The Perspective 
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Digital out-of-home (DOOH) is the result of media evolution over the years. First came outdoor, before TV and PC. For hundreds of years, bill posting signs to advertise has been in our out of home experience. Think about the Barnum and Bailey or the Wild Bill Hickok show posters in the late 1800’s. Even before that, in Egypt, papyrus was used to create wall posters for sales messages thousands of years ago. In a sense, out-of-home is the oldest form of advertising.

In the 1920’s came the automobile, as did the roadside signs and the barn-side painted ads (Think “Mail Pouch Tobacco” and “Burma Shave”). This truly launched the out-of-home nomenclature among the industry.

Fast forward to the mid 1960s.Out-of-home advertising again became part of the advertising world’s nomenclature simply to differentiate it from TV which was becoming more influential. OOH was used to describe everything from magazines at the dentist office to billboards.

In the 1970s, out-of-home media was used quite extensively by advertising agencies for billboards. In the late 70’s the first Light Emitting Diode Television Screen was invented, which was the predecessor to LED Billboards. By the mid 1990s we entered the digital age of media and digital out-of-home was developed as a term used by agencies again to describe digital billboards and other screens such as those in point of transit (not necessarily networked).

Meanwhile, from 1995 through 2005, other types of advertising networks were being launched, like NGN and LED screens in Times Square and were sometimes called “animated and digital signs.” This is where the technologists and entrepreneurs were building networks and calling it “digital signage,” taking the technology approach to naming this new industry.
Another phase that needs to be thrown into the mix was narrowcasting. This was also used by many at the time to describe a new industry. And who could forget the launch of FRED, or Foto Realistic Electronic Displays in 1997?

Then the first Digital Signage Expo in San Francisco was launched in spring of 2004, cementing the name for the industry. Later in the fall of 2004 at a meeting in NYC, the name “digital signage” was still being discussed among leaders in the industry. Everyone was still looking to hang their hat on a name for the industry and many did not want digital signage. At the time, the industry was referring to itself as “digital signage” so the majority had made the decision to stick with the name digital signage simply because of technology companies that had marketing money invested in the name.

In the time frame from 2005-2008 most agencies were referring to it as digital out-of-home simply because it fit their historic nomenclature out-of-home advertising. Today most agencies think of it as DOOH and many in the industry are referring to it as digital out-of-home when it refers to ad-based networks. The agencies are driving this. More of the industry itself is referring to in-store placements and internal communications as digital signage. There is a distinct difference between ad based networks (DOOH) and non-ad based networks (digital signage).

In 2009 we are seeing the name DOOH starting to incorporate mobile or any DOOH strategy that ends up on a display. Today digital signage is commonly replaced with DOOH referring to it in context of the digital signage medium.
In summary, digital out-of-home is anything that is digitally shown on any display. Mobile falls into this category as does digital signage, but all related to ad-based networks.

I predict that over time digital signage will be replaced by DOOH in relationship to ad-based networks, where as corporate communication and in-store networks will continue to refer to the industry as digital signage.
Posted by: Keith Kelsen AT 10:10 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 26 October 2009

In the ongoing battle to attract and retain consumer mindshare, retailers are increasingly turning to innovative marketing mediums to engage and stay top-of-mind with consumers. Gone are the days of unlocking the door and turning on the radio; today’s retailers are pressing fast-forward to fully customized soundtracks. Paper POP table tents and static signage are being replaced by sophisticated digital media networks.

Smart companies are implementing ways to take the in-store experience beyond the lease line to extend brand affinity, drive consumer behavior and provide relevant lifestyle content to the consumer. All these advancements aim to enhance the shopping experience, lifting it to more than just a trip to a store, but rather a theatrical experience where purchasing merchandise is only part of the journey.

Not only are these solutions successful at engaging consumers, but they have also been proven to extend dwell time and increase brand awareness – key factors in ongoing loyalty and long-term buying relationships. Keeping consumers inside the store is even more important today than it has been in past years. The current economic downturn has meant a loss in revenue, so on those days when consumers are out and about, it is imperative that a retailer attract them, keep them in store, and close the sale. Just as important is that, as your customers go mobile, so must your brand.

