No medium can offer people the kind of fascination and delight as can be achieved in the physical world. It is no wonder then that the most memorable displays of advertising theatrics occur where people can see and touch the experience up close.
But, this medium also suffers from the glaring inability to offer the same kind of measurement and analytics that have drawn advertisers online like moths to a burning bar-chart.
So I am always excited and grateful for those innovators who have not only found ways to augment everyday facilities with brand messaging, but who offer unique and interesting means to measure how many have actually come into contact with it.
There are two particularly interesting outfits who I’d like to bring some credit to. One is called Barule Media. It’s a fairly simple invention comprising of a waterproof digital screen fitted neatly above bathroom faucets. You can’t miss ’em – that is unless you are one of those hygienically challenged individuals who think their hands will melt off like the Wicked Witch of the West if they touch water.
The other is as remarkable as it is amusing, and also a bit genius. They’re a Scottish outfit called Captive Media. I’m sure they could have come up with a more descriptive name, like The Pee Network or Leak Media or something, and that is because they are a digital screen above a boy’s urinal which is connected to sensors that detect the angle of your wee wee. When you direct your stream to the left, the character in the game moves left, and same the other way. Yes, you heard that right.
Don’t you dare ask me how it is possible to have any kind of meaningful game in the few seconds it takes for your bladder to fully dispense its laser-pointer of glistening yellow. Why don’t you just drink more beer and save it up or something.
But the mechanics of these two lovely slices of digital out-of-home innovation is actually not the point I’m making here. It is the realization that if you can come up with something that can record an interaction, regardless of what that physical action might be, then you are onto something. In the case of Barule Media, every time you turn on the faucet, an impression is recorded. We then time how long the water stays on, and that’s the engagement time. We don’t need fancy Nielsen algorithms to tell us that.
Similarly, Captive Media takes so much interest in what happens when your zipper comes down that they too record the moment the piss hits the bowl, how long you managed to keep it going and even what your score was in whatever game was playing.
Don’t get me wrong, let’s not knock Nielsen On Location and friends who have taken great care to make sense of an otherwise almost impossible to measure world. But exact numbers are always better than guesses, no matter how sound the logic.
So kudos to these two startups who have considered these problems and produced such fine solutions. I sincerely hope they are able to find the funding to achieve the kind of scale that I need in order to recommend them to my large brand advertisers.