Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lyle talks about the digital signage business continuum

Lyle Bunn of BTV+ has written a nice piece about the digital signage business models in use by many firms today, including a nice business flow diagram illustrating the different marketing and advertising elements that should be taken into account when building a network and keeping it fed with content. As he notes:

Digital signage is not a replacement for other display medium such as TV, billboards, print ads, etc., but an addition option for ad placement.

Different display type can meet the “need state” of a consumer. A consumer NEEDS a particular kind of information or promotion while sitting in a TV room watching the game, or while driving or while reading a newspaper.

The “need state” differs while in a buying location, where multiple types of information and promotion can support brand building and inspire the purchase. “BUY ME”, “TRY ME”, “BETTER THAN” and “GOES WITH” can each be used effectively on Digital Signage.

Digital Signage is a unique display medium because it has the inherent ability to cost-effectively display different message types in day-parts, or triggered by interest or demographic, or even played simultaneously on multiple or split screens.
Overall, quite a good read. You should probably go check it out if you're in the business (or plan to be).

Limelight media announces Q3 results

From this press release:

Limelight Media Group, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: LMMG) today announced results for the third quarter ended, Sept 30, 2005. Revenues for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2005 were $1,422,781 compared to $1,016,966 in the second quarter of 2005, an increase of 39.9% quarter over quarter.

Net income in the quarter was a net loss of ($821,467) compared to a net gain of $22,461 in the second quarter of 2005. The net operational losses were attributable to significant expense increases in three areas.

  • Professional expenses due to legal and accounting costs associated with the acquisition of IMPART, increased from $27,341 to $313,883, and were recorded as a one-time expense
  • An increase of $371,332 in cost of revenues and increased non-cash depreciation expenses of $96,333 related to continued operational investments including hardware and system purchases to support its expansion into new market segments such as the SeaTac Airport deployment previously announced
  • A key investment in the personnel needed to fulfill the company's enhanced vision and business model included direct expense increases of $77,250 quarter over quarter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ClearChannel to try out mall digital signage

According to aka.tv, media giant ClearChannel is further experimenting with digital signage, this time trying out the advertising technology in a number of US malls, starting with about 10 each in New York and Los Angeles. They note that:

Content on the network will run on a 15-minute loop with 30-second commercial spots - a format that Clear Channel says will make it convenient for advertisers to run standard made-for-TV ads. Early advertising applications will include promotional campaigns and programming tied to a specific day, week, month or season, with ad content coming from non-traditional media as well as television and other video campaigns. While Clear Channel recognizes the network as “especially attractive to retailers”, the first signed advertiser is Ray Catena Infiniti, a local car dealer in New Jersey.

Clear Channel says that the ads create a cost-effective way for advertisers to reach consumers in a captive, entertainment environment at the point of purchase.

While I'll certainly agree about the effectiveness of in-mall digital signage (and in fact, Arbitron's past research on this very subject backs us up even more), I'm not convinced that simply re-displaying TV ads on in-mall digital screens is going to have significant impact.
In its announcement of the new network, Clear Channel quoted figures from Starch Research Services that show shopping mall food courts provides the longest exposure to a selling message – 32 minutes – versus other shopping mall locales.
It also quotes ICSC research as showing that:
  • 45 percent of all people who visit the mall make a food-court purchase, resulting in average sale-per-square-foot of over 3 times higher than all other stores.
  • More than 50 percent of all shoppers felt they were staying longer because they could break to eat or drink something at the food court.
Advertisers on the new network will be able to change content remotely, and place advertising by mall, region and day-part, according to Clear Channel. “It will be sliced and diced just like television,” said Baker, who described mall advertising as moving from the realm of non-traditional media into the mainstream.

Again, the "like television" part concerns me a little bit. Increasing amounts of research show that in-store advertising is not really at all like television. I guess it might be different in a mall concourse or food court setting, where consumers aren't actively shopping, and thus might be more receptive to the passive medium.

Color e-paper to drive next generation digital advertising displays

According to this article in Austrailan IT, color electronic paper from Fujitsu should be on the market in 18 months, and available in prototype batches even earlier than that:

The price would eventually fall so it could replace "practically any form of signage or paper-based documents, even potentially shelf labels", he said.

The new centre displays emerging digital media systems, from digital kiosks and dynamic point-of-sale displays to transport information systems and corporate communications systems.

[Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand chief executive Rod Vawdrey] said digital media technology would change the way organisations targeted, and communicated with, customers.

"Fujitsu's digital media systems enable companies to connect with customers at the point of sale to offer targeted promotions and information that can influence their buying decision," he said.

"Content can be tailored for each location and presented via a range of intelligent display devices, including interactive kiosks, television screens, dynamic signage, mobile phones and even radio frequency identification trolleys being developed for our leading supermarkets."

So, the arguments are the same as for any other form of digital advertising, like interactive kiosks and digital signage... only the physical medium is different (and potentially much cheaper).

In-Store TV boost potato chip sales

According to this article in the Retail Bulletin, "Pepsico successfully target[ed] UK housewives through a Tesco TV campaign promoting Walkers Potato Heads 6 packs." Subsequent sales results indicated that the in-store TV campaign produced a 4% sales uplift for the products during the campaign, above and beyond any price promotions that may have also been in effect.

