Matching messages to the interests and needs of audiences as they change throughout the day is a fundamental strength of digital signage.
Have you ever wondered why pickup trucks and beer commercials don't appear during TV cartoon programming? How about why there aren't hemorrhoid and antacid commercials during TV sports presentations, or toy and sugar-coated cereal ads during the evening news?
The answer is simple. Different types of TV shows attract different audiences. Cartoon viewers are likely to be interested in the coolest new toy and tastiest new breakfast cereal. Heavily male sports audiences are prone to having an affinity for beer and pickups. And who could argue with the notion that viewers of the evening news aren't perfect candidates for hemorrhoid remedies and antacids given the general state of affairs?
All kidding aside, recognizing that different programs -generally run at different times of the day- attract different audiences is a foundational principle of how TV organizes itself and the way ad agencies identify groups of viewers who share a common interest and can be targeted with appropriate ads.
Many uses of digital signage, as well, benefit from a similar recognition that audiences change throughout the day. Thus, those with important communications to convey to a digital signage audience can select which specific messages to serve up at the most appropriate time of the day.
Often referred to as "dayparting," segregating messages based on the time of day offers digital signage marketers and advertisers a way to target changing audiences in a manner similar to how TV advertisers reach desired audiences based on a schedule that puts cartoons on Saturday morning, college football on Saturday afternoon and local and national news on every evening. Both acknowledge the fact that audience demographics change throughout the day.
In digital signage, dayparting messages can be as simple as offering time-appropriate communications based on changing audience desires throughout the day, or it can be as complicated as identifying different demographic groups likely to see signs at different times of day and playing back messages targeted to those changing groups.
Consider a digital sign in a hotel lobby. In this example, the same group -specifically hotel guests- are likely to view the sign at different times throughout the day. Smart marketers would use this to their advantage by targeting their digital signage messages to the changing interests of the guest at different times of day. Thus, from 5 a.m. till 11 a.m. the message might promote the hotel's coffee shop as well the availability of tickets from the concierge desk to local tourist attractions. From 11 a.m. till 3 p.m., it could promote lunch specials, and transition to messages about fine dining on premise for dinner in the late afternoon and early evening. Finally, the sign could promote the lounge and entertainment from 7 p.m. till midnight.
Compare that type of dayparting to one based on different demographic groups visiting a mall throughout the day. Early in the morning before the retail shops open, a mall restaurant uses the facility's digital signage network to promote an early bird breakfast to health-conscious mall walkers out to get their mileage in. Later in the morning when moms with young children dominate the mall traffic, messaging on the same signs transitions to promote a visit from a state agency charged with early childhood health screening. As the day progresses towards the end of the school day, the digital signage messages focus on a skateboard clinic being put on outside the mall's sporting goods store and a special makeup clinic being held outside a department store. During the late afternoon and early evening when those who have been at work all day begin arriving at the mall, messaging transitions to promote free cholesterol and blood pressure screening outside a mall pharmacy and a job fair in the central part of the facility.
While different in how they go about it, both examples lay out effective use of dayparting digital signage messages to meet the changing needs of audiences throughout the day. Unlike other alternatives, digital signage possesses an inherent ability to respond to changing audience demographics and maximize the effectiveness of communications. That's just another reason digital signage is gaining popularity for a variety of communications applications.
Though 2009 was a year many would like to forget, the kiosk industry as a whole has escaped relatively unscathed. A testament to the industry's relevance and to the power of innovative, consumer-centric technology, kiosk deployments seem to have taken only a small hit, and consumers continue to flock to self-service stand-bys like grocery self-checkout and DVD-rental kiosks in droves.
Here, we take a look at the top five self-service stories this year, as well as one story we wish we didn't have to report.
This Bellevue, Wash.-based company was just getting the ball rolling when it acquired Redbox Automated Retail in February. Since then, Coinstar, which processed more than $3 billion in coins in 2008, has announced a 156-percent jump in redbox' revenue in the first quarter, a nationwide redbox-placement deal with the Albertson's grocery chain, a $460 million movie-distribution deal with Sony and an agreement with Kroger to increase its coin-counting kiosk footprint by more than 2,000.
Coinstar also made a smart strategic move when it chose in September to offload its entertainment-services business line, which included gumball machines, children's rides and video games in an effort to concentrate on its self-service strategy.
"It's clear to us that our core strength is in the area of automated retail," Coinstar CEO Paul Davis said in the company's second-quarter earnings call in August. "The combination of retailer demand, consumer adoption, our core competencies and opportunities for innovation all point to this as being a sustainable platform for future growth."
After what some thought was a disappointing turnout at May's Las Vegas event, KioskCom's Self Service Expo bounced back in November with its New York edition. Not only was attendance surprisingly high, given the economic backdrop and expense of traveling to New York City, but the show's organizers also put together a compelling programming schedule full of meaningful sessions and practical take-home information, too much of which is often lost in the tradeshow shuffle.
The event hit the ground running with a keynote presentation from Gregg Kaplan, president and COO of Coinstar Inc., which completely packed a session hall at 9 a.m. the first day. Kaplan shared valuable tips about expanding a kiosk network, and he also announced the winner of Coinstar and KioskCom's "Big Idea" contest, which awarded $10,000 to the best retail kiosk concept entered.
Though Coinstar was the sponsor of the contest and its $10,000 reward, hosting it was certainly a smart move for KioskCom. It garnered some excellent publicity for the show, Coinstar and the contest's winner, ecoATM, and it seemed to renew the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of the kiosk industry.
