Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for February 26

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • Restaurants try e-menus - Besides cutting costs, companies that sell the "e-menu" argue the bytes-for-bites approach has a novelty value that can lure younger customers, and boost revenues as tantalising photographs of succulent steaks and gooey desserts tempt diners to order more.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ad Age gives Reactrix some lovin'

What a difference a few years makes... not too long ago, it seemed like Advertising Age wanted nothing to do with marketing at retail, out-of-home, or really anything that wasn't print, radio, TV or (occasionally) Internet-advertising related.

These days, they routinely scoop us on interesting happenings involving digital signage, interactive promotions like retail kiosk installations, mobile marketing and all sorts of other interesting things. Part of it is probably that our side of the industry has matured enough to be worth paying attention to.

Another part is probably that some of the players in our field have sucked it up and hired good PR companies. Last Thursday's article about Reactrix could represent some of both. My own feelings about "'Minority Report'-Type" things aside, AdAge has a pretty cool description of some of the new promotions that Reactrix is running on its series of interactive, projected image screens found in malls, movie theaters and other places. The article also notes that Reactrix will soon start playing up the powerful calls to action that we can use in retail settings, saying that, "coming in the fourth quarter is a brand-positioning system that will allow marketers to direct customers to the nearest location where they can buy the product they've just played around with on their Reactrix ad."

Of course, with measurement all the rage in the media world these days, it's also an opportunity to show off how great OOH is when it comes to measuring engagement as well as opportunity to see: "An Arbitron study recently found 75% of consumers who put their eyes on a Reactrix display spent an average of 10 minutes interacting with Reactrix ads. That's in addition to the video technology Reactrix is adding to its 186 venues in 31 markets to provide a more precise estimate of who is actually seeing the ads, such as the Traffic Audit Bureau's "eyes-on" metric of yore."

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Friday, February 22, 2008

P&G validates PRISM measurement initiative: it works?!

According to MediaPost, P&G's CEO A.J. Lafley gave a ringing endorsement to the P.R.I.S.M measurement initiative spearheaded by Nielsen and the In-Store Marketing Institute. Noting that the program has already provided significant quantitative details about shopper frequency, store traffic and other key metrics like basket size, Lafley went so far as to say that, "P.R.I.S.M. will transform how we think about in-store consumer communications and behavior."

That's a pretty big endorsement from the head of a company that spends over $10 billion on in-store marketing programs. Interestingly, Lafley also indicated that the takeaways from the in-store measurement projects might also help P&G improve the performance of their other marketing activities.

While he didn't make any specific statements about the type or quality the company has gotten out of the program, or what direction he expected it to take in the future, P&G has been pretty open about its initiatives and the success of its marketing programs in the past, so my guess is that we'll eventually find out some of the juicier bits.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Virgin Megastores rolls out digital signage network

Given that their flagship store in New York City employs over 100 touchscreen kiosks alone, it's safe to say that Virgin Megastores isn't afraid of aggressive technology deployments. But while they've been big users of in-store video for a long time, Virgin's screens have always been powered by DVD players (and the occasional satellite stream). Looks like that's all about to change:
Virgin Megastores is rolling out 400 digital displays in 10 stores targeting customers 18 to 44. Digital content will include segments on new artists and new releases and in-store special events.
The network, called Virgin Mega TV, will feature titles for sale and in-store contest giveaways. In addition, the screens will offer text messaging sweepstakes and instant-saving offers, Anita Finifrock, senior marketing manager for Virgin Megastores, said.

The purpose it to “entertain the customers and enhance their shopping experience,” Finifrock said. “The screens can deliver a more dynamic show. Different sections can be programmed to air at specific times, to vary by location, and are able to be updated quickly.”

Virgin Mega TV will feature up to eight hours of content, which will repeat throughout the day, Finifrock said. Evision is creating the content for Virgin Megastores.
Wow. 8 hours is a lot of content. No word on how frequently it will be updated, but my guess is that they'll be throwing in all sorts of dynamic bits and pieces on a regular basis. It's also unclear whether the program will expand if the 10-store installation goes well (or what "goes well" even means). We'll keep a weather eye...

