How Do Great Ideas Flourish in the Digital World?

This week, my agency holds its annual client summit. This year’s theme is “Art of the Idea,” aiming to answer questions like: How do great ideas flourish in the digital world? How do you tie innovation to return on investment?

In addition to our guest speakers, presentations, and client case studies, the event features a marketing lab — an interactive, expo-style room full of hands-on demos intended to provide key insights into how digital technologies are changing everyday life and how marketers can leverage these technologies to connect with consumers in powerful new ways.

We’ve built some interesting demos and have invited partners to get involved and discuss how their various platforms and technologies can have an impact. To provide more context for the demos, we’ve focused the experiences on three slice-of-life vignettes: Home Entertainment, Out & About, and Retail. Here’s a brief preview of a few demos and partners we’ll be featuring.

Home Entertainment

The battle for the digital living room has been steadily heating up over the last few years. As analog TV officially goes off the air later this year (assuming no further postponements), digital TV and advanced advertising formats are poised to grow significantly. Ensequence will demonstrate what a TV-based interactive experience might look like for one of our large retail clients. Our friends at Xbox will also demonstrate advertising capabilities on its new user interface. It’ll offer a review of what our client Nike did as the first advertiser to leverage the new user interface and a new mockup showcasing how a fashion client could extend a viral program to a new platform.

Out & About

Digital technologies have escaped the shackles of the PC. There is perhaps no clearer example of this than the explosion of mobile connectivity and digital out of home platforms. SeeSaw Networks will show how its platform can help create unique programs across dozens of different digital out-of-home (DOOH) networks, targeting key lifestyle profiles while they are out and about.

Total Immersion and Helios are joining forces to show off some augmented reality (AR) demonstrations. These companies were among the group that produced a cool program for the movie “Coraline.” Among other things, the program used AR to put buttons on the eyes of people passing by the outdoor ad.

I-Gotcha will demonstrate a unique interactive subway installation it did for Koodo Mobile in Canada. Its software powered a touchscreen display with an integrated Web cam that allowed Montreal subway passengers to participate in a fun, viral campaign.

Speaking of touchscreens, Ecast network is showing one of its next-generation touchscreen jukebox systems. Its loaded with demos of current capabilities and some forward-looking ideas, including integration with mobile.

Finally, Loopt will show off the latest version of its social-networking platform. It features integration with location-based services on certain devices and uses maps from Navteq. One scenario demonstrates how advertisers — in this case a large retail chain — can leverage location to deliver hyper-relevant messaging.


Last year’s marketing lab was heavily focused on the impact of digital technologies on the brick-and-mortar retail environment. Platforms and opportunities have naturally continued to evolve in this sector, so again the lab demonstrates how digital technologies offer the best aspects of Web shopping to the physical store.

It’s no secret that our agency has been developing Surface applications since the launch of the platform by our parent company, Microsoft. Our emerging experiences team has created a Vimeo channel that demonstrates, among other things, some of the internal demos we’ve created. Our agency also developed the Surface application that powers digital merchandising solutions for AT&T retail. This experience led us to create a touch framework that allows users to move applications seamlessly across different Windows-based touchscreen devices, such as from a Surface machine to a vertically oriented multitouch device to a touch-enabled PC. We’ll be showcasing a prototype application we’ve built for a fashion retailer that aims to bring clothes shopping into the digital age.

BCODE returns for its second appearance in the lab to demonstrate its mobile couponing/ticketing platform. It’s a powerful system that tears down some of the barriers that have been inhibiting growth in this space. Meanwhile, MediaCart will demonstrate its digital-enhanced cart to show the future of grocery shopping. The cart features an onboard flat-screen monitor loaded with useful stuff for shoppers, such as item locators, targeted offers (triggered by in-store location, integration with loyalty programs, and more), product information and recipes, and running totals.

InStore Broadcasting Network will demonstrate its in-aisle touchscreen networks, and CE Labs will display some concepts for Madix-powered shelving units with integrated digital displays.

There’s also a unique scenario using Nokia’s Point & Find technology, which uses image recognition to deliver relevant information and offers. You just point the phone at something (in the demo, a consumer-packaged good product), and it instantly delivers additional content, such as product information, coupons, and even video.

And More

Hopefully this short, text-based tour will inspire you to explore some of these technologies and platforms. Together, they are creating exciting new ways to engage with consumers — and because they are all rooted in digital, they bring the interactivity and accountability that we are used to on the Web. This focus isn’t on using these things because they are cool but because they provide engaging new experiences rooted in accountability. Every interaction can be tracked and fed into analytics engines, and the resulting insights can be used to optimize the experience for best performance. This is how marketers turn return on investment into return on innovation.

Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you from May 5, 2009, to July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 11 one-day events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing. Register 30 days in advance and get a $40 discount!

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