Perhaps most importantly, at least for KioskCom's organizers, the show's exhibitors benefited from the organization's strict registration criteria and the increase in foot traffic.
"The feedback we received was very, very positive, both in terms of the quality and the quantity of leads that everybody met with and, more importantly, the quality and quantity of real, viable opportunities that they're going to be involved in based on conversations they had at the show," said Lawrence Dvorchik, KioskCom's general manager. "Exhibitors were just plain busy, and they were busy with real potential projects and prospects."
Much like digital-download capabilities, biometric technology has been the "next big thing" in the self-service space for some time. Although it's still not mainstream, the technology gained considerable ground this year, thanks in part to the United States government.
Following the meltdown of the Clear registered traveler program in June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stepped in with its Global Entry kiosks, where international travelers can skip the customs line and in only a couple of minutes have their identities verified using iris- and fingerprint-scan biometric capabilities.
Also, because of the Obama administration's pledge to make all U.S. healthcare records electronic, more and more healthcare providers are turning to self-service kiosks that allow patients to do everything from make appointments to update their medical records and use biometric technology to identify patients, providers and office or hospital staff.
"Healthcare has always been thought of as being sort of behind on IT technology," said Josh Napua, who works closely Fujitsu's MedServ patient kiosk, which employs palm-vein-recognition biometrics. "But obviously with the infusion of the Obama initiative for electronic medical records, I think there's a growing interest, to say the least, in trying to figure out a lot of these solutions in healthcare."
Tesco's all-self-checkout concept
The United Kingdom's biggest big-box retailer recently made headlines when it opened an all-self-checkout concept store in Northhampton, England. Though Tesco has operated all-self-checkout Fresh & Easy stores in the western U.S. for a few years, the new location in England is an even bigger step for the self-service industry, given the traditional European lag in kiosk deployment and adoption numbers.
Positive reactions to Tesco's new store recognize the inevitable draw of self-service at retail:
"Despite the sizeable initial investment, there has been a clear shift towards self-checkout since the turn of this century, especially by big-box chains," said Frost & Sullivan's Aravindh Vanchesan in a commentary about the concept. "Retailers are studying ways to attract new customers (in addition to retaining existing ones) and in this context, self-checkout has been positioned as a technology solution that can drive up customer satisfaction levels, leading to a more lasting relationship. Not to mention the cost savings."
Though Tesco has met with some resistance to the concept, both in the U.S. and abroad, its customers gravitate to the stores because, as consumers have shown time and again, many of them prefer self-checkout to a traditional lane. It gives them control and makes them feel as though they are receiving faster and more accurate service. Tesco is pushing the retail boundaries and helping the self-service industry make a stronger case for itself with these concept stores.
Few industries can count 2009 as even a decent year, but the kiosk business is one of them. Of course deployments have been put on hold because of tight credit and companies have been forced to "trim the fat" as they struggled through the global recession, but kiosk developers with compelling value propositions have reaped the benefits of cost-conscious deployers and consumers alike.
At the risk of harping on 2009's obvious self-service superstars, Coinstar and redbox have never had a better year, all because they made consumers an offer they cannot refuse, especially when times are tight.
More importantly, however, more deployers are becoming convinced of self-service's lasting positive impact on their bottom lines. Self-checkout deployments continue to grow because retailers simply cannot ignore the rise in customer satisfaction and the dip in labor costs that follow deployment. Same goes for airline self-check-in, photo kiosks and patient self-service, to name a few. It's not often that an innovation that benefits a retailer so dramatically also pleases consumers and improves their experiences at retail. Thanks in part to a financial landscape that has forced some tough decisions, more and more retailers continue to realize that self-service does just that.
Worst of 2009
The honor of 2009's worst moment in self-service must go to the Hollywood movie studios · namely, Warner Bros., Universal and 20th Century Fox.
These studios have refused to distribute new release titles to redbox the day they come out because, they maintain, the $1-per-day pricing model puts DVD sales profits, and thus the entire film industry's business model, at risk. Never mind that redbox has deployed more than 22,000 DVD-rental kiosks to answer consumer demand for affordable, one-night rentals. The success of redbox' DVD kiosk network has other companies scrambling to compete because it's clearly a service consumers have proven they want.
Hollywood's greed and its self-serving argument should be considered an affront to the consumer population, whose dollars are, by the billions, responsible for the movie industry's existence. Kudos go to redbox for standing its ground and suing the studios and for figuring out a way to work around their mandates by purchasing the restricted new releases at retail, as costly and inefficient as it might be for the company.
A few studios (Paramount and Lionsgate among them) have agreed to work with redbox, and for that we applaud them. But those that refuse to answer the consumer's call for affordable new release rentals continue to tarnish the entire film industry's reputation.
2009 was an interesting year for the digital signage/DOOH industry. Despite the recession, new deals were won, new technology was released and the industry continued to grow as a whole.
Here are five moments that changed the digital signage and digital out-of-home industry for the better in 2009, and one that certainly didn’t.
1. The rise of DOOH aggregation platforms
With digital out-of-home spending on the rise, the industry is working to make it easier for media buyers to purchase DOOH ads. This has led to the proliferation of aggregation services that allow ad agencies to purchase screen space across multiple networks using one online platform. Existing services like SeeSaw Networks, Adcentricity, rVue and DOmedia all expanded their networks and services in 2009, while new platforms like VukuNet and BookingDOOH.com were launched.
