EnQii CEO on a maturing business

August 19, 2009 by Dave Haynes

EnQii CEO Ajay Chowdhury is still a relative newcomer to this industry, but a very smart cookie, having worked with him for a few months before being lured away, or (maybe) astray. He’s written some good think pieces here and there, and has another one up now on Digital Signage Today that suggests the industry is starting to mature.

I agree, though we have many miles to go and there are still swarms of people who are the equivalent of know-it-all 16-year-old boys coming into the space, expecting to make a fortune and change the advertising industry.

What struck me in Ajay’s piece is his description of how advertising has “classically gone through four phases: interruption, entertainment, engagement and dialogue.”

I’m sure this is taught to students in marketing classes and not all that new, but it’s new to me.

In the first phase, the ad interrupts what the consumer is doing and often forces them to watch the ad. This was the classical television advertising model of the seventies where consumers had no choice but to view the ad.

The eighties marked the start of entertaining advertising where the consumer wanted to see the ad and received a payoff from it. The Internet moved things along in the nineties towards an engagement model where the consumer focused on ads that interested them and they became more engaged with the products. Finally in the last few years brands have realized that advertising is about a dialogue with the consumer. Mobile and social networking technologies facilitate this ongoing dialogue.

Digital signage can also use these models effectively in different environments. For instance, in environments with a fast moving audience (outdoor, transport hubs, malls), the interrupt model still dominates the out of home space. In areas with a higher dwell time (cinemas, beauty salons), you start seeing more of an entertainment and engagement model while in other specific areas of healthcare, some retail environments and food services you can now move towards an engagement and dialogue model.

The dialogue model is being used effectively by some digital signage providers. For example, EnQii partner with Ping Mobile, who link the digital signage software to their mobile marketing infrastructure. This allows viewers of digital signage ads to respond and interact using their cellular or mobile handheld technology.  

Good piece that, as noted elsewhere, is helpful and keeps the chest-beating to a minimum. A few CEOs who do these sorts of pieces for publications, to get visibility, could learn a thing or two about such boast-free restraint.

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