Thursday, January 31, 2008

FINAL deadline for POPAI's Digital Signage Awards is tomorrow!!!

POPAI's extended entry deadline for its Digital Signage Awards contest is tomorrow, Feb. 1.

Visit to grab a copy of the application and get additional details about what you'll need to submit. If you have some content or a network that you'd like to show off, and a half hour or so to fill out the application, this would be the time to do it!

The winners of this contest and the POPAI OMA Awards will be announced during Global Shop on March 19 at POPAI's Annual Awards Gala. The gala will take place at McCormick Place West in Chicago. Go to for reservations.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for January 29

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • LiveMedia chalks out aggressive growth plans for 2008 - LiveMedia has designed branded programmes to keep viewers engaged in the targeted locations. The audiences spent an average of 20-30 minutes sitting in front of the LiveMedia screens, enjoying programmes like graffiti, horoscope, fashion, trivia, Randy Glasbergen animations, etc. The firm plans to grow from 1,100 locations to 2,200 screens in 2008.
  • Suzanne Alicia to Take Reins at OVAB - Kim Norris, the first president of the year-old Out-of-Home Advertising Bureau, is stepping down after only nine months to go to Cablevision as senior vp of strategy and business development/digital marketing. She will be replaced by Suzanne Alicia, president of The Hotel Networks, one of the founding members of OVAB.
  • Electrograph to Distribute Symbicon Digital Signage - Electrograph announced last week that it has become the first U.S. distributor of the IconOne line from indoor/outdoor digital signage from Symbicon, the company behind the world’s largest LCD advertising panel.
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Monday, January 28, 2008

GSTV research indicates strong brand recall for pump-top digital signage

According to this press release, 70% of participants in a recent Nielsen Media Research study recalled advertising shown on GSTV's network of digital signs at gas pumps. Additionally, 78% of participants agreed that GSTV was, "a good source of product information," with 84% further indicating that they, "will watch or listen to GSTV at their next visit." The study apparently also indicated that, "advertising national brand recall on the GSTV network averaged an extremely high 50% among respondents recalling one or more brands. Additionally, 84 percent of the key 18-24 year old demographic recalled more than one ad."

I'm not a big fan of soft, squishy "results" like "it's a good source of information," but the brand recall stats, if true, are more interesting. A 50% recall rate is not exactly "extremely high," as the release would like to have us believe, but it's nothing to scoff at either. The real question (to me) is whether the ads were actionable -- were they able to compel the viewer to make an additional purchase... for a car wash perhaps, or something inside the convenience store. That's where the big money is for most small gas station owners, and it likewise seems that's where the key opportunity for the digital signs would be as well.

Of course, this was paid-for research, so like always, take the results with a grain of salt. The description of the methodology was pretty nice, though:
The GSTV research was an intercept study conducted across thirty-three four-hour dayparts at 20 client provided stations in the greater Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York areas August 10-23, 2007. Interviews were conducted with 595 station visitors 18 and after they completed their refueling experience. Viewing estimates assume 100 percent media compliance. Recall estimates reflect total unaided, aided and photoprompted recall. Agreement estimates reflect strongly and somewhat agree on a five point scale.
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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Can cable prosper more from digital signage than CBS and NBC?

As someone who works in both the television and digital signage industries, having companies like CBS and NBC jump head-first into digital signage really grabbed my attention. I started to think: in addition to these two juggernaut broadcast networks, what others -- ones on cable in particular -- could also use digital signage to better reach their target audiences?

One of the first that came to mind was HBO. It's no secret that HBO has gained a very large and consistent following through such past and present successes such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage. HBO skews to a hipper, and particularly in the case of Entourage, younger audience, which is important since it seems like shows that are geared toward younger demos get better results on out-of-home formats. More so than any other age group, the 20-something crowd -- which makes up the bulk of the choice 18-34 demo -- is "media agnostic." We don't have a specific loyalty to television or the newspapers as older generations may have. We need to be met at the point of decision more than any group has before us.

So my suggestion to a network like HBO, who will eventually (whenever the writer's strike is resolved and TV is up and running on regular basis again) promote a new season of Entourage is: wheel out new footage via digital screens in places where you'll know you'll reach the desired audience. Think outside the box. Experiment a little. I think for a show like Entourage, streaming content onto digital screens inside of bars would be very effective. Even though some people feel that digital signage in bars has a negative stigma, the truth is that it genuinely seems to work. Take me for example... I'm 22. I go to bars with my friends. These same friends are also huge fans of Entourage -- even the ones who don't work in "The Industry." I know that seeing advertisements on screens in some of these places would (a) get noticed by us (since we already watch the show), (b) build excitement around it and remind us to watch, or visit for more interactive options, and maybe even (c) get the patrons who don't watch the show to try it out, since otherwise they might feel left out.

