Monday, March 31, 2008

Implementing new technology can make compliant companies non-compliant

Storefront Backtalk has a nice article by David Taylor of which, while focusing on the technology of computer virtualization, is equally applicable to folks installing remotely managed digital signage systems in places where credit card transactions are processed (think retail stores, gas stations, travel hubs, hotels, and basically anywhere else).

The crux of the story revolves around PCI compliance -- the relatively new set of rules and regulations that Visa and others are requiring before they'll accept credit card transactions from a given merchant. Most of the rules have to do with data security and the handling of non-public personal information (NPPI), the storage of said data, and who inside of your organization should be allowed to access it. Companies spend thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars making sure that their computers, networks, software and systems meet the spec (to avoid costly fines and processing delays), but now they're facing an even bigger challenge: making sure that new tech investments don't take them back out of compliance.

While I can only think of two cases in recent memory where my company had to demonstrate PCI compliance to retail IT folk who would have otherwise prevented the deployment of digital signs -- which don't have anything to do with payment processing, of course -- I can only expect that this kind of behavior will become more common, especially if Visa continues to bear down on their merchants or some new legislation to penalize data security breaches ever comes to light. While getting into (and staying in) compliance is an added cost for tech vendors to manage, insecure devices inside networks that handle NPPI may be a favorite vector for data thieves today (some believe an insecure kiosk may helped the perpetrators in the TJX break-in), so a few extra precautions are probably worth it.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clear Channel electronic billboards get hacked UPDATE: no they didn't, maybe

According to Engadget, via, an 18 year old grafitti artist known as Skullphone has hacked about 10 digital billboards in Southern California to insert his artwork into the screens' ad loops.

Clear Channel's definitely going to need to learn about security -- quick -- if they plan on (a) making a serious attempt in this market and (b) not getting fined (or worse) the first time somebody decides to be a bit less innocuous and delete the firm's entire playlist in favor of some select clips from a favored porn site.

[UPDATE]: According to new "news" (I have to put it in quotes when the source is a semi-anonymous tip to a gadget blog), there was no hacking and in fact "Skullphone" paid Clear Channel for the placements as a one-day promotion of... something. That, and there are unicorns living on the moon, Elvis was seen driving on I-40 with Jimmy Hoffa, and Chuck Norris's tears do in fact cure cancer. Ok, I can't confirm that last part, however I do know that if I were Clear Channel and my massively expensive digital screens were hacked, I might well be inclined to lie about it. I'm not saying that they did -- it's admittedly more likely that somebody paid them to do this -- but if they were hacked... well... I'll just leave it at that.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wendy's putting digital ads in bars

Wendy's and agency MediaVest New York have decided to promote the QSR's goods via a digital out-of-home campaign on 5,100 Ecast digital juke box screens in bars and restaurants. In a sudden outbreak of common sense, they apparently realized that they could target only those locations located within one mile of a Wendy's, in an attempt to encourage late-night revelers to take a short walk and get a cheap meal or snack, according to AdAge.

The Ecast units will feature content that straddles the line between kiosk and digital signage. While browsing for music to play, users may run into an unobtrusive banner-style ad, which, when touched, can expand into a full-blown interactive micro-site.

While the concept is pretty exciting, Wendy's spokesperson Bob Bertini said this type of campaign is "very
new" for the company and noted that despite this being the second campaign they've run with Ecast (the first was in January
for a special "99-cent Stack Attack" promotion), that it's still too early
to quantify return on investment. Of course, with a $435M digital ad budget to spend and a mandate from the higher-ups to do anything and everything to win over the coveted 18-34 year old demo, I'd be surprised if they didn't try any more of these hyperlocal campaigns out this year.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Media buyers: does digital signage get unified or bundled?

AdAge has an interesting interview online with Chris Geraci, who was recently installed as the new National TV buying director at Omnicom Group's OMD (they work for PepsiCo, Apple and other glitzy advertisers). Here's the most interesting back-and-forth of the interview:
MediaWorks: Thanks to viewing online and watching shows on mobile devices, buying TV ad time has changed. How prepared is your group to start putting together multimedia ad packages that include TV ad time and other marketing ideas?

