Ask the Board – July 11, 2016 | MARK ZWICKER


How can we expect to see triggered content utilized in the future?

I think there are two key ways we will see triggered digital signage content utilized. One, serving up content that appeals to an aggregated audience, and two, personalized content served up to a specifically identified individual.

Let’s start with the less creepy of the two—content that appeals to an aggregated audience. We’re all familiar with location-based marketing, which is already prevalent in the mobile marketing world. Think of pop-ups on the Waze app, “You’re only half a mile from…”

Now, we see outdoor media companies collecting anonymous data from multiple devices in order to have the ability serve up content that appeals to the aggregated audience.

Michael Balsamo, Associated Press, recently published an article about Clear Channel Outdoor Americas’ so-called RADAR program, which uses this type of technology. In his article he writes “In a video on its website, the company says it “measures consumers’ real-world travel patterns and behaviors as they move through their day, analyzing data on direction of travel, billboard viewability, and visits to specific destinations. That information, the company says, is then mapped against Clear Channel’s displays, which would allow advertisers to buy ads in places that would ‘reach specific behavioral audience segments.’

I think the Genie is out of the bottle so to speak on this type of triggered content, but we will see more defined legislation on how this technology can or cannot be used.

The second way digital signage content will be triggered is by identifying a specific individual, again through the phone you have tucked away in your pocket or purse. Anyone who saw Minority Report will remember the scene where Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton enters a mall and all the digital signage immediately starts dishing up content specifically for him, even calling him by name. That’s about as off-putting as it gets.

Thankfully, we’re not there yet, and I hope we never get to that extreme point. What would be acceptable to most of us would be a perfectly placed digital spot on a product we have shown interest in. By ‘perfectly placed,’ I’m talking about digital content that is in context with my environment. As an example, if I’ve been doing research on a new grill and narrowed down my choice, I would be served up a digital spot further extolling the benefits of the brand I’m considering on my next visit to a big box retailer. I would be cool with that. In that case, it would provide a benefit without creeping me out.

If all of this is a bit worrisome, you can always switch back to a flip phone.


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Senior Vice President, Enterprise Business Development
St. Joseph Communications

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