Cable operators, who are much more specialized content delivery companies than the broadcast networks, are better suited to digital signage than the broadcast guys exactly because as an ad platform digital signage offers the kind of flexibility and specificity they already count on. The major networks cast out bigger nets and try to grab much bigger audiences than channels like HBO, Showtime or MTV do and therefore they don't need to be as specific with the audiences they target. But that also means they don't have a built-in understanding of the micro-targets that they could be aiming for with content on digital signs, either.

By moving more into digital signage, cable networks can play the same game that the major networks are, and they might be better at it. Since nobody has figured out the rules for this game, a lot of trial and error is still necessary. So if the HBO's and MTV's of the television world can figure out how to make digital out-of-home advertising really work before NBC or CBS can, they can gain exposure in new places and potentially scoop up a good number of new viewers while trying out an advertising format that foreshadows what TV advertising may look like in the future.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for January 25

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • 30.2% of viewers mentally tune out ads - This winter fewer people eat (68.8%) and more people do laundry (58%) while consuming media (70% and 57.4% in July 2007, respectively). This and other amusing tidbits in the new BIGresearch's research of simultaneous media consumption SIMM 11 (first noticed at Adverlab, and keep in mind they were looking at TV commercial viewing habits, and not OOH)
  • Watchfire Installs Three Digital Billboards in Va. - Watchfire Digital Outdoor has installed three new 19mm digital billboards in Virginia. The billboards, purchased by Hey! Outdoor, each measure 14 feet x 25 feet. Two of the billboards were installed in Bristol, Va. at the Highlands Shopping Center; the third was installed just outside Abingdon, Va.
  • Channel M raises more venture capital - Channel M announced a $6 million dollar investment led by Ascend Venture Group with participation from existing partner, Vintage Capital. In 2007, Channel M grew its out-of-home video network to include more than 20,000 US locations.
  • Future Media scouting for picks in digital signage - India-based Future Group’s media venture aimed at creating media properties “in the ambience of consumption”, is in talks with at least three digital signage Companies for a possible buyout. While no official confirmation was available either from the Future Group or from the prospects, sources close to the development say that among the three that have approached the Kishore Biyani group are vJive and View 24X7 and another network present in foodcourts across India.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Update - POPAI Digital Signage contest deadline extended!

By popular demand, POPAI has decided to extend the entry deadline for their Digital Signage Awards contest to next Friday, February 1st.

If you folks don't know about POPAI's Digital Signage contest, it's a spinoff from their famous OMA (Outstanding Merchandising Achievement) contest, which has been going on for 50 years now. Needless to say, this is THE digital signage contest to enter, and I'm not just saying that because I'm chairing the committee ;) The award carries with it a lot of prestige, industry accolades, and is presented at a very impressive, Academy Awards-style gala.

Visit to grab a copy of the application and get additional details about what you'll need to submit. If you have some content or a network that you'd like to show off, and a half hour or so to fill out the application, this would be the time to do it!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for January 23

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • Focus Media Plans New JV with Dentsu - Dentsu looks to strengthen its competitiveness against occidental advertisers in the Chinese market via sharing the customer resources of Focus Media. As of December 2007, China had around 210 million Internet users. It is forecasted to surpass the US and become the country with most Internet users around the world in 2008. Focus Media lately also announced a strategic partnership with emerging in-hospital TV network owner Yanhuang Health Media. Under the partnership, Focus Media, China's largest out-of- home multi-platform life-style media company, will invest USD 5 million in Yanhuang Health Media, a Chinese operator of in- hospital advertising network using audiovisual television displays.
  • Minicom to Unveil Longest Range Digital Signage Distribution System - DS Vision 3000 is a long range CAT5 based distribution system delivering HD video and stereo-audio content to multiple screens up to 600m/2000ft away. Its unique, fully bidirectional RS-232 serial management capability allows administrators to remotely query and turn on/off remote displays and provides centralized management control.
  • Taxi advertising firm’s software sold to Russians - Cabtivate, the Edinburgh-based taxi advertising business which went bust a year ago owing creditors £1m, is to be relaunched by a Russian media group which has bought software rights from the administrator and plans a UK-wide service.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

POPAI seminar on digital signage content creation this Thursday!