A recent Retail Systems Research report ("Walking the Razor’s Edge: Managing the Store Experience in an Economic Singularity," June 2009) states 70 percent of retailers surveyed said they use in-store technologies to maintain or improve the customer experience and extend that experience past the lease line. According to the same report, two-thirds of the retailers surveyed said they have reduced their payrolls in the wake of the economic slide, but those same two-thirds of retailers surveyed have not changed the expenditures devoted to in-store technology.

So, what are some key elements of the "store as theater" retailers can take advantage of to increase mindshare, and stay connected and engaged with their customers?

The eyes have it

Digital signage is becoming the fastest-growing segment of retail media and advertisers are taking note; a 2007 Forrester survey found 72 percent of advertisers are looking at in-store media as an alternative to traditional advertising. In-store digital signage has the power to effectively relay brand messages to consumers by providing the message diversification needed to captivate shoppers in a new way.

With digital signage networks, advertisers can target consumers in different parts of a store, in different locations, in different ways, at different times of the day, delivering some of the most target-specific visual marketing yet. For example, signage content at an athletic retailer might run footage and/or related product advertising in the footwear section of the store, while the exercise equipment section highlights an instructional video on a specific piece of equipment. According to industry research, in-store messaging drives a 40-percent uptick in sales. It does this because it has the ability to be personal and connect with a consumer on a different level.

Digital signage increases traffic, which in turn increases the capacity to capture the consumer. Gaining a shopper’s attention by placing that consumer into the messaging is a key factor in increasing brand awareness and sales. For instance, a person who is passionate about surfing may see themselves as the focal point of a sign on display at their local surf shop. They connect with the image and are therefore drawn to that store, creating a more loyal following.

They’re all ears

Much like digital signage has the ability to draw a shopper’s attention through visual elements, music attracts consumers through emotion and sound. Customized playlists that put brand to music have the ability to focus on specific demographics, catering to a certain genre and style while staying true to your brand essence. And with choices ranging from commercial satellite subscriptions and pre-arranged "mixes" to regularly updated fully custom programming, there is an option to fit every environment and budget.

In-store music is another area that has benefitted from technology. While many retailers still opt for their programming to be delivered via CD, more and more are choosing to have their tunes delivered over the Internet. Internet delivery has a number of advantages, including ease-of-use and fewer requirements of the on-site store employees. More sophisticated systems/services even allow for track selection and message insertion right from a Web browser.

In selecting a music provider, it is vital to make sure their service enables a level of customization that will fit your current and future needs. Things like day-parting — arranging music for different vibes to coincide for different times of the day — and a true understanding of how to convey your brand via music can make or break the in-store experience. Finally, make sure your chosen provider is current with their licensing agreements. In-store music is "public performance", and leading providers can handle all licensing so you know you’re legal.

Brand on the run

It is more important than ever that retailers implement strategies to take the in-store experience to consumers, wherever they are, to extend brand engagement beyond the lease line. This "anywhere concept" truly extends the lease line of a retailer by allowing consumers to be exposed to branded entertainment media at any moment, whether its an hour or a week after the consumer has left the store.

Mobile, Web radio, branded podcasts, artist promotions and compilation CDs are powerful vehicles for reaching consumers. They provide the means to remain engaged with consumers across multiple touch points, while delivering personalized content that extends brand visibility and affinity. Whether cooking dinner in their kitchen, out for a jog, or sitting in their cubicle at work, an entertainment media campaign keeps your brand in front of consumers on their terms, making sure you stay top-of-mind.

Retailers that can target consumers with multiple touch points at various points of the day and week, in various locations and regions, with branded content and messaging are the retailers who become most successful. These retailers have learned that, for consumers, the shopping experience is not just about selling products — it’s about creating a shopping experience which is fun and exciting, and establishes a true brand connection.

Craig Hubbell is executive vice president of media services for PlayNetwork Inc., where he is responsible for all media services, including music services, video display, and advertising and entertainment services.

Posted by: Craig Hubbell AT 01:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Thursday, 22 October 2009
It seems that the number of digital signage press releases on the wire is constantly increasing. So why is so much of it so bad?

The industry executives I speak with almost uniformly admit they know they could and should do better, but don’t have the time or resources. Coming from technology, ad sales and retail backgrounds, they also haven’t the insight or experience to recognize the good from the bad.

In the interest of helping better shape the message, here are a few tips:  

Figure out what makes your company unique, and go hard with it

For whatever reason this is a “me, too” business, with most vendors marketing themselves on the same general range of features and capabilities that their competitors are also trumpeting.  It’s hard to stand out from the pack if all you have to half-heartedly report is the written equivalent of, “Yeah, ummm, we do that stuff, too.”