Mr. Geraci: We've been doing that for years, and I think we're pretty darn good at it. ... We haven't forced our digital expertise, if you will, into the upfront marketplace or digital buyers or digital clients into a TV scenario. Certainly there are places where the combined leverage makes sense. We do a lot of business with certain media owners both online and offline, and those are the places where we will begin the negotiation together. MTV Networks is an example where we've had a fair amount of press.
So if I'm reading that right, it sounds to me like the ability to package together different media is more important/useful/valuable than being able to sell them on the same scale. This is one of those things that we talk about quite a bit in the digital signage community -- on the one side are those who feel that unless and until digital signage space can be sold in a similar (or identical) fashion to television, we're not going to get any buy-in from media planners. On the other side are people who feel that it's a different medium from TV, and needs to be sold as such.

I'm with the latter group, in case you're wondering, but given that I have nothing to do with advertising and media buying/planning, I tend to just sit here in the ivory tower and watch as the other guys slug it out :)

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

And the winners are...

POPAI Digital announced the big winners of the second annual Digital Signage Awards contest last night in a star-studded gala event. We had a great pool of entries this year, many of which were significantly better than some of the best spots from last year. In addition to the gold, silver and bronze medalists listed below, this year we also awarded two special prizes, for Digital Signage Network of the Year, and Digital Signage Content of the year. The lucky winners were: PRN and Wal-Mart for the Content award for their spot for introducing Oreo's new Cakesters product, and MTi and Verizon Wireless for the Network award, for their interactive display wall network. Here's the complete list of winners, including those for POPAI's OMA awards (for static POP). Warning: it's a PDF link.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated this year. I'm going to see about posting some of the winning videos and images so you can judge for yourself whether or not it's the best in the industry. Don't agree with our choices? Then show us what you're made of, and make sure to enter in next year's contest!

  • Content
    • Silver - USPS/Post Office of the Future by Draft FCB for the U.S. Postal Service
  • Network
    • Gold - Bloomberg by Scala Broadcast Multimedia for Bloomberg
    • Silver - Reuters InfoPoint by Wireless Ronin Technologies for Reuters
    • Bronze - Digital Signage Network for SAIT Polytechnic by Omnivex Corporation
Health Care
  • Network
    • Bronze - Fraser Health Network by Omnivex for Fraser Health
  • Content
    • Silver - Mike's Hard Lemonade Spot by Artisan Complete for Mark Anthony Brands
  • Network
    • Silver -Yum! Brands/KFC Digital Menu Boards by Wireless Ronin Technologies for Yum! Brands
    • Bronze - Krystal by Scala Broadcast Multimedia for The Krystal Company
  • Content
    • Gold - Oreo Cakesters spot by PRN for Kraft Foods, Inc.
    • Silver - Radeberger Gruppe KG / Jever Familia Markt by SEEN MEDIA GMBH & CO KG for Radeberger Gruppe KG
    • Bronze - Holiday Photo Card spot by PRN for Wal-Mart
    • Bronze - PNC Bank - No ATM Fees spot by John Ryan for PNC Bank
  • Network
    • Gold - Verizon Wireless "Interactive PDA Wall" by MTI, Inc. for Verizon Wireless
    • Silver - PNC Bank - Digital Signage Rollout by John Ryan for PNC Bank
    • Bronze - Harley-Davidson In-Store Branded Media Program by Nanonation for Harley-Davidson
  • Network
    • Silver - Lamar digital billboard network by Scala Broadcast Multimedia for Lamar Digital

