Whatamap's mobile service pushes wayfinding from Al Barq's screens to phones

November 1, 2010 by Dave Haynes

I like digital wayfinding solutions in places like malls and big public facilities because, done well, they make it a lot easier to get people from here to there.

There’s one small snag, though. Even with digital providing guidance with speed and accuracy, the information is on that screen and can tend to go into a person’s head and then out through, I dunno, the ears? You see where something is, and then halfway there and a couple of twists and turns along the way, you forget.

That’s why I am intrigued by news of a deal between a Finnish company, Whatamap, and a DOOH company in the Middle East that is pushing wayfinding from digital directories out to users’ smartphones.

A release says Whatamap’s mapping technology lets consumers use the touch screen directories the Al Barq Digital network has in shopping malls to search and locate information, create customized maps and directions, view the latest in mall deals and offers, and then push all that information to smartphones so consumers can take it with them as they find their destinations.

The mobile technology works across most mobile operating systems and handset types, which removes the problem of proprietary “apps” that only work on certain handsets like iPhones.

“Al Barq Digital’s aim is to optimize consumer experiences and convenient information and services help make a shopping trip better,” says Andrew Wood, GM of AD Media DOOH, which operates Al Barq. “With the use of Whatamap’s mobile toolset, we will be connecting with and helping consumers at just the right moment and place, which influences their purchasing decisions and return visits, and moreover it has a positive impact on the business of our advertisers and mall property partners.”

The company will start introducing the service this month in the big Dubai Festival City mall in guess where.

Wood also reasons integrating mobile into its DMU information station platform helps AD Media DOOH stimulate more DMU interactive directory usage by shoppers, broadens the base of advertisers who’ll want to be on Al Barq’s network, and enables Al Barq’s advertisers and mall partners to continue the marketing dialogue with consumers even after shoppers have left the mall, via their mobiles.

“We see huge value in enabling shopping malls to interact with the consumer using our digital and mobile platform, to deliver an enhanced experience,” says Antti Saarinen, CEO of Whatamap.com Ltd. “We are pleased to have a partner with such a high level of commitment and a willingness to demonstrate how technology in digital outdoor media can be customized to create unique and meaningful relationships between advertisers and consumers to showcase the true power of this platform.”

Abu Dhabi-based AD Media DOOH is rolling out Digital Media Unit (DMU) information stations in the high foot traffic areas of shopping malls and event centres around the Middle East and North Africa region. The DMUs have dual 65? high definition LCD digital display screens used for advertising, and back to back 22? interactive LCD touch screens.

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