Nope, that’s not a spelling error nor is it one of those inane terms that marketing professionals come up with to confuse clients. It's merely a fusion of outdoor and the internet. Something that a brand manager in India has been praying for - the personalised engagement of the internet in the real world. The evolution and enhancement of technology is enabling this transition. The internet is no longer confined to the realms of cyberspace, it is now very much making its presence in the real world too.
India as a market has always been known to be behind most markets in adoption of technology but every now and then, we make that leap that eventually puts us at par with the rest of the world. We made the leap with cellphones (most people skipped the land line in the process) and now it looks like we will leap past 3G and move into 4G even before you get to know its full potential. Its this development in infrastructure and speeds of communication that will enable a new form of marketing which will eventually draw upon the forces of outdoor promotion, internet, digital innovations and PR to generate an unmatched engagement solution for a brand. It’s one activity creating an impact across multiple mediums.
The ability to zero in on your core TG through localisation is one of the key drivers of the outernet. The most basic of devices now have GPS (Global Positioning System) services which help in localising people and promotions. The ability to tag videos and photos automatically with geo-coordinates enables the brand to further extend the scope of the brand promotion to include the same.
The rise in sensory technology too has given a boost to the outernet. Visual codes like AR (Augmented Reality) Codes, QR (Quick Response) Codes or RFID (Remote Identification) Tags and NFC (Near Field Communication) technology make things a lot more simpler for the engagement. Since most of today’s cellphones come with QR readers, that seems to garner the widest participation but due to its limitations other visual codes like AR are becoming popular in India.
The ability to link social media with almost any innovation enables a brand to build a community with the help of the outernet too. Innovations like in-store Facebook upload facilities or biometric Facebook sync or simply RFID based Facebook connect can help a brand tap into the retail culture of our country and for a brand whose core TG is the youth (which is a sizable sum), speaking their language makes quite an impact.
As devices just keep getting more and more hi-tech, we will see the potential of the outernet increasing exponentially. With gesture technologies, live augmented reality, motion sensors, e-ink (electronic Ink), face recognition, etc, the possibilities are endless and this will give rise to innovations that will be pathbreaking and difficult to ignore. Brands in India are willing to spend more on the outernet than they did on the internet merely because it taps into the audience of both outdoor and the internet. The outernet though is much more effective if the brand's foundations are cemented firmly on the internet first to generate a greater impact. The engagement of the brand online is one that is much more personal in nature, but the one in the outernet is one that is participative with an audience. The outernet not only brings about a virtual engagement for the brand in the real world, it gets people talking about the brand and it is this word of mouth that has created a huge positive disposition towards the outernet.
Carlton D’Silva is the chief creative officer at Hungama Digital Media and has spent over 15 years in the digital space. He takes insult when you call the digital medium new media…15 years should be old enough! Find him on twitter @TheWordOfGawd