Sociable Media: Seven ways to connect on line and offline social experiences to deliver engagement, advocacy and brand affinity
Seven ways to connect on line and offline social experiences to deliver
engagement, advocacy and brand affinity
A unique new communications dynamic is being created by the convergence of four media;
Online social networks, Social networks in the real world, Mobile and Out-of-home media,
especially digital and experiential. This paper outlines how advertisers can leverage these
channels in various combinations to turbo-charge the effects of both online and out of home
activity and enable a more sociable approach to consumer engagement.
People are increasingly becoming digitally connected to information, entertainment and each other
wherever they go and much of this occurs out of the home.
The constant flow of new technological advances, and the consequential shifts in consumer behavior,
are creating an exciting, but challenging communications landscape.
New media are emerging all the time. As well as understanding the role of each new media in
isolation, advertisers also need to be mindful of the way these new media interact with each other and
with traditional media.
At the moment, the convergence of four elements is creating a new communications dynamic that we
have termed “Sociable Media”.
The four elements are:
Online social networks
Social networks in the real world
Out-of-home media, especially digital and experiential
When these four elements combine they create a new opportunity for advertisers to
Achieve a deeper level of engagement with consumers
Forge deeper emotional connections with consumers through marketing that delivers value to
Spread word of mouth and generate ‘earned media’
Before we look in detail at how Sociable Media works, let’s examine each of the individual four
elements – how they are changing, and some of their key attributes in relation to Sociable Media.
1. Online Social Networks
Few people would argue that online social networking is now a mainstream activity :
63% of American Mothers use social networks Source: Aegis BabyCenter report, July 2009
Facebook tops google for weekly traffic in the US
Social media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the web
If facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world
The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year old females
The Whole Foods Markets retail chain have over 1.7 million followers on Twitter
2. Social networks in the real world
Whilst social media is usually defined as something built around a technological platform i.e. the web,
the principle of social networks is a more appropriate starting point when considering OOH behavior
Some logical key components of an effective social network are:
- the people that are connecting with each other
- something that enables them to connect
- something for them to share or talk about.
We would argue that ‘real world’ social networking where the enabler is actually location, i.e.
being in the pub, office, elevator, school, station, coffee shop etc at the same time as others in your
network is just as important as the web based social networks. In fact 77% of brand related word of
mouth is face to face. Source: TalkTrack TM, October 2008 – September 2009. Base: Brand conversations across all categories
In addition, as we will see later the interactive technologies within digital OOH actually enable the
creation of some brand new social networks.
Insert image of social environment with ads
Of course sophisticated mobile devices are becoming much more prolific. Smartphones (including i-
phone’s, Blackberry’s, Nokia N-Series, those running the Android operating system and many more)
are accounting for 64% of UK contract mobile phone sales and 38% of pay as you go/SIM only sales.
Source : GfK. Globally the figure is 1 in 5. Source: Strategy Analytics. Apple are predicted to sell 13 million i-pads
this year Source : i-suppli, Google plan to release a competitor this year with Samsung aiming to release
theirs in October.
All of these make internet access when out-of-home much easier and quicker.
In fact mobile’s share of ‘web consumption’ grew by 110% in 2009 to 1.26% (Source Quantcast) and
between April 2000 and May 2010 the percentage of Americans who access the internet via a mobile
phone climbed 25%, from 32% to 40%. (Source: Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project). In the UK 48%
of the UK population are expected to become users of the mobile internet by 2014 Source : Intersperience
All of these devices can also run apps of which we estimate 17% are somehow out-of-home related
such as Bulmer’s Cider pub garden finder or the Yelp augmented reality overlays of local business
Images : http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bulmers-cider-finder-app/id381536515?mt=8
Posterscope have pioneered many MOOH (mobile+OOH) developments from the world’s first large
scale Bluetooth download campaign to the more recent ‘Point & Find’ visual search experiments with
Nokia and JC Decaux and have talked extensively over the years about the importance of future
technologies such as Near Field Communications. NFC has the potential to revolutionize OOH by
making it transactional and even viral by simply touching one phone against another.
LocaModa have pioneered the ability of using a mobile phone as a remote control to engage with
DOOH content. A simple example of this is their Jumbli word game which is run on several thousand
DOOH screens across USA including the huge Clear Channel/Spectacolor jumbotron in New York’s
Times Square, over 1,000 bars and cafes and even on jukeboxes. Audiences are encouraged to text
a word to the screen to score points and when they do, they see their word and user name displayed.
