More interactive, more pertinent: Monster Media’s recipe for success

Monster Media has a track record of delivering interactive projects, including for the Heathrow Express

Monster Media has a track record of delivering interactive projects, including for the Heathrow Express

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) today demands fast, dynamic, up-to-the-minute content. With customers able to check anything online at any time through their mobile devices, nothing less than the latest is expected in DOOH. Still images and looping content are definitely dying in the advertising mainstream.

Correspondingly, hardware manufacturers are increasingly including dynamic options to their devices, as evidenced by the rise in HTML5-based players. This stems from the demands of advertisers and agencies, whose initiatives include more user-generated content and live interaction. There is no looking back: dynamic content is here to stay.

A company that knows this very well is Monster Media. Through enticing, original content, Monster Media has created award-winning campaigns that create for brands both customer dialogue and excellent exposure. Its recent acquisition of US company LocaModa gives the interactive DOOH technology specialist the ideal springboard to integrate more sophisticated social and mobile creative in its projects. 

The LocaModa platform enables brands and networks to leverage social media appropriately across their web, mobile or DOOH campaigns. It filters social sources, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, embedding content into multi-channel campaigns to create engaging and – importantly – measurable interactions between brands, venues and audiences. The technology has been used extensively to display selected tweets and photos against branded content on sites from Times Square to concerts, bars to airports and all around the retail sphere.

“Having LocaModa as part of Monster Media means that media owners will now be able to add social media to all existing networks, platforms or content management systems,” explains Liam Boyle, managing director of Monster Media. “It’s completely agnostic. The platform can be used on a campaign-by-campaign basis – it can essentially be turned on with the flick of a switch.

“Media agencies working with us will be able to take advantage of the strength of social amplification by adding this service to new campaigns to encourage more consumer participation. The network operators will take the first step and agencies will be able to exploit the benefits for their clients. Finally, from the clients’ side, they will be able to greatly expand their campaigns reach and scale and still experience the same accurate measurement and reporting data they get from taking advantage of interactive advertising. This adds another layer of social metrics depending on what’s being moderated, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.”

With all that said, Monster Media is no novice when it comes to dynamic advertising. Together with Gyro, the company developed a campaign to promote the Heathrow Express rail service between central London and the city’s largest airport. Its centerpiece was an interactive, three-by-three wide-format LCD videowall with interactive touch at one of the transport hub’s busy corridors. Once activated through touch, users were given the opportunity to explore the service’s new carriages with a controllable 360-degree camera.

To reward their participation, travellers left the display with a promotional code offering a free upgrade to business first class. It appeared to work: more than 117,000 direct consumer interactions took place on the LCD wall, resulting in over 14,000 ticket giveaways. In total, 733,946 opportunities to see were provided over the duration of the campaign.

Airports and interactivity have proved a successful combination for another Monster Media campaign, O2 Roaming, on which it collaborated with media owner Eye, ZenithOptimedia and Meridian. The eight-week, pan-regional and cross-media project was fully mobile-enabled and signified the first time that Eye ran interactive content simultaneously across its media estate at Gatwick and Manchester air termini.

Two interactive media walls invited flyers to upload and edit holiday photos for real-time viewing via Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #O2Travel. Boyle explains: “The display shows a hashtag and a Instagram photo within a Polaroid-style frame. Users will be directed by branded instructions to take a photo with Instagram, and use the hashtag shown to see their photo on the wall.”

Both projects demonstrate the full capability of what’s possible today in out-of-home media. It’s pretty obvious that we will soon see an increase in dynamic syndicated content; this type of solution delivers the most relevant content to the DOOH viewer. With the increasing popularity of demographic data delivery, incorporating gender and facial recognition, companies like Monster Media are soon to make interactive out-of-home even more powerful.

