Thursday, January 29, 2009

A little more morning news for you...

No sooner had I popped up the last post than I noticed a few missing entries:

  • POPAI's Digital Signage Contest entries are due tomorrow! This is the last extension, so after tomorrow you'll just have to wait till next year.  The app only takes a few minutes to fill out, so don't let that stop you.  And remember, if you or one of your vendors is a POPAI member, you can enter for a very reduced rate.
  • Thomson still looking to divest PRN - The unit (best known for running Walmart's in-store TV network for... forever, basically) is probably one of the healthier and more growth-prone in the conglomerate's control, so it will be a painful divestiture, but one needed to meet certain requirements of French law.
  • Outcast brings pump-top signage to New York - I've yet to hear any consumers say anything positive about pump-top digital signage (no offense intended to Outcast or any other network provider), but they seem to be growing, so perhaps we only hear from the complaint-prone :)
  • Transit TV tapped to sell... books? Doesn't seem like it makes sense at first glance, but the article notes that with the introduction of "book trailers", publishers have noticed a difference, and passengers (who apparently tend to be open to reading) have high recall of the spots.

The morning press - digital signage news for January 29

Here are some of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

  • Out-of-home can create deep connections - Mat Zucker from takes a look at some of the interesting digital out-of-home projects going on, and what they mean for marketers, agencies and brands.

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Articles I'm not going to get around to writing about

Every few weeks I find that my browser is cluttered up with so many tabs of articles that I hoped to write about, but never got around to.  Here are a few of the most recent, all of which deserved some attention, and are very much well worth a quick read:

10 Irrational Human Behaviors and How to Leverage Them to Improve Web Marketing - There are plenty of parallels to marketing on digital signs and other in-store media.

The Art of the Billboard, Due for a Comeback - "Modern billboards continue to stretch the envelope in innovative ways, using physical space and perspective to intrigue and inspire."

IAA Finds Advertisers Wary of Google - Advertisers are wary of google. Web site owners are wary of google. Consumers are wary of google. The government is wary of google. Tell me... is there anybody who isn't wary of google anymore? Should that maybe tell us something?

Boon for Billboards: Digital Leads Growth for Out-of-Home Ads - Ad Age says "advertisers are able to cut costs by repurposing their 30-second TV spots in new and different ways on screens in taxis, malls, gas stations and other venues. " No No No No No NO! Bad Ad Age!

Brands can benefit from the 'certainty principle' - I think I still will write about this one at Retail Media News - "when properly measured, the 'category ideal' and how brands measure up against it can be predictive of consumer behaviour some 9 to 18 months before it shows up in the marketplace."

Bad Times Affect Ad Recall for Bowl Spots - Stress makes us remember less, which is becoming a big problem for advertisers. Retail media has the benefit of recency and context specificity, but we're still not immune.

Google Halts Print Ads Program - Not everything they touch turns to gold.

Miller Mocks A-B With One-Second Ads - Thought we had it tough coming up with 3-7 second spots for retail TV networks? Miller's gonna do it in 1!

Great Ideas Come From Those Who Are Willing to Experiment - Stop Mining the Past for Inspiration.

Does Content Equal Revenue? - While "Content is King!" has become the general consensus, monetizing that content has become the question for the masses of content producers.

Winning in a Brave New World: Value and the Retailer - With shoppers spending less overall, shopping in new channels, trading down to lower-tier or private-label products, and clipping coupons, retailers across the board are positioning themselves as destinations for value.

