When Physical and Digital Worlds Collide

Successful marketing is both physical and digital.

“It’s just as important to create great ‘real world’ campaigns  as getting ahead in the digital. They work hand in hand.”

Consumer-brand relationships are arguably at their strongest when they’re embedded in a wider cultural context – something that is ultimately personal, intangible and experiential.

Smart devices will make the world more intimate – from a mass media society to a networked society.

Next generation of successful marketing depends upon creating an ecosystem between the brand and the consumer that bridges both the physical and digital space. For consumers, being connected is now a natural and sub-conscious human state – those born post 1995 do not distinguish between an offline and an online world – for them, there is no divide.

If we go back to basics, we can see that the presence of digital has inhabited the physical world for many years. Image

Leading up to this moment, there have been two waves of digital technology convergence with the physical world.  Made up of items that were found in everyone’s wallets decades ago – credit cards, loyalty cards and membership cards made paying easier, saved money, earned rewards and saved time.


Happening now, and is epitomised by two-way exchanges and the use of mobile phones which utilises a range of older-new technologies, from bar codes, QR codes to Apps.


Despite the rapid evolution of the global digital landscape, Out-of-Home advertising remains a constant and fixed media presence in consumers’ lives in a world where media is changing at a bewildering speed. With consumers now used to consuming media on the move, advertisers are increasingly recognising that the most effective way of making an impact is to target consumers with engaging content that is relevant to when and where they see it. New technology means that they can now be more accurately targeted with content and advertising that can be updated in real-time, making it much more pertinent and compelling.

So what does the rise of this ‘hybrid media’ mean for the future of Out-of-Home advertising?

Inspired by a phrase from Andy Grove, co-founder of Intel, who wrote a book called “Only the Paranoid Survive” – he talks about the “Strategic Inflection Point” of any business. That is the point at which any business has to fundamentally change in order to grow, or you risk becoming obsolete.

Real World Digital is largely about the imminent need for change for the Out-of-Home industry.

Digital has become absolutely central to consumers’ lives – enabling their core behaviours and interactions more than ever before. The Out-of-Home advertising industry has to fundamentally embrace this in all aspects of consumer engagement from marketing and communications through to insights, the retail experience and product development…or risk losing relevance and, ultimately, advertising share.

“We want to stand at the intersection of computers and humanism” – Steve Jobs

Epitome of Real World Digital.

While many believe the future will be based around the internet of things and the semantic Web, the real impact is how such advances will embed technology of all forms into peoples’ lives – in how the digital and physical worlds will merge to enable an explosion of new possibilities. This mash-up engages us by tying into things we do, see and interact with in our everyday life.

In his book Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins explores the idea and concept of transmedia storytelling through The Matrix film – “In the idea form of transmedia storytelling, each medium does what it does best – resulting in the creation of deeper context, a more sustained form of emotional and intellectual engagement.”

What we experience today in the world is a blended reality, where we embrace a more participatory culture. The mobile phone acts as a cursor to connect the digital and physical spaces.

SoLoMo takes off

A borderless exchange of content and data powered by social, local, mobile drivers embody this idea of seamless exchange between a platform and a consumer. Ultimately, this about placing meaningful audience behaviours, psychology, and sociology ahead of technology.

Technology only succeeds when it meets fundamental human needs.

I. Life-enabling

Being connected is fuelling an increasing range of real world experiences, ON = OFF.

People love to connect

Hundreds of millions of people are now adding and trending to personal profiles – listing likes, interests, preferences, physical assets and opinions; making it easier than ever before to discover or stay in touch with like-minded others.

Social networks will solidify themselves as the real-time thread that holds our digital existence together.

Messaging, news, brand interactions, entertainment, search will all be delivered and filtered based on our social graph.

An ever expanding array of digital devices and platforms is changing the way…we communicate.

More and more of our social networking activity operates in the physical world. People are continuously exploring ways to socialise real-life brand experiences.

We now influence to the world without thinking.

Publishing billions of thoughts – motivated to share by experience. The way we make friends and influence people has not changed, but where we do it has.

We look in others to form our opinions – people follow other people, people talk about things because everyone else is talking about them.

II. Life-simplifying

By living on-the-go, we look to tools to help us streamline our daily tasks resulting in time-saving, instant, real-time accessibility to real world activities.  

People seeking new practical applications

With so much personalised data available at the click of a button, a culture of self-control and self-acquired expertise is empowering global consumers to make on-the-spot decisions.

Wide-spread adoption of virtual assistants and intelligent automation services 

Technology such as Siri is potentially the future of what is now called search. As geo-location becomes more critical in mobile search – the focus on few important vertical domains e.g. restaurants, bars, movies, events, local business, weather and services will continue to drive demand for information. Digital technology facilitates the creation of intelligent apps which allow consumers to shape all areas of their lives – from emotional management to the TV programmes they watch to the route they take to work, often with but a small initial input on their part.

Self-service redefined

The next generation of retail solutions is bridging the gap between the physical experience of bricks-and-mortar and the convenience and price-scrutiny of e-commerce. They are being repositioned as a retail format in their own right; a format with the potential to become more flexible and interactive than a traditional retail store.

Brands across a range of sectors have been inviting commuters at stations and other transports hotspots to scan items via their mobile and then arrange a convenient moment for home delivery. In the years ahead, we expect to see far more experiments with this type of self-service on-the-move.

III. Navigational

Location is the new context and digital offers an encompassing info-layer on top of daily life.

Location matters to influence nearby customers

In thinking about the potential of GPS alone, mobile devices have essentially transformed into a personal compass – both a lifestyle compass as well as a very literal compass in terms of showing me where I am, where my social connections are, and what’s around me.

Location sensors directly relate to the game changing location based capabilities of mobile devices. In thinking about the potential of GPS alone, mobile devices have essentially transformed into a personal compass – both a lifestyle compass as well as a very literal compass in terms of showing me where I am, where my social connections are, and what’s around me.

By understanding that location matters, the Out-of-Home industry is poised to utilise this power to influence nearby customers. It also gives brands the opportunity to remain connected to consumers, right up to the point of conversion. Consumers will expect contextually relevant, personalized and “smart” messaging that is informed and influenced by context, behaviour and their social graph.

Ultimately, the strength of Real world interaction lies in its ability to meet consumer needs and desires, in a world where people want more from brands.

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