First published 4 September 2013

Rocking the Tobacco Dock: NEC Showcase preview

Now in its fifth year, the NEC Showcase 2013 will be held at East London’s Tobacco Dock, seeing NEC partners teaming up once again to demonstrate how their digital signage offerings work in different ecosystems. Visitors will reportedly be able to see more than 100 solutions represented through the two floors of the show across eleven applications zones: DOOH, retail, education, transport, 3D and leisure, 3D cinema, media, healthcare, control rooms, corporate communications and the NEC innovation zone.

London's Tobacco Dock was built in the 19th century as a secure warehousing for tobacco arriving from the New World

London’s Tobacco Dock was built in the 19th century as a secure warehousing for tobacco arriving from the New World

Since its conception, the showcase has focused on providing end users with a tangible example of what it possible in a real-world situation, and an opportunity to talk directly with manufacturers and system integrators in each vertical market.

“The showcase is a unique event; where else can you see more than 50 different AV and IT vendors working together to show complete solutions?” asks Simon Jackson, vice-president at NEC Display Solutions. “We already have 600 people registered to visit.”

NEC itself is using its event as a launchpad for an 80″ (203cm) screen in its entry-level E series, plus the new P series 70″ (178cm) display with NFC and NEC NOC, a remote service network operating centre. Also new this year is a sensor-driven signage offering, the NEC Leaf Engine, co-developed with NEC Laboratories in Heidelberg.

“We’ve added a couple of NEC zones so we can show off our new technology but the really exciting zones are where the collaboration takes place,” enthuses Jackson. “Look out for retail and 3D – they should be fun.”

Ultra or 4K will feature heavily at the showcase, promised as a complete workflow. Content will be filmed live, edited, exported and displayed around the event. This will be shown on 2×2 and 3×3 video walls and a new high-end laser projector. What content? Watch out for the dancing girls!

Welcoming visitors at the entrance hall with a projection-mapped tunnel will be 7th Sense. Using its Delta media server solution it will show fully uncompressed 4K content on the NEC 4K projector. Richard Brown, principal engineer at 7th Sense, comments: “This is our first showcase and it provides us with an opportunity to demo our products as an integrated solution with NEC’s displays. The uncompressed nature of our video servers means that we can show them off at their best.”

Regular exhibitor PSCo will exhibit a videowall using five different screen formats. Driven by a Harris player, the wall will be arranged in a structure designed by Unicol and put together by PSCo’s engineers. It’s not all about what’s flashy, of course: Unicol is supporting NEC Displays throughout the show with its mounting solutions. There will be a number of coloured Axia lectern stands supporting 46″ (117cm) screens and Axia Titan stands built to carry 100″ (254cm) screens on different videowall arrays.

A newcomer at the showcase is Monster Media, whose managing director Liam Boyle is excited by what the event can offer. “Partnering with NEC is the perfect marriage of intelligent technology solutions and practiced content creation. One thing is to have the shiniest-looking kit on the block; another is to provide a valuable experience for the consumer.”

Exhibiting for the fourth time, White Space will be showing its latest version of 3D-Hub at the retail, education and events zones. 3D-Hub is an interactive media player with 3D content. Its features include rotating, exploding, animating, highlighting and labelling media. The 3D-Hub also works with regular 2D displays, which can be viewed in stereo 3D using Anaglyph or ColorCode 3D technology.

Also looking to take advantage of NEC’s outstretched arm to end users, IHSE will have a presence for the first time. IHSE is a manufacturer of advanced KVM and video extenders, which allow the remote location of auxiliary computer consoles at very long distances from device. Its KVM matrix switches enable different computers to be accessed through one or more consoles – all equipment vital to larger installations.

NEC is also giving visitors a voice. Attendees can submit questions upon registration or at the show via touchscreens, which will be displayed on screens across the show, offering food for thought. Running alongside the Showcase will be a conference organised by DailyDOOH, with ten speakers, in morning and afternoon blocks. And when the show’s done, don’t forget to prepare for a well-deserved drink reception after 4pm – which, some say, is when the business really begins.