I hope these articles proved as interesting to you as they did me. If you have any insightful commentary on them (since I didn't), feel free to leave your thoughts below. Or, blog about them yourself and send me the link!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The morning press - digital signage news for January 27

Here are some of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

  • Personalized Ads Attract Big Spenders, Frequent Shoppers, according to ChoiceStream. Now, they were studying online advertising, and not our out-of-home stuff, but from a psychological perspective one would imagine similar results in our medium. Unfortunately, advertising special offers -- particularly those adjusting the price or any kind of financing options -- and not allowing any visitor to take advantage of them is illegal in the US.
  • is playing with Digital OOH, starting with a :30 spot as well as a custom :120 spot to run on three IdeaCast platforms: Airline TV, Health Club TV and Six Flags TV. Their goal will be to reach their core audience of travelers, "at key aperture moments when a travel message is much more relevant." I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds neat.
  • Retailer Daily has a nice summary piece titled "In-Store Video Networks Catch Shoppers at Crucial Moment" up on their site. There isn't a lot of new news for those of you already following the industry. But for the few retail execs that somehow haven't yet heard about digital signage, it's a good look at why our medium is becoming so important.
  • Nielsen Suspends PRISM Data System, which is a bit of a let down after all of the hype and buzz that the in-store media measurement program had generated over the past few years. I'm going to be looking at this in a bit more detail (as well as the Schering-Plough thing above) a little later at the WireSpring Digital Signage Blog.
  • SeeSaw Adds Eight Network Affiliates, bringing their total to a lot. The new networks add inventory across 700 new venues and 3.5 million weekly impressions to SeeSaw's growing portfolio of digital out-of-home inventory. Combined, SeeSaw's convenience network delivers 10 million weekly impressions across more than 2,500 locations.

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

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nielsen suspends the P.R.I.S.M project

Just got this notice in an email:

The Nielsen Company confirmed today that it has suspended plans to launch a syndicated data service based on the P.R.I.S.M. initiative.

"Given the nation's serious economic state, Nielsen and its clients have decided [that] this is not the right environment to launch a national syndicated service," according to an official statement released on Friday. "As a result, Nielsen is suspending [the] service indefinitely."

Nielsen's statement asserts that the industry "as a whole is very supportive of a syndicated service" that would provide metrics for measuring consumer reach within the store, but that "many clients ... are not in a position to fully fund" the project in the current economic environment. The company said that it will offer custom work for interested clients "until a syndicated service is financially viable" for enough of them in the future.

The P.R.I.S.M. initiative was originally launched in 2006 by a consortium of consumer product manufacturers and supporting retailers spearheaded by the In-Store Marketing Institute. The goal was to establish a valid metric for estimating shopper traffic by using a store's sales data and other obtainable pieces of information.

In December 2006, the consortium selected Nielsen to commercialize the project and develop a nationally syndicated system that would provide the industry with data on the audience for in-store marketing activity. Nielsen launched a new business unit, called Nielsen In-Store, and set out to create a service that not only would provide audience measurements, but also would gauge marketing effectiveness by auditing the presence of in-store marketing materials. The company's original timetable called for the syndicated service to be launched by the end of 2007.

Last month, Nielsen announced that Walmart -- which had supported the P.R.I.S.M. initiative from the outset -- had decided not to participate in the data syndication service.

"It's really a shame," said Peter Hoyt, Executive Director of the In-Store Marketing Institute. "We all has such high hopes for this. There were some incredible findings though, and I imagine that sooner or later someone else will appear who can build on the bones of this failed effort."

Whether or not Walmart's exit was the cause of the project's failure, or just a sign that it was already headed downhill is something I don't know yet, but it can't be a good thing when one of your original backers -- and an early proponent of the program -- leaves right before you're about to take it public.

With Nielsen out of the game for the time being, one wonders whether POPAI will attempt to step up their own MARI program, or if, like Nielsen, they'll sit on the sidelines until the economy improves and more retailers and CPG manufacturers decide to open their wallets again.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcoming Experiate to the blog party!