Why it’s important
The chore of arranging agreements with multiple networks has turned agencies off to using DOOH in their media mixes. There also exists a disparity between software platforms, file formats and payment systems, which is why aggregation services, which unify these networks under a common platform, are so important to the continued growth of DOOH.
Rick Ducey, chief strategy officer, BIA/Kelsey, a research firm, shares these sentiments.
“DOOH must get easier to plan, buy and measure in order to reach scale,” he says in the “Digital Out-of-Home: Hyperlocal and Hyper Growth report. “With consolidation, partnerships and interoperable platforms, we see the buying process becoming more integrated, which will spur growth.”
The poster child for digital signage this year has been the new $1.2 billion Dallas Cowboys Stadium. In addition to housing the largest HD screen to date, Cisco has installed nearly 3,000 digital signage screens throughout the complex as part of its StadiumVision offering. StadiumVision consists of screens in the concourses, luxury boxes, restaurants (as digital menu boards) and retail areas, all connected to the internal IP infrastructure.
Why it’s important
Pardon the pun, but StadiumVision is a “game-changer” for the sports entertainment industry. Fans are delivered entertainment pre-event, in-event and post-event, using video and content, such as out-of-town games and scores, team trivia, weather, traffic and news, in addition to the action on the field.
On the back end, the stadium staff is able to centrally manage the delivery of all of the venue's available video assets, including broadcast, cable, satellite and in-house feeds, to displays over a single IP infrastructure. And it’s catching on – in 2009 StadiumVision was installed in the new Yankee Stadium, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Land Shark Stadium in Miami, Fla. and many European stadiums.
3. Samsung and NEC release ultra-thin bezel screens
This spring, Samsung and NEC both released new screens that changed the video wall landscape. Designed specifically to be tiled in video wall matrices, the screens feature a screen-to-screen bezel width of 7.3 mm, creating a near-seamless look when placed together.
Why it’s important
Digital signage users are always in search of, literally, the next big thing. For several years, large format screens, like the 103-inch plasma from Panasonic, have been eye-catching but expensive. Also, traditional video walls appeared clunky because of large bezels that chopped up the image. Building a video wall with these thin-bezel screens is not only more cost effective, but allows the user to be more creative by arranging screens in non-traditional arrays.
(Honorable mention for video walls: The release of Christie Microtiles)
4. USA Today features digital signage supplement
On March 20, 2009, USA Today featured a pull-out section specifically focused on the digital signage and digital out-of-home (DOOH) industry. http://www.digitalsignagetoday.com/article.php?id=21939 The 16-page section was distributed in the New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles markets. Readership of two million was recorded based on distribution of 750,000 copies with an estimated four readers per supplement copy.
Why it’s important
Although most of the content was advertorial in nature, the section went a long way in bringing this industry to attention of readers in major DMAs. You could call it an “awareness campaign.” This year at tradeshows many of the exhibitors said they were seeing more educated attendees and fewer “tire kickers,” and projects like the USA Today supplement have a lot to do with that. Another supplement is planned for Jan. 29, 2010.
5. Capital Area Transit enables mobile digital signage
In April, Harris Corp. along with WRAL in Raleigh, N.C. and Microspace Communications, announced they had launched the nation's first free, over-the-air broadcast of mobile digital television to the public. The CBC New Media Group and the City of Raleigh, N.C., were also part of a project that delivers live WRAL-DT broadcasts to Capital Area Transit (CAT) buses traveling around the capital city.
Why it’s important
The CAT project epitomizes many of the best practices of DOOH advertising. Screens are placed on buses, where there is an extensive amount of dwell time. Viewers can be exposed to hyper-local, highly relevant content as they are taken through the city and have the ability to interact via mobile phone. And because the screens are still connected to a network, ads have the ability to be geo-targeted based on where bus is at that moment. It serves as a great example of content relevancy and contextual advertising.
..and one not-so-great one
If there was one story we wish we didn’t have to write this year, it would be that of Reactrix. Many of those in the industry remember the slow demise of Reactrix around this time last year. A victim of the recession, the Redwood City, Calif.-based interactive media company first went into receivership in Oct. 2008, called it quits early this year and had its IP bought in May.
What it’s not-so-great
Digital signage is a young and nascent industry, and it doesn’t image well to have any company go under, particularly one with the kind of innovative and forward-thinking technology that will help propel it. Reactrix had several good network deals, especially in malls. But I believe it was outrageous spending that eventually brought the company down (They burned through an alleged $85 million!) Even Wall Street Journal used Reactrix as an example of a tech start-up bubble burst.
In my first post, I briefly outlined the seven convergent implementations of digital signage and mobile technologies. In my second post, I discussed the first, and most basic, convergent implementation: DTMF. In this post, I’ll briefly discuss the second, but most commonly used, form of signage/mobile convergence: SMS/Text Messaging.
A SMS/Text Messaging implementation is basically defined as the processes for interacting with digital signage using the text messaging feature of a cell phone. Before we delve into the workings of this particular convergent implementation, it may be helpful to briefly review the history of text messaging.
In 1995, the Federal Communications Commission awarded select companies licenses to provide a new form of “digital” cellular service. This new service enabled cell phones to support features such as call waiting, three-way calling, in-bound number display, data communications and Short Messaging Services (SMS). SMS was deemed to be the feature that would allow cellular users with SMS-equipped, digital cell phones to send “text messages” of up to 160 characters to other SMS equipped cell phones.
