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Gimbal And NanoLumens Bring “Minority Report” Potential To Digital Out-Of-Home
Deal will enable more personalized and accountable ads for digital displays.
A recently announced partnership between beacon-maker Gimbal and digital signage provider NanoLumens brings “Minority Report”-style personalized advertising closer to reality. In the 2002 film, the character portrayed by Tom Cruise walks through a shopping mall where all of the digital signage is personalized, mentioning him by name.
Minority Report is a dystopian vision of the future. However, Gimbal and NanoLumens believe that their partnership will enable more relevant digital display/out-of-home (OOH) advertising, as well as better attribution. Relevance and attribution are challenges that have plagued most traditional media, but especially OOH.
NanoLumens makes the screens that might appear anywhere in the physical world: an airport lounge, a retail store, a shopping mall, a grocery store. Gimbal provides the beacons, which in this case reside on the backs of the screens. Unlike most beacons, which require periodic battery replacement, these beacons are “set it and forget it” because they get power from the digital displays on which they reside.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to Brian Dunphy, Gimbal senior vice president of business development, about the deal. He explained that digital OOH screen content can now be triggered by the presence of smartphones with relevant apps installed. Hypothetically, for example, the United Club lounge could welcome members by name as they entered, provided they had the United app installed and bluetooth turned on (e.g., “Welcome back, Mr. Sterling”).
In group situations, such as bus stops or shopping malls, ads might be “personalized” to the population of shoppers or visitors. This could or would be determined by aggregated, anonymous data. Weekday shoppers might be very different from weekend shoppers in a mall or a store, and ads could be changed accordingly.
In a grocery store, digital screens on end caps or in aisles could be individually personalized. As a Safeway loyalty club member with the Safeway app installed on my phone, I might see specific offers or coupons, triggered by my proximity to the screen. I might also be retargeted by a brand whose ad I had seen online or on my mobile phone at some earlier point. All of this is now technically possible.
The beacon associated with the display could also trigger a notification on my smartphone, beyond any “personalized” content on the public screen. What’s really interesting is that five people in a grocery store, in proximity to a digital screen with a beacon, could receive different offers or content associated with the same promotion on the public screen. This is another intriguing personalization option with the Gimbal-NanoLumens combination.
Payments can also be enabled by screens with beacons. A display in a retail shop window or at a bus stop could potentially enable me to pay for the pair of shoes featured in the ad through my smartphone, without inputting any payment information, if I had the right app already installed (e.g., PayPal). There are many more such scenarios.
And unless I were mentioned by name, or there were some other individual identifier, I might not have any idea the ads or promotions on these screens (or in my app notifications) were being tailored to my interests or identity. But to the extent the personalization were obvious, marketers would have to manage the potential “creep factor” associated with the Minority Report metaphor. Nonetheless, consumers continue to say they want more personalized ads, and the options here for marketers are very powerful.
In addition, the beacons on these screens make it possible to measure how many smartphone owners saw or engaged with the ads — offering unprecedented measurement capabilities. All of this would make digital OOH inventory much more valuable to marketers. It could also result in higher prices for inventory over time, and even new performance-based ad models for OOH.