Paul Flanigan, who runs the in-store network at Best Buy recently let me know that he's starting up a new blog dedicated to customer engagement via digital signage. While there are plenty of digital signage news, technology and business blogs out there (sometimes I feel like I'm writing a dozen of them myself), there are few devoted to making the content work.  That's where Paul comes in. In his words,
"The digital signage industry is evolving into a network of compelling storytelling, and I feel the time is right to start an open collaboration with brands, agencies, and locations to understand the value of content, shed light on industry trends, and give my thoughts on the industry. I started a new blog because I'm trying to help educate the industry on the value of great content/storytelling in digital signage."
There are already a few articles up, and we expect to see great things from Paul in the future.  So good luck, Paul, and I hope you stick with it. Blogging can quickly turn from a fun passtime to an unhealthy obsession to a giant weight dragging you down to the murky depths.  Here's hoping you can make it past all of that to the plain of mediocre satisfaction :)

The morning press - digital signage news for January 21

Here are some of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

  • Tough times mean bad ad recall rates: "According to a Gallup & Robinson study of 12 years' worth of surveys about recall and likeability of advertising that appears in the annual pigskin classic, there is a direct relationship between the confidence people have in the economy and the attention they pay to Super Bowl commercials." I would love to have seen if this carries over to other TV advertising slots as well. And of course there's no correlation here with what happens inside the store.
  • Clear Channel Lays Off 9% of Work Force: "Clear Channel Communications eliminated about 1,850 positions across its corporate, outdoor and radio divisions, representing a 9% of the company's work force." The company notes that they had to cut less than Citigroup, but that hardly seems comforting to me (and probably even less so to the newly laid-off employees).
  • Proving that not everything that Google touches turns to gold, they've halted their print ads program, noting that, "we hoped that Print Ads would create a new revenue stream for newspapers and produce more relevant advertising for consumers, the product has not created the impact that we -- or our partners -- wanted." I know a lot of folks are waiting on the side lines hoping that Google will soon release an AdWords for Out-of-Home Media, but so they might want to reconsider that standpoint a bit.
  • Futuristic Security Checkpoints Know What You Do Before You Do It: Since this industry is enamored with all things Minority Report for some reason, I thought this article fitting. "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is developing a system called Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST for short. Homeland Security ran a test in September of 140 volunteers using a FAST prototype. The system was very accurately able to pick out people with hostile intent. 'We're still very early on in this research, but it is looking very promising,' says DHS science spokesman John Verrico. 'We are running at about 78% accuracy on mal-intent detection, and 80% on deception.'" That hit rate is pretty terrible (though perhaps on-par with some of today's demographic ID systems in use in retail stores), but expect this kind of government tech to trickle down into the private sector for marketing purposes.

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

Monday, January 19, 2009

The morning press - digital signage news for January 19

Here are some of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

  • The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowment is deploying digital signs across the UAE to "promote awareness of Islamic moderation in line with the country's strategic plan." Digital signs in religious institutions is nothing new. Nor is the use of digital signs by governments to put out public service announcements. But I've not heard of an application where the government was using them to transmit religious messages before, probably because I spend relatively little time in areas where the government still has a role in religion. Pretty interesting concept, though.
  • The International Advertising Association says advertisers are wary of Google. Of course, that Microsoft underwrote the survey probably has nothing to do with that ;) But honestly, considering the explosive growth that Internet ad spending has seen in the last few years (tepid growth at the end of 2008 notwithstanding), how much longer will major advertisers allow a single company to control such a large portion of that medium's overall spend?
  • AdAge on digital billboards and digital signage: "So why is it boon time for billboards? It's because digital out-of-home has gone far beyond the static posters the outdoor industry built its business on, and advertisers are able to cut costs by repurposing their 30-second TV spots in new and different ways on screens in taxis, malls, gas stations and other venues."
  • Target is adding price points to its line of TV ads for the first time, highlighting their shift to price/value-oriented messaging. The inclusion of a price point works somewhat similarly to a call to action (for example, in direct marketing-style TV ads) in that is tends to incite response better than purely brand- or product-oriented messaging.