The SMS feature was not however measurably used until about the year 2000. It was only then that there were enough SMS-capable cell phones and networks in use to support mass adoption of the technology. But even then, it was not until about 2005 that SMS became widely and actively used by cellular subscribers. Since ’05 however, SMS usage has been skyrocketing. Today, in the U.S. alone, approximately four billion text messages are sent each day.
As SMS usage began to grow, it soon became the primary form of communications for many -- especially those in their teens and 20’s. This growing affinity for text messaging was not lost on digital signage software companies, digital signage network operators, content providers and advertisers. Soon each was trying to find ways to integrate SMS into their digital signage networks.
Today there are four ways in which SMS is commonly used in conjunction with digital signage. However, before we review these four, it is important that we become familiar with the concept of Common Short Codes. Common Short Codes are an essential element to each of the four convergent implementations. Common Short Codes are five digit numbers that serve as a substitute for phone numbers. The purpose of Short Codes is to provide companies or organizations a carrier-independent way to engage with the general public via text messaging and then track those interactions.
The four SMS-based convergent applications are as follows:
1. Signage as Recipient: In this implementation, signage viewers send text messages via a Short Code to a digital sign for the other viewers to see. Viewers of the messages can then send SMS-generated responses to the message, thereby creating a group dialog. This feature is frequently used in places where people congregate and is typically instituted as a way to stimulate conversation.
This implementation generally requires that messages be relayed through the signage operator so that an administrator can filter out objectionable content. Some of the more intelligent content management software packages perform this filtering function automatically. But as a leading outdoor signage vendor recently found, sometimes even the best filtering techniques have their weak points. In that situation, a picture of three local news anchors was shown on the screen accompanied by a message that said, “Three Accused of Gang Rape.” Obviously the three were not the newscasters pictured, but an embarrassment for the signage operator none-the-less.
2. Content Selection: This implementation allows the viewers of digital signage to control the content that appears on the screen. For example, the viewer is informed that if they text a particular keyword (e.g. number, word, code, etc.) to an SMS Short Code, the content on the screen will be changed commensurate with that code. For example, a user could text the keyword “11111” to Short Code 55555 to see a movie trailer, or text the keyword “22222” to the same Short Code to see a music video. The content management software would receive the code and changes the displayed content accordingly. It also tracks and reports on the viewer’s content preferences.
3. Content Control: This implementation allows viewers to use their phone's SMS feature to control elements on a screen. For example, the viewer can move game pieces on a game board by texting a keyword to an SMS Short Code. The signage software uses these keywords to manipulate the game pieces and control the action of play. Like the "Signage as Recipient" implementation, this convergent model is designed to get large crowds engaged with the content.
4. Promotional/Marketing: This implementation uses the digital signage to promote an interaction between the viewer and a marketing promotion. For example, the digital signage may display a message that says "Text the keyword COUPON to 55555 to receive a coupon for 20 percent off of your next oil change." In this example, the user executes the transaction and receives a text message back that includes a coupon code for subsequent presentation to the sponsor. In another example, the digital signage could encourage viewers to text a keyword that will initiate the delivery of promotional content back to the viewer’s handset.
SMS-based convergent applications have been growing along with the adoption of SMS. But which of the four have been growing the fastest, what are the pros and cons of each, what is the future prospects of each? These questions will be addressed in a soon to be released white paper called “SMS and Digital Signage: What Is It and Where’s It Going?”
…to create another innovative social media/digital signage ad campaign. Yesterday Vans, the shoe company, and LocaModa launched a digital billboard campaign called Be Here Times Square using the Viacom digital billboard in Times Square.
Here’s the deal – users can log onto the Vans Web site or text a shortcode to send pictures and/or messages to the screen. All “appropriate” messages are automatically posted on the Vans Web site, and every hour several of them are selected to run on the actual Times Square billboard itself.
Not in NYC? No worries – the site sends you an email if your message gets up on the digital billboard, and also takes a live picture of the message on the screen and posts it to this site: http://beheretimessquare.com/display/
I decided to have a little fun with it and post the pic below of me writing the news story about the Be Here campaign to the Be Here site. It appeared on the site within a few minutes, then later this morning appeared on the Times Square billboard.
I know this because the www.vans.com/behere site has a live feed every hour of the submissions that run on the billboard. See the image below its a screenshot of the live feed from Times Square taken this morning. And yes, it is my birthday today.
…at least for Delta Airlines it did. Last week I was tipped off to a story about a recent DOOH campaign that proved quite successful for Delta Airlines. If you have read my writing on DigitalSignageToday.com, you know that one of my main goals when covering this industry is working to make DOOH and digital place-based media a more viable medium in the eyes of ad agencies.
I decided to focus on this piece because I think it goes a long way in proving the worth of DOOH in an ad campaign setting.
Here’s the shortened version – the whole story can be read here:
Earlier in the year, Delta its ad agency, Digitas, ran a brand-awareness campaign for Delta’s international travel services using digital out-of home screens combined with traditional media. After the campaign was over this past summer, Edison Research surveyed consumers prior to the launch of the DOOH campaign and again during the campaign to measure how effectively the messages reached Delta’s target audience and whether awareness was increased. The results indicate that Delta’s goals of reaching the target audience and increasing awareness of Delta as a preferred international carrier were accomplished.
• Awareness of Delta as an international carrier increased more than 28 percent.
• Among business travelers, the perception that Delta “flies to the international destinations you want to go to” increased 26 percent.
• The percentage of people “very likely” to recommend Delta to friends, family or colleagues increased 61 percent.
