Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sainsbury's to expand digital signage network

Unlike the previous article about Tesco halting their digital signage network expansion, UK retailer Sainsbury's plans to expand their existing 140-store network:

The network, which is operated by Firebrand Media, has generated market-beating sales uplifts for brands tested, delivering an average sales increase of 20% on advertised brands. Confidence in the performance of the network is such that the screens are now being extended to the Sainsbury’s Local fascia, focusing initially on London stores in particular.

Dipo Oyewole, Firebrand Media’s Commercial Director, explained the basis for this offer: “As the only in-store TV network within the grocery sector that has been extensively rolled out, and which continues to grow, the extension of the network to London and the South-East will further cement our appeal to advertisers planning national campaigns. In terms of our performance, we have raised our internal targets, and now target 20% sales increases as a performance level that we would like all brands to achieve, although it should also be remembered that a sales increase of 10% would be regarded as extremely credible in almost any other marketing context, whether relating to in-store or traditional above-the-line activity.”
Especially cool is the 20% sales increases, if that really is the case. But I've heard a lot of similar numbers from customers who use the same model of advertising products sold in store.

More news of Tesco problems

I wrote a blog article on the interactive kiosk and digital signage weblog about Tesco's digital signage deployment struggling, and apparently Brand Republic has some additional information for us about that:

[Chris O'Donnell, managing director of OneZeroOne, the digital division of outdoor specialist Kinetic] claims the first, and most fundamental problem, was that Tesco and JCDecaux treated the in-store screens as if they were a TV medium in their own right.

There was a propensity to encourage advertisers to use Tesco TV to run broadcast-style ads. These did not work because of the location of the screens, which are suspended from the ceiling. It has subsequently been shown that simpler advertising messages with static branding have proved more successful.

Additionally, the article cites other content-related problems as well as some culture issues between Tesco, media house JC Decaux, and the ad agencies selling the spots. They note that there have been some recent successes changing the way the space is sold, bundling the digital signage screen time with other traditional forms of in-store POP advertising.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Digital View partners with capital firm to provide digital signage leasing options

I suspect we'll see more of this sort of thing (from this press release)...

Responding to a growing marketplace demand for digital signage, Digital View has teamed up with Arrow Capital Corporation to provide retailers and marketers with a broader array of financing and leasing options to help facilitate their move to digital signage.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest in digital signage among retailers and brand marketers, who are eager to engage and communicate with customers in retail environments and other public venues such as banks, financial institutions, restaurants and entertainment in new and intriguing ways,” explains Stu Armstrong, COO of Digital View. “Our partnership with Arrow Capital gives our clients a viable alternative to an outright purchase. For many retailers and brand marketers, this helps make it easier for them to include digital signage within their overall marketing and communications programs, by reducing capital outlays, managing costs and providing some very attractive leasing options.”

Hughes gets into the digital signage business

Because there simply aren't enough companies involved in digital signage systems yet, "Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes) today announced its Managed Digital Signage Service, the first of several new services planned in 2006 under the company's Digital Media Services umbrella. This offering will facilitate the trend in the retail industry towards increased use of electronic in-store branding and promotion," according to this press release.

Satellite providers have increasingly been getting involved in digital signage, as it's one of the few new applications that can really take advantage of IP multicasting, which is a hallmark of satellite-based data distribution systems. Hughes is really going whole-hog, though, as their managed system will include:

* Installation and operation of the entire in-store media network;
* Provisioning of high-definition video screens;
* Media optimization and resolution reformatting; and
* Playback affidavits.
They haven't announced any customers for the new service yet, but claim to be running the networks of several large players in Europe already.

Lyle says 2005 a good year for digital signage, but still room for improvement

Lyle Bunn, of BTV+ fame, wrote this nice article in the form of a report card for the digital signage industry in 2005. He scored the different parts of the industry as follows:

A Analysts and Events – Valuable business planning information provided.
C+ Media Buyers – Savvy performance under poor direction.
B Technology – Improving price/performance and inter-operability
F Media Planners – Need to stay ahead of client’s awareness of digital signage.

B+ Overall – Growing supply capability, display inventory and revenues.

I'm not a particularly huge fan of analaysts or events, but it's hard to argue that they're flooding the marketplace with data and commentary, and right now, given the relative lack of other high-quality information sources, that's a good thing.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Target deploys in-store TV network

The In-Store Marketing Institute is carrying this article about Target's deployment of Channel Red, a new three-channel digital signage network being deployed to their 1,400 stores. They claim that:

Content on all screens includes a heavy rotation of the chain's media advertising along with what appears to be customized imagery. Screens in the music and video sections air trailers and spots for new releases. Screens above videogame displays run ad messages and samples of new titles. The TV wall runs ads from brands sold in the electronics department and image spots highlighting Target's community activities.