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

Friday, January 16, 2009

The morning (afternoon) press - digital signage news for January 16

Here are some of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

  • A look at two digital POS systems - Doesn't sound like it has a lot to do with digital signage, but when you see what the POS systems of tomorrow (or today, if you're willing to pay for bleeding-edge) gets you, you'll understand why the name of the game is now: convergence (not the company, the noun).
  • NVIDIA's Ion platform will probably be useful for a lot of digital signage applications if they can really deliver on their promise of a $400-ish (more like $450 with wifi) option using Intel's Atom processor and their own GPU. Atom's slow as a dog, but the introduction of the Nvidia GPU means we can offload more work onto it, making this thing possibly viable in our market.
  • L.A. Introduces Bill to Ban Digital Signs ’til 2012: It's so funny that L.A. of all places would have a problem with digital billboards (ok, I guess Las Vegas or NYC would e even more ironic). But apparently the powers-that-be at the city council are serious about banning roadside digital billboards.

Have a great weekend, folks!

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

More digital signage contest news

Digital Signage Contest - Early Deadline is TODAY

I told ya last week, and I told ya again yesterday, so it should come as no surprise.

Late Deadline Extended to January 30

But have no fear, if you haven't gotten your entry in on time for today, we're extending the late deadline to January 30 (since there are a couple of federal holidays in the mix between now and then). Click here to get started with the application process, read the rules, and get the online video tutorial.

Last Call for Contest Judges

Finally, we're still looking for a few more judges who can bring some unique perspective to the contest.  If you'd like to judge the digital signage contest, contact:

Alicia Rutherford, Coordinator, Global/National/Regional Events
POPAI, The Global Association for Marketing at Retail

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

The morning press - digital signage news for January 15

Here are some of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

  • Retailers are making breakthroughs in understanding their customers’ minds. Here is what they know about you. It's from The Economist, so you know it's for real ;)

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

Two reminders: Digital Signage Contest Entry deadline is TOMORROW! (and take my survey!)

It's contest entry time!

So I mentioned a few days ago that POPAI's DS Contest deadline was looming. If you want to enter the contest (and you should), and you don't want to pay any late entry fees (and you shouldn't), make sure to get your entries in tomorrow.

Click here for the rules (or to start your online entry).

Click here to see the online video tutorial.

Don't forget to take our survey!

The other item I want to remind everyone about is the 2009 reader's poll going on at the WireSpring Digital Signage Blog. We've been blogging for a while -- about 5 years -- and we want to find out what we can do better. While the focus of the survey is the blog on, the suggestions we get about article types, etc. will certainly be reflected here too.

Click here to read the background article

Click here to just take the survey (it'll only take a minute -- I promise).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The morning press - digital signage news for January 13

Here are some of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

  • Intel unveils a new combination POS/digital sign terminal: Ok, another big manufacturer and brand is involved in the space. That alone is still newsworthy. But considering that Dell, IBM and NCR already have similar offerings with equivalent capabilities, what does Intel know that the rest of them haven't figured out, if anything?
  • Danoo Expands OOH Net to Airports: This was interesting to me, because at first glance it appears to be quite far away from Danoo's original mission. Can hyperlocal advertising work out in airport environments?
  • Organic says "the art of the billboard" is due for a comeback: Admit it. You've clicked on one of those Digg links to pages filled with unique, crazy and creative outdoor ads only to think "that can't be real." But according to Omnicom unit Organic, that kind of outdoor spectacle might become more commonplace in the near future.
  • Eiki acquires .advancedMethod: Wow, grammar at the beginning of a company name. That's gritty. Hopefully Eiki will be able to integrate the firm in a way more elegant than renaming them to Eiki.advancedMethod a'la the $7M PriceWaterhouseCooper PR debacle of the mid-1990s.
  • Haynes sees some cool stuff at NRF: Not a terribly helpful title, you say? Well, it's still worth a read, as he takes a first-hand peek at some of the new retail technology on the show floor.

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

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thinking of entering the digital signage contest? Check out my video tutorial!

There's only a week left until you have to start paying late fees to enter POPAI's Digital Signage Contest, so why wait? If you're curious about the contest, easily confused by simple instructions, or just want to hear the sound of my melodious voice, click here to view it (and download the powerpoint, if you so choose), or if by some miracle the video actually embeds properly into this feed, you can just look at it below:

Have any questions or want last minute tips before submitting your entry this week? Feel free to leave a comment, drop my an email, use LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever other newfangled web-2.0 connection method you like.