There will be something your firm has developed, or work your team has done with a client, that is at least uncommon and worthy of a little marketing noise. Maybe your company had to figure out a solution that involved GPS and mass transit? That experience and capability is far more intriguing than telling the world your platform does all that stuff everybody else does, too.

Get to the point

Anyone who has been involved in this sector for a while knows how important it is to have good programming that quickly captures the attention of viewers. The same thing applies with a company’s written communications. Between emails, RSS feeds, tweets and texts, people are carpet-bombed all day with marketing messages. That means your message better make its point quickly, or it will be passed by.

Empty phrases that clutter the opening lines of announcements need to be dropped.  The point of your communication can’t be buried somewhere in the third paragraph of your e-mailer. You can’t write something that people need to read twice just to figure out, because they won’t .

Put your key messages in context

When you are banging out your key features and benefits messages, and announcements about new gadgets and gizmos, make sure you do the extra work to explain what that means for your prospective customers.

When your company celebrates the release of a new energy efficient combination of PC and display panel in an all-in-one package, don’t stop there. It’s better described as a technology combination capable of dropping energy consumption for a signage deployment by as much as 25%.

Adding 250 more screens and locations doesn’t mean your ad network is now in 600 locations in five states.  The message for prospective advertisers, the ones you’re after, is that the addition of 250 sites means your highly-targeted digital out of home media network is now reaching 200,000 affluent consumers every week.

Think through the whole communications chain

How many times have you read a press release, or the news story that spilled out of it, that was effective enough to send you to the company Website to find out more, only to find there was no “more” to be found?

Marketing and media communications have to be carried through the whole chain. If there’s an announcement, it needs to already be up on the Website and easy to find. The sales people need to be briefed on what it is about so that they can respond knowledgeably and not feel like doofuses. They also need material, ready to go, they can send out as follow-ups to calls, and it shouldn’t be just the same thing the prospects just read.

Meanwhile, existing clients need and expect to get early word of new goodies from their vendor, and to first learn of it on some blog.
Choose your words with care

There are powerful phrases, and there are empty phrases. Good writers choose their words carefully, and think about things like the rhythm and emotion of the message. Most of the people writing copy for Websites, email updates and press releases are doing so not because they like writing, but because they have to ... so even if takes forever to prepare, those people spend little time actually thinking about the message.

That’s how the industry has ended up with a vast sea of empty phrases and buzzwords about leading, turnkey solutions and revolutionary, state of the art development.  If someone only has to write copy every now and then, there’s a natural tendency to look around and borrow on what other companies are doing. They read three press releases starting off with “leading provider” and figure they better get that in there, too. They see Websites that talk “turnkey” and figure that needs to get in there. The result, every day and everywhere, is yet more of the same blabber.

Whether it’s Website copy, email blasts or press releases, whoever gets charged with doing the writing should ignore what else is out there, forget they ever read phrases like “best of breed” and “taken to the next level”, and think through the messages that would actually resonate with prospective customers and partners.

It’s an after-thought for a lot of companies, but developing the right message that helps drive product awareness, build credibility and boost sales needs the same attention to detail as product and market development. You can have a kickass product, a fabulous network footprint, or do amazing creative, but if you do a bad job of getting the word out, few people will know.
Posted by: David Haynes AT 11:54 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Several years ago, there was not a term for LCD and plasma screens that provided information in public spaces. But as time passed, the term “digital signage” rose to the top of industry nomenclature and became the standard.

We seem to be faced a similar situation again. The rise of installations and interest in advertising on digital signage networks has spawned a new term: digital out-of-home, also known as DOOH. But is this really what the industry wants it to be called? Ad agencies can confuse DOOH with traditional out-of-home (OOH). Others think it sounds too “Homer Simpson.” gathered experts in the digital signage and digital out-of-home industries to discuss their opinions on the definition of DOOH.

Keith Kelsen, MediaTile:

Today digital signage is commonly replaced with digital out-of-home, referring to it in the context of the digital signage medium. Digital out-of-home is anything that is digitally shown on any display. Mobile falls into this category, as does digital signage, but all are related to ad-based networks. I predict that over time digital signage will be replaced by DOOH in relationship to ad-based networks, whereas corporate communication and in-store networks will continue to refer to the industry as digital signage.

