The ultimate purpose of this morning’s event was for JCDecaux to announce that their posters on Old Street Roundabout will become digital signage in October. But actually, this morning’s seminar was about much, much more. As is the way with these breakfast events, the OOH industry gathered for its usual mingle, coffee and pastry from about 8.30am onwards, where we huddled around an amazing lego model of the roundabout, complete with moving digital screens.
We were in for a treat with talks from Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City, who opened our eyes to the sheer number of start-ups and entrepreneurs in the Old Street area. Next up was the charismatic and amusing Mark Adams, Director at The Audience – someone whose team had the most tweeted tweet in history to their name (until Ellen’s celeb selfie gazumped him). Then we were charmed by David Keene, Head of Google Enterprise, with a brilliant if stilted demonstration of Google Glass. His frustration was palpable, and if ever there was a moment that demonstrated that while Wi-Fi is great and getting better, it isn’t quite up to scratch yet, it was this. We saw enough though to realise that we are on the cusp of ultimate greatness in wearable tech. The triumphant moment in the demo was when David Keene, wearing Google Glass (finally) managed to translate a poster from French into English. It was clear to me that Glass has the ability to deliver a universe of expanded clarity, interconnection and understanding to those who put it on. It is one of the keys to a shared experience, the “internet of things”. For OOH this means people being able to capture, explore, record and interact with adverts seen while out and about, or to easily link to an advertised website, a much smoother and all-encompassing version of grabbing one’s phone to take a picture of a poster you like as a reminder to visit a website at a later date, or interacting with it using QR, NFC or Blippar.
We then heard from Alex Matthews, Head of Creative Technology at BBH, who showed us how we can include sound in our OOH ads using relatively simple and accessible technology. The idea he demonstrated is based on the fact that sound, it has been proven, adds more depth & emotional connection between the consumer and the adverts they see. The audio tech BBH have developed, in conjunction with JCDecaux, is based on the modern phenomenon of people listening to music via their smartphone headphones – something I’m definitely guilty of! Alex quoted that something in the region of 81% of people walk about with their phone physically in their hand while in a station! Taking these two points and bringing them together with a simple piece of code, he demonstrated that if a person opts to go to a generic web link, their experience of OOH ads would be augmented with sound, in sync with the visual, via their phone’s internet explorer.
Finally, Spencer Berwin, Managing Director at Decaux, drew the morning to a close. He thanked the other speakers, and drew to our attention the three overarching points that we were to take away from the morning. Firstly, Tech City and JCDecaux are creating a partnership to provide relevant content to EC1 audiences. Secondly, JCDecaux and Brand Republic are partnering up to create a content driven microsite about the area: www.brandrepubnonelic.com/EC1. And finally, the Old Street roundabout will be digital by October. All in all, it was a future facing morning of technological insight and fun!