The morning press - digital signage news for March 20

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • CBS TV Unveils Local Ad Net - Not digital signage related per se, but something you might want to know about: CBS announced the launch of the CBS Local Ad Network, a first-of-its-kind Web network created by syndicating CBS local news content to local bloggers and social media Web sites. In exchange for publishing the CBS news widgets and links to local CBS video and text news, local sites receive a portion of the ad revenue sold by the CBS stations.
  • Scion Reaches Out With Street Displays - Pedestrians in New York and Chicago might be startled when passing storefront windows displaying Scion digital billboards: As they approach, the cars on screen will move farther away from them. Attik created the month-long campaign with technology company InWindow Outdoor, which helped implement the interactive displays. The screens will be located in Chicago near Millennium Park and in New York next to Bryant Park.
  • Digital View Launches New e-Paper Technology - ActivPrint uses programmable e-paper technology and animation combined with the latest design techniques to bring advertising materials to life. ActivPrint can be created in any shape, and with up to ten animation steps -- delivering a high-resolution, flexible, and cost-effective advertising display. It also can operate for up to one year on two AA batteries.
  • National Cinemedia to test Audiencegames - Brand Experience Lab’s AudienceGame is a kind of "advergame" which is played by theater audiences moving together to act as a 'virtual joystick' to control the gaming elements on the big screen.
  • Cruise Ships Sell On-Deck Jumbotron Ads - Brand Connections has teamed with Carnival to broadcast ads on the cruise line’s On-Deck Jumbotrons. Each advertiser’s pitch will air at least once per hour from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and ads are mixed in with content such as sporting events, movies and announcements regarding the day’s activities and scheduled port stops.
  • Outdoor Up 7% in 2007 - Outdoor or out-of-home advertising continued to outpace most all other media, growing 7 percent to $7.3 billion in 2007, according to figures released Tuesday by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.
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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

So what's going on with Focus Media?

I'm definitely not any kind of financial expert, so can someone please explain what's going on with Focus Media's stock price? I know the US (and world) markets have had a bad week, but I don't understand how a company that had $390M in revenue last year, gross profits of $130.5M (which makes for a staggering 33% operating margin), average quarterly revenue growth of nearly 150% and 2007 growth in excess of 170% got so hammered down these last few days?

Granted they still have a market capitalization north of $4 billion, and their trailing P/E, at 29.77, is higher than the S&P average, for example, but we're talking about a five year-old company that has only been trading for 2 1/2, has been consistently profitable and has posted triple-digit growth rates the past three years. Oh, and they just bought their biggest competitor this January.

So it seemed like everything wass coming up roses for Focus, and then all of the sudden -- WHAM! In the course of about two days, their stock lost 25% of its value. The biggest negative that I can find -- and this is digging fairly deep -- is that there have been allegations that the company's mobile unit has been sending wireless spam messages, which is a big no-no in Communist China. Forget for a second that the mobile unit only accounts for a small percentage of revenue (though it could be a big growth area), and that nobody has actually come out and said that yes, this is what's happening.

I know traders are especially skittish right now, but there really seems to be a lack of understanding of the massive size, reach and importance of the global advertising market, and especially the the true value of the real estate that Focus has secured with their 100,000+ screens, digital billboards, and numerous other messaging devices. Between the 2008 Olympics and China's shift toward a consumptive economy, it seems like they have plenty of short- and long-term growth prospects that would justify a far higher P/E.

And before you ask, no, I don't own any FMCN stock. But at around 30 bucks a share, I might have to start buying :) Unless there's something really obvious and important that I'm missing (which is entirely possible). If that's the case, I'd love to know about it.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Retail experts ponder digital media for in-store experience

Today AdAge had a conference in New York titled "Retail in Detail: Where the Digital World Meets the Physical World." Focusing on the use of digital media to bridge the gap between current-day bricks-and-mortar retailing and the Internet, provide new messaging outlets, and improve the customer experience (you know, stuff we've been talking about here for years now), they invited several retailers and marketing experts to talk about their understanding of the present state-of-the-art, as well as their vision for the future. I particularly liked Trevor Kaufman's (CEO of WPP's Schematic) take on the direction "digital media" is taking:

"We're very focused on the three categories of media: proprietary media, things they own like website customer lists; earned media, things in market where people are talking and acting as influencers, like blogs and message boards; and paid media. ... But the metrics are difficult and internal structure of client and agency haven't lent themselves to that...."

...Which pretty much sums up the opportunity and one of the primary challenges that many of us see today. On the subject of measurement, Jerry Courtney, Group Manager of Corporate Multimedia at Target, reiterated the challenge of getting some use out of the myriad of metrics available to us now. He noted that, "Technology enables you to measure so much that you need to start personalizing your ROI. It's hard to say, 'That was good, but was it better than X?'"