The top players have amassed over a million points representing many weeks of cumulative play!
The game can be linked to loyalty programs, lead generation and sales (e.g. get two for one popcorn
if you score over 50 points.) Jumbli has been designed as a “many to one” game, enabling literally
thousands of people to engage at the same time. The game can also be skinned by brands,
embedded on their websites, Facebook fan pages as well as also being an iPhone application.
Insert Jumbli image attached to email
Insert point & find images : N:HyperspaceProjectsNokia Point & FindNokia Point & Find Marketing
AssetsColchester ImagesBest Random Close crop.JPG
(under photos) More information and results from the Nokia Point & Find trial is available at
When it come to social media, 50% of mobile internet traffic in the UK is for facebook (Source :
Socialnomics.net) and 150 million people worldwide access Facebook from a mobile device. Those that
already use their mobiles to access social networks do so much more intensively spending 32% more
time on Facebook compared to those accessing the site via PC’s. Source: comScore GSMA MMM, comScore Media
Medtrix, Dec 2009
As such, location is naturally becoming a part of the social media experience and location based (i.e.
mobile) social networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt and many others are starting to exploit
this. Facebook’s equivalent function, ‘Places’ has recently been launched in the USA. The main
principle of these is to be able to ‘check-in’ upon arrival at certain out-of-home locations allowing
users to identify nearby friends and perhaps receive a reward of some description from the network, a
brand or a ‘landlord’. Whilst this user base is relatively small, Foursquare have approximately 3
million users (about 60% of whom are in the USA) and it is likely that Facebook Places will become
Insert facebook places online screengrab & logo pic attached to email
4. Out of Home Media
It is well documented that people are spending more time OOH than they used to. Amongst working
adults in the UK this increased by 53% between 1994 and 2008 Source Source: BBC Daily Life & IPA TouchPoints Hub
In the US commute times increased by 5% between 2003 and 2008 (Source: US Census Bureau) and
Americans are also driving further with total mileage increasing by around 6% per year. (Source : US
Department of Transportation)
Social trends and infrastructure are key drivers of this. For example, in the US the number of coffee
shops grew by 70% in 2000 - 2005 with sales increasing by 488% across the decade as a whole and
the number of live music events attended by the average Briton increased by 35% from 2001 - 2007.
Spending on recreation and culture is expected to account for 17% of total consumer spending by
2015 compared to 11% ten years prior. (Source : Experian/nVision)
At the same time 3G, 4G & wi-fi hotspot penetration continues to rocket.
Similarly the digitization of out-of-home media is happening at a rapid rate and these screens are
more often than not connected via the web. This means that many of the 2.5 million OOH advertising
screens in the world (Source Posterscope’s Prism Screen planning tool) can display frequently updatable or even real
Insert photo illustrating internet/mobile internet being used OOH
Insert photo of FIVE USA live video stream
Whilst the primary consideration within this paper is ‘bought’ or ‘paid-for’ media some of the thinking
can be applicable to communication vehicles that are ‘owned’ by a brand such as retail fixtures.
How Out-of-Home can Integrate the Other Three Elements
When real world OOH communications create an action that takes place via a social network
we call this dynamic, Sociable Media. This actually works in reverse too with content from
social networks being used within creative for OOH ads.
Posterscope’s recent studies into the views and OOH behavior of UK passionate social networkers,
Defined as those who claim to be ‘passionate’ about ‘Online Social Networking’ as a leisure activity or ‘hobby’ suggest that surprise,
shock, sex, celebrities, sales offers or clever creative are key to driving conversation around
campaigns. Fortunately for the medium this group are particularly likely to encounter OOH media,
more so than any other media except online and mobile. 30% of them tell others about customized
posters that they’ve seen and 31% tell others about ads on digital OOH screens. For both of these
measures this audience indexes significantly higher than the population average.
The Opportunity for Advertisers
Let’s now look in some detail at what Sociable Media can do for brands.
We’ll concentrate on how Sociable Media can
Of course this is not to suggest that the above are mutually exclusive.
