The Rise of the Screens: Notes from the DPPA Video Everywhere Summit

Place-based media is evolving rapidly, and video is a big part of it. Nowhere was that point made clearer than at the Digital Place-based Advertising Association’s (DPPA) Video Everywhere Summit in New York City last week. With improving mobile technologies, the ubiquity of interactive flat-screen displays and a global explosion in the use of smartphones, every aspect of traditional media, advertising and marketing has been affected.

Interactive video screens are continually popping up in new places. Think taxicabs, elevators, gas pumps, jukeboxes, vending machines, fitness clubs, grocery checkouts, doctor office waiting rooms, theme park waiting lines — anyplace where there is a captive audience, expect to see a video screen. And don’t be surprised if that screen sends a message to your phone (or watch) with information or possibly a discount on nearby merchandise. The ability to connect with consumers both at home, via TVs and computers, and out-of-home on mobile devices, and then be able to effectively measure that engagement, was a recurring topic.

Big ideas were discussed about the state of disruption that has emerged since the Internet went mainstream, and more specifically, since 2007 when the iPhone arrived on the scene and Facebook switched from .edu to .com — a shift that gave the public both the tools and the platform to broadcast their opinions to the world.

But 2007 was just scratching the surface. The future will be populated with interactive smart objects that collect data and track mobile engagement. From a washing machine that lets you know in advance that its ball bearings are about to fail (and then shows you options for how much it would cost to get it fixed), to a box of cereal (printed with smart ink) that allows you to download a game app in the grocery aisle that you can play while eating at home, the new reality is all about interconnectedness.

A recurring topic was the “Internet of Things,” which, according to Wikipedia, “allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency.” Based on information shared at the summit, it would seem the digitization of physical assets has only just begun.

Keynote speaker David Sable, global CEO of Young and Rubicam, noted that “everything is place-based, everything is digital, and free is not a sustainable model.” He mentioned that even holdouts like Snapchat and Instagram are now selling video ads. He also raised the possibility that when broadcast contracts for the NFL are up in 2022, a company such as Google or Facebook winning them, instead of a major TV network, could be a major game changer.

Disruptive technologies are forcing changes in consumer habits, which is forcing changes at agencies. According to Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategist of the Publicis Groupe, there were six key changes that advertisers and marketers should be aware of:

  1. The title of CMO needs to go away and be replaced with “Chief Facilitating Officer,” because marketing is being outsourced to end users (and agencies are facilitating that self-marketing).
  2. The future is less about advertising and more about utilities and services.
  3. Owning data is obsolete (the shelf life of a tweet is eight minutes) — it’s how you access the data that matters.
  4. Where you are is as important as who you are.
  5. Video will play a big role going forward, but pay close attention to online streaming platforms such as Netflix and YouTube — “the future is apps and not channels.”
  6. Even in a digital world, you’re still trying to reach carbon-based life forms, so story and creativity still matter — but agencies need to innovate on how to deliver those stories.

Presenter David Roth, CEO of The Store WPP, pointed out that algorithms will play an increasingly important role in the ongoing evolution of the industry. “Data is the new oil” he said, and hiring a mathematician to refine and understand that data is the smart move. He nicely summed up this new reality — what he called the “second era of digital retail” — when he reminded us that “the future is not what it used to be.”