Unlike most other recent in-store TV deployments, Target is managing the network in-house -- which befits its overall strategy of maintaining full control of the store environment.
Interesting point. Does this signify the beginning of an age where retail stores are also media destinations, or is that just too far away from their current model for them to accept?

Tesco in-store TV not doing so great

This could be discouraging, given that the Tesco in-store TV installation was always one of the examples cited by people talking about established digital signage networks. According to this article at Brand Republic:

According to insiders, the chain is considering taking the channel out of its revenue generation team and plans to put greater emphasis on activity such as trolley stickers and window banners.

The original intention was for Tesco TV to divert revenue from TV advertising. But its sales house, JCDecaux, was forced to slash its rate card by 30% in early 2005 following poor take-up.

Major advertisers are understood to be unhappy about the network and have cited the placement and intrusive nature of screens as problems to be addressed.

It would be quite interesting to know what kind of ROI Tesco is getting (if they can figure it out at all), and what kind of studies/experiments they have done (if any) to determine how to best use the in-store networks.

Viewsonic shows off embedded digital signage player

Further taking the "C" out of CES, Viewsonic and Freescale demonstrated an embedded digital signage player which uses a Freescale chip to display digital content on Viewsonic screens. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but there is certainly a lot of room for improvement in the embedded player space. Here's their blurb:

Designed for large-scale video wall installations in enterprise, retail, hospitality and healthcare environments, ViewSonic's solution eliminates the need for a local PC or video converter box, typically required in other digital signage offerings. The solution also supports multiple screen zones, enabling video, Web pages and PowerPoint content to be mixed and matched within various zones of the large-screen display.

ViewSonic has chosen Freescale's MPC8270 PowerQUICC(TM) II communications processor, based on a PowerPC(R) core, to provide the embedded intelligence for the network display solution. By leveraging the integrated control- and data-plane processing capabilities of the PowerQUICC device, the solution can provide remote display monitoring and control across enterprise and retail networks -- without the cost and complexity of using personal computers to drive each display.
Of course, what they don't say is that often that PC can handle much more sophisticated content schedules, dynamic layouts, etc. But that wouldn't help their advertising much :) You can read the rest of the press release here.

IMPART and Dole Foods do digital signage

It's digital signage! Or maybe it's interactive kiosks... it's hard to tell when you're talking about 42" touchscreen plasmas (or LCDs, or whatever). According to this press release at PR Newswire:

IMPART Media Group, Inc., an innovator in the content, creation and management of out-of-home digital advertising and information networks, announced today that it has signed a contract with Dole Foods for it's new, patent-pending, iPoint Network(TM). The Dole Nutrition Institute (DNI) will use the out-of-home advertising and information system in grocery stores to connect consumers with their integrated healthcare, wellness and grocer initiatives. DNI was founded to promote health and prevent disease by "Feeding the World with Knowledge" and will initially place the iPoint system in four grocery store chains, located around the country to help shoppers' access useful information about family nutrition; details of Dole Food nutritional benefits; recipes and other healthful tips.
It will be interesting to see a) if this approach drives sales (I would expect that it would, at least initially), b) if the signs can produce a positive ROI (it will depend on content acquisition costs, equipment costs, and maintenance costs -- budgeting for a digital signage network can be pretty tricky), and c) whether grocery stores will request that multiple vendors use the same kiosk, or whether they will allow anybody who wants to to install a digital device instead of regular floor-standing or shelf-mount POP displays.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Smart Sign Media to build outdoor digital signage for Simon Malls

Radio Ink is syndicating this blurb about a potential outdoor electronic billboard project with Simon Malls:

MediaPost Publications reports that Smart Sign Media is working with Simon Brand Ventures to provide outdoor digital signage to many of Simon Malls' 300 shopping centers across the United States.

Smart Sign's partnership with Simon will provide exterior signs strategically situated at major thoroughfares adjacent to the malls, specially equipped with technology that will detect FM radio signals from passing motorists. The radio signals will adjust advertising messages to specific consumer demographics. The network will also enable consumers to interact with advertisers to receive promotional offers and coupons via mobile phones.

"These technologies will generate the high-impact effect that we think will clearly differentiate this medium from what is currently available in the outdoor advertising arena," commented Tom Langeland, president of Smart Sign Media.
Considering how much those screens can cost, there must be a pretty healthy budget for this digital signage project. I wonder what kind of ROI Simon expects to get from them...