1. Using Sociable Media to Create Engagement
To make a piece of creative work more engaging through the use of technology
Airtime on digital OOH screen networks can be filled with content which includes elements that are
streamed directly from online social networks.
Visually such ads are quite different to the conventional spots and content on screens and it can look
particularly intriguing but it’s relevance to consumers is also important. There are two particularly key
themes as ads containing social media streams can be :
• Contextually relevant due to the environment in which the screens are located or any
For example a sports brand ad could contain streamed consumer opinions about controversial
events in the world of football onto screens in sports bars.
A toothpaste brand wanting to make their OOH screen campaign more engaging in miserable
environments could incorporate Twitter posts and Flickr photo streams tagged “smile.” Any
messages and photos containing the word “smile” can be delivered to the screens in the
campaign in real-time.
Insert Colgate image attached to email.
JC Decaux’s large ‘Transvision’ rail station LED screens (previously owned by Titan in the UK)
were used to broadcast short Japanese style Haiku poems that were submitted by consumers
via Twitter making the experience of waiting for a train slightly less mundane.
Insert photo of Haiku project from Dom Milan
• Specifically relevant to a particular geographical location.
In this instance consumers football related comments from the example above could be
segmented so that screens only show comments relating to the local team.
Alternatively screens might show who has checked-in to the venue on Facebook Places,
Foursquare or Gowalla with posters advertising that checking-in can get you featured in the
on-screen ad for a particular brand.
The toothpaste example could be further enhanced with geotagged content, enabling
messages or photos containing the word “smile” that have been sent or taken near the location
of the screen to be prioritized.
In either case the screen can act as public barometer of consumer activity, opinion, thoughts or
mindset. This is essentially a rich media evolution of outdoor concepts such as the Emotional Cities
project whereby buildings are illuminated in different colors representing the current mood of the city’s
inhabitants as determined via the website users.
Insert 3 images from http://www.emotionalcities.com/blog/?p=211 ensure they are credited.
In principle any screen that is connected via broadband could include this functionality but factors
such as scheduling software and content refresh rates need to be considered
Furthermore, such streams, in the “raw state” can often contain more noise than content – and they
will need professional grade tools to filter and/or humanly moderate the content before they can be fit
The interactive system must be able to filter AND curate the messages – filters can remove most
offensive content, but for many campaigns, a human moderator and curator is needed to make the
final editorial decision. It should be noted, that the cost of moderation when scaled properly is NOT a
material cost to campaigns.
2. Using Sociable Media to Create Advocacy
To encourage people to advocate a product, service or behavior. (The latter might be
applicable to government advertising for example)
On the assumption that an ad is suitably persuasive in its own right, encountering a piece of
communication when OOH has long had the potential to trigger discussion. This might be a standard
media format with a particularly appropriate creative or a more unusual, surprising or innovative type
Advertising in general is well known to be a key driver of brand related conversations, in fact 48% of
these refer to marketing or media (Source: TalkTrack Oct 2008 – Sept 2009) and the presence of advertising in a
word of mouth conversation increases the probability that a consumer will make a strong product
recommendation by circa 20% Source: Keller Fay Journal of Advertising Research, June 2009
So how might a brand take advantage of this by using Sociable Media ?
• Utilize traditional, digital or innovative OOH media formats to prompt people, directly or
otherwise, to comment via mobile social networking apps such as mobile facebook, twitter
instant messengers etc.
According to Twitter, 20% of tweets (roughly 83 messages per second) contain a reference to
a product or brand such as those commenting on the live painting of a poster site for
Cadbury’s Wispa Gold by cult artist Rolf Harris.
Insert screenshot of Wispa tweets N:HyperspaceImage LibraryOther Images &
VideosImagesHyperspace campaign images (best from each project)
• Custom built interactive displays such as touch screen store windows or free standing
installations that are connected to the likes of facebook are starting to be used by brands.
These enable people to share thoughts, content and experiences on the spot without involving
For the UK launch of the MINI Countryman model a ‘green screen’ filming booth was placed in
shopping malls, stations and city centre streets next to a life sized fibreglass model of the car.
The car windows were covered with a special film that allowed them to be used as video
projections that enabled people to see themselves squashed into the car as part of a ‘World
record attempt’. Participants could then use a touch screen to upload their video of the
experience directly to Facebook or to request an email link which they can then share.
Thousands of people took part at every location.
