I took the commuter choo-choo (boy I do not miss that grind) yesterday into the heart of Toronto yesterday to catch day 2 of the Dx3 digital media conference. The event and crowd is a blend of online and mobile, with a few dabs of digital signage and digital out of home.
First impression – nice event. I chatted with some people who attended the speaker sessions on Day 1, who said they were great and well-run. I only went to one session – which had PayPal talking about digital retail. That was a back-slapper for an hour, but PayPal is sufficiently big and influential that what the company had to say about itself was still very interesting. It wants to empower payments any time, anywhere and pretty much any way … which is where digital screens would come in.
We’ve already seen that street-level demo with ScreenReach in the UK where people can browse a projected window display and buy stuff off their phone using PayPal. More to come.
The trade show floor was about the size of the last CETW show I was at … so, not huge but more than big enough to chew up a day wandering around, chatting and poking at people.
The online and mobile sector has its own language, so I spent a lot of time staring at slogans and digital slide shows before finally asking booth monkeys, “What do you do?”
They activate stuff. They target stuff. They analyze the impacts. And on and on. While media lines are indeed blurring, the activities and the ecosystem surrounding online are really different. I had several conversations that petered out because what my little ecosystem does, and what their much bigger ones do, aren’t all that aligned.
There were lots of platforms demo’d that measure and optimize online and mobile marketing. There were several companies promoting their ability to creative, drive and measure mobile experiences. And numerous companies showing off a variety of mash-ups that could include SMS, Bluetooth, WiFi, QR codes and NFC.
My experience with trying to scan QR codes with my not-very-smart phone was so fun-filled I went out and got a new phone last night. Buh-bye BlackBerry, hello Google Nexus.
The event did attract a few digital signage vendors like Screenscape and iSign, as well as a sprinkling of companies doing all-in-one kiosks, all weather LCDs and touch screens. Prysm and Nanolumens were showing off their displays through a reseller. Content Interface was showing its touch-driven platform, that I thought was freaking amazing five years ago, but seems almost quaint now.
A couple of things caught my eye.
A very clean and responsive platform that takes assets from online storefronts and puts them on streetfront windows, using projection and transparent touch overlays. There’s probably lotsa companies doing similar stuff, but Montreal-based 2xminteractive‘s stuff was tidy and they seemed to operate with the philosophy that these experiences didn’t have to require six figure budgets to pull off.
I also liked the range of mobile offers from Toronto-based Mobilexco, which added measurability to things like mobile couponing. What they had wasn’t necessarily new either, but company partner Andy Bruce said a big difference from the pack was the platform’s ability to not only send coupons via SMS, NFC or QR scans, but track usage and stamp used coupons to prevent re-use.
I also had my first crack a experiential stuff using Kinect. Meh. The poor college kids demo’ing for me were probably quite happy when the cranky old fart who didn’t see the point of it wandered off.
Worth attending next time? If you believe integrated marketing and cross-platform media is the future, then sure (and it is). The speaker line-up was very good and the show is not so large you couldn’t both listen to people and see what you needed to see over two days.
There are events in other cities – particularly in New York, San Francisco and Austin – that cover all this off, but for Canada, this was pretty big. I’ll go back.
Photo from Dx3′s SparkSheet