some inspiration for creating the digital-to-physical experience


It seems that nearly anywhere you go – the shopping mall, the movie theater, the grocery store, the library, the coffee shop -at one point or another you’ll see people interacting with their cell phones. They could be checking email, texting, posting to Facebook or doing something else but it seems like invariably the distraction of the smart phone is never too far away.

This is definitely the case at many of the concerts that I attend. Now for the most part if there is a performance going on, my friends and I usually try to stay away from our phones unless we’re snapping a picture of the concert to share on Instagram or tweeting an update about the performance. But if you think about it from a performer’s perspective, I can imagine how the presence of the smartphone in the hands of your audience members can be a bit of a distraction during a show.

An artist who has taken a novel approach to not only addressing this situation but taking advantage of it is electronic musician Dan Deacon. This past summer Deacon distributed a free app for iPhones and Android phones that basically allows users to become a part of the concert itself. Here’s how it works: a person turns on the app during Deacon’s concert performance. Through the microphone, the app takes auditory cues from the music being played which then creates lighting effects on the screen of the smartphone which are in turn synchronized to the music. I had heard about this a few weeks ago and learned about how Deacon used it in action during a recent performance here in the Twin Cities.

This is a pretty brilliant way of not only getting people away from the distraction of their phones but turning the situation into a positive one by making the phones an element in the actual performance. By commandeering people’s smartphones, Deacon turns them to his advantage yet he also creates value for the concert goers by creating a new sensory experience. I even love how Deacon pokes fun at it all on the description page of the iTunes store for his app where it says “For the first time, having your phone out at a concert is not a jerk move.”

As a music fanatic I find this approach clever. As a digital marketer I find it super smart. Working for a retail company with loads of physical store locations, I think this example is a good one to look at for inspiration. Retailers with physical stores need to find ways to bring the experience from the screen of the smartphone to life in a way that takes advantage of a physical interaction or a physical space. It has to be something that just can’t be replicated in a digital only environment. And it has to be creative while also providing value. Digital marketers need to be reminded to push ourselves to think differently about these problems and sometimes it takes looking at different examples like Deacon’s to help spark that thinking.

(Photos courtesy of Federico Pellachin via Creative Commons license.)


One thought on “some inspiration for creating the digital-to-physical experience

  1. This is fascinating. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. What an ingenious way to harness the attention of those in the crowd and the power of the mobile device. Brilliant.

    I love your insights into the marketing world and think Best Buy “gets it”.

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