It kind of gets back to my point from a few weeks ago that measurement is simply a means, not the end, and unless you can quantify the value of the measurement information itself, it's almost not worth doing any kind of measuring at all.

Still, the level at which many retailers are beginning to embrace digital media is a bit parochial. I've seen more and more companies start up legitimate and budgeted digital signage pilots or projects, but few are attempting anything beyond the current humdrum "hang a screen and sling some content onto it" procedure common throughout the industry.

Granted, enough folks still seem to have a problem with that, so maybe I should bite my tongue and wait for the current generation of problems to get solved before wishing for a whole new set :)

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The morning press - digital signage news for March 19

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • PumpTop TV Arrives in Arizona - PumpTop TV is now live at the first of at least 60 gas stations in the greater Phoenix area, according to AdtekMedia, Inc., owner/operator of the network. The first PumpTop TV installation was completed this week and is now up and running at a Shell station in Mesa.
  • Digital signage service: Agora signs deal with US tech firm Casada - Agora, Bangladesh's main and largest chain supermarkets signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Casada Technology Bangladesh Ltd, a USA and Taiwan-based technology company, for digital signage. Under the deal, Casada will set up display system at Agora to show product information as well as updated news and promotions on it.
  • TruMedia Introduces iCapture Mini - iCapture Mini captures audience faces via a small-form-factor, wide dynamic range (WDR) camera that is able to overcome harsh illumination conditions such as strong backlight. Up to two iCapture Mini cameras can be connected to one iCapture SmartBox.
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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, March 14, 2008

Zoom Media acquires Insite Advertising

Just a few months ago we watched as Zoom Media -- a company with over 19,000 (static) billboards in 3,500 locations -- took its first tentative steps into the digital signage world with a project to outfit 50 bars and nightclubs with digital signs. Apparently, they've decided they like the industry, as they've expanded that pilot to over 300 digitally-enabled sites right now, and show few signs of stopping.

But what's a measly 300 sites compared to their latest announcement: they'll be acquiring rival Insite Advertising, a company whose (again, static) network spans over 20,000 billboards in 4,000 venues. This roughly doubles Zoom's size and footprint while taking a chief competitor out of the running. David Yacullo, President of Outdoor Media Group (a media buyer) noted that, "the consolidation will benefit the industry, since place-based out-of-home advertising has been a fragmented market with too many networks. "This will make it easier to plan and buy advertising space, and shore up a confused marketplace," he said in an Advertising Age article on the merger.

We spend a lot of time focusing on digital, but in fact we're just mimicking the much larger OOH advertising industry with our large number of small, fragmented players trying to get things done. As much as the digital signage market is ripe with merger/acquisition possibilities (and rumors), that's even more true for our traditional OOH brethren, many of whom have built up strong businesses in particular vertical, niche or local/regional markets, and are looking for ways to grow as advertisers start to spend more money below-the-line.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for March 13

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • Matrox expands digital signage system - Matrox's Veos is capable of carrying multiple channels of content along a single copper-based cable with more than 100m of extension per component across an unlimited number of iterations, with now (sic) image degradation. I'm terrified to even ask how much this stuff costs. Sounds pretty cool, though.
  • Reactrix partners with National CineMedia - The deal makes Reactrix the exclusive provider of gesture-based interactive media and technology for NCM's movie theatre lobby advertising initiatives. The new relationship provides for a pilot program and deployment of Reactrix' interactive floor and flat panel advertising technology in select National CineMedia affiliated theater lobbies across the country.
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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

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

GSTV brings social media to the pump

AdAge picked this up, and it's pretty cool:
Gas Station TV will start a nationwide search April 1 to find the "face" of its GSTV Network. Contenders can upload 30-second videos of themselves directly to an area on (or to a social-media platform of their choosing) from April 1 through May 4. The Detroit-area company will promote the talent search on MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and other sites, as well as on its 5,000 TV screens that sit atop gas pumps in a dozen top markets that reach more than 30 million viewers monthly.
Apparently after that, the company will select the hottest, most fabulous, fresh individual (their words, not mine, I swear) to film a series of segments that will run on the pump-top network in the coming months. That's in addition to a $2,500 stipend and series of all-expenses-paid trips to fabulous... Detroit.