Hehe, forgot to post about this. This Thursday (January 24, 2008) I'll be giving a webinar on digital signage content strategies for POPAI. I'll be discussing copy writing, scene layout, the use of color, contrast and motion, and other tips for making content as memorable as possible. Here's the important info:

Killer Content:
Tips to Maximize the Performance of your Digital Signage Content

DATE: January 24, 2008
TIME: 3:00 - 4:00 pm EST
LOCATION: On the Web
MaRC Credits: 1 in Category II

If you want to sign up (there's still time), visit POPAI's registration site. As much as I hate promoting myself, I'm actually quite pleased with this presentation as it brings together the wisdom gleaned from literally hundreds of sources including industry experts, creative experts, and, of course, operating digital signage networks. I learned a huge amount putting it together (which I'm sure will be a matter for future blog posts), but this nice hour and a half webinar is a great way to get a crash course on designing for digital signs.

The table of contents, you ask? It looks like this:

Psych 101
  • How context affects perception and memory
  • How to make items more recall-able
  • How context affects comprehension
  • Avoiding attention vampires
Text & Copywriting
  • Slogans, phrases and fragments
  • Using calls to action
  • Text display
Visual Design
  • Color
  • Contrast
  • Shot composition & screen layout
Designing for Motion
  • Motion & timing
  • Silhouette

Hope to see you at the webinar!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

CBS Outernet joins forces with Ripple TV for digital signage content placement

AdWeek is reporting that CBS Outernet (formerly known as SignStorey), have partnered with Ripple TV, giving them access to, "more than 1,500 U.S. locations, including retailers such as Borders, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Jack In The Box and Tully's."

While it does look peculiar coming on the heels of all this news about NBC's digital signage upfront, given that CBS dropped over $70 million to acquire SignStorey just a few months ago I think it's safe to say they've been thinking of ways to best grow their investment. And the deal apparently extends beyond Ripple's reach as well:
"CBS has also formed an alliance with Automotive Broadcasting Network. ABN places car-related content through a private network in over 20,000 dealerships.

"CBS has agreed to let ABN use clips from The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, Entertainment Tonight, 60 Minutes and The Early Show."
So what will ABC do next week? :) Actually, a much more interesting question (to me, at least), is what will SeeSaw Networks do? Both of these recent deals have put the big broadcast networks in the driver's seat, and indeed we've seen now that they're more than willing to partner with other existing networks themselves. This could leave SeeSaw in an awkward position since their value-add is being able to make those deals happen seamlessly, but that's apparently a service offering that at least NBC and CBS haven't seemed to need.

Only somewhat related, these articles that feature companies like CBS and NBC seem to draw a lot more traffic than normal. To you newcomers, welcome! If you're just getting your feet wet in the digital signage market, I suggest you check out this digital signage primer to answer some basic questions about the industry.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

NBC's digital signage upfront details disclosed

Of course the original thread on this blog turned out to spawn some pretty interesting conversations, many of which got picked up for a piece on the NBC digital signage upfront on the WireSpring blog. Well, today some additional details were disclosed, but many others still remain under wraps. We know that the event took place yesterday, January 16th, and AdWeek is providing this coverage:
NBC officially rolled out its NBC Everywhere network of digital out-of-home platforms at a presentation attended by more than 200 agency and client executives here on Wednesday.

NBC disclosed the addition of fitness centers and college campuses to the mix. That brings the total to nine nontraditional digital platforms that now carry NBC content that are available for advertiser messages.

Announced at the presentation were deals with IdeaCast (for NBC@The Gym) and with the University Network (for NBC on Campus).

Visitors at 900 fitness centers nationwide which offer IdeaCast provided digital delivery of content and advertising, will get to see programming from MSNBC and CNBC on large screens strategically located within the gyms' cardio areas. Advertisers will be able to run spots within the content or to take part in sponsored-vignettes, such as workout tips, which will air during the program breaks. IdeaCast and NBC will jointly sell the ads.

