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York County business adds tap interactivity element to its mobile advertising

York County-based, nontraditional out-of-home advertising business Do It Outdoors and dio have added a different type of mobile element to its already mobile style of high-impact marketing.

Mobile, in one sense, has always been where Do It Outdoors has operated, company President and Chief Operating Officer Regis Maher said.

To see the firm's work in action is to witness Segway scooters vrooming around a city's downtown and on-foot brand ambassadors interacting with the public, sometimes with jet packs of coffee on their backs and often with acting credentials on their résumés.

Now, with its new mobile element, you can just tap for more information that you can take home with you, as in the Samsung smartphone commercials that demonstrate their file-sharing capabilities.

Do It Outdoors and dio have partnered with New York-based marketing firm Blue Bite to use the firm's proprietary mTAG technology, which uses near-field communication and quick response technology to tag advertising so a person with a smartphone can interact.

Possibilities are nearly endless. The information coming onto a person's mobile device with a simple tap from, say, a poster for a new product could include directions to a retailer and a coupon for the product, Maher said.

There also could be free video games to download that run on a software system new to the market, so the game builds comfortability with that particular operating system, he said.

Giveaways such as music and videos can be a great way to get people to share some personal information, if they wish, that firms can use later to reach out to them, Maher said. This type of interaction also provides a way to gauge the impact of a campaign.

"The analytics are real, where in traditional outdoor advertising, that's not available," Maher said.

Blue Bite CEO and co-founder Mikhail Damiani said the mTAG's use of near-field communications, or NFC, means there's no app to download before a QR code can be used. However, mTAG does employ QR technology, among other ways, to share information.

Many phones from the likes of Samsung and others already come with NFC capability, creating less of a barrier to interactivity than a required app download.

Blue Bite partners with Do It Outdoors and dio, then, because of the human element, he said.

"Whenever you add a human element to it, you increase the rate of participation," Damiani said.

Do It Outdoors and dio were founded in 1997 by Regis Maher and David Pridgen, who came from previous careers in orthopedic implants and outdoor billboard businesses, respectively. Both were looking for something else and put a business plan together for what became Do It Outdoors, starting with three people and growing to about 30 today.

There are 60 to 70 drivers for the mobile billboards often seen parked outside their Manchester Township headquarters near Interstate 83. The company also has an office in Las Vegas, and almost all of its work is in metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago or Dallas, Maher said.

Event coordinators will go into a market and hire from local talent agencies to form street teams, he said. Actors, actresses and promotional spokespeople comprise the teams, and it's usually not hard to find talent.

"Around the country, there are a lot of young people that this is what they do for a living. They do promotions and events and that sort of thing as ambassadors," he said.

The increased interactivity with new technology has the power to revolutionize the outdoor advertising industry, Maher said.

"That's what we feel is the real key to the future with all this. Any outdoor ad campaign is now going to be with you for a much longer period of time," Maher said. "You are actually taking that outdoor advertising campaign with you, and we are giving you, the consumer … something you are going to use at another time."

And because it's only your phone and not just not some pamphlet, you're not just going to throw it away, he said.

The idea of mTAG technology is already migrating to places such as Japan and the United Kingdom, said Charles Palmer, associate professor of new media at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

Giving away a digital coupon, for example, has multiple values, he said.

"Not only has the person received it, but I also now get a ping back when that thing is used," Palmer said.

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