While pump-top networks have their fair share of fans and detractors (my blog articles about them always pick up a good number of negative comments), I have to give GSTV some credit for trying to adapt to the consumptive behaviors of "kids these days." While there has been plenty of talk about bringing social media to digital signs, this is the first time I've seen it attempted in a non-social venue (most of the other projects we've worked on/observed have been in bars, restaurants and nightclubs).

Will it work? I have no idea. But it's a pretty creative attempt to try and add some relevancy to the network.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The 4As say: Content is the only thing that matters in a fragmented landscape

Drat, I see Dave Haynes has already posted some of this story. Oh well, there's more to tell...

The annual 4A's Media Conference show, held just up the road in Orlando this week, spent a lot of time thinking about the implications of going digital. Not just digital as in signage (since, whilst a huge part of my world, is still only a tiny blip on the advertising industry's radar), but digital as in mobile, tracking, and even the Internet (which has had something of a renaissance thanks to the rise of Internet TV/video). AdAge has some good write-ups of the more salient moments, so I'll work from those.

First on my list is the latest twist on the "content is king" cliche brought to us by Disney-ABC's Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television Group. Noting that, "the one constant, the one thing that never changes is the demand and the need for great content," Sweeney offers three rules for driving a successful content strategy into the digital world (via AdAge):
  1. Consumers come first. Marketers have to pay attention to what consumers want from their online experiences and what they are doing when they get there, so they can make advertising more relevant.

  2. "Ad formats matter," Ms. Sweeney said, noting that trivia questions and multiple-choice ads frequently are more successful than repurposed TV commercials. With consumers bombarded by thousands of messages each day, creativity is critical, Ms. Sweeney said. "We need to be more creative than ever to break though and stand out."

  3. Marketers, agencies and media companies must be committed to change. "We can't rely on old models or follow old rules," she said. "The choice in the digital age isn't whether to adapt, it's whether to evolve or perish."
Not only is content the most important part of any individual medium, since it contains the message, but it's the only consistently important thing across all media. More people in the digital signage industry need to really pay attention to this, as I still frequently see networks running below-average content on an infrequently updated loop. That doesn't help anybody, folks.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for March 6

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • Six Flags to use digital signs to ease customer wait time - At Six Flags parks next summer a 45-foot plasma screen featuring clips from feature films and video games will help pass the time. The marquees will also offer alerts about text messaging chances to win season passes, free rides, front-of-the-line access and other prizes, and the screen displays will enable Six Flags sponsors to parse their messages demographically.
  • Ariel Way to buy Mason Media Networks - Ariel Way Inc. continues to buy companies even though it continues to struggle to generate revenue. The Vienna-based telecommunications company said Tuesday it agreed to buy the digital sign company Mason Media Networks LLC.
  • :30 Spots Extend Reach to NYC Bus Stops - Select NYC bus shelters will feature :30 spots on a continuous loop, accompanied by fixed signage at the shelters. Advertisers can display their spots on 40” x 23” video screens and complement the spot with a nearby 48” x 24” static ad, according to Media life Magazine. Bluetooth capability allows consumers to use hand-held devices to opt-in for additional video content. There currently 10 NY bus shelters using the technology, with additional screens rolling out pending city approval.
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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