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The morning press - digital signage news for February 19

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:

  • CBS signs £58m Westfield deal - A network of LCD screens and video walls will be situated in major walkways throughout the centre, providing an attractive canvas for advertisers.
  • MultiVu enhances video distribution options - MultiVu made two announcements this week, both related to its video offerings. Yesterday, it launched a mobile video distribution service, giving users the ability to receive video content on PDAs, mobile phones, and other mobile devices. Today, it announced that customer video can now be made available on the 23-story Reuters digital billboard in Times Square.
  • U Choose Network launches digital ad content delivery service - Advertisers or agencies sign up with the UCN and log onto the UCN portal from any Internet-connected computer to upload their content in digital file form. They choose geographically where they would like their ad to run, what types of locations or businesses may display it, what dates they would like their ad to run, and they set their own CPM. Then they set a maximum budget for each campaign. Sounds like SeeSaw Networks to me, but maybe the auction-style participation sets them apart.
  • China Leads the Digital Signage Race - Perhaps due to the few choices available in the nascent Chinese media market, digital signage is quickly getting the approval of advertisers. With 3 successful IPOs on NASDAQ, China leads the world in the race of digital signage networks.
  • PhiMedia Targets Point-of-Sale in Portland (sorry, somebody emailed me a PDF, so no link) - PhiMedia partnered with Aptus Financial, a national leader in ATM placement and management solutions – together they have initiated the implementation of this latest innovation in interactive out-of-home advertising within the Portland market (and nationwide). The first locations in Portland, OR deliver over 1,000,000 impressions to over 700,000 consumers in the Portland/Vancouver metro.
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Looking for more digital signage info?
Check out WireSpring's Kiosk and Digital Signage blog for in-depth news, reviews and industry analysis. While you're there, feel free to read up on our digital signage software and services

Friday, February 15, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for February 15

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • Netkey Launches VAR program - Netkey has created a comprehensive channel program to ensure that value-added resellers, audio-visual integrators and installers, Web designers, resellers, consultants and solution providers are trained and certified.
  • Borders to Unveil First Concept Store - A new Digital Center marked by a 3-D, 15-ft. illuminated fixture and sign package houses multiple computer kiosks and stations dedicated to new services. In addition, in select destinations, there are large in-section LCD screens broadcasting a depth of content featuring recognizable names in these subject areas, as well as Borders' own exclusive programs.
  • Captivate Sues Office Media Net Over Elevator Ad Patent - Gannett's Captivate Networks has filed suit against rival Office Media Network for patent infringement. The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, alleges that the Office Media network infringes on Captivate patents covering elevator advertising display systems, and seeks damages, attorney's fees and an injunction.
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These (semi)-daily Digital Signage News clips are brought to you by WireSpring, a digital signage software and services company. They're also brought to you by the letters "D", "O" "H" and the number "3".

New Cleverdis report is out

If you'd like to read 82 full-color pages of ads, vendor-sponsored articles (ads) and the occasional gem, then you might want to download the report. I'm probably being a bit harsh. I'm only about a quarter of the way through the document (which the company publishes twice yearly), and I've certainly learned a thing or two. But seriously, there are some "editorials" and "articles" in there that are very, very thinly-veiled promos. Cleverdis: either fess up and mark these things as advertising sections (not that skipping this has likely fooled anybody yet), or consider getting some better content.

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POSTAR seeks to measure ALL out-of-home advertising

As Adrian noted first, POSTAR, the audience research body for the UK out of home advertising industry, seems pretty bullish about the prospects of OOH, and expects the industry to grow both in terms of raw revenue and the number of different formats/locales that we'll find ads in.

They plan to start a new research project aimed at unifying measurement metrics and techniques for all forms of out-of-home advertising, including relative newcomers like ads on buses, rail, taxis, retail and in "leisure" settings. While we'll have to wait a little while to hear how it's going (their first results are due in Q3 of 2009), we should get some interesting insights into the relative merits of one form of OOH advertising versus another:
Central to the new Postar system is the innovative use of GPS technology. Consumers will be given handheld GPS devices that will track their exact movements, including brief trips to local shops, the gym or even the school run. This precise and comprehensive record of participants’ journeys is expected to significantly increase the accuracy of estimated exposure to out of home advertising.

Postar has appointed the leading media research company Ipsos MORI as its preferred partner. Under the contract, the audience research sample size will be trebled from its current base to 20,000 people, reflecting the commitment of the out-of-home industry to providing a step change in the detail in which out-of-home exposure is reported. The GPS technology will be provided by leading Czech company MGE Data, who have similar contracts in other parts of Europe.
It sounds like the GPS data will merely be cross-referenced against a list of ad placements for a sort-of Opportunity to See (OTS) measurement instead coupled with some kind of recognition technology a'la Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM), but there's no doubt that such a comprehensive undertaking can only improve our understanding of how much media people are exposed to in a given day, week or month. I'm looking forward to it... too bad we have to wait so long :)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for February 14

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:

  • Heathrow Airport to get outfitted with digital signage - In a major expansion of the world's busiest international airport, Heathrow owner BAA Ltd. is scheduled to open the airport's fifth terminal next month -- with more advertising than almost any airport in the world. From giant billboards overlooking security lines to television screens in the underground train station, the ads have been positioned in ways BAA hopes will make them impossible to avoid. There are 333 billboards or posters and 206 flat-screen TV sets, which can change ads to target specific flights.

