The Perspective 
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
by Bill Collins of DecisionPoint Media Insights

Last week’s decision by the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB) to rebrand itself as the Digital Place-based Advertising Association (DPAA) probably should have come as little surprise to people in the digital signage and kiosk industries.

Now that it has come, though, the association will use it as a springboard to seize new market share opportunities and launch new initiatives, say DPAA officials.

According to longtime OVAB board chair (and CEO of Captivate Network) Mike DiFranza, the name change was approved by the OVAB/DPAA board after an extensive consulting process — and some of the most enthusiastic advocates for the rebranding were the advertising professionals who plan and buy out-of-home advertising time for their brand clients.

These ad-agency professionals recognized, DiFranza says, that the "out-of-home" moniker from the old OVAB name was not specific and clear enough to describe the different engaged audiences that brands can reach with "digital place-based" networks.

DiFranza said that these agency professionals view their buys of digital place-based networks as a separate and distinct complement to their other media buys of static roadside billboards, digital LED billboards, street furniture, transit advertising, airport advertising and other traditional out-of-home media.

Changing names equals seizing new market opportunities

This rebranding of the Madison Avenue-based DPAA is another example of how the leading U.S. organizations serving the digital signage, place-based digital media and kiosk sectors have successfully repositioned and renamed themselves for the last several years.

This repositioning and refinement (and sometimes rebranding) in our industry also has been done by tradeshow and event producers (the Digital Retailing Expo rebranding as the Digital Signage Expo and KioskCom’s announced rebranding as Customer Engagement Technology World) and industry publications (Captive Audience Network Briefing merging with Narrowcasting News to form AKA.TV back in 2004).

The bottom line here is that we’re all trying to keep pace with the market and seize new revenue opportunities.

New initiatives are coming at DPAA

DiFranza acknowledged the current U.S. economic slowdown has caused some networks to drop their memberships in DPAA. Also, some DPAA member networks have been acquired by other DPAA member networks. (Memberships run about $40,000 per year for operators of digital place-based networks.)

DiFranza said that, with this rebranding and DPAA’s new focus on selling the digital place-based networks into the digital and TV budgets, the DPAA hopes to woo back some of its lost members and gain new ones. He cited Gas Station TV and AccentHealth as example of networks focused on TV ad-buying budgets that DPAA hopes to recruit in the coming months.

To pursue ad buys from the digital and TV ad-buying buckets and win new members, DPAA president Suzanne La Forgia said the association plans to take several initiatives:

  • DPAA will expand its work with Mediamark Research (MRI), a prominent research house that publishes the annual Survey of the American Consumer. This annual survey collects information on adult consumers’ media choices, consumer product usage (tracking more than 6,000 product/service brands), demographics, lifestyle and attitudes. La Forgia explained that DPAA has persuaded Mediamark to incorporate more questions about consumer viewing of digital place-based media into the survey, so that the data will go into databases that define the media-planning and media-buying tools for many ad agencies.
  • La Forgia is working closely with both Nielsen and Arbitron to expand their work tracking the audiences of digital place-based media. La Forgia said that Nielsen and Arbitron are motivated to expand their research work here because of the rapid growth in the sector. She also hinted that both will soon be announcing major research results regarding place-based digital.
  • She is working with DPAA members to gather case studies and speak on seminars and panels at events sponsored by Mediapost and other influential organizers of events that media professionals attend.

"We felt that the old name was more exclusive"

"The new name clearly defines us as our own entity…Just like TV is different from cable, digital place-based media is different from digital signage," DiFranza said in a recent interview. "The name change opens up opportunity for this space. By engaging the multiple constituencies in the agency community (out-of-home buyers, digital-media/Internet/mobile media buyers and broadcast/TV buyers), that helps this industry grow. It’s a more inclusive strategy. We felt that the old name (OVAB) was more exclusive."

Bill Collins is principal of DecisionPoint Media Insights.

DecisionPoint produces custom audience research for Digital Signage networks and Digital Place-based Advertising. The company also provides B2B go-to-market strategy consulting for companies that market B2B products and services to those industries. Bill Collins can be reached at
Posted by: Christopher Hall AT 01:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 24 March 2010

by James Bickers, editor of

If an award were given for "most generous session content" at the recent GlobalShop event, it surely would have gone to Wirespring CEO Bill Gerba for his remarkable talk on "Seven Proven Strategies for Better Digital Signage Results."

The talk was just under 45 minutes, but Gerba packed in what was surely several weeks' worth of education. He broke his tips for digital signage content into seven broad categories; here are selected highlights from his talk.

Be sure to allw ample time at the end of a text message to enhance the recency effect. Don't wipe text off the screen too soon. Allow users the opportunity to read it, then read it again.  

Take advantage of "chunking and coding," which refers to the human tendency to better remember things that are prearranged into groups of like items — for instance, phone numbers printed in the XXX-XXX-XXXX pattern are much more memorable than 10 consecutive digits strung together.
Some practical uses of chunking and coding:
  • Pre-order: Group key phrases or concepts into distinct areas/times.
  • Repetition: Repeat key words, phrases or ideas two or three times in a row. 
  • Alliteration: Use words starting with the same letter or sound.
A call to action should be on-screen at all times. Actions that can be taken immediately work the best (e.g., "Ask a salesperson for details," "Get 15% off," etc.).
"If you only take one thing away from this talk today, your message must have a call to action," Gerba said. "It is the thing that is going to convert someone who might merely be glancing into someone who is going to look at your content ad maybe take an action later on."
When it comes to writing the message, turn to Google AdWords as a brainstorming tool. Search for your intended topic and see what kinds of messages competitors are using to try to draw people in via text ads. Chances are, you'll find a highly effective 5-6 word piece of information that is trying to compel someone to take an action, which is exactly what you need for digital signage content.
Visual elements: color, contract & fonts
There are some basic rules of thumb when choosing fonts and the visual layout of text:
  • Don't use multiple font types. Stick with serif for readability.
  • Don't use all caps.
  • Don't stack lines - try to keep each message to one line to reduce comprehension time.
When it comes to colors, the pressure is off a little bit. Gerba says there is no over-arching relationship between color and content performance.
"When push comes to shove and we tried to find colors that turned out to be more or less effective than others, we just couldn't do it," he said, noting that his company ran several hundred experiments with minor deviations in color. "You're probably not going to see any significant uptick or downtick because you've chosen a color."
But what does matter is contrast.
"Contrast is what everybody is actually messing with when they think they're messing with color," he said. Any combination of colors with similar color values, hue or brightness will reduce visibility, thereby reducing effectiveness.
Motion and timing
When it comes to making images move on the screen, the important element is the silhouette, the outline of the thing that's moving. Since the silhouette is the only thing that you can actually see/perceive in your peripheral vision, it's important to choose visual elements with distinct outlines. (For instance, a silhouette of a woman is instantly identifiable as such, but the