• Of those who noticed the screens, 32 percent fit Delta’s income demographic.
• Those who noticed the screens were frequent travelers who had an average of 5.2 business trips a year.
• Overall awareness of Delta increased by 15 percent.
Note that these results are just for the DOOH portion of the campaign, and don’t reflect on the traditional media part.
I spoke with Pat Connolly, vice president and group director of Digitas, and although he never cited the initial goals of Delta, he did note that these numbers exceeded those goals.
The screen space was bought through SeeSaw Networks’ aggregation platform, and although we’ve talked about their Life Pattern Marketing approach many times on the site, its worth discussing it again as it pertains to this a campaign.
The idea behind Life Patterns is that ads are bought based on certain target demographics, then the same message is shown to that demo at different times throughout the day. In this case, Delta wanted to target affluent business travelers. So ads were placed on screens rotated over five digital networks including on RMG Networks screens at cafes, the WHEN network at health clubs, cardio machines on the NetPulse network in health clubs, ferry terminals through the Affinity Network and PumpTop TV at gas stations.
The idea is that they see a Delta ad while getting their morning coffee, then see the same ad on the way to work, after work at the gym, and on the way home at the gas station.
All in all, I think the industry would benefit from more stories like this that show statistical success for DOOH campaigns. My hope is that this example will reach those decision makers with the brands and ad agencies and potentially effect future buying decisions.
Technology’s impact on business operations continues to transform managerial controls and measurement while providing for profitability enhancement opportunities. Technology in the retail environment has predominantly focused on point of sale systems that integrate everything from transaction accounting to inventory management. Recently, retailers and POS system companies are focusing on the integration of cash handling with the POS system.
More progressive retail operators have already replaced traditional drop safes with cash management system — which incorporates the traditional benefits of a safe, such as robbery prevention and time-delay-change funds, but also employs bill-and-coin-handling technology, as well as its own operating system. Today’s cash-management systems connect to corporate networks to facilitate data exchange and remote management.
The cost of a CMS is very quickly recovered through the recurring savings garnered by the system itself. What initially may appear to be a “cost” quickly becomes a “profit generator” that produces annualized cash and non-cash savings. Typical systems pay for themselves within six to nine months, yet continue to produce savings indefinitely.
Retailers have found recurring cash savings in many areas. Specifically, internal theft is dramatically reduced; detection and rejection of counterfeit currency is improved; and armored car requirements are reduced. The latest and most exciting area of cash savings is now being gained through the retailer receiving “provisional credit” for funds in the CMS that have not yet been deposited at the bank.
Non-cash savings include a reduction of management time previously required to reconcile the transaction log with cash and preparation of bank deposits, as well as instant accounting and deposit preparation.
Deploying a cash management system involves support and coordination among multiple departments, including finance, operations, information technology, security and loss prevention. And choosing the right CMS provider who can coordinate the physical and technological installation of the system can significantly expedite and smooth the process.
Each department should carefully consider features and functionality that will be required for a successful deployment and utilization of a CMS.
Below is a list, by corporate function, of features and functionality that should be considered or required.
Instant access to all information pertaining to cash in the safe
Tools to access one or more stores and data, and place it in a spreadsheet
Guaranteed deposit by CIT
Provisional credit by the bank, with money deposited to the account, regardless of whether it’s picked up or still in the safe at the store
Cut down on armored pickups, since credit is given by the bank
Automated cash reconciliation – no manual counting
Eliminate cash shrinkage by linking the safe and the POS
Lower the cost of buying coins and notes by recycling both
Lower the cost of coins by not buying coin rolls; use bulk bags
Elimination of cash counting at the beginning of the shift
Where cash rooms exist, eliminate 90 percent of the labor
Cost of annual software maintenance (get a five-year quote)
Cost of annual hardware maintenance (get a five-year quote)
ROI for any investment should be less than 1 year
Eliminate cash shrinkage by linking the safe and POS
Balance each transaction between the safe and the POS
Simple computer-based training provided
Operate in the native language of each cashier to eliminate errors and make the system easier to learn and use
Dispense flat notes that are easy to handle instead of rolled up notes
Auto dispense each till (no cash-room counting) at start-of-shift
Auto bank-out of each till (no cash-room counting) to end shift
Speed time for cashiers to clock in and be on the lane
Quick access to cash to replenish tills with coins and notes
Eliminate counterfeit notes while customer is present
New notes are validated the day they come out by updating the note validators over the network — no delay waiting for updates
Totally eliminate cash counting and get deposit guarantees from CIT
On-site service call by next business day at a minimum
Help-desk diagnostic tools to help solve technical issues
Highly qualified service organization capable of analyzing the network
Must run an industry standard operating system, such as Windows, and use XML
Must have the ability to plug and play over the store’s Ethernet network
Tools included for data collection over the network
Report-writer tool for creating and changing reports
Modern hardware architecture, easily told by integration (one power cord)
Must interface with POS at transaction level to stay in balance
No programming required to create a total CMS environment
Update CMS application over the network for new releases
Up-to-date note validators over the network when new notes are released
System diagnostics for help desk to support store personnel
Supplier has 24/7 help desk to support customer help desk or store directly
Hassle-free system that will not take IT resources to manage
Must interface with store’s alarm systems
Must interface with store’s camera systems
Must support a transaction log for up to 90 days so events can be analyzed and then used to search camera videos
Eliminates chance of an entire safe getting stolen
Balance every transaction with POS
Automated cash reconciliation (no cash counting)
Cashiers check in/out tills with no management assistance
Time-delayed access to all vaults
Additional vault for storage of change or high dollar items
Instant access to note validators for CIT guards
Audit trail to balance every penny of every cashier
Audit trail for all transactions for past 90 days
Eliminate counterfeit notes
Updated note validators over network when new notes are released by local government
Guaranteed deposit by CIT company
On-site repair service by next business day
Implementing a CMS solution is a decision that will impact your company from top to bottom. Each department’s needs must be considered early in the process. When evaluating potential CMS suppliers and their systems, you should prepare a checklist that addresses all of their unique needs and use this checklist during your information gathering and quote processes.