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

LA Times tries out 8-second spots on roadside billboards

These are heady days indeed for the digital billboard market. Even AdAge is jumping in with some news to report:
Los Angelenos plagued by traffic delays or seeking a productive roadside distraction will be able to catch exclusive news via 10 digital billboards placed across the city by Clear Channel Outdoor. The Los Angeles Times is the first newspaper to use the company's digital billboards and web-based interface for news alerts and branding.
The editorial content will be comprised of mostly regional sports, politics and entertainment stories, as well as promotions for local events the paper hosts annually, like next month's Festival of Books. "You're not likely to see a story about some breaking news that happened in Iraq. We're definitely focused more on signature pieces, content elements, blogs, columnists, stories, products and events that are unique to us," Mr. O'Laughlin said.
An eight-second spot will be displayed on the 10 boards [in the L.A. area] 70,910 times per week, reaching a combined total of 455,300 people per day, according to audited Daily Effective Circulation estimates. Mr. O'Laughlin said the company will be working with Clear Channel over the next 10 weeks to evaluate results and determine return on investment, before tweaking the boards at the end of May to update them for the Olympics and, later, the elections in the fall.
We've seen lots of reports about using the digital signs to display Amber Alerts and accident-related news, but this is the first time I think I've seen the screens used to display editorial content, even if it is a not-too-subtle attempt by the LA Times to re-state their relevancy in an age when print newspaper readership is in a death spiral. It's certainly an interesting idea, and if the results prove favorable, I expect to see lots of regional players adopt a similar plan.

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Digital billboards get 2 thumbs up

On the heels of the Inc. article we mentioned yesterday comes some good news (for OOH advertisers, anyway) about the effectiveness of electronic billboards: they work, well. To begin with, MediaPost tells us that Arbitron just released the results of a study which concluded that:
  • 80% of travelers said they think the billboards provide an important community service (such as Amber Alerts)
  • 83% of viewers saying they recalled at least one out of nine advertisements in the test group
  • 65% saying they recalled two
  • 20% said they were motivated to visit a featured store after seeing an ad on a digital billboard
  • 15% said they would visit a featured restaurant
  • Roughly 90% of motorists said they paid attention to digital billboard ads at least some of the time (I'd like to think they were paying attention to the road the rest of the time, but they were probably talking on the phone, sending txt messages, ironing, etc.)
Additionally, another Arbitron study found that digital billboards actually benefit other media too, in one of those rare 1+1=3 situations. Specifically, "thirty-five percent of respondents were
reminded of a local radio station, and 28% noted a TV show to watch
because of digital billboard ads."

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Inc. surveys the electronic billboard landscape

The March issue of Inc. Magazine is running an article about the rise of roadside electronic billboards (word of caution: they quoted me in it, so you know it can't be completely unbiased ;) . There's not a whole lot that will be new to followers of the industry, but it makes a pretty compelling story to those who might be unfamiliar with some of the benefits that digital signage can bring to the out-of-home advertising world. For example, for advertisers:
They are bright and eye-catching and can convey multiple marketing messages at once. Marketers can arrange to have computerized ads change with much greater frequency than typical outdoor ads, timing their message to the season, the day of the week, and even the time of day. For instance, Edina Realty used its billboards to promote a number of time-sensitive sales and special offers. Through trial and error, Edina found that people were more responsive to ads for lakefront cabins toward the end of the workweek. And as the housing market headed south, Edina moved to bolster homebuyers' confidence by celebrating the number of homes sold locally in a given month. In all, the brokerage updated its billboard messages 31 times over the course of the year.
And of course, for network owners:
Magic Media, a Bangor, Pennsylvania, company that owns more than 10,000 billboards around the country, says its 20 digital signs alone contribute 10 percent of its $30 million in annual revenue. Each digital sign produces $14,000 a month in revenue, typically from multiple advertisers, compared with $1,000 to $2,000 for traditional billboards, which serve only one advertiser. "My view is that over time all signs, all billboards, will go digital," says Magic Media CEO Jimmy McAndrew.
Jimmy is perhaps the most evangelical person I've come across when talking about electronic billboards, though if they're helping him rake in hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in revenue each year, I can understand why. Still, the idea that maybe all billboards will someday be digital seems hard to comprehend.