Mike DiFranza, Captivate Network:

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) is a very broad term that I believe is often misunderstood. DOOH is really made up of at least two distinct categories: Digital signage (which includes electronic billboards) and digital place-based content networks.

The first category is found on roadsides,and we think of them as “glance media” opportunities for advertisers targeting mass audiences.

The second category, of which we consider Captivate Network to be a part, targets niche audiences in a particular venue and provides customized content and promotions for that channel. For example, Captivate Network might run ads on local weekend getaways because our research shows that the vast majority of office professionals do their vacation planning while at work.

DOOH content is “digital," in that it is typically distributed through a digital infrastructure and is therefore more targetable and interactive than more traditional media. We believe this explains the comparatively higher viewer engagement and ad effectiveness scores of DOOH versus other media channels.

Doug Scott, Reach Media Group:

From my standpoint, I would draw a distinction between the “umbrella” category: Digital out-of-home and sub-categories such as digital billboards, digital location-based media, etc.
So, I would define digital out-of-home as “digital signage displaying content and/or advertising in places away from the home.”

I would define digital location-based media as “digital networks of screens displaying contextually relevant content and/or advertising in locations away from home with extended dwell times.”

I would define digital billboards as “digital screens away from home displaying generally static advertising to consumers in environments with limited or no dwell time.”

Stephen Randall, LocaModa:

Digital out-of-home refers to dynamic media distributed across placed-based networks in venues including but not limited to cafes, bars, restaurants, health clubs, colleges, arenas and public spaces. DOOH networks typically feature independently addressable screens, kiosks, jukeboxes and/or jumbotrons. DOOH media benefits location owners and advertisers alike in being able to engage customers and/or audiences and extend the reach and effectiveness of marketing messages.

Ashley Flaska, NEC Display Solutions:

DOOH is any signage that is running content and/or advertising in a public space. This could be four-inch shelf talkers in a grocery store all the way to massive LED billboards on the side of the road and everything digital in between. The differentiation is the word “digital.” Regular “outdoor” equals static signage — static billboards, static signage on the sides of buses or buildings, static signs at bus stops or in airports, static taxi toppers, just to name a few. Displays in the DOOH space have to be powered by a media player or PC in order to accept “digital assets.”

Lyle Bunn, BUNN Co.:

A myriad of descriptors are still being used, though the term digital out-of-home (DOOH) has gained broad acceptance in use to describe networks that are primarily supported by advertising revenues, since advertising has typically been assigned from the “out-of-home” budget. Such networks operate on a for-profit basis and are typically owned by the location provider or investors. The Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB) membership accounts for more than 400,000 dynamic, location-based video displays, which are available to present messages paid for by advertisers. The term “in-store TV” has been used to help tap into TV budget allocations and “the outernet” also has been used to help DOOH networks access online ad spending. The term digital signage serves as an umbrella term or is applied to networks that are typically funded by internal communications or operational budgets for patron, visitor, staff, student or community communications.

Janice L. Litvinoff, Cisco:

The DOOH market consists of any digital display outside of the home, used for the sale of advertising “spots” or “impressions.” DOOH is a unique intersection between advertising, digital signage and traditional out-of-home. For the advertising market, DOOH is just another digital-advertising medium and is more targeted than television and print. For digital signage, DOOH is an ad-based business model, different from other models such as sales/marketing, corporate communications, and sports/entertainment, to name a few. For the traditional out-of-home market, DOOH is simply the digital form of media used on billboards or other street furniture.

Bill Collins, DecisionPoint Media Insights:

For the purpose of this definition, the terms “digital signage” networks and “digital out-of-home” networks can be used interchangeably, but with one exception. The exception: when screen networks are deployed inside corporate buildings largely for human-resource and corporate-communication purposes, this is digital signage, but it cannot be accurately referred to as digital out-of-home.

Digital signage is comprised of networked electronic displays (such as LCD, LED, plasma or projection technology) that show information, advertising and other messages that are relevant to the specific venue or geographic location where the displays are visible to viewers. Digital signage can be found in public and private environments — both indoors and outdoors — alongside roadsides and at other venues such as retail stores, hotels, hospitals, shopping malls, motion-picture theaters and inside corporate buildings. Messages on digital signage networks always include visual images (sometimes moving images, sometimes a succession of static images). These messages may also include audio. Although most digital signage networks are connected across distances via the Internet or satellite communication and are controlled technically from one central network operations center, for the purposes of this definition of digital signage, we also will include the so-called “sneaker-net” networks. For these “sneaker nets,” the operator of the digital signage network drives the content to the screens from DVDs, memory chips or other memory devices that are physically connected to the electronic displays on-site.