Insert MINI photos from N:HyperspaceImage LibraryOther Images &
VideosImagesHyperspace campaign images (best from each project)MINI Countryman
Nissan placed digital interactive tables in ski resort bars across Europe where people could
view and share photos of themselves on the nearby ‘Nissan All Mode Ski Run’ taken earlier in
the day. All photos were housed on flickr and this became the biggest flickr account in the
Insert Nissan photo N:HyperspaceImage LibraryOther Images & VideosImagesHyperspace
campaign images (best from each project)
• Ads could encourage consumers to share by sending texts, photos, videos or tweets from
mobiles to be displayed on OOH screens. A piece of consumer generated content might
appear nationally or in a location local to the sender. The public can then respond if desired,
again nationally or locally. This is essentially another digital social network.
If tweets are to be used they are selected for display on the screen if they include particular
keywords or hashtags.
The campaign for TV network VH1’s ‘The Great Debate’ included an element that used
screens in pubs, bars and outdoors, prompting people to submit answers and comments to
questions such as ‘Star Wars or Star Trek’, ‘The Beatles or the Stones’, ‘Facebook or Twitter’
etc. Consumer responses could be submitted via SMS, Facebook or the VH1 website.
LocaModa’s technology then streamed responses from all of these channels to the OOH
screens. Even this very low weight of OOH media generated an impressive 1% of all votes
cast and the highest participation rates within bought media channels
Insert VH1 photos (quality is poor but we don’t have better ones)
In December 2009, LocaModa enabled the Vans “Be Here” campaign, an interactive project,
enabling millions to share their image, thoughts, & hopes across the globe in seven languages.
Fans could submit thoughts or photos of themselves via Facebook, MMS photo messaging or
email and the best submissions appeared on the iconic MTV screen in Times Square. Over
5,000 messages were received from all corners of the planet. All messages were moderated
and curated with every user receiving a digital memento that they could forward to their friends
on Facebook. The average user has 123 friends on Facebook.
Insert Vans photos N:HyperspaceImage LibraryOther Images & VideosImagesOther
• The fourth route is of course people’s ability to talk face to face immediately after seeing the ad
which in many OOH environments is a significant opportunity.
Sites in locations as diverse as bus shelters to railway stations, bars to office elevators and
many many others can act as the conversation trigger. This takes advantage of the real world
OOH social networks. Posterscope’s research during a Guinness campaign demonstrated that
audiences who had seen the ads in OOH environments were 44% more likely to have talked
about it compared to those who had seen it on TV.
3. Using Sociable Media to reward consumers
To provide people with some kind of benefit, delivered by the brand.
This might be a form of public utility such as some useful information, a beneficial service or an
item such a piece of content or a voucher.
Over the years numerous ways of delivering these kinds of rewards have been developed.
Downloading content from posters to mobiles, converting posters into free vending machines or
equipping screens with readers whereby users can unlock content with RFID cards are just three
of the many examples.
Increasingly people are using location based mobile apps such as Foursquare (and Facebook
Places once it gains momentum) to unlock rewards by ‘checking-in’ to locations. A Sociable
Media approach to this can be applied in two ways:
• The placement of ads inside, or in proximity to venues where check-in’s could take place.
These encourage people to check-in which in turn enables them unlock a branded reward.
Unlocking the reward might require repeat check-in’s or could become available at the first
The Financial Times have been offering free access to premium online content to those
that check-in to certain cafes. Gap have awarded discounts to those checking-in to their
stores. Brands such as Warner Bros, Zagat and Pepsi have created ‘badge’ related
promotions which are unlocked by visiting particular places.
However, few of these to date have utilized OOH media to support such initiatives but it can
act as the perfect catalyst. Wherever LocaModa have displayed Foursquare prompts on
screens within venues, the number of check-ins have increased by between 30-60%.
Insert foursquare mayor photo attached to email
Insert photo of check-in sticker (with photographer credit) :
• Create brand new check-in locations for a particular social network or mobile app. Such
locations could be temporary outdoor installations, experiential activity, or poster sites such
as those at bus shelters. The Mayor of each of these locations (i.e. the person with the
current highest number of check-in’s) is then rewarded with a physical, digital or coupon
based prize. There are a number of different mechanics by which the reward might be
delivered depending on the exact nature of the check-in locations.