Digital out-of-home is a growing medium – a significant statement in a time when media outlets are struggling to sell ads and subscriptions. TV still dominates the media market landscape and newspapers and magazines have a declining presence. Although DOOH represents less than one percent of that landscape, over the past several years it has shown an increase in awareness, revenue and presence.
Recent research reinforces this. Arbitron reports that approximately 155 million (67 percent of) U.S. residents aged 18 or older have seen a digital out-of-home (OOH) video display in the past month. PQ Media expects the U.S. DOOH spending to reach $2.47 billion in 2009. And DisplaySearch, which monitors flat panel shipments, says that shipments of large-format displays (26-inches+) is set to grow 44 percent in 2009, indicating that there is a growing demand for screens used for public-facing applications.
Agencies are recognizing the growth as well. In the agency world, digital out-of-home has traditionally fallen into the realm of out-of-home (OOH), which comprises mainly on billboards and the like. OVAB and other organizations are working to separate the two and help agencies establish a separate “media bucket” for DOOH, so that it gets its own budget. Several forward-thinking agencies have already made this move.
The future of this medium and its success relies heavily on the participation and backing of advertising agencies. In the past, one of the key reasons that agencies have shied away from DOOH has been because there have not been proven metrics for the medium, like exist with traditional advertising, and that the buying process has been too difficult.
Knowing this, the DOOH industry has begun work to make the buying process easier for ad agencies. In addition to OVAB releasing Audience Metrics Guidelines for the measurement of DOOH advertising networks, the networks themselves are enlisting companies like Arbitron, Nielsen and Edison Research to perform network audits. The results help give both the networks and ad agencies accurate traffic counts, dwell time and other pertinent information in the ad buying process.
For agencies and their media buyers, the DOOH ad buying process is becoming easier, thanks to the work of those within the industry. Not too long ago buyers would have to go to individual networks in order to place ads on screens – a process that was tedious and often dreaded. Network aggregation services, such as NEC’s Vukunet, SeeSaw Networks’ SeeSaw Ads and Adcentricity have emerged in the past several years and are now gaining a critical mass of nationwide networks. This means that media buyers can now go to one place and place ads to targeted demographics down to the screen level.
As the industry streamlines processes and improves technology for DOOH ad placement, agencies are catching on to its effectiveness and beginning to invest more in digital campaigns.
In the world of sports franchises that use digital signage, the Miami Heat is emerging as a champion of the technology.
The 2006 NBA Champion franchise announced this week two new areas of its American Airlines arena that have been outfitted with custom-designed video walls, created in partnership with Magenta Research.
One of the video wall installations went into the Bacardi Grand Entrance, one of the main arena entrances. Twelve Sony displays are programmed with Sony’s proprietary ZIRIS software system and include signal extension provided by Magenta’s high-definition MultiView XRTx transmitters and AK600 receivers. The screens are tiled together diagonally at 45-degree angles.
Another area to receive a video wall installation was the Dewar’s Suite Level. The Dewar’s wall is made up of six Sony screens arranged in both portrait and landscape orientations. Content for the video wall is focused on Dewar’s branding.
Both installations represent a trend in the industry toward custom-shaped video walls. Sony actually showed a diagonally-mounted video wall very similar to the Bacardi installation earlier this year at Screen Media Expo Europe. Most recently, Christie entered this space with the launch of their MicroTiles product, which are small, configurable, square screens designed to be stacked into various shapes.
This is not the first time that the Heat and American Airlines Arena have embraced non-traditional digital signage. Early in 2009, a2aMedia announced the installation of MediaMesh, a three-story high LED screen mounted to the side of American Airlines Arena. Mediamesh is a high-grade architectural woven stainless steel mesh interlaced with LEDs. When the screen is off, it blends with the building’s architecture.
On Thursday, December 3, we reached a milestone in the young life of the Digital Signage Association. We celebrated our two-year anniversary just last month and we now we have over 400 members. Member #400, The University of Illinois and #401, individual member David Carbert, joined that day.
I remember how we got started.
Some of you may know that I also serve as the executive director for the Self-Service & Kiosk Association (SSKA). In 2007, we decided to start a Digital Signage Council due to the fact that we had a number of members in the digital signage space. We held our first (and only) meeting in Chicago at the Digital Signage Expo.
At the time, we talked about whether it made sense to change the name of SSKA to include digital signage. “You’ll have to get new shirts,” one of the participants joked, since we were wearing SSKA-logoed oxfords at the time.
In the months that ensued, it became apparent that the digital signage industry deserved its own association. We talked to several members of the Council as well as others in the industry and received support for the idea, though admittedly there may have been a few skeptics wondering if we could pull it off. After all, some associations were involved in digital signage even if there wasn’t a dedicated association to it serving all market segments.