The deal with University Network allows NBC content to be shown on 180 campuses nationwide where UN has deployed screens in high traffic locations. The in-house NBC Agency will create specific content targeting the college demographic; young stars of the network's shows host the segments. Marketers will be able to buy advertising that appears on a portion of the screen while the content is airing.
NBC also claims to be working on deals for the FuelCast Network (currently at 480 gas stations around the country), supermarket networks in Shop Rite, Albertson's and Path Mark stores, a jumbotron in Times Square, in hospital maternity awards (via the NBC-owned Newborn Channel), and on over 3,000 screens on transit trains across the country.

Of course, for this to work, NBC obviously has had to deal with a lot of the questions that come up in our market frequently: what's the right timing and duration for ads (they're selling at least :15 and :30 spots, and the frequency differs with the venue), and must also have made some decisions about pricing and packaging, none of which have been announced to the public yet.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Digital signage contest entries due tomorrow!!!

As I mentioned a few months ago, if you haven't heard about POPAI's Digital Signage contest, it's a spinoff from their famous OMA (Outstanding Merchandising Achievement) contest, which has been going on for 50 years now. Needless to say, this is THE digital signage contest to enter, and I'm not just saying that because I'm chairing the committee ;) The award carries with it a lot of prestige, industry accolades, and is presented at a very impressive, Academy Awards-style gala.

Entries are due in tomorrow, Jan 18th, or if you don't mind paying a $50 late fee, Jan 25th.

Haven't started filling out your application form yet? Don't worry, this year we made it so simple (just a few bullet points - no more essays!), that you can get it done in well less than an hour.

To download a form or get more information, visit

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Combining digital signage with supermodels? Bravo!

Or more specifically, Bravo network, who's new show Make Me A Supermodel premiered on Jan 10, has been strutting images of the show's hosts across digital screens in window displays across Manhattan according to this article in Multichannel News. If you want to see it, though, you'd better make your way over to Rockefeller Center by tomorrow!
Make Me A Supermodel, which premieres Jan. 10 at 10 p.m. on Bravo, will go digital at the NBC Experience Store at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where the network has created a pair of high-tech digital displays. In one window, fans, via their mobile phones, will be able to dial a number and have one of the show’s 14 models --or at least a digital iteration thereof -- strut the catwalk. In the other, images of supermodels and show hosts Nike Taylor and Tyson Beckford replicate the actual motion of people moving in front of that window. The displays run through Jan. 16.
Normally I'd say something about what a great multichannel approach this is, but considering the name of the publication that's probably pretty obvious :)


Monday, January 14, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for January 14

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

  • ReportOnBusiness summary of the Wal-Mart Canada deployment - Over the holiday season, Wal-Mart Canada launched a series on its screens that showed an animated character named Lisa - the retailer's prototypical shopper - and her husband and three children. Over the next several months, Lisa will appear in similar segments depicting how she deals with family issues, such as preparing dinner after work. yeah, I know we've seen this before, but the article summary adds some pretty nice context.
  • BroadSign uses Arbitron's PPM technology to audit proof-of-play - According to Arbitron, the PPMs accurately detected the embedded code and the PPM's times of code detection precisely matched the media file play times as shown in the BroadSign proof of play reports. This high level of matching indicates that the programming loop and all its components played as scheduled during the test period.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

CES Booths: More victims of the TV-B-Gone

Way, way back in the heady days of 2004, I wrote a post about the TV-B-Gone, a tiny remote control that can turn off virtually any TV screen. The inventor, a bit of a prick who didn't like going to restaurants that had TVs, thought it was great that he could walk into a store, restaurant, pub, or wherever, whip out this little gizmo, and silence the screens. In fact, the front page of their websites advertises that it can be used at, "airports, bars, restaurants, laundromats, etc." Two years later, I wrote about "new media vandalism" when a couple of kids videotaped themselves shutting off bank after bank of TV at a local Best Buy.

While the TV-B-Gone scene remained quiet for a while, this year at CES the guys at Gizmodo, a gadget blog, decided to have some fun and turn off dozens, if not hundreds, of screens at the various booths that were using them (read: damned near all of them). Once again, they videoed their exploits. Admittedly, it was funny -- for an instant -- to see the confused expressions of people as whole walls went dark. But what wasn't funny was watching the hordes of exhibitor staff trying to figure out what had gone wrong, and then work to turn all of the screens back on.

As an innocent bystander, I was pretty angry with what was clearly an act of vandalism. If I were an exhibitor -- you know, somebody paying tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to showcase my brand -- I'd be furious. And it looks like I'm not the only one. Gizmodo's comment thread on the exploit voices more than a few complaints, and today, marketing guru Seth Godin decided that he needed to comment on the event as well.

