Customer Journeys

How to Reinvent Your Traditional Advertising Investment

In the growing excitement about social and mobile advertising, it is easy to forget that the majority of advertising dollars still go toward direct mail, billboard and other traditional forms of communication. If you look at marketing budgets of global brands, they still spend plenty on in-store displays, sporting event signage, buses, etc.  These traditional media will not disappear anytime soon. However, digital is working its way into the traditional space.

Here are some examples:

Augmented reality
Since 1951, IKEA has mailed out over 200 million copies per run of its iconic catalog. In 2013, its 328-page catalog came with a companion augmented-reality app. With your iPad, you could virtually touch what caught your fancy on a given page. Let your fingers do the walking across a 400,000 square foot store. To do that, users had to register to download the app and Ikea got more demographic data and better feedback on which catalog items got more interest. In the 2014 version of the Ikea app, you will be able to visualize a piece of furniture from the catalog superimposed in a room in your own home.

Ikea augmented reality
IKEA augmented reality (image source:

Digital Displays
Think billboards are dead? Somebody forgot to tell that to New York’s Times Square. Billboards there still cost as much as four million a year to lease. Not only do they attract plenty of pedestrian eyeballs, the global exposure through constant TV coverage, mobile video, and digital sharing gives brands plenty of payback for that investment.

Today's billboards are evolving from paper and neon to digital. The messages can be varied several times a day. Screens are being fitted with cameras and video analytics to tailor messages to the passing audience. With mobile connectivity, many can download ads and promotions to smartphones of passerbys. With NFC and other mobile payment technologies evolving, we will soon be buying items by touching our phones to digital displays.

NYC Times Square Billboards
Billboards in Times Square (image source:

Interactive Machinery
The humble soda machine got a major digital facelift when Coca-Cola introduced its Freestyle machines in 2009. Designed by the Italian firm, Pininfarina (better known Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo), the dispensers each contain 30 cartridges of flavorings and can mix up 100 different drink combinations.

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola ran a promotion in a mall in South Korea. Equipped with artificial intelligence software and Kinect sensors (the ones you use with Xbox), the machine challenged buyers to mimic the moves of Korean boy band 2 PM on its digital display. Those that came close to matching the moves were rewarded with free Cokes. The hidden payback – these machines drew large crowds giving Coke the opportunity to turn the machines into a more potent advertising medium.

Consider how you can make the move to digital and new media to rejuvenate your traditional advertising plans. Digital agencies, signage vendors, mobile carriers, and even Salesforce can help you in that rethink.

Vinnie Mirchandani writes books and blogs on how technology is helping us innovate work, life and play. He has a keen eye for “ahas” across industries and countries and his blog New Florence. New Renaissance. catalogs over 500 entries a year on innovative projects, products, places, and people. Tour.png
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