Monday, February 23, 2009

Important, FREE POPAI Digital session - Tuesday, 2/24 before the DSE

POPAI, the global organization for marketing at-retail, is holding a general session  meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, February 24th from 5 - 6 p.m. PST in room N261 at Las Vegas Convention Center. This session is free to everyone, regardless of whether you're a current POPAI member or not.  There's sure to be some general business, but if you're a retailer, a CPG manufacturer, or a DOOH marketer/vendor, you need to attend this meeting because the big topic of the day will be:

The announcement of a NEW Digital Privacy Standards Initiative

In response to some low-level public outcry over in-store traffic (e.g. "billboards that watch you back"), POPAI has been assembling a marketer's code of conduct to address key consumer privacy issues before the government decides to do it for us.

This will be the first unveiling of the major points of the program, and if you want to affect change in the industry, it'd be worth a few minutes to join us and voice your opinions.

If you need additional information or won't be able to make it but want to make sure your voice is heard, you can contact me at expo-bg @ wirespring .com

Digital Signage Standards group meeting today!

If you're in Vegas early for the DSE and have participated on any of the POPAI technical standards calls or meetings since the group started last year, you're invited to join us today to hammer out some of the details for digital media playback. The topics we're covering will include playlists, file metadata (tags), and setting a time line for the release of this standard as well as our first standard for media types and formats.

So stop by the LVCC at around 2pm PST today (Monday). We'll be in room N249.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Signs and the Single Woman

Before heading off to the Expo, Bill posted a recent list of digital signage news of interest. One of the most intriguing – the finding that single images appeal to viewers (especially those over 40) caught my eye. Having read over the full study and analysis by Photo Finish, I wasn't too surprised by the insights into age and income segmented markets – it seems a bit obvious that younger people who deal in a lot of interactive multi-screen formats would be more comfortable with collage and multiple images than older folks who prefer single shots with more emotional content. I’m also not going to bet my money on some of the right brain/left brain gender differences they cite, as that biological research has a fair number of flaws. Better to suggest that there simply are differences in the ways men and women approach the world than search for some flimsy baseline reasons why.

But one insight that caught my attention was one about single women: After slicing and dicing the over-40 market, they remind us:

Don’t forget single women! There are 13.1 million single women over 50. Only 3.6 million are low income. They’re known for girlfriend getaways and will buy fewer but better things. They should be included in your marketing, whether alone or in groups, and pictured as independent, capable and confident.”

Single or not, women are still more frequently the object on the billboard than the subject to whom content is directed. does a great job surveying buildings, design, and billboards in New York City. From their random samples and a general analysis of urban advertising, it appears that most big ad campaigns focus on the “sex sells” message. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se (although debates about the appropriateness of American Apparel, Calvin Klein, and other campaigns that push the edge are still, I think, important. We don't want censorship, but we do want to consider what's tasteful. Even though Absolut Vodka’s recent “ad” in Sex and the City reverses the gaze to the male body, these campaigns are still limited in their demographic appeal. Ironically enough, the depth of cultural gender bias in sexy ads is obvious in that I'm comfortable posting the Dove Real Beauty image, but I'm going to ask you to go find the racy naked vodka hunk through a link. It's worth it.).

For the most part, the basic idea of sexuality that’s being sold is still anchored around the “Will I look like that if I buy this product?” model of advertising. It’s extremely difficult to find major visual urban ad campaigns pitched at women that draw upon the insights that Photo Finish suggests.

But what of the insight that women are the largest consumer group today? That as the Boomer population ages, women (regardless of their marital status) will likely remain the larger statistically significant demographic group? That women’s employment rates will remain high – and most likely go up – as the current economic trend continues? That as women gather more income-generating power, the advertising has to appeal beyond the direct social roles as mothers, wives, girlfriends, sex objects? Certainly industry leaders in advertising are beginning to recognize this. And having women in positions to determine advertising content helps (see this great review of a recent history of women in advertising).    But the tech-side of the industry (read: digital signage) has been historically oriented towards men.

In looking over the current array of urban billboards and digital signs, it strikes me that in a desire to appear cutting edge, hip, and tech-savvy, marketers are forgetting basic research into what, as Freud would say, women want. Take a look at these recent billboards and think it through before you pitch your next campaign at June Cleaver or Claudia Schiffer.