Friday, January 09, 2009

eMarketer's top 10 predictions from 2009

Courtesy of Marketing Charts:

1. The Internet is a Buyers’ Market
2. Search Marketing Remains Recession-Resistant
3. Video Ad Spending Will Run Counter to Economic Trends
4. Social Network Shakeout
5. New Revenue Streams for Social Networks
6. E-Commerce Sales Growth From Existing Online Buyers
7. Seismic Shift in TV Ad Sales
8. More Newspaper Companies to Become Casualties
9. User-Generated Content Aggregation
10. Multicultural Marketing Will Gain Intensity Online

Notice anything missing?  Don't agree with some of these predictions.  I'm not convinced either.  But considering that these are the predictions from eMarketer, I'm not at all surprised to see such a heavy emphasis on Internet and search marketing prospects. However, my big quibble here is that if TV spending is going to decline and newspaper advertising opportunities will further dwindle, where is all of that money going to go?

I doubt that marketers will simply contract their budgets that much.  And it seems equally doubtful that they'll just plow all of that unspent cash into more online marketing activities, even if you include a massive uptick in spending on online video services.  While it's certainly self-serving of me to think so, it seems totally unrealistic that shopper marketing and OOH (particularly alternative OOH) won't get a boost, since these two sectors continually match or exceed the overall value of Internet advertising.

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The morning press - digital signage news for January 9

Let's see, what'd I miss this week?  A couple of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

  • OAAA Report 2008 OOH Revenue Flat - While researchers seem to think that digital out-of-home will see growth in 2009, the OAAA says that 2008 wasn't great: "Out of home advertising industry revenue in the USA was flat during the first nine months of 2008, accounting for $5.45 billion in advertising revenue and performing better than many other media segments. In the third quarter of the year, out of home fell six percent, accounting for $1.62 billion in total advertising expenditures."
  • Advertisers, Marketers Brace For Obama's Regulatory Impact - We haven't really had to deal much with government regulation in the digital signage sector (though our comrades in the digital billboard space surely wish they could say the same). However, there's a very real possibility that consumer advocates will make significant progress in getting more anti-marketing legislation passed in the coming years: "With regulatory-minded lawmakers set to oversee commerce and communications, and the credit crisis compelling even Republicans to rethink laissez-faire, there will probably be more power to oversee marketing at the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, and more rules about everything from product placement to behavioral marketing."
  • Wireless Ronin Releases Automotive Digital Signage Whitepaper - I can't imagine that the automotive sector is the best place to be looking for business right now (and a note to any Congresspeople reading this: if you bail out Detroit and let them spend taxpayer money on digital signage, I'm emigrating to somewhere. Anywhere.), but Wireless Ronin seems to be plucking away at it anyway: "Included in the whitepaper is information on why the automotive industry is so interested in what digital signage has to offer, common myths on developing ROI for automotive digital signage, and the step-by-step process on developing a successful automotive digital signage ROI strategy."
  • Search Engine for Alternative Media - This is pretty slick. DoMedia put together a search engine for all kinds of OOH media, "from trash bins to kites to beach sand" (thanks AdLab).

  • Are you a cart puller? Relevation Research notes that since 74% of shoppers pull their shopping carts behind them while going down the checkout aisle, they may not be exposed to the majority of checkout-oriented marketing messages.

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

Thursday, January 08, 2009

One captive audience I don't recommend pursuing

While we've had ads for captive audiences in golf carts and ads for captive audiences in planes (perhaps the most captive audience) for some time, today the lowly automobile joins in the fun. You knew it was only a matter of time before somebody actually tried to
put ads onto the zillions of sat-nav systems shipping pre-installed in
cars these days, right? As USA Today notes:
Toyota announced Wednesday that new Lexus vehicles will start being delivered later this year with a system that includes capability for voice messages sent directly from the automaker to its drivers.