Posted by: Bill Yackey AT 10:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 19 October 2009
The average credit union member is 49 years old and is likely to be a very loyal customer. But credit unions need to do a better job of attracting new, younger members, says Karen Morgan, executive vice president of San Francisco-based oFlows Inc. OFlows works with credit unions to help promote paperless transactions — pushing more “green” operations.
“The credit union industry needs to do a better job of explaining to members what the difference between a credit union and a bank is,” Morgan said during her opening presentation at the Credit Union Services & Products Forum in San Diego. “They need to develop campaigns that get the word out about what they have to offer, and they need to do a better job of appealing to a younger audience.”
Are credit unions actively driving traffic to their Web sites, and is the user experience on those sites enjoyable? And what about mobile banking? Are credit unions exploiting the mobile channel?
Those were some of the questions Morgan asked of the 80 or so credit unions represented Monday during the forum’s opening day. Unfortunately, a lot of credit unions have not been able to successfully appeal to a diverse membership and attract the 18- to 35-year-old age group, while not turning the 45- to 54-year-old age group away.
One misconception younger consumers have, Morgan says, is that credit unions have too few ATMs and branches. In reality, because of cooperative alliances, such as shared branching and on-us ATM transactions through co-op arrangements, credit unions actually offer more convenience than some of the nation’s largest banks. But credit unions are not getting the word out.
“Credit unions actually have the largest ATM networks in the United States,” Morgan said.
Leading credit union ATM networks, such as Co-Op Financial Services’ Co-Op Network and Credit Union 24, have large ATM networks. The Co-Op Network includes surcharge-free member access at 28,000 ATMs in the United States, and Credit Union 24’s network includes more than 100,000 ATMs nationally and internationally.
“We need to promote the fact that we have a far-reaching network,” Morgan said.
Marketing will be key for credit unions going forward, she says, as will enhanced technology.
I, too, gave a presentation yesterday about the need for credit unions to enhance their self-service channels and optimize their branches with more assisted self-service. Many conference attendees seemed reluctant to see the need for the leap.
But attracting younger members, or even unbanked consumers, will require a different approach — whether it is through stronger collaboration with retailers and ISOs for more off-premises deployments that offer advanced functions or through more mobile marketing.
Morgan says catchy marketing campaigns, such as the slogan oFlows helped one of its credit unions in Colorado develop, “ATM Fees Really Suck,” are going to garner attention among younger age groups. She also suggested that mobile campaigns, such as the ATM-locator SMS/texting campaign that some of her credit union customers promoted last year, can make a big difference.
After launching the “ATMATM” texting campaign, participating credit unions, Morgan said, immediately noticed an uptick in ATM transactions. The texting feature was quickly adopted by younger members.
Also, credit unions that launched campaigns that appealed to younger users, such as the “ATM Fees Really Suck” campaign, did notice an increase in new members between the ages of 18 and 35.
“We were able to increase assets for our credit unions as a result of these campaigns,” Morgan said.
Delivery channels need to be interactive and consistent, and technology will play an ever-increasing role — whether through self-service or the mobile channel. Morgan and I agree on that front.
More users, regardless of age and gender, prefer online banking. Making the leap to mobile banking won't be so difficult, since smart phones allow mobile browsing — the online and mobile experiences are similar if not the same.
And on the self-service front, basic transactions, such as cash deposits and cash withdrawals, can be moved to a self-service device very easily. I suggested during my presentation that even more complex transactions, such as funds transfers and bill payments also could be moved to the self-service channel — freeing tellers for more complex transactions and up-sell interactions with members.
Deposit-automation technology is the gateway to a whole host of new transactions. And the green element cannot be ignored. By removing envelopes from the transaction, credit unions improve efficiency and reduce paper. It’s something members, especially younger members, will appreciate.
No one wants to bank in an environment perceived to be outdated or boring. To stay ahead of the curve, credit unions will have to be savvy and show their members that they can be cutting edge.
Posted by: Tracy Kitten AT 01:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Digital signage is more than cool — it’s smart. Companies around the world are realizing that digital signage is a good investment, not only because it adds a high-tech edge to a venue, but because it addresses the specific business needs of increasing revenue and decreasing costs.