At this point, is there any doubt that turning off screens in an out-of-home environment causes damage to the party that owns/rents that space? Do people really believe they have the right to do this? What separates it from or makes it better than any other form of vandalism?

[UPDATE] c|net reports that this prank got the responsible Gizmodo "reporter" banned from CES for life!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for January 9

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

WatchIt Technologies to launch Safety Product Line - WatchIt Technologies, Inc. announced that it has teamed with Child Watch Neighborhood and Global Sourcing & Innovations for the initial launch of the Child Watch Network and Child Watch Safety products during the Hong Kong Toys & Game Fair (a digital signage network for retailers)

Wireless Ronin gives NewSight a credit extension: Under the agreement, Wireless Ronin agreed to credit NewSight customer deposits aggregating $277,488 against the amount payable under the note, retroactive to its date of issuance. As a result of this credit, the current principal balance of the note is $2,339,979. The parties agreed that no further credit would be extended by Wireless Ronin to NewSight under the note. What happens to their stock on April 1 if/when NewSight fails to pay and they have to restate '07 earnings?

TouchTunes Tops Industry With Installation of Its 30,000th Digital Music System - TouchTunes Music Corporation is the largest out-of-home interactive entertainment network, providing innovative solutions to over 30,000 bars, restaurants, retailers and other businesses in North America - three times larger than the nearest competitor. TouchTunes introduced the world's first digital-downloading, pay-per-play commercial jukebox in 1998 and now operates the largest network of interactive entertainment systems, playing over 1.5 million songs per day. ok, so it's more of a kiosk network than a digital signage network. Still, 30,000 is a lot of screens!

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for January 8

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • MediaPost looks at some recent market statistics - eMarketer forecasts that out-of-home video advertising spending in the United States will total $2.3 billion in 2011, up from $1.3 billion in 2007 partially as a result of the falling costs of flat-panel LCDs, combined with the emergence of IP and wireless Internet technologies. We've seen this info before, but this article is a nice re-hash with some additional insights.
  • Arena Media Networks Announces Significant Minority Investment by Brooklyn NY Holdings - BNYH's investment provides AMN with the necessary capital to greatly expand its platform, including expansion of the AMN corporate team, as well as a widened national digital marketing network reaching new sports and entertainment venues. In addition, this working capital will allow AMN to provide new advanced digital marketing capabilities for its customers. I swear, companies like this seem to be coming out of the woodwork nowadays.
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Monday, January 07, 2008

AdAge gives digital out of home networks some love

Sure it's info we've heard before (albeit recently), but it's still pretty interesting that a publication that was lukewarm (at best!) towards our industry just two years ago is now at the point where a story about digital signage can merit the top spot on their daily "3 Minute Ad Age" video news program.

I'd embed the video except that they're pretty tight about use of their content, so here's the link instead:

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The morning press - digital signage news for January 7

Here are some of the more interesting bits and pieces I've seen around the 'net these last few days...
  • OneStop investors sell part of stake, but retain big plansMishorim Development Ltd. have sold 13.33% of OneStop Media Group for C$5 million, “reflecting a company value of C$37.5 million. Mishorim subsidiary Skyvision Telemedia Inc. sold 5% of Onestop for C$2.2 million, diluting its stake in the company from 42% to 37%.”
  • SAMSUNG Introduces 70" LCD For Digital Signage Applications - The SyncMaster 700DXn [is] designed for corporate and commercial digital signage applications. On account of its high-performance, coupled with its ease-of-use, the70-inch large format display was named a 2008 CES Innovations Honoree.
  • Westinghouse to release first-ever Digital Wireless HDMI HDTV - Westinghouse and Pulse-LINK today announced the world's first fully integrated wireless HDTV. The LCD TV features Pulse-LINK's CWave UWB Wireless HDMI technology, which wirelessly streams visually lossless video and audio content in real-time between sources and displays. I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as a REAL wireless HDMI spec, so don't expect to see a standard offering anytime soon.
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Thursday, January 03, 2008

NBC Universal to hold an "upfront" presentation for their digital signage networks

Rob Gorrie picked up this story before I did, and even after reading his take, I'm still stumped. According to AdAge, NBC Universal will be staging an upfront for their digital out-of-home media inventory. The article notes:
The media company is hoping to get more advertisers to consider NBC for placing ads on TV screens in supermarkets, near gas-station pumps, in taxi cabs and arenas, among other places. Set to be held in Studio 8H, the NBC presentation will address approximately 200 advertisers and media buyers.