Called Lexus Insider, the service will let Lexus send audio messages to participating owners on whatever subject it chooses, from tips on making the best use of the vehicles' features to suggestions for a scenic drive.

Oh, but don't worry:

Toyota officials promise to be discerning and restrained.

The company, which has just posted its first annual operating loss in history, probably wouldn't do anything to jeopardize their relationship with their customers, who generally hold them in very high regard.  But at what point does recommending a stop along a 'scenic drive' stop short of becoming an advertisement for the restaurant up the road?

A better question might be: what happens when the system gets hacked, and thousands of Lexus drivers are informed that Al's Adult Video Emporuim -- just two miles down the road -- is having a sale on edible underwear?

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Gorrie's story: the $10M deal (or: how advertisers may start ditching above-the-line spots)

Rob Gorrie is kicking off 2009 with a series of great blog posts. Let's hope he finds the time to keep it up for the rest of the year.  If you're not a regular follower of his blog, there's at least one article that you should check out -- an anecdote from a CPG that wanted to re-think their media mix to see what a world without spending money on broadcast TV ads would look like:
In mid December (on a Monday), one of my sales people came to me, extremely excited.  It turned out that a buyer had just called him, panicked, because his client (a CPG - Consumer Packaged Goods) had just told him to cancel all of their broadcast dollars for the following year (or as much as their cancellation clauses allowed). The final number to play with was around 10 million dollars.  The client also said that they wanted a new plan for 2009 that didn’t include radio or TV - at all. Oh - and by the way - they wanted a new plan by Thursday.  We were - of course - more than happy to help out ;)
I don't think manufacturers or retailers are about to start abandoning TV commercials en masse just yet, but whereas in the past such a story would be completely unthinkable, the combination of a crappy economy and decreasing returns on TV ad spending has forced these companies to start looking for alternatives to their old standbys.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Earn my eternal gratitude!!!*

We're coming up on five years of blog posts (feels like 10) over at WireSpring's Digital Signage and Interactive Kiosk Blog, and getting ready to make some big changes in honor of the occasion.

If you have two minutes -- literally, it'll only take that long -- I'd greatly appreciate if you could head over there, read the very brief article, and answer the quick 10-question survey that will help point me in the right direction in the coming months and years

*Actual value of Bill's gratitude TBD. Not redeemable for cash or prizes.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I'm not the only Gerba doing this digital signage thing...

That's right! My little sister Jeralyn, who works for Daily Candy (an online magazine focused on trends and events for the tragically hip), was recently asked to do a segment that appeared on ABC's Eyewitness News (presumably during the "lighter side") last week. Thanks to ABC's media sharing arrangements, Jer's face will grace the small screens in New York City cabs via TAXI-TV for the next month or so.  Here's the clip (and here's the link, in case the embedded player doesn't show up for you).

The morning press - digital signage news for January 5

Here are some of the more interesting industry new items from the past few days:

Focus Media loses Sports Media unit to competitor - Bejing-based flat-screen advertiser Good Media took over its fitness-center advertising competitor Sports Media, formerly owned by Focus Media. Ding Bingwen, former Sports Media president and new Good Media chief operating officer and board member, said Focus and Sports Media split over lack of profit guarantees. Considering that the digital signage units in Focus's portfolio are the more sound (and profitable) of its operations, it's unusual to see the firm shedding them right now -- especially when there's a deal in the works between Focus and SinaVision to merge the two companies' digital out-of-home advertising units.

Staples to revamp in-store marketing - News America  Marketing, who are most commonly known for their line of shelf talker advertising products for supermarkets and drug stores will apparently be assisting office supplier Staples with some changes to their in-store advertising lineup this year.  Hey, the approach is effective and cheaper than TV advertising (though they've gotten plenty of mileage out of their "Easy Button" campaign), so why not?