When talking about digital signage, the conversation usually turns quickly to advertising-based networks. Digital signage is an advertiser’s dream. It targets an ad displayed based on the audience who will view it by using an endless number of variables, including time of day, location of the ad, weather, sales system data and even the characteristics of the person standing in front of the screen.

As any good marketer knows, the more targeted the message, the better chance of compelling the desired response. But with traditional media, it has been too expensive to be that targeted.  Digital signage changes the game with a level of targeting that is unmatched by any other medium. Plus, it can be used to increase revenue in other ways than advertising. It can lengthen customer visits, improve customer experiences and increase brand awareness, all of which can increase revenue.

Despite the costs associated with hardware, software and services for digital signage, it can actually save customers money. Traditional signage incurs a large expense for printing and shipping to various locations. And, unfortunately, a lot of that printed signage is never displayed or is displayed improperly. Digital signage eliminates the need for any action by anyone at the location of the signage, giving companies 100-percent compliance with provided signage.

Here is an example. Rikstoto, a horse race betting agency in Norway, was printing thousands of flyers daily and shipping them to convenience stores throughout Norway. Once Riksoto implemented a digital signage network, it decreased its costs dramatically and increased its revenue far more than expected.

Other companies have saved money by using digital signage to communicate with employees not typically connected to e-mail, provide remote training, provide self-service kiosks and more.

So, the question isn’t if digital signage will go mainstream, it’s when. Companies ranging in size from the very tiny such as the diner where you eat breakfast on the weekends to multi-billion dollar international giants like IKEA, Burger King and Rabobank are running digital signage networks today. They are the smart ones. They get to make money with digital signage and save money with digital signage. Plus they get the added benefit of being on the cutting edge of this technology, whereas companies who wait five to ten years to start digital signage networks will be playing catch-up with these forward-thinking enterprises.
Posted by: Andrea Waldin AT 10:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 12 October 2009
Mobile banking is the next major, logical step in retail banking. And the exponentially increasing adoption rates prove its growing popularity. But how ready are financial institutions to choose a mobile-banking solution? Are they evaluating the options based on short-term knowledge of the technology, or do they truly understand the power this channel has to build and solidify customer relationships in the next two to five years? And have they truly considered what these new relationships can mean, not only to the customer experience but also to bottom-line profitability?

To truly understand, let’s take a look at a very real mobile-banking scenario: A consumer approaches an ATM to withdraw $200 from his checking account. His balance following this transaction will be $300. Because he has an auto loan from the same FI and also uses online bill payment, the FI determines that his balance will not cover his $325 car payment that is due in two days. A text alert is immediately sends a text message to his mobile phone to confirm he wants to proceed with the transaction, potentially saving him an unnecessary overdraft fee.

Never have financial institutions — or any other organizations for that matter — had a better opportunity to relate so intimately and relevantly with customers or members.

To fully grasp the impact, consider the long-term benefits of such an intimate customer relationship. Also consider the efficiency with which this relationship is delivered, when compared with other marketing efforts that can cost thousands of dollars with returns of less than 2 percent.
Today’s mobile-banking functionality represents merely a sliver of what the channel ultimately can do. For the FI, the mobile phone as a channel is really a proxy for the consumer. Wherever the phone is, the consumer also is. These days, half the world’s population is carrying a mobile phone. 

So how can an FI best utilize this channel? The ones that will succeed with their mobile-banking deployment are those that use the channel for the purposes of timely, contextual and relevant messages to consumers.

How FIs capitalize on the mobile revolution
The real value in mobile banking goes far beyond simple account balance inquiries, transfers and alerts. Sure, there’s immediate payback to the FI in migrating these basic transactions away from costlier teller or call center alternatives, but the most important role mobile plays for FIs is in relationship building. It’s in integrating other delivery channels to give consumers new, value-added services and unprecedented convenience and control. It’s in providing a consumer a greater sense of security during an ATM transaction by authenticating the user. And it’s in facilitating payments as a means of avoiding a late fee or as an alternative to more expensive, less convenient options.

Channel collaboration
By leveraging existing ATM technology, FIs can capture consumer preferences and integrate that data with back-end customer relationship-management systems. Marketing offers, for example, can be timely, in context and immediate — all of which is enabled by the nature of the mobile channel. For that reason, it is possible to achieve double-digit response rates that dwarf those of traditional direct-marketing tactics.