NBC's out-of-home upfront, however, is seen as a testament to the growing interest advertisers have in reaching consumers more closely in places where they intend to make an actual purchase.

"The concept has been there for a while, and people are still trying to perfect it," said Steve Kalb, senior VP-director of broadcast at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mullen. "There's something intriguing" about reaching a consumer at the moment they are interested in buying products, and have money in hand to do so, he added. Ads that run on TVs in particular places could remind consumers about certain goods or even make offers relevant to their shopping experience. Mullen has talked to NBC about its digital out-of-home assets, he said, and "there is some interest [from clients]. We need to do a deeper dive and see how it fits into the plan."

3 billion impressions predicted

NBC has established partnerships that allow it to place its video content in more than 10 different kinds of venues, said Mark French, senior VP-general manager, NBC Everywhere, NBC Universal's digital out-of-home media unit. In 2008, he said, content on the screens -- and the ads that run adjacent to it -- should reach people more than 3 billion times. "There are very strategic, thinking agencies right now that are looking to do deals basically right after the event," Mr. French said.
Of course, media buyers are still asking for better measurement techniques, a more thorough understanding of the audience, and all of the other things we've come to expect from them, but the real questions are...

NBC: do you really think this is going to work? Are you so convinced that the writer's strike will continue that you can bank on advertisers' fears that there'll be no place to put their funds to use? Or do you really have that much confidence in the performance of their out-of-home networks that you believe you can actually demand a premium?

Advertisers: are you really going to go for this? An upfront seems to have no one's best interests in mind except NBC's. Granted you're more or less forced to abide by the networks' rules for TV, but c'mon, do you want to let them set the same precedent for new media as well?

Industry folk, don't get me wrong -- getting media buyers and planners interested in our sector is a good thing. But I have a bad feeling that supply-side economics will not work to our industry's favor in the long run, and this could be the event that starts us down that path.

[UPDATE 2008-01-13] In the interest of furthering this discussion, I wrote another article on WireSpring's weblog ("NBC's out-of-home upfront: Good or bad for digital signage?") and summarized many of the comments found here.

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Digital billboards display Iowa Caucus results

According to MediaWeek, digital billboards in Iowa owned by companies such as Clear Channel Outdoor and Lamar Advertising are going to be displaying results of 2008 presidential caucus taking place today. Apparently, the updates will be run in between regularly programmed advertising.

It's pretty neat to see digital signage being incorporated into what will could be a historic election (we might see our first woman or African-American president). The 2008 election is unique in that technology is playing a larger role than it ever has before. Look no further than CNN's "YouTube Debates", the way that candidates like Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee are realizing gimmicky viral videos, or how Ron Paul's volunteer base used the Internet to raise $10 million in two days of "money bombs."

Placing updates on billboards most likely won't take the place of watching the local news, nor is it likely to effect anything like CNN's coverage. Yet -- in an ideal world -- it could increase the level of involvement on the part Iowans. Imagine someone who didn't necessarily plan on voting stopped at a red light and reading with resentment (or hopefulness) that a key candidate is in the lead. Will they be moved to act? Who knows. But at least they will be more informed. The use of rapidly-updated signage makes it just a little harder for people to bury their heads in the sand.

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PRN Worldwide names new president

Just this morning Adrian at dailyDOOH suggested that, "a lot of 'heavy hitters (aka good people) will flock to the Digital Out of Home industry sector." Apparently listening to his prognostication and acting on immediately (so as to seem very savvy indeed), PRN just announced that they've selected a new president to head their worldwide operations. From this press release:
Thomson today announced that PRN, its retail out-of-home media group, has tapped Richard Fisher as President of Premier Retail Networks worldwide. Fisher will oversee all PRN activities and will lead the development and strategic growth of the company....

