there this year. One of the ways you can see this is through the innovations brought to life in the mobile world. Tablets. Apps. Siri. Near Field Communication.

And while mobile’s innovations might be young, I think you can feel pretty comfortable that they’ll be around for a long, long time. As we can see in the short amount of time, creating these innovations is not confined to a select few Technorati or business minds – anyone can innovate and get that innovation out in the market place. To me, this is one key development and asset that the digital signage industry does not have yet. Innovation is confined to a few companies. It’s closed to a seemingly few, albethem brilliant in their own right, minds. It’s not the open-to-the-masses platform like mobile is. And perhaps that’s the reason its innovations and, as a result, its place in the market, have not developed to the point to where the industry has been expecting and hoping for, literally, years.

Unlike mobile, I feel like the digital signage industry will ask themselves again, in 2012, “is this the year of digital signage?” Maybe they can take a page from the mobile book and strive for open innovation, that which is brought on by the masses, not a select few.
Posted by: Mike Cearley AT 02:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 10 October 2011
I was in Seattle recently and walked into a restaurant and saw this:

It was large and in-charge, the only thing to look at in the bar area. The piece, as a whole, is striking with that blue butterfly.

Then, you see the big QR code.

I was the only one in the restaurant at the time so I didn’t feel awkward standing in front of the image, pointing my phone at the QR code and taking a picture of it.

Problem was, the QR code would not register with my reader (and I have a very sensitive reader).  It didn’t work. After repeated attempts.

Lesson #1 - for any interactive (especially “Out-of-Home”) experience – make sure it works.

Lesson #2 – if you put something up that looks actionable, make it so.

Lesson #3 – compelling visuals (in this case, the butterfly) makes for a compelling experience. I really wanted to see what was behind the code because I was so captivated by the butterfly.

In this case, the creative drew me in, made me stop, and took my attention. I was willing to engage with it. But it. just. didn’t. work.
Posted by: Admin AT 03:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  
Tuesday, 04 October 2011
Look around you. Design is all around. In the past five minutes, I’ve noticed the poster at the train station, the map on the train, heck, even the train itself. I’m having one of those moments where I think a little bit too deeply about normal things. But, if you think about it, there is so much thought put into how things look. Those things that you and I might take for granted – someone labored away and made choices that resulted in what we see everyday. Now, granted it’s not all good, but that’s for another time. The point is, time, energy, thought, and skill went into packaging these things.
DART map

Recently, I was reading through Communication Arts. I love this publication. I see it as a showcase of the best-of-the-best creative work in our industry. This particular edition was the Design Annual, where all sorts of design – print, digital, experiential – from the past year were lauded. One of the categories that they highlight is packaging. Everything from beer to a bag of chips to an iron box.
Monteith's Beer

Safeway Potato Chip Bag

Bajaj Majesty Iron Box
All of these examples elicited an emotion from me. I was curious about all of them and told myself to look for them the next time I was in whatever store might sell them. And maybe, just maybe, if I was so inclined, I would buy them. All just by the way they looked, the way they were packaged. This is what design is supposed to do. Create an emotional response to drive action.
This got me thinking about digital signage and the way that I normally see signs out and about. This is pretty standard fare:
11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog
Sure does seem like these signs could benefit from some good packaging. I’ve often wondered if everyday people were blind to digital signs, particularly because of the noise that they generally broadcast. Signs are all around so unless there’s something extremely compelling and relevant on the screen, how many people actually watch them? Enough to consume the content that brands want them to consume?
What if these signs were packaged a little bit better? Would it make me stop and notice them? Would it elicit the same emotions the iron box does?
I hear so much talk in the digital signage industry about content, content, content. What’s on the screen. True, that is critical. But I’ve never heard anything about how the screen actually looks out in public. How it’s packaged. Seems like that’s a critical component, too.
But who wants to spend money on fabricating this or that so screens can go in them? Especially, an entire network of screens? Well, businesses have been created for just that thanks to the introduction of the iEverythings:
iPad Dockintosh

Book Book iPad Case
Maybe that’s too much to realistically expect out of network providers and/or venues. Seems like a pretty daunting task to me. But in a world where the most preferred screen is in our pockets, packaged to our own likings, why would we want to give attention to anything else, especially when it’s just plopped onto a metal stand or hung on a wall?
Design changes things. Design makes us stop. Design makes us consider. Design makes us feel something.
When’s the last time you were out & about and saw a digital sign and actually felt something?

Photo credits: (beer):, (chips): theimpulsivebuy’sphotostream, (iron box):, (dockintosh):, (book case):
Posted by: Mike Cearley AT 09:03 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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