Let’s Get…the importance of bridging physical and digital
The ‘internet of things’ is becoming an increasingly common part of our life; everyday products now have web connectivity, shopping experiences are getting social media components built in and anything other than a smart phone now looks distinctly archaic.
You don’t have to look far to see how experiences are made so much more powerful by creating a tangible reality to complement a digital presence. A glossy printed photographic keepsake is more emotive than a digital picture on a phone. And Berg’s ‘Little Printer’ has taken this understanding to heart by developing a tiny printer that prints out people’s digital activity as a daily ‘newspaper’. It’s a lovely piece of reverse engineering that takes the evolution of print to digital full circle.
But it’s not just small innovators that are leading the charge. Big brands – behemoths from cars to sportswear – are also getting in on the act of joining up digital and physical realms: the Chevrolet Cruze uses OnStar technology to voice friends’ live Facebook status updates for its drivers:
And Adidas has even managed to a put a brain in its boot so that wearer’s can automatically record their performance stats online in the name of socially sharing their sporting glory.
One of the most salient examples of the two-way relationship between digital and physical brand experiences was seen over Christmas. eBay – a brand so strongly associated with digital that it is almost the very definition of e-commerce – decided to ‘go physical’ by turning its virtual presence into a very real shop front on Oxford Street.
Conversely, John Lewis – a retailer stalwart known for its very physical presence – launched a virtual Christmas store with QR code window displays in Brighton’s Waitrose. These seasonal campaigns neatly illustrate the two-way relationship between digital and physical by showing how brands on either side of the spectrum are beginning to tap into the power of bridging both spaces.
The Nike+ GPS app – where runners are spurred on by cheers from their Facebook friends after completing certain goals – was an early adopter of the trend to merge physical and digital. By hooking up with social platforms, the app turned a private achievement into a socially shared experience. Genius.
The merging of digital and physical arenas lets consumers expand their brand experience beyond simply looking at a monitor. People are social; we have an innate desire to share, engage and interact. By employing both physical and digital elements in a campaign, there are a number of different ways that consumers can be engaged and the brand message can be experienced and shared. Real-world encounters lend an almost tangible to edge to digital experiences, thus amplifying their power exponentially.
Innovative campaigns are an instrumental way for brands to engage consumers. But it is when they are joined to real-world experiences that the content is more shareable. By allowing the brand to play a social role in linking like-minded people, they develop a more valuable connection with their fans. These connections create advocacy …and, ultimately, sales.
Lloyd Salmons is co-founder and director at social agency, Outside Line.