We “soft launched” the association in October at KioskCom in New York City, but really didn’t sign anyone up officially until November. By the end of 2007, we had 22 members. By Digital Signage Expo in February 2008, we had 62 members and a 24-person Advisory Board. The board met for the first time at that show. Stu Armstrong was elected as the first president of the Association in the summer of 2008.
So here we are two years later, with 401 members, a 41-person Advisory Board, eight committees and task forces and whole host of activity going on.
One industry blogger wrote to me recently: “As you know I poked at you guys a little in your early days to question the motives and value of the DSA, but to your absolute credit (and I am being sincere) you have made it the real deal.”
Of course we couldn’t do it without all the support of our board, committees and members.
Following The Digital Signage Show in New York last month, I decided to write a company profile on Monster Media, a company that I have been closely following since I first started covering digital signage.
But why Monster Media? Well, in my opinion Monster Media has always been on the proverbial “leading edge” of interactive digital signage, at least in the three years that I have been covering the industry. Granted, most of their installations are in single locations and for limited-run campaigns, but they sure do get attention, and keep getting better at it. As Monster president John Payne said in the article, “With each campaign, clients want to top what others have done. Every 90 days to six months we have to keep evolving everything we do.”
I would say my interest first started in 2007 when I attended a tradeshow at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, which houses one of Monster’s longest running installations, a gesture-based projection for Shark Reef. (Viewers can move water around on the wall by swooshing their hands in front of the projector – movements are detected using infrared cameras.)
(Photo: from sixteen:nine blog)
Even now, that wall stops people in their tracks, although Monster’s installations have become much more advanced. Payne said they’ve scrapped floor projection, cut back on wall projection and started rolling out LCD video walls for their interactive campaigns. Payne said they’re more functional, versatile and brighter.
They’ve also become more advanced as far as interactivity goes. With the Monday Night Football installation from this year, users can interact with video versions of their favorite NFL quarterbacks, then play virtual catch with them.
Payne also said that the company is making mobile integration a priority and using some kind of mobile functionality in every new installation. At first, this was just offering shortcodes for viewers to text to, now they can even control on-screen content using their phones. And while this interaction is cool in the eyes of viewers, it’s even better for the advertisers or sponsors of the installation, who can gather valuable audience data.
To read more about how the company came to be and awards for recent installations, check out the article on DigitalSignageToday.com.
November's KioskCom Self Service Expo and The Digital Signage Show was, by most accounts, a success. Throughout 2009, the tradeshow industry has struggled with diminishing attendance, but according to Joel Davis, founder and CEO of KioskCom organizer JD Events, registration this year was up 5 percent over the 2008 New York event. This time around, the KioskCom team focused on offering a fresh slate of content and continued to concentrate on its rigorous prequalification process for all registered attendees.
Lawrence Dvorchik, general manager of KioskCom and The Digital Signage Show, spoke with us about the feedback he received and what the show has in store for 2010.
CC: What kind of reaction have you gotten from exhibitors about the New York event?
LD: The feedback we received was very, very positive, both in terms of the quality and the quantity of leads that everybody met with and, more importantly, the quality and quantity of real, viable opportunities that they're going to be involved in based on conversations they had at the show.
Exhibitors were just plain busy, and they were busy with real potential projects and prospects. People made it a point of letting us know that they were busy because every discussion that they had was a nice, long discussion and could turn into potential business.
CC: On the kiosk side of the show, what do you think were the highlights, in terms of programming?
LD: I think the Coinstar bit on the kiosk side really opened up eyes [Ed. note: Coinstar president Gregg Kaplan gave the show's opening keynote presentation]. I think it was one of the best received keynotes we've had, in terms of audience and size, not to mention the feedback and buzz it created. I think it was just a phenomenal way to (start). Gregg just opened up to everybody. To see the growth of what he's done from (founding Redbox) when it was just a piece of McDonald's, basically, to where it is now, you look at it and go, "In five years, look what you've done."
Lawrence Dvorchik is general manager of the KioskCom Self Service Expo and The Digital Signage Show.
CC: Coinstar's "Big Idea" contest also was well-received. Will it occur at future KioskCom events?
LD: I'd like to run it forever, at every single event, because I think it continues to spur creativity and innovation. But I'm not the one putting up the grand prize.
Honestly, the reason I would love to keep this or something like this as an ongoing feature is because it really fine-tunes people's business plans. Even for the people that didn't win, just going through the exercise helped them fine-tune their plan and opened them up to connections that they may not have had or people that they may not have had to look at it and say, "Hey, this was good, but if you do these three things, you've really got something here. Pay attention to that and come back to us with it." So it gives opportunities for more people to be exposed to that, especially in today's climate where it's so hard to get some of these projects off the ground because funding is so limited.
CC: Typically the New York show is perceived as smaller than the spring event in Las Vegas, but they had similar turnouts this year, and reaction to the New York show seems more positive. How do you compare the two?
LD: The audiences between the two venues are over 90 percent unique/unduplicated, which presents a fantastic opportunity for exhibitors to meet new customers and prospects at each event. The buyers that attend are different at each venue and each year.
So my feelings are that it's not a question of “which is bigger.” The two venues are comparable in size, and are comprised of a different set of buying audiences. To me, it should be viewed as the next venue. It's the show, and it's the next venue of this show. Both shows are delivering comparable attendees and comparable content to educate everybody.
When we meet with the Board of Advisors, review all the feedback and start to implement the good suggestions, we don’t say “OK, we are going to wait a full 12 months to implement the feedback.” We implement changes and upgrades into the very next venue, so New York feeds into Vegas, Vegas feeds into New York, and it becomes more a question of, what is the next chapter? What is the next installment of this information and of these people? It moves physical locations, but when is that next installment and how do we make that installment better for everybody?