The most mainstream way of creating new check-in’s is to use existing location based
social networks such as Foursquare however there is an alternative solution for clients that
prefer a more customizable consumer experience that is 100% owned by the brand. In this
instance a new mobile app is created which people are encouraged to download enabling
them to participate in a unique, rewarding location based social media experience.
The ‘Augmented Outdoor’ app developed by Posterscope and digital-experiential
specialists, The Cloud and Compass, allows consumers to unlock rewards and hidden
content layers on their mobiles using augmented reality and other advanced features. This
is achieved by looking at particular poster sites or landmarks through a camera phone and
users activity is streamed live to digital OOH screens which act as barometers or feeds of
information or opinion.
Of course it is important to remember that all of the opportunities described above, at their heart
require a creative or incentive based component that has some genuine value to consumers or is
something that is really worth talking about.
Measurement and Accountability
Such a diverse and ever changing range of opportunities requires a particularly considered approach
when it comes to measuring effectiveness and value. In many cases a combination of techniques will
Technology driven experiences such as the MINI Countryman car with interactive windows contain
built in mechanisms that allow user numbers to be tracked and those that go on to share via
Facebook or email can also be measured.
When planning Sociable Media, Posterscope also incorporates monitoring of online ‘buzz’ in relation
to brands and their communications allowing analysis of volumes, sources, sentiment, website types
For some aspects, traditional approaches such as face to face interviews to gauge shifts in
perceptions and intent could be taken and as with Posterscope’s Guinness research mentioned
above this can help complement measures of digital word of mouth.
The media elements that combine to create Sociable Media are all growing in importance and
OOH is one of the most successful media of the last 10 years in terms of adspend and is the most
broadcast of all channels. Social media has quickly become mainstream, smartphones and other
devices that improve digital connectivity when OOH are starting to become the norm and offline word
of mouth is no less powerful than it has always been.
Considering some or all of these as part of a Sociable Media dynamic gives advertisers a unique
opportunity to create innovative, engaging, rewarding communications that drive advocacy with
increasingly demonstrable effectiveness.
We are certainly not suggesting that Sociable Media should be considered in isolation of other
marketing and communications activity, nor do we think that this paper is completely comprehensive.
For example we have not discussed the fact that seeding activity is often required to maximize the
effect of some of the online elements, which again Posterscope offer as part of it’s Sociable Media
Similarly the industry’s understanding of Sociable Media will continue to evolve but meanwhile the
potential for brands and agencies to lead the market by taking this approach is huge.
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LocaModa helps locations engage customers and brands engage audiences.
The company delivers location-based services to locations, distributed via digital out of home (DOOH)
and social networks.
The LocaModa platform has been licensed to and deployed at scale with leading DOOH networks
reaching over 100,000,000 people every month in over 15,000 high-traffic locations (for example in
cafes, bars, quick-serve restaurants, colleges, stadiums and on jumbotrons in Times Square and Las
LocaModa works with agencies and brands seeking the scale of television with the interactivity and
measurability of the web. The company’s partners are leading digital out of home networks seeking
the interactive revenue, audience measurement and engagement that the LocaModa platform
LocaModa is a privately held company headquartered in Cambridge, MA.
Posterscope is the market leading worldwide Out-Of-Home communications agency with 48 offices
around the globe.
Through it’s Hyperspace division, Posterscope were the first Out-of-Home agency in the world to
establish dedicated units to exploit the growing opportunities enabled by technology, specialist
production and the creative placement of media. Hyperspace have pioneered numerous possibilities
including live video streaming, visual search/image recognition, 3D screens and many others.
Publisher CMD Global recently placed Hyperspace in their list of top 100 innovators alongside the
likes of Google, Intel, Amazon and Nike.
Consumer insight also lies at the heart of Posterscope’s planning and it’s OCS tool is the most in-
depth study of OOH consumer behavior in the media market.
Posterscope’s international division, PSI, is the market leader in executing campaigns on a truly
global basis in airports, roadside and transport environments.
Twitter : stephenrandall
Director of Hyperspace, Posterscope UK
& Chief Strategy Officer, Posterscope USA
Twitter : hyper_james
Senior Insight Manager, Posterscope UK
Director of Insight, Posterscope USA
Should we have photos of everyone ?
Still think we need a mind map to navigate...