The Economist's guide to ad sales in 2009 - Advertisers and marketers are in for some hard times to be sure, but The Economist has stepped in and put together a short presentation on precisely why it's a bad idea to automatically cut back on marketing when budgets get tightened. The one-line summary: brands drive sales, and marketing drives brands. It's 57 slides, but you can read it in 5 minutes. I highly suggest you do (here's the link for folks who don't see the embedded slideshow).

Ads on Edge
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: branding recession)

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

Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 Times Square wrap-up

Since much attention is focused on Times Square around the holidays, it's not unusual to see articles in the paper focusing on its history, heritage, or current status as a New York City icon. However, seeing more articles about the kinds of ads featured there is still a little unusual.  Sure it's one of the few places in the world where people actually go to see the ads (versus avoid them), and sure lots of big brands will try out their daring, new campaign ideas there. But thanks to increased interest in both the digital advertising sector and the out-of-home sector, 2008 turned out to be a banner year (no pun intended, I swear) for Times Square.

Wired Magazine's Meghan Keane did a nice wrap-up story about the new tech powering the square, including the ability for advertisers to change ads on a minute-by-minute basis, and interact with viewers via their mobile devices. There's a lot of detail about the Square's current capabilities as well as the upgrades it got in 2008, so is worth a quick read by anybody interested in digital out-of-home advertising.

MediaPost also did a neat article last week about Pepsi's latest Times Square extravaganza that's worth clicking on if only to look at the cool image.  For the big New Year's Eve bash the firm combined digital signage, event marketing, billboards, pop-up stores, mobile media and probably a bunch of other niche plays to "carbonate" Times Square (by dropping thousands of baloons onto revelers), and then let them use a Pepsi sound stage and their mobile cameras to talk about their experience being carbonated. It's clearly not the kind of thing that the brand could do every day, but it has generated a lot of buzz for them already, and probably some considerable goodwill (well, for anybody who was there and can actually still remember anything).

More big things are being planned for 2009. We'll see a few more screens get upgraded to 720p resolution (and maybe somebody will decide to go all the way to 1080p, though that's twice the number of pixels). Campaigns featuring mobile interactivity will increase dramatically. And there will probably be more good-hearted gimmicks, like Coke's transition to wind power for their billboards (a consortium of 30 digital billboard operators have switched, which will, "prevent the release of 1,866 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. To put that in human terms, the wind-powering of Coca-Cola's billboard alone will have the equivalent effect of removing 75 passenger automobiles from the road for one year or converting 38 households to wind power for one year. The "greening" of the Coca-Cola billboard is also equivalent to reducing 376 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually or planting 471.5 acres of trees."

All in all, 2009 looks to be another good year for Times Square.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Walmart decides not to continue with PRISM media measurement

From the "surprise, surprise" department...

Walmart has concluded that, while Nielsen's initial run of PRISM measurements were useful enough to generate some customer insights, they won't be continuing with the program in 2009. As AdAge reports:
"Walmart was pleased with the insights they gleaned" from the PRISM pilot but decided not to participate in the national syndicated service "consistent with their internal data-sharing policies." To participate in the pilot, Walmart last year partially lifted a ban that had been in place since 2001 on sharing sales data with syndicators such as Nielsen and Information Resources Inc.
Other major backers of the research effort, including Target, Kroger, P&G, Unilever and Kraft, are still planning to push the service in the coming year, but Walmart accounts for a large portion of overall shopping dollars, so having them out of the research pool isn't going to be good news for anybody hoping to purchase Nielsen PRISM data to get a better idea for what's going on inside of the retail giant.

In addition to being compliant with Walmart's own regulations about sharing data with syndicators like Nielsen, continuing with PRISM probably would have meant duplicating some work between that effort and their own in-store measurement practices, which are slated to use DS-IQ as part of their new Walmart Smart network of digital signs.

At this point, I wonder whether Walmart never really intended to go forward with PRISM, but was merely using that program as a way to verify that their own DS-IQ data was accurate. I bet Nielsen made them a good deal in order to get them on board in the first place, so for Walmart it would have been a relatively low-cost way of getting a top-notch research firm to qualify their competing offering.

