User-generated content (UGC) and digital screens always fascinated me.
Now we have a very good example of this with the Pic2Screen application from Aerva, Inc. (www.aerva.com) powering Kodak LED board in Times Square. Kodak’s Tom Hoehn, Director, Brand Communications and New Media wrote a nice blog about it and how it works.
Essentially, images can be emailed to email@example.com and the system acknowledges receipt and sends all submissions for approval or rejection. All approved submissions get a code back that the user can text in to trigger the upload of their picture to the Kodak LED board.
Sponsors have always been tad bit tepid about UGC. How does one control/manage unwanted content? Its hard to compete with the dynamism and creativity of UGC or produce the volume of UGC; there are ways to tame the animal, at least its unwanted aspects.The moderation interface for the Pic2Screen allows for rejection of objectionable content, blurred images or otherwise inappropriate pictures, thus providing protection to the sponsor and pleasant experience to the viewers.
Kodak and UGC images on a jumbotron are perfect, especially when Times Square venue is all about engaging the audience and increasing one’s brand value. In summer 2009, Kodak launched its “It’s Time to Smile” year-long campaign (full PR) and already it seems like many smiling faces are being sent by many users.
Speaking of user control, the user can also provide a caption to the image in the “Subject:” line of the email. Probably one of the most clever elements of this Pic2Screen implementation is that the user-trigger also allows the user to dictate when to trigger the image, thus making it easy for them to travel to the venue and triggering their image, thus making the display a destination in itself. This trigger is via text-messaging (universal mechanism of mobile interactivity), which is also important, especially if one is standing in Times Square with a simple phone (i.e. not email or data capability).
If you cannot be at Times Square, check out the EarthCam.
The trend is for blending of all sorts of UGC and social networking, and to spill from just the web onto mobile devices and digital screens indoor or outdoor.
Happy New Year 2010 (will be watching the ball drop in Time Square but also checking out faces on Kodak’s Smile Gallery)