Dec 6 2013
Basis Team

Let’s Get Interactive on Digital Place-Based Screens


While digital place-based (DPB) media reaches on-the-go consumers throughout their day, the inability for consumers to directly engage with DPB screens leaves more to be desired from this medium. However, technological advances are giving DPB a significant role in cross-platform digital programs. Using push and pull messaging technologies via consumer mobile devices, the following methods drive engagement by putting DPB-initiated ads right into consumer’s hands.

Near Field Communication

Near Field Communication (NFC) uses a radio signal to send information from one NFC chip to another. In the case of DPB, one chip would be on the frame of the screen while the other is installed in the hardware of a smart phone. By bringing those chips within close proximity (usually only a few inches), the NFC-enabled device will read the signal and pull (download) content for the user.

There is much anticipation around NFC, mostly due to how tap-to-pay methods can improve the ease of retail transactions. However, only about 15% of mobile devices are currently enabled with this technology. Expectations are high that the next few years will see a significant increase in NFC-ready smartphones, and thus a significant increase in advertising executions featuring NFC.

QR Codes

Quick Response (QR) codes allow consumers to pull content to their devices by scanning the black and white codes with a camera. A QR-reader application allows the camera to decode the data. QR codes are also located on the frame of the DPB screen, and deliver more information.

QR codes have had a debatable start in the marketplace. Early excitement for the ability to combine mobile with other forms of media led to rampant use, but not enough early understanding on how they work (i.e. poor location placements on ads that could not be scanned – such as in tunnels underground with no data access). However, they are easy to execute. Until universal standards are set for NFC, QR codes are a solid option across the majority of mobile devices.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities are different from NFC and QR codes, as they push information out to consumers who have these options turned on. When the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi option is activated, the signal is recognized and a notification is submitted to device owners. Consumers can then click for more information which will lead to a video, mobile landing page, photos, coupons, etc.

Push notifications ignite concerns around interrupting the consumers. But Wi-Fi and Bluetooth deliver a unique opportunistic feature through location geo-fencing, connecting with consumers who enter a specific geographical zone. Marketers can create a branded experience with both mobile and DPB messaging within a predetermined atmosphere.

Here is a sample of tech platforms for DPB engagement extension programs.

Blue Bite (

Blue Bite offers technological options including all those listed above. Blue Bite has also created permanent networks (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks built into malls) for DPB media owners that eliminate the need to install tech capabilities on a campaign-by-campaign basis.

Mobiquity (

Mobiquity has a tighter focus around Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities. It is  a great partner for clients who prefer push-notification options, and can build out capabilities to blanket an entire venue where DPB screens are located or localize to the screen itself.

Thinaire (

Thinaire supports all technologies listed here, but its sweet spot is NFC. Its analytics platform can track and report NFC engagements in real time. It allows NFC advertisers to leverage their data for insights on mobile consumer engagements, helping to optimize their mobile and digital place-based campaigns.

The ability to couple digital place-based screens with NFC, QR codes, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology drives engagement with a hard-to-reach audience – on-the-go people who are busy outside of their homes, and who are low TV watchers. By giving advertisers the opportunity to interact with this audience, DPB maximizes the opportunity for right place, right time messaging – increasing recall and awareness through an extended experience.