With marketing via mobile phones, there are many more data points that can be collected, which helps FIs customize their communications. These increasingly customized communications yield more intimate relationships. And this integrated, immediate approach helps FIs bolster service and promote cross-selling opportunities to consumers who rely on mobile devices and those who are underbanked or don’t have convenient access to brick-and-mortar establishments.
Facilitating payments

Mobile banking as a channel strategy allows FIs to provide value-added services in helping consumers manage their money. Consider the wallet-management philosophy that some FIs have applied as an extension to online banking. It provides consumers with seamless access to their finances, along with intuitive, tangible and direct control of their money through tools, graphs and interactive features that help track spending and other activity. Expanding this concept to mobile banking and the ATM enables a new service once only intended for the Web that can benefit consumers in how they use other delivery channels. Adding mobile banking to wallet management enables the immediacy factor and two-way text alerts to dramatically improve the service FIs provide to their most committed customers and members.

Offering new services
Person-to-person, or P2P, payments, which enable consumers to make and receive payments with one another electronically, is just one of the new opportunities FIs can offer to strengthen the consumer relationship. In the United States alone, account-to-account transactions are a $320 billion industry. Mobile banking allows FIs to provide this service more conveniently and less expensively than existing wire-transfer methods by sending money to an individual’s phone number. By leveraging existing technology, P2P transactions are conducted on a mobile phone and a code is sent to the intended party’s phone. The person is then able to go to an ATM, enter the code and receive the cash. The phone becomes the information conduit to make this transaction happen seamlessly, while the ATM allows the cash transfer to take place in real-time.

Enhancing security
An added security layer that mobile banking offers FIs and consumers addresses a high-profile area of vulnerability: skimming. For example, the end-user approaches an ATM to take out cash; he enters his PIN and instantly receives a text message requiring him to enter a one-time six-digit code at the terminal to complete the transaction. This consumer card-control solution utilizes one channel to protect what is happening in another. Other mobile banking security tactics include proximity-based alerts, which further mitigate fraud due to skimming. This innovative security software can validate the card being used at an ATM, as well as the location or proximity of the accountholder’s mobile phone in relation to that specific ATM. If the software can’t detect this relationship, the transaction is terminated.
Developing loyalty and profitability
Mobile banking provides unprecedented opportunities to build relationships with customers. It does this by delivering timely, contextual and meaningful messages in a very personal way. Mobile banking is a catalyst for developing a new level of loyalty and intimacy for FIs with their customers and members, and for building a new level of profitability. To achieve this, however, FIs need a partner that understands, shares and drives the same vision. An FI’s mobile-banking partner must have the expertise to implement and sustain a complete mobile-banking channel strategy and support its technology. But more importantly, it must understand the full potential this offering brings to FIs and consumers alike. Mobile banking truly is the next generation in banking.
Robert Usner is senior director for global market strategy and planning for Diebold Inc.
Posted by: Bob Usner AT 01:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 07 October 2009
Those who closely follow the digital signage industry and run the tradeshow circuit know that the expo floor is just one of the eventful places at a tradeshow. Most of the real value in these tradeshows is found outside of the expo hall in the breakout conferences.

For the most part, digital signage tradeshows over the past several years have realized this and expanded their conference sessions greatly. There are even conferences that focus exclusively on only sessions and panel discussions.

Over the past several years, I have spoken at several of these conferences and tradeshows and attended many more. Recently I was asked to speak during both days of a digital signage event, followed by presentations from a number of vendors exhibiting there.

I’m not saying that my presentation was better than anyone else’s, but what I can tell you is that during my presentation, I spent about 20 seconds talking about my company and another 20 minutes talking about the state of the DOOH industry. This is one reason I think my session was better attended than most others during the event.

(View the presentation on SlideShare here.)

Many of the presenters who followed gave some information about their area of expertise, but spent a majority of the time basically giving us masked sales pitches on their products or services. I will not use any specific names in this column, but I can say I have seen this at every major conference.

This is not an isolated incident – I have seen this at just about every conference I have attended since I started covering this industry in 2007.