Scala partner event draws record crowd

According to a recent press release, Scala's annual partner event drew 130 delegates from 25 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. At the event, Scala announced its product roadmap for the coming year, showcased several prominent digital signage networks using their technology, and presented awards to several partners who deployed the most/best/newest networks:

The first day was dedicated to Scala’s Partners presenting their success stories to their peers in the Digital Signage industry. Included in the presentations were: Wim van den Dungen of Rabobank in the Netherlands; Markus Dierkes of IBM Germany; Matias Brianso of CEC/CNC in Spain; Ahmed El Ridi of SSS in Dubai, UAE; Barry Thurston and Peter Critchley from MIT, a division of the Beaver Group in the UK; Rafal Bremer of T-Systems in Poland; Stephan Otterbach and Markus Wetzlar of IC Lab in Germany; and Martin Kingdon of POPAI in the UK. Scala Partners presented stories of innovative digital signage installations throughout the hemisphere.

To support the event a number of Scala technology partners exhibited their related technologies for the Digital Signage industry including: Opticality (X3D), NEC Display Solutions, MultiQ, M-cube, ViewPIA, Bizet from Lavitsky Computer Laboratories Inc., and Matrox.

To round off the event a gala dinner was highlighted by the presentation of awards in three categories:

E Most Scala Players Deployed – T-Systems Poland
E Best Performing Newcomer – Centro Novo das Comunicacions (CNC) Spain
E Most New Customers -- Specialized Software Services (SSS) Dubai, UAE

The full press release can be found here, though there isn't much more information in it :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Broadsign and DS-IQ partner for digital signage accountability

Hot off the PR Newswire comes this notice that Broadsign, a digital signage software platform maker, and DS-IQ a digital signage analytics firm,

"today announced the integration of BroadSign's Digital Media Logistics Suite (DMLS) and DS-IQ's web-based service that directly measures consumer purchases triggered by advertising run on in-store digital networks. Together the two products offer retailers and advertisers an unprecedented capability for measuring and increasing sales uplift and advertising ROI produced by retail networks.

Together, DS-IQ and BroadSign create a real-time feedback loop that goes beyond simply documenting sales uplift, to allow ongoing network optimization. Advertisers will quickly learn which creatives perform best in various markets and day-parts, and what schedules are most effective. Equipped with retail intelligence from DS-IQ and BroadSign, they will be able to successfully launch new products and micro-target campaigns across thousands of stores and millions of customers.

You can read the complete release here.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Rip Curl advertising on digital signage in Times Square

Broadcast Engineering tells us that, "[s]urfing company Rip Curl is showcasing its new brand campaign for 2006 on a digital video billboard in New York City's Time Square and is using interactive, text messaging-based quick-tag (qtag) technology to track consumer response to its promotion."

They think that a younger audience will be receptive to the text messaging sent out by the billboards, whereas older consumers might perceive it as intrusive spam (not sure how I feel about it yet).

The full text of the article can be found here.

Harrods to deploy in-store TV

aka is reporting that high-end department store Harrods is deploying an in-store TV network that will ultimately consist of 100 screens placed in keys areas (apparently there are 100 key areas in Harrods).

It's only news because Harrods is involved, but should you want to read the article, it can be found here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

SignStorey partners with Meredith Corporation for digital signage network content

More content news from aka.tv:

Meredith Corporation, one of the largest publishers of women’s magazines in the United States, has entered the digital-signage sector through a content partnership with SignStorey, operator of a retail media network at more than 1200 supermarket stores nationwide.

Meredith will provide SignStorey with video, photography and editorial content from its range of more than 25 top-selling magazines, which include titles such as Better Homes and Gardens, More, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Family Circle.

Great idea, and again, a good complement since those magazines are sold at the checkout counter where SignStorey places its electronic digital signs. The network gains thematically relevant content to supplement its advertising and informational display, and the magazines gain additional exposure. Read the full article here.

PRN partners with the TV Guide Channel for digital signage content

This is a pretty cool idea, as noted over at aka.tv:

Premier Retail Networks (PRN) has partnered with TV Guide Channel and TV Guide SPOT – a network developed specifically for the on-demand television environment – to provide content to PRN's in-store digital-signage networks at major grocery and electronics chains across the United States.

TV Guide's programming, which includes daily "Watch This" segments highlighting the best of primetime television, will reach over 57m viewers nationwide in over 3000 grocery stores including Albertsons, Best Buy and Circuit City, according to PRN. The TV Guide content will also be made available to PRN's largest retail partner, Wal-Mart. According to a spokesperson for PRN, there has been no provision yet to include the TV Guide programming in the Wal-Mart TV contetn loop, although it is likely that this will happen.