  • VisionChina Media Announces Expansion of Coverage to Include Taiyuan - The agreement grants VisionChina Media the exclusive right to operate mobile television advertising on all public buses covered by the Shanxi Da Zhong network in the city of Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi province, for 8 years beginning February 3, 2008.
  • Broadcast International Announces Digital Signage Customer for CodecSys Video Compression Software - SkyRec, the leading Italian provider of personalized InStore communications (Radio and Integrated TV) will use CodecSys to deploy the first private IPTV network in McDonald's restaurants in Italy. The project will be done in collaboration with Samsung Italy (Information Technology Division) which supplies the InStore monitors. The new network will deliver proprietary video content including live news, weather and sports, as well as pre-recorded commercial content to 335 McDonald's restaurants throughout Italy.
  • Focus Enhancements Closes Debt Financing - Focus Enhancements closed a $20.8 million private debt placement with Ingalls and Snyder Value Partners, L.P. and a group of accredited investors arranged by Ingalls & Snyder LLC on February 11, 2008. The financing facility provides for the restructuring of an existing $11.5 million in debt, with $9.3 million in new financing.
  • Magenta Expands Digital Signage Connectivity Lineup - The new model, called Octet(TM), is optimized to deliver the display control and metrics desired in dynamic signage or "narrowcasting" applications. Combined with Magenta's MultiView(TM) XR-2000 UTP/CatX receivers, WUXGA video, stereo audio and display-addressable control signals are distributed within a 2,000-foot (610 meter) radius from the source, with no repeaters or booster units.
  • Taxi TV Adds Reuters Financial Content - ABC’s Taxi TV has added Reuters financial news content to the video screens found in the backseats of New York City taxi cabs. Reuters content will scroll across the tops of the screens, operated by WABC, the local owned-and-operated station.
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"Installation" shouldn't be a dirty word

I was reading an article at Flooring the Consumer (which is a clever pun since the blog is actually about the flooring industry), and was struck by how similar author C.B. Whittemore's industry can be to our own sometimes. She recounts a presentation given by Tom Jennings about flooring installation, and how it has become the "dirty word" of the industry. Apparently, there have been enough shoddy jobs and dissatisfied customers (complaints cost the average flooring store 2-4% of annual revenues!) that people inside the industry have come to associate installation as the problem phase of a flooring sale.

As much as I might complain about long sales cycles and complex demonstrations and pilots that plague the software portion of a digital signage project, I'd have to agree that compared to actually getting a network of screens or kiosks installed, everything else is a breeze. Software, hardware and content lend themselves well to centralized oversight and quality control. Installations, on the other hand, necessarily require remote staff, traveling, physical infrastructure and hard labor. Unless you have an internal team that you plan to send out to each and every site you install, you'll probably be outsourcing that phase to a 3rd party company -- essentially letting them represent you in your customer's venues. With that in mind, Jennings's tips seem quite apt:
  • Don't ever become complacent with your service experience. Know that
    you will always receive the results that you are willing to accept.
  • "Inspect what you expect." Have high standards.
  • To be in control, take control. Quality is never an accident: it is
    planned for.
  • Great companies never expect their staff members to self
  • Sales is a relay race. It starts with the salesperson, then moves on to
    measurement and installation. Everyone [i.e., each collective
    fingerprint] plays a role in ensuring that the exchange or hand off
    takes place smoothly. If one hand off fails, the whole experience breaks
  • First impressions leave lasting images.
  • Look sharp. Feel sharp.
  • Act and look like you know what you're doing.
  • Installers should always leave a business card upon completion. It makes
    them accountable.
  • Be sure to do a walk-through with the customer.
  • Address any problems on site: have a plan, explain full details, time
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Reactrix study measures interactive signage effectiveness

I don't think it's completely fair to say that the results of Reactrix's new study on their system's effectiveness are directly applicable to interactive kiosks or traditional digital signage networks, since their interactive projection wall thingies are unlike most other installations out there today. However, they play big in the customer experience space, and to that end their results are important in showing the effect that modifying the retail experience can have on advertising message recall.
Reactrix’s Arbitron study focused on two major consumer recording areas: observational, where an Arbitron employee would make note of consumer behavior from a-far, and one-on-one interviews, where an Arbitron employee would ask consumers why they made certain behavioral choices, making special notes regarding audience engagement, dwell time, visitor metrics and demographics. The results were staggering. Out of the 26 million plus mall based consumers who had an opportunity to see a Reactrix STEPscape display, (a number projected by Arbitron based on Reactrix 186 mall-based locations), 92% of them noticed or had their 'eyes-on'
it, 84% stopped to both look at and engaged with it, and 70% actually took the time to interact with it. These consumer 'opt in' statistics, revealed at a time in the industry when consumers are finding it easier and easier to 'opt out' or avoid ads, not only solidify Reactrix promise to clients as an interactive advertising medium but showcase the benefit brands get by placing ads on the innovative digital media network.
I'm not sure that glancing at a bright, shiny light counts as "opt-in." Jokes about ogling women aside, I'd be pretty ticked if that kind of behavior somehow got me listed on a newsletter list or qualified me for telemarketing calls (things I normally associate with being opted in). On the other hand, it'd be hard to argue that actually interacting with the device isn't an implicit opt-in, which is certainly noteworthy given the audience size that Reactrix is talking about (70% of 26 million is over 18 million people).

Of course, the unique nature of the Reactrix system means it's not going to be a reasonable solution in lots of places. In those cases, more traditional self-service and digital signage implementations make more sense (and are likely to get approved by management), so should you choose to rely on these efficacy numbers, your mileage may vary.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for February 12

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • PumpTop TV to join list of SeeSaw Networks' affiliates - PumpTop TV's network consists of more than 3,500 screens found at most major gas station brands in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego markets. Installations are currently taking place in Phoenix, with Dallas, Houston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston slated for later this year. The network today delivers over 2,000,000 measurable impressions per week, as measured by the number of monthly fuel transactions reported by gas retailers at their stations.
  • SeeSaw Aggregates 36 Digital Signage Networks - SeeSaw is now the most extensive network of digital out-of-home media with more than 22,000 venues nationally and growing. Through its network of affiliates, SeeSaw currently delivers more than 35 million weekly gross impressions.
  • Platt Institute presents results of financial digital-signage research - According to the article in Digital Signage Today; digital signage was effective in stimulating consumer-message awareness; customer satisfaction increased as a result and the research showed that bank productivity was positively impacted. DailyDOOH, via Digital Signage Today, though Adrian Cotterill doesn't necessarily agree with the report's ability to prove a causal relationship.
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Monday, February 11, 2008

Paris is burning!

... or, I guess, crashing. And not the real city, either, just the big hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip. Not much to say here, just some fun pics (courtesy of The Daily WTF).

Friday, February 08, 2008

The ROI of corporate "social" media... and text tickers?

I came across a pretty neat post from the "Social Media University, Global (SMUG)" blog talking about the merits of using centrally-managed digital signage as a corporate communications medium. Consider these thoughts, passed along from MediaTile's Chuck Gose:
Digital signage can increase “access” and can tease/drive traffic to your social media efforts. For example, an RSS feed of news stories from a company blog could automatically appear as a ticker on your digital signage. One thing Chuck is experimenting with is using a Twitter feed to populate the ticker. They also subscribe to RSS feeds from press releases and automatically feed it into the signage. That way the employees find out news at the same time as the outside world.

In summary, digital signage:
  • Provides greater access to your social media program
  • Increases ROI by increasing visibility and offsetting printing and placement costs
  • Effectively communicates to employees while they are on the run
  • Delivers messages to often “unreachable” employees
  • Provides message flexibility
Which all sounded well and good. "Gee," I thought, "somebody not from our industry finds this pretty interesting." I was excited. Then I read the next sentence: "I think using RSS feeds to populate content and having a “ticker” is one of the best ideas from Chuck’s presentation."


Please, people, don't use tickers. Just say no. Honestly, they're terrible. They're hard to read, they have very poor comprehension and retention rates compared to reading a block of text, and they just look ugly. If you have something to say, put up a screen of text (not too much) and say it.

Other than that, I agree, digital signage for corporate communications can be a great idea :)

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for February 7

Hey folks, sorry for the absence lately. It's been busy! Here are some interesting clips from the web these past few days:
  • BroadSign Acquires Navori - Navori will be integrated into the BroadSign brand adding to the company's offerings portfolio specifically for companies requiring a closed on-premise digital signage network. Company insider Dave Haynes (now more evil than ever) broke the story first.
  • Panasonic pushes plasma for outdoor ads - Brand recall leapt by nearly 20 per cent in a recent trial where 14 digital screens vied for attention against 90 static screens in a mall. Participating retailers witnessed 30 per cent sales increases with in-store screens, said the digital agency Outpost Media.
  • Holocube brings 3D projection down to desktop size - Measuring about 20-inches square, the Holocube packs a 40GB hard drive for storing up to 18 hours of compressed video, which can magically float at 1080i resolution within the cube at the flick of a switch.
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Saturday, February 02, 2008

The politically incorrect electronic billboard

Common sense or politically charged opinion? You decide (and bloglines users, it's worth the 30 seconds, so click this link to see)

I've seen some pretty funny stuff on roadside electronic billboards before, but this strikes a chord with me for some reason.

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