Pretty sneaky, eh?

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

One more list of articles to read through before work starts again

Happy New Year, everyone! I know, I know, it's a total cop-out to do two compilation posts in a row.  We'll be back in action full-force next week, but if you feel the need to pass the time doing some light industry-related reading, you could do worse than to peruse:

Japanese billboards are watching back - Minority Report reference aside, it's interesting to see the difference in reactions between Japanese and American consumers when talking about outdoor billboards that use image recognition systems to monitor viewers.

Sina Gets Bargain in Focus Media Deal - It seems like just a few months ago that I was lamenting Focus Media's fall to about $35/share. But considering that on Friday they closed at around $9.09/share, it does look like Sina might be getting quite a deal (provided that Focus doesn't do anything else to tick off the Chinese government again). The nature of the deal is pretty interesting, so this WSJ article is well worth the read for business and finance junkies.

Adweek taps Walmart Smart Network as top marketing innovation - A few tweaks here, a change there, a couple zillion bucks in new hardware, and suddenly Walmart's tired old in-store TV network is the hottest thing going, if you believe Adweek.

Dave Haynes does the OVAB shuffle - Did you find the OVAB guidelines a little hard to figure out? Haynes does a good job of breaking them down into a form anybody should be able to understand.

With that, I'll leave you to enjoy the last few days of holiday downtime (if you were lucky enough to take off till the end of this week, at least).


Happy (Digitally Enhanced) New Year

Despite the nasty economic climate, digital signage always has a big place in the celebratory moments surrounding the new year – from Times Square to the Super Bowl, American pop culture still has a keen eye for the big visual – and interactive – displays that help us pronounce ourselves to the world at our most exuberant. Certainly New Year’s Eve in New York City is all about big digital signs lighting the way to 2009. According to Wired, Times Square -- with 42 digital billboards, many of them with new HD features -- is the place where the future of digital signage begins. “This year, the space has made big strides from its life as a three dimensional advertising surface to an outdoor, interactive entertainment center.”

The first piece of news to heighten the excitement is high definition: Closest to people on the street and impressive with its giant red lettering, the new JVC billboard, which measures 19 feet by 34 feet, is being promoted by the company as the first 720-line progressive big screen in Times Square, with a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. According to Broadcasting Cable news, Walgreens has also contributed to the high-definition video landscape at One Times Square, featuring advertising from Walgreen’s and its suppliers.

The second piece of big news is interactivity: On New Year’s Eve, JVC took its technology one step further by making it possible for anyone to take a photo with their cellphone, send it to and, moments later (after it was approved), the picture would show up on the billboard. Later, people could retrieve a copy of their photo as it appeared on the billboard. JVC is hoping that these mementos of First Night 2009 (with the JVC logo prominently displayed) will turn into screensavers, desktop photos, wallpaper, and shared items that spread goodwill and brand information across the country.

That wasn’t the only digital distraction to be had if you braved the cold to watch the ball drop: MTV sponsored a similar (but less sophisticated) campaign to allow people to have their text messages appear on MTV’s own high definition screen. Rather than standing around waiting for the big moment, groups could play Scene It? and other games on Spec’s big street-level screens.

The third piece of fun -- and yes, it's being promoted as fun -- is green technology: Ricoh and Coca Cola both boasted of their new green presence in Time’s Square– not only are they part of a group of 30 wind-powered billboards in a three building span, but Coke’s ad campaign focuses on what they’re doing in general that’s environmentally friendly. Coke has taken its message out into the streets as well as on its signs, with booths and direct market promotions to help shape its new 2009 image as a ecologically progressive product. We'll have to check back later in the year and see how economically-battered consumers react to the re-branding of such pop culture "junk" consumables as Coke and McDonald's. At least the digital signage industry may benefit from the "greening" of its most visible locations.

As wonderful as it is to see the latest technology fused with messages about conservation, I’m curious how many people actually went over to Duracell's Power Lodge and got on stationary bikes that helped pedal juice to the "2009" sign.