So that's really where our mindset is — taking it from one event to the next and building on the successes and also what needs to be fine-tuned and improved or launched at the very next venue. That venue could be anywhere. We're still going to look at it the same way, wherever it might be.
CC: What will be your No. 1 issue to tackle before April's event in Las Vegas?
LD: Our current focus is on creating an educational experience that provides deployers with “actionable knowledge” that they can use to grow and improve their companies. For example, we are knee-deep in how to structure and deliver the content in the best format. What changes need to be made to the educational sessions to make them even better for attendees? What is the best way to deliver and organize that information so that the attendees leave the show with actionable knowledge to deploy in their organizations right away?
A story went out today from Aeris Solutions about a 750-screen install going into 160 Bunnings stores in Australia and New Zealand. But most interesting is the fact is that Bunnings doesn’t want this network, well, networked. Here is the paragraph from the story, run earlier on DigitalSignageToday.com:
Bunnings goal was to implement a solution that would offer all the features of a networked system, including multiple playlists, scheduled playback and automatic content updating, without having to install the network infrastructure typically required for a project of this size.
Bunnings marketing department, located in Hawthorne, Victoria, will create all the content management files required, then upload these files along with the new content to their main server. These files are then downloaded to each store via Bunnings current FTP network infrastructure. Once the information is delivered to each store it is a simple case of copying the content folder to a USB memory stick. A Bunnings team member simply plugs this USB memory drive into each media player and waits while all new files are automatically updated.
So this huge network, spread over 160 stores in two countries, doesn’t want to network? I’m not going to crunch the numbers, but consider the man-hours and the USB stick mess caused by hundreds of employees scurrying around manually loading the content onto the 750 media players (Based on the release I assume each screen will have its own player).
Actually the fact that this installation is not networked doesn’t come as that big of a surprise to me. This fall, the Digital Signage Association did a survey as part of its Digital Signage Future Trends Report and found that 45.6 percent of respondents said none of their screens are networked. Furthermore, 18 percent said “some are, some aren’t.”
I know Bunnings doesn’t want to make the infrastructure investment, but it seems almost foolish not to in this case. In the end, they are the ones missing out by not being able to take advantage of the flexibility and economy of the medium. Customers and staff will be the first to react when content becomes quickly stale. No doubt they will find this our sooner than later.
In today’s challenging economic climate when workers are stressed to the max, strengthening existing relationships through effective communications with employees and can help your enterprise succeed.
The government’s latest unemployment number of 10.2 percent acknowledges the human toll the nation’s economic contraction is having on people and brings into sharp focus why anxiety among workers is running high.
Without minimizing the “green shoots” economic commentators detected earlier in the year and the third quarter’s tick into positive territory for gross domestic product, it’s safe to say that apprehension among workers and employers alike continues to grow as each new day seems to bring announcements of shutdowns, layoffs, bank failures and a so-called “jobless recovery.”
Consider these findings from a Rutgers University survey released in April when the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be 8.9 percent. The university’s Heldrich Center for Workforce Development found in its most recent “Work Trends” study that:
* 67 percent of workers said they were very concerned with the unemployment rate, compared to 46 percent one year prior
* 49 percent said they were concerned with job security for those currently working, compared to 32 percent in spring 2008
* 68 percent said they were very concerned about the job market for those who are looking for work, compared to 48 percent the year before.
Into this environment of worker apprehension and doubt, businesses must maintain productivity –even with fewer employees- and carry on operations with an eye towards future revenue growth and a return to normal. While some managers may see this worker fear as a chance to raise expectations in the hopes of boosting productivity –i.e. more stick and less carrot, many will tread carefully recognizing the potential for prolonged job anxiety to chip away at the mental health of their employees.
While I am certainly no psychologist or psychiatrist, it seems pretty apparent that constant apprehension about job loss coupled with the reality of meeting one’s financial obligations is a recipe for depression. A depressed workforce is likely to be less productive and lose focus --potentially exposing themselves to more injuries, fewer sales closes and more missed opportunities, depending on the type of business involved. Further, once the economy rebounds and job growth resumes, some of these overwrought workers will look for the first chance to flee the pressure cooker, taking with them the job experience and performance that made them valuable to the enterprise to begin with.
While it’s probably impossible to eliminate these apprehensions, mitigating and managing the fear can be done through effective communications. Certainly, many of these fears grow out of seeing friends and family dismissed from employment, but what makes them worse is the not knowing –not knowing how the company is doing, how they are performing and what, if anything, can be done to make a difference.
Outside of one-on-one conversations, digital signage may be the most effective communications medium employers can use to boost flagging morale and keep workers motivated and focused. Why? First, it’s public by its very nature. This makes it effective in acknowledging individuals and groups of workers for superior performance. Second, it’s easy to update with relevant, current information workers may need to be more productive. Third, digital signage can help to strengthen esprit de corps by promoting and acknowledging the efforts of workers when they are off the clock, such as walk-a-thons to raise funds for charity and involvement in youth programs.
In today’s economic climate, when companies need to ensure their workers are as efficient as possible, digital signage should be a key component of any corporate communications effort. Those managers looking to maintain productivity, build morale and contribute to their workers’ safety and peace of mind would do well to consider how digital signage can help them attain those goals.
David Little is a charter member of the Digital Signage Association with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to effectively communicate their unique marketing messages.
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