Blog: Mike Cearley 

Mike Cearley (bio)
SVP, Digital Strategy

Tuesday, 26 April 2011
It’s crazy to think that mobile will not have a profound impact on the digital signage industry and even more, the channel that is out-of-home (OOH). Mobile alters it to the point where those static displays – be them digital or print – instantly become interactive. Through SMS short codes, image/code recognition, GPS or a host of other enabling technologies. Every day, it seems like someone is coming up with another way to use mobile devices to power more meaningful, deeper experiences. For the purpose of connection, convenience, entertainment or (as we’re seeing more and more) with brands and marketers, mobile devices are being used to conduct business.

Yesterday, Pepsi announced an interesting test program using one of these new, enabling technologies – “audio fingerprinting,” which is basically audio recognition. It works through an app on a mobile device (phone or tablet) and when it’s “on” (listening to audio coming from another screen), it can recognize the programming and take action on it. Earlier in the year, Grey’s Anatomy used a similar technology that allowed people who were watching Grey’s Anatomy and using the Grey’s Anatomy app to have an interactive, customized experience on their mobile device. It recognized what episode you were watching and then served up engaging content – polls, quizzes, cast videos, etc… – relative to that particular episode. Just by “listening” to the program.

Well, here, Pepsi is doing the same thing. But instead of serving up additional content, they’re serving up a coupon (for a free Pepsi Max). When the mobile device hears this Pepsi commercial, it rewards you for watching it by giving you a coupon.

The implications of this sort of technology on a “static” (push-only) digital sign are huge. This now enables any of that boring, one-way content to a) become interactive and most importantly, b) not have to be altered. The mobile device actually takes care of everything.

Yes, this is another example of how mobile can dramatically change all those digital screens, but on a bigger scale, this is another example of how those places and things around us are being turned on and instantly connecting us with each other and the brands we love.
Posted by: Mike Cearley AT 08:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Friday, 15 April 2011

It’s as if the QR code gods are getting into the April Foolsery against me this year. As soon as I make a pact with myself about cooling it on the QR codes, they dangle another carrot in my face, and I just can’t let it go.

I see a QR code when I’m out and about and I have to check it out (drives my wife crazy) and especially as of late, I likely write about it. And it seems like I’ve been writing about them a lot. I think this frequency is actually an indication that they are infiltrating our surroundings more and more, which, to me, is exciting.

As long as they’re creating an experience and uncovering value that wouldn’t have otherwise been there.

Slowly but surely, I see better experiences behind the codes emerging more and more, too.
Such is the case here, with one of my favorite brands – shoemaker John Fluevog.

They’ve placed a QR code on the insole of one of their new shoes.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think this is great. It’s an easy, smart placement. It’s personal. Not intended for anyone other than the individual shoe-shopper or shoe-buyer. And the content it unlocks is a little treat. Go ahead, try it yourself. Scan the code.

If you don’t know what to do, search for the ScanLife or NeoReader application on your phone. If you don’t have either one of those, search for a QR code reader. To make the experience easier, this is what you’ll get. A video of exactly how the shoe was made. 

Although it’s a little long, it’s fascinating. I really enjoyed it. Even to someone who didn’t buy those shoes, it provides real value to me in that:

1. It is insightful - I have never seen how shoes – much less handmade shoes like this – are made. This video showed me all of the raw materials, and the process, and even the hands that crafted these shoes. It automatically made me feel closer to the product.

2. It is personal – there’s something about putting something on the insole of your shoe. It’s like keeping something in your hat, like a picture or something personal like that. Not that I have ever done that, but it’s the same idea. It just screams, this belongs to ME.

3. It is meaningful – another way to say this is, it’s in the right context. A video about the shoes you’re about to buy/just bought is a natural extension of the purchase. It means something to get behind-the-scenes access that close to a product.

4. It is on-brand – it’s easy to direct consumers to any ol’ information about your brand and call it a day. That’s what most brands do with these codes right now. Fluevog is a unique, niche brand, one that prides itself on their custom product. So, it makes a lot of sense to give consumers/your fans something that is directly in line with those attributes. The video, itself, is simple – no fuss, no muss – but the concept shows the custom attention that the brand stands for.

It all equates to a smart experience. And smart experiences are not confined to specific screens. They’re screen-agnostic.

So, when you’re thinking about creating an experience that involves your product and your content, I think you can learn something from Fluevog. And as they’ve shown, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Do you think I’m crazy? To be excited about a QR code execution on the insole of a shoe?

Posted by: Mike Cearley AT 10:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 11 April 2011

March might as well be QR code month here at 11th Screen. I just can’t escape them. There I was at my neices’ and nephew’s birthday celebration, in Suburbia, USA, and what do I see on the for sale sign across the street? That’s right, a big, fat QR code in place of the standard floor plan/housing sale sheet.

Have QR codes really made it into suburbia? And I’m not talking about geography.
This was fascinating to me.

This realtor is banking on the fact that the general house hunter knows a) what QR codes are and b) how to use them. Enough to literally sell the house.

Here’s the thing – I get it.

I get the fact that house hunters are always out and about, carrying the one digital device that can give them information in this way, and with every passing day, more and more comfortable in knowing how to get the most out of it.

I get the efficiency of it all.

I get the notion of connecting them directly to the house information they want; instead of wasting all that paper, which ends up wadded up in the car anyway.

But does the general suburban house hunter?
Posted by: Mike Cearley AT 08:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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