Think about it, and the partnership makes perfect sense. PRN gets free content for its in-store digital signage network, and is now providing an additional service to consumers instead of just advertising in-store products (yes, I know they do a lot more, like showing live concerts or up-to-the-minute disaster/emergency information). In return, TV Guide reaches a bigger audience, and probably sells a few more of their paper magazines to boot.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Helius unveils new digital signage software package

Satellite provider Helius has been a player in the digital signage space for a while, but usually relied on partners to deliver the software that powered their networks. That seems to be changing, as this article notes:

Helius has added to its array of satellite-delivered IP-video broadcast offerings with the launch of its new MediaSignage software package, a browser-based digital signage scheduling application tool.

According to Helius, the application is designed to give businesses the ability to schedule and deploy multimedia content at multiple display points from a central location.

The MediaSignage software package, which has onboard storage capabilities, does this by providing a "drag and drop" interface for the development of multimedia play-lists for playback at specific times on numerous displays. The tool allows content to be displayed in a one-, two- or three-panel format, with a main window, side information bar and ticker. Location and size of each panel is customizable to fit each business' needs.

The rest of the article is here.

Aka's opinion section showcases difference between loops and playlists

Aka.tv is starting an opinion section where industry pundits and players can comment on the various and (sometimes) sundry items that we face when planning and deploying digital signage networks. The first article to come out of this is a piece on the difference between playlists and file loops, written by Brian Dusho from BroadSign. Here's a clip:

Suppose you have a network of 100 supermarket locations in five different markets. Each supermarket has displays in the aisles and at the checkout. The aisle displays play different content than those at the checkout, so there are two channels of programming.

If you sell time per market per channel per week, you must create, approve, manage and deliver ten playlists weekly, assuming that the content is the same every day. Each playlist must be assembled, approved, and delivered to the appropriate playback device on schedule. Each playlist must be manually arranged so each ad can be exposed a certain number of times.

What if an advertiser requested exposure in a special group of locations for a special occasion? For example, a car dealer only wants to advertise at locations within ten miles of his dealership starting Wednesday for a week. With the playlist approach, you would either need many custom playlists, or a programmer to code custom playback rules in order to partially automate the existing playlists. This is still possible, yet costly.

Now imagine all of your advertisers are asking for custom media buys. This would require creating, approving, managing and delivering up to 200 unique playlists per day-part, per day – or many more lines of custom programming code. Because of that, with playlist-based scheduling you are forced to only allow simple ad campaigns or it becomes cost-prohibitive to operate.

Brian is definitely loop-centric, leading me to believe that is one of his product's strenths :) Still, the article is a good read, and the rest of it can be found here. I recommend you check it out (free reg requried from aka.tv)

More news of kiosk and digital signage convergence

As reported from NAMC Newswire:

friendlyway Corporation (OTCBB:FDWY) a developer and marketer of interactive self-service solutions, today announced a partnership with NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc., who will be supplying the large-screen LCD displays used in the new friendlyway Impress(TM).

Both friendlyway and NEC Display Solutions will be marketing the new "impressive" self-service and digital signage system. The friendlyway Impress is an extension of friendlyway's signature line of interactive systems which lead in elegant design, top quality and performance. The Impress stands about eight and a half feet tall, three and a half feet wide and only six inches deep. It currently is available with either a NEC Display Solutions 32" or 40" portrait LCD display with optional SAW touch screen technology.
The rest of the press release is here, but just has a couple of typical press release quotes and blurbs about the companies. What's interesting to see is that hardware vendors are starting to wake up and realize the possibilities of merged kiosk and digital sign systems. I expect to see a lot more of this sort of thing in the future.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Manhattan digital signage network shows sponsored artwork

As reported in Media Life Magazine, "Billijam, headquartered in New York and creator of the Business Sponsored Art Program, has partnered with Clear Channel to bring sponsored art to the streets of New York through its Digital Display Network," an outdoor digital signage network which is typically used to show advertisements and public service announcements on LED screens often found near subway entrances.

Businesses sponsor displays of original art on LED video screens placed at street level at subway entrances. There is also placement available on plasma, LCD and LED screens in a variety of other public places. Art spots are part of a 60-second video advertising loop that targets pedestrians.

Creative is developed by New York-area artists through Billijam. Each piece of art has only one sponsor. Each piece is reflective of the advertiser’s identity and brand.

“New art is generated for each sponsor. We interview the sponsor to understand what their brand is about and come back with something that’s customized for them,” Triandafellos says.

The screen street program was launched in Manhattan in 2003. The art program premiered in October. The art images can also be projected on a variety of surfaces, including interior and exterior walls, screens, curtains, windows and other objects. The sponsor’s message can be changed by day or time of day.

You can find the full article here.

Woman’s Hospital implements interactive patient network

Broadcast Engineering is reporting that:

The Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA, has implemented a networked interactive patient system.

The ACCESS system, provided by Skylight Healthcare Systems, is a hospital-specific digital signage network providing customized entertainment, communication and education centers in each patient’s room.

The solution turns standard television sets in patient rooms into communication centers using a specialized, integrated remote control and a custom wireless keyboard. Patients and family members can receive information about the hospital, the medical staff and their stay. Patients can directly contact appropriate departments throughout the hospital and access an extensive library of educational videos on new baby care, specific conditions and at-home treatment plans.

The original article can be found here, and includes additional links for more information.