But in a couple of decades, maybe it'll be hard for that generation to comprehend how there were once signs that didn't move.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

The morning press - digital signage news for March 3

Here are some of today's interesting clips from the web:
  • Fuelcast Upgrades To Spacenet’s SkyEdge - Spacenet has provided Fuelcast with enterprise-grade Connexstar satellite network services for the past few years and is now upgrading its satellite network to Spacenet’s SkyEdge VSAT system for faster speeds and improved functionality.
  • Lamar Buys Vista, Outdoor Poised for Shakeout - Altogether, the acquisition will bring 10,600 installations into Lamar's network, adding to its current total of approximately 150,000 billboards in 44 states. Most are billboards and poster spots in New York and Los Angeles.
  • Convenience Stores Gets Digital Network - The new Transworld network straddles several high-growth categories, including digital out-of-home and in-store media, both which have proliferated in recent years, including networks targeting convenience store-type retail. Some 100 stores in the Dallas area have already had the equipment installed by Real Digital Media, which created the technology. The rest slated to receive the digital displays on an aggressive schedule over 2008.
  • Fort Lauderdale airport gets high-tech ads - Clear Channel Outdoor's Interspace Airports division will provide new high-tech advertising display signage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the company said.
  • CBS Outernet Partners With Lifeclinic International - Lifeclinic is introducing digitally connected "health stations" to selected pharmacies nationwide, providing customers with a wide range of routine tests (such as blood pressure, cholesterol, pulse and weight measurements), centralized Web-enabled storage of test results, educational content and online disease management programs.
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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

Adweek: GameStop TV boosts sales 19-36%

GameStop TV, while not technically falling under POPAI's definition of digital signage (though that didn't stopping them from taking home the gold medal at the Digital Signage Awards last year), is apparently showing some seriously good performance characteristics, at least if this article by AdWeek is anything to go on. The article notes that:
The [in-store TV] strategy appears to be working. Last week Nielsen Media Research released a study showing that the titles advertised on GameStop TV showed an increase in sales of between 19 and 36 percent. Products mentioned during the broadcast, but not in specific ads, also got a boost, although it was not as significant. On average, the unadvertised products saw a sales spike of 20 percent.

Several different game genres, including sports, action and first-person shooters, were studied. Each showed similar increases in sales. In addition, the amount of time people spent in the store grew by about 50 percent. (Nielsen Media Research, like Adweek, is part of the Nielsen Co.)
I'm not sure that you'll find many retailers or product manufacturers who feel that a "mere" 20% sales spike is insignificant, but if these numbers are to be believed and products featured on the programming routinely do see lifts of 30% or more, GameStop (and Channel M, the company that makes their content) may be running the most successful in-store TV network that I've heard about.

Nielsen Media Research is known for being pretty thorough and regimented, so I'm going to assume that their lift numbers are properly controlled-for and exclude things like newly-launched products that are often accompanied by massive multichannel campaigns and are notoriously difficult to account for.
If that's the case, we all need to run around shouting these results at the tops of our lungs. For now though, I'm going to keep the irrational exuberance to a minimum and see if I can find some more data on this.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

New tech gives newspaper advertisers access to sub-zipcode granularity

Newspapers have always touted their geographic reach as a prime benefit to advertisers. After all, readers of New York's Daily News, for example, are likely to actually live somewhere around New York, so advertisers with local products and services could count on them to provide blanket coverage to virtually everyone in the area, and few others. However, as these local papers have gotten bigger, ads have gotten more expensive, to the point where local advertisers find themselves wondering if there are lower-cost and more efficient ways of reaching even more local audiences -- those most likely to buy from them.

Up until now, local advertisers would have had to purchase ads from smaller papers or resort to purely out-of-home stuff to reach hyperlocal markets, but according to Advertising Age:
"Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned Newspaper Services of America has
developed an analytical tool to help clients -- which include Home
Depot, Sears, CVS and Bridgestone -- target consumers through a
narrower geographic lens than has been previously available.

"The tool lets big advertisers who formerly leaned on major newspapers
to blanket a metropolitan area focus more accurately on individual
neighborhoods in an attempt to zone in on the areas where its
most-desired customers reside through a combination of newspaper zoned
editions, preprint inserts, direct mail, shoppers and other
publications, NSA Media Chief Development Officer Craig Desens said in
an interview."
While the tool is primary designed to make advertising via newspaper more efficient and locally-targeted (and hence making it more competitive with alternative and OOH media), given the cumulative effect that targeted local advertising has, in reality an improvement to local print ads will likely improve the performance of related local ads in out-of-home environments, via mobile, and even on the Internet.

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