Fisher is well known in the media industry as the founder of ZDTV, now known as G4/TechTV, the 24-hour cable network devoted to computers and the Internet. Fisher also served as CEO of eMotion, the digital asset management software and service provider recently sold to Corbis. Previously, Fisher was President of RespondTV, an interactive television service provider, and held key positions with Chronicle Broadcasting and Home Box Office.
Making a tech guy the head honcho tells me that PRN could be shifting back towards its old business of managing the nuts-and-bolts of its client networks, whereas recently it looked like they were trying to get away from that business and more into content creation and ad sales (which, of course, they've also been doing for a long time). On the other hand, Fisher might just have some good ideas about higher-level system integration that will make his networks more palatable to media buyers and planners used to pushing a button and having content whiz to various endpoints for a known fee, and with an estimate-able return.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hughes to buy Helius for $10.5M, then maybe another $20M

Well, we're barely starting the new year and already we have the first signs of all this industry-wide consolidation that we've been hearing about. Bizjournals tells us that satellite provider Hughes has decided to buy Helius for $10.5M in cash, with the prospect of another $20M if the company meets various performance goals in the future.

Hughes and Helius have been close from the start, so I'm not too surprised by this notice. The real question in my mind is what this will do to the relationship between Hughes and various other digital signage software providers that have "partnered" with Hughes to provide multicast satellite support? I'd be pretty pissed if I had selected them as a premier partner (or whatever) and suddenly found myself competing against them. In fact, we've won a number of deals in the past for exactly that reason (though with different companies).

The deal is expected to close some time this quarter.

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The morning press - even more digital signage news!

Happy New Year, folks. Like lots of other people out there, I'm expecting 2008 to be a good growth year in the industry, though if you believe Frost and others, we're already past that period of giddy, hockey-stick growth (if it ever happened at all), and entering a period of respectable 20-ish percent annual growth that will eventually lead us to maturity some years ahead.

In preparation for the onslaught of press releases, etc. that this year is sure to bring, we're toying with adding a new type of article to the blog that just does a quick and dirty roundup of the day's "news". These will just be a series of headlines and short snippets from different articles and press releases that informed minds will want to be aware of, but don't merit the time and attention that go into our usual, pithy blog posts (or warrant more coverage, but at a later date). For example, this is what today's would look like:
  • Focus Media Completes Acquisition of CGEN: In accordance with the share purchase agreement entered into on December 10, 2007, Focus Media made a cash payment of US$168,437,500 to the CGEN shareholders and the CGEN shareholders delivered 100% of the equity interest in CGEN to Focus Media. With this acquisition, Focus Media has significantly expanded coverage of its digital advertising displays in large chain stores in China.

  • MediaTile expands its digital signage connectivity options: Connectivity options now available include the original cellular-broadband support and direct-connect LAN support, and new options for cellular-broadband to Wi-Fi support, satellite-IP support, and standard Wi-Fi support.

  • Prices of LCD panels to plummet In 2008: As Rodney Chan from DigiTimes informs us, the latest Chinese-only report from research company DisplaySearch indicates the fact that the production costs of LCD displays are expected to record a decrease of 10-16% in compound annual growth rate (CAGR) up to 2010.... The market research company makes quite a bold prediction: by the 4'th quarter of 2010, 32-inch HD LCD TVs will have seen average production costs lower to sub-US$400, 42-inch full HD models to sub-US$600, and 52-inch full HD ones to sub-US$1,000.

  • AirMedia installs digital frames at Beijing Capital International Airport: AirMedia upgraded 90 light box displays to 46-inch digital frames at Terminal 2 of Beijing Capital International Airport and has begun placing clients' advertisements on these frames since the beginning of December 2007. As of December 31, 2007, the Company had installed 328 46-inch digital frames and 120 70-inch digital frames at Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International Airport. The new digital frames at Terminal 3 will begin displaying paid advertisements when Terminal 3 is open for testing at the end of February 2008.

  • Reactrix aligns with Samsung to for interactive advertising platform at CES: Reactrix today announced it has joined with Samsung to launch an interactive large-format advertising platform — WAVEscape™, which will be featured in Samsung’s booth during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 7-10.

  • Ariel Way, Inc. signs LOI to acquire minority position in FaceTime Strategy, LLC: Ariel Way, Inc. announced its plans to acquire 10 percent of FaceTime Strategy, a full-service new media agency. The letter of intent stipulates the company's interest in investing in the firm that specializes in advertising, marketing and public relations campaigns via the Internet, broadcast, print and other mediums.
What do you think, is this at all useful? I don't want to add noise to this blog, but it seems like a concise collection of the day's industry press might be valuable to those who don't have a bazillion google filters and custom web crawlers out there searching for newsworthy (or at least marginally relevant) clips.