First published 13 May 2013 – Output

A lesson from the agencies: creating successful DOOH content

Kinetic used Olympics-related creative at key high-traffic locations, such as airports, last year to promote Visa during the Games

Kinetic used Olympics-related creative at key high-traffic locations, such as airports, last year to promote Visa during the Games

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) offers innovative ways in which a brand can engage with customers. But this engagement has to be increasingly clever and provide added value for people to stop, interact and recall the campaign. What do agencies have to bear in mind to make successful content for this medium?

“To create awe-inspiring campaigns, agencies need a brilliant idea, to find the right location for the ad to reach the target audience, and use the technology available for best results,” comments Nick Mawditt, global director of insight and marketing at Kinetic. “Our studies show that companies that embrace new technology for their advertising get a more favourable perception amongst the audience. DOOH messages are increasingly event-led; this could be a celebration, such as Easter, or current news.”

Will Awdry, creative partner at Ogilvy, recalls the success of the agency’s Olympics 2012 campaign for BP featuring Jessica Ennis. “We ran pre-emptive DOOH messages (‘Go Jess Go’) the night before her big event, which then became a congratulatory piece when she secured the heptathlon gold medal. This was carried out pretty much in real time with London Underground signage. Off the back of it, Twitter and other social media sites were on fire and the conversation was live.”

Liam Boyle, managing director of Monster Media, considers: “The role of technology is to aid the brand in communicating its core objectives relating to its platform and positioning in unison with its planning schedule across the full marketing mix. There are a variety of tools that can now be accessed to further drive above-the-line campaigns all the way through the line.

“Immersion is the future and the now,” Boyle continues. “Creating brand experiences through DOOH leverages the convergence of the experiential and advertising models. These are powerful channels on their own, but even more potent when mixed together. Technology is the binding agent that allows brands to converse directly with their desired demographic and facilitate a more valued, quantifiable and quantitative, connection.”

All the agency representatives interviewed agreed that campaigns can undergo meticulous planning but they also need to be able to grow organically. Sophie Burke is head of marketing at Zoom Media, which claims to be the UK’s largest digital media network in health clubs. She adds: “The media planning cycle is generally quite lengthy and requires a great deal of thinking ahead. However, the majority of truly successful and innovative media campaigns involve an element of spontaneity – whether it’s copy which can be adapted dynamically based on real-time data, or an interactive component which allows the consumer to get involved.”

But not any old interaction will cut it. Mawditt says that, in Kinetic’s experience, direct touch rather than gesture-controlled interaction makes the engagement and recall more powerful. “If you touch a screen, you are engaging in a more personal and private level, even if it’s in a public space. With gesture, the engagement is brief and people can feel self-conscious.”

Campaign content needs to be timely but also allow for user-generated content; it is in this area where social media comes into play and facilitates the call to action. Real-time campaign metrics need to be aligned to marry the technological capability of the screen with other live information, such as online engagement, as demonstrated with Posterscope’s campaigns that use Liveposter, a dynamic content scheduling and distribution product.

Posterscope’s Adam Cherry talks about the McDonalds London 2012 Olympics photo exchange exercise, which gave the brand a 73 percent positive perception boost. The campaign consisted of a real-time creative exercise: photographs submitted via Facebook were matched with custom straplines and delivered to hundreds of screens nation-wide. This was then fed back into the protagonists’ Facebook timelines to be shared with friends, prompting them to join in and create a snowball effect amongst fans.

“Social is a very powerful tool,” says Boyle. “We’re big believers in the potential to integrate and give brands the opportunity to converse directly with their audience after the initial point of engagement. Giving consumers the chance to engage through interactive digital and brands’ CRMs, and data as a result, will be a benefit to both in the long run.”

Posterscope’s Cherry forecasts: “The future will see DOOH scheduled and traded in new ways, focusing much more on the impressions delivered rather than number of screens bought.”

Where DOOH is concerned, advertising content is increasingly featuring social media to drive customer engagement and provide valuable data back to brands. But, in order to make those objectives successful, it’s time for the creatives to get creative.

First published 22 March 2013 – Output