These presentations are intended to give industry experts a platform to share their expertise and provide thought leadership in the industry. They are designed to be an incredible value-add to the tradeshow, and people are paying premium prices to attend them. I believe that value is being diminished each time we are “bait and switched” into listening to five minutes of “insight” and then 15 minutes of the company’s sales presentation.
To the speakers: Understand that your message will go much further if you provide attendees interesting, relevant and insightful information from your field of expertise. In the end, it will position you as an expert and provide more value than trying to get the audience to buy your product. Sell on the tradeshow floor, tell in the conference room.

To the show organizers: The pre-show screening process for PowerPoints needs to be more rigorous. In the end, it is up to the conference organizers to ensure attendees are getting the most bang for their buck when it comes to these sessions. Especially now, as travel budgets are being cut, this is more important than ever.

I think many of the shows realize this, and are doing a good job of enhancing the conference portions of their tradeshows going into 2010. I’m encouraged by some of the speakers and session titles being announced in news releases. Let’s just make sure we get what we came for.
Posted by: Bill Yackey AT 10:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 05 October 2009
Though a recent state-of-the-industry study from Summit Research Associates reports languishing global kiosk installations, Summit founder Francie Mendelsohn believes the industry will see growth again starting in 2010. So why not use this fresh beginning to go one step further and embrace the growing demand for digital delivery and mobile self-service?
We all know kiosk adoption isn't a matter of getting apprehensive users to understand the technology anymore. They've proven that they comprehend and even prefer self-service. But for consumers to remain confident that anything a clerk can do they can do better, solutions providers and application developers must expand their ideas about what self-service means and give users more — and different — options.
In her analysis of the DVD kiosk segment, Mendelsohn warns that the application will be eclipsed by the digital delivery of films in upcoming years. In other words, while DVD kiosk brands are either suing Hollywood studios or wheeling and dealing with them, shoppers are wondering when digital distribution will be a reality. Not a day goes by that I don't see a Tweet from a redbox customer asking when she'll be able to download the movies she wants to watch instead of traveling to a kiosk, waiting in line and hoping the disc is in stock.
According to Video Business, Sony Home Entertainment and Universal Studios both already offer video on-demand service in the home through cable pay-per-view provider iN Demand, and both studios are working with others in Hollywood to provide a Web-based VOD service soon. To get a piece of the pie, self-service providers must find a viable way to deliver films digitally to consumers as well.
MOD Systems has gotten a foot in the door on the digital download front with an upcoming pilot deployment of kiosks that allow users to download movies to an SD card, which they then plug into their televisions. While the MOD pilot is a step in the right direction for the industry, I would guess that a small percentage of consumers own TVs with SD card slots and built-in media players, potentially making the solution impractical on a large scale.
These kinds of ideas are a start, but self-service providers have to figure out a way to offer digital distribution of films in a manner that makes sense for users and comes naturally to the consumer experience. And that may mean we need to let the definition of self-service evolve beyond the kiosk to accommodate the experience the technologically discerning consumer has come to expect.
Also in the Summit report, Mendelsohn says airline self-service will continue to move toward offering mobile capabilities — some carriers in Canada and Asia already offer the technology, and one U.S. carrier is testing it.
According to recent data from SITA, a provider of communications and I.T. solutions for the air-transport industry, 44 percent of passengers indicated positive feelings toward mobile self-check-in, and 66 percent of self-service check-in users said they would prefer an electronic boarding pass over a paper version. So while airlines are trying to figure out what else they can charge a fee for, travelers are wondering when they'll finally be able to head straight for security with their boarding passes on their smart phones.
But the beauty is that, although savvy movie lovers and travelers may be clamoring for the next big thing in self-service technology, the movement won't cannibalize current kiosk offerings. Kiosk developers have hit on something special, and self-service as we know it now isn't going anywhere.
For instance, SITA's survey also found that at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport — which the company says is the world's busiest — a record 83.8 percent of passengers used self-service check-in. And, compared to the nearly half of travelers surveyed who said they felt positive about mobile check-in, an impressive two-thirds said the same about kiosk check-in.
Perhaps Dominique El Bez, SITA's director of portfolio marketing, said it best when I asked how kiosks are to stay relevant as technology and consumer demand change around them.  
"It is not about doing the same thing from a different channel," he said. "It is about doing things differently. Kiosk providers have to adapt rapidly and must consider the kiosk as a component of a holistic self-service transformation."
Caroline Cooper is editor of and To submit a comment, please e-mail her at .
Posted by: Caroline Cooper AT 01:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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