(and by the way, the "Husband Wanted" billboard is real, while the "Dear Steve..." one is a promotional teaser for Parco, PI, a short lived reality show on Court TV.)

image sources: the New York Times photo archive,, and Australian News Service.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The morning press - digital signage news for February 19

Morning, folks. I just noticed my morning press posts haven't been posting appropriately, and are now lost to the ether. Here are some of the things I meant to post this week:

  • Wireless Ronin loses more money (they blew through nearly half their cash reserves in 2008). I know, I know, it hardly even seems like news anymore, but as one of the very few publicly-traded digital signage vendors, they at least show a model of what not to do.
  • Peter Breen at ISMI says "no promises broken with P.R.I.S.M.", noting that, "whatever the future 'reality' of a syndicated service delivering store traffic estimates and other data, P.R.I.S.M.'s 'promise' has already been achieved," by raising awareness and "staring the conversation" that needs to be had about in-store media.
  • Nike puts together snowboarders, bar codes and MMS, though not necessarily digital signs (yet). With the program, "bar codes [are printed] on the posters that Nike hands out to people. When a person takes a picture of the bar code next to a photo of an athlete in the poster and sends it to a short code set up for the campaign, he receives a short video clip and other info featuring the athlete back to his phone."
  • FTC to Marketers: Self-Regulate Behavioral Targeting. Why is this important to us? Because very soon -- especially if you follow the consumer privacy circles -- it's likely that we'll get the same request. Online privacy is one thing, but I'm guessing that people will get an even creepier feeling if their offline activities are managed and recorded, so self-regulation is going to be vital. I expect to see POPAI say something about this real soon now.

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Looking for more digital signage info? Check out WireSpring's Kiosk and Digital Signage blog for in-depth industry analysis and even more news about the digital signage industry. While you're there, feel free to read up on our digital signage software and services

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Digital Signage Contest of the Year Contest winner announced

As you no doubt recall, last week I announced the first-ever Digital Signage Contest of the Year Contest, to celebrate the outstanding awesomeness and strategic leveraged paradigm synergies of the plethora of digital signage contests out there. Via blog comments, email and twitter I got plenty of votes for winners. Some serious, some... decidedly less so.

But in the end, I thought, "who am I to judge these contests? And is one contest really any better than another?" So I decided to do the pragmatic thing and name all of you winners! That's right, anyone and everyone running a digital signage contest has just officially won the Contest of the Year Contest! If you want to share your success with the rest of the world, you can simply download this badge and proudly display it on your site:

I didn't want to get into the infinite loop of awarding my own contest the contest contest award (try saying that three times fast), so I created -- and awarded myself -- the first ever digital signage contest contest contest award!

So congratulations to all of us! We're all winners! Hooray!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bill's Digital Signage Expo Schedule

In an attempt to avoid some of the sillyness with missed meetings and confused times last year, here's my public schedule for the DSE show (I'll be cross-posting this to the WireSpring blog shortly):

Monday, 2/23 - 2PM - 5PM: POPAI Technical Standards committee meeting. If you're part of the tech standards group, you'll be getting an email shortly with the final info for room number, etc.

Tuesday - 8AM - 5PM: DSE Content Day and Mobile/Gestural Signage Day. Specifically:
  • 11am - 12 pm Giving a talk on "7 Proven Strategies for Better Digital Signage Results"
  • 1:15pm - 2:30pm Moderating a panel on "Social Networking and User-Generated Content: Expanding the Mobile Digital Signage Footprint and Giving Users the Platform"
I believe that there's going to be a POPAI general meeting of some sort at 5PM on Tuesday. I'll post details when they're out.

Wednesday and Thursday I'll be out and about, or on the show floor with a partner in booth 851.  It's way, way the hell in the back of the expo. Yeah, I've already got a bunch of meetings lined up there, but somebody at the booth should always know where I am.

In an effort to make myself as accessible as possible, I've hooked a special email address up to my Blackberry (which might not seem like much to you, but I never hook my regular email up to my Blackberry).  If you want to get in touch with me, more or less instantly, next week, just email expo-bg at wirespring dot com.

I've also started using Twitter. I doubt I'll ever be one of those OCD people who have to constantly announce to the world what they're doing, but if I see or hear anything particularly interesting I'll try and post.  It's also another way to get in touch with me if you for some reason have SMS or web access, but can't send email :)

The morning press - digital signage news for February 4

Morning, folks. Yeah, I've over-extended myself again. Sorry for the lack of posts. Craving digital signage news? I have a few odds and ends for you, then:

  • Mature Adults Gravitate to Vibrant, Single-Image Ads says strategy firm Creative Results. The results aren't particular to digital signage, but in my opinion, that gives them even more credibility than if they were. Looks like all of us taking the "full screen, damnit" position weren't completely off our rockers... Maybe.
  • "12 months from now you won't be able to get a buy if you can't quote an OVAB standard measurement," says Adcentricity's Graeme Spicer. I suspect he's talking about a national or regional buy by a major brand. Hyper-local advertising will have no such problem. And small, local brands and services still make up the majority of DOOH advertising dollars (excluding Walmart's network, as usual).
  • Denny's Launches Digital OOH Network - Supposedly to support "marketing initiatives such as its Rockstar Menu." I'll be interested to see how their content strategy evolves over time.
  • Lamar's Testing Solar-Powered Digital Billboards, favoring solar cells and light-reflecting e-ink instead of traditional LEDs. The solution requires much lower power, but of course also requires daylight (or power-sucking spotlights) to be seen.

  • Mike Dotson has an insightful commentary on the state of retail technology over at Retail Bulletin. In sum, cost-reducing solutions like advanced planning and automation tools will continue to sell well through the recession. Anything aimed at "driving sales" will have a tougher time.

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Looking for more digital signage info? Check out WireSpring's Kiosk and Digital Signage blog for in-depth industry analysis and even more news about the digital signage industry. While you're there, feel free to read up on our digital signage software and services

Friday, February 06, 2009

Digital Signage News Announces new Digital Signage Contest of the Year Contest!!!!!!

[3:00 UPDATE]: The comments are getting pretty entertaining. Make sure to read 'em all :)

Man of the year, woman of the year, display of the year, network of the year, best vendors, best screens, best installations....

These contests are getting even more elaborate and numerous than the number of companies in the digital signage industry itself (and that's really saying something). But maybe you find yourself saying, "sure, I could win any of those contests, but which one is the best?!!" Well, I wondered that very same thing.

That's why I'm announcing the first annual

Digital Signage Contest of the Year Contest!

That's right! We'll pick the very best digital signage contest, make a little website graphic for it, and maybe do a press release (so it looks official!) I'll bet you're as excited about it as I am! So hurry up and leave your vote today!

Transit Television shuts down, files for Chapter 7

It's bad enough when a company in our space files for bankruptcy, but we all know the drill: high up-front costs coupled with uncertain advertiser demand and even less certain consumer response makes our industry a dangerous one to play in. It's worse, though, when the company decides not to give it another shot under different management, but instead decides to just take its marbles and go home.

But that's exactly what Transit TV is doing - instead of filing for Chapter 11 "restructuring," they've opted for Chapter 7 "you can take our stuff, but we don't owe you nothin'."  It's a shame, considering their potential scope:

Transit TV is North America's biggest transit-based digital
advertising network operator. The company has installed and operates
digital ad technology on the transit systems in Los Angeles, Chicago,
Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Orlando, Fla.

Transit TV provides
advertising on 8,500 television screens and is seen by more than 500
million riders a year on nearly 4,000 vehicles.

But then, digital signage in moving vehicles has had a VERY rocky start everywhere it's been tried, from the dozen or so companies that have cut their teeth trying in-ride kiosks and screens in Las Vegas taxi cabs, to the much maligned NY10 taxi network in New York City.

I'm just wondering if IdeaCast, who had expressed interest in buying the network a few times, might now be willing to pick up the firm's assets on the cheap, and give it another try without quite as considerable an expenditure as Transit TV had.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How much was Coolsign worth? About $5.5M, I guess

At least, that's my take on reading Planar's quarterly statement:

As previously reported, the Company sold its Coolsign digital signage
software assets via two separate transactions in the first quarter,
resulting in a combined $5.5 million GAAP gain. Approximately half of
the cash proceeds from these transactions were received in the first
quarter, with the balance received in the second quarter of the current
fiscal year. In addition, as previously disclosed, the Company recorded
a $0.5 million restructuring charge related to the Company’s most recent
cost reduction plan undertaken during the first quarter.

Sooooo, that's a LOT less than many had expected (and certainly a lot less than Planar had paid for the company to begin with), but more than the $1-3M reported on DailyDOOH a few days ago.

The morning press - digital signage news for February 4

Well, I'm behind the 8-ball again (still?), but there really have been some great articles on the web lately that are worth the read if you're involved in any digital out-of-home or shopper marketing activities. Among them are:

  • Augmented reality locates the closest ATM - A new software application uses your mobile phone's GPS receiver and digital compass to give directions to nearby ATMs. While that's not particularly amazing, the app, called ING Wegweijzer can overlay directions onto real-time views of the surrounding area, which is pretty cool.

  • AV industry guru Gary Kayye has launched a digital signage newsletter. The first edition just came out recently, with another slated for late February. If his coverage of our industry is anything like it is for the AV guys, it'll be well worth a follow.
  • First, the signs saved us from zombies. Now, we averted a nasty raptor uprising. Something tells me that road-side sign hacks are going to start popping up all over the place now.

  • Freelance writer Blaise Nutter points out 5 tips for successful DOOH advertising which are pretty spot on, if not a bit elementary for those in the biz already. A good, short read for those new to the industry.

Tags: ,

Looking for more digital signage info? Check out WireSpring's Kiosk and Digital Signage blog for in-depth industry analysis and even more news about the digital signage industry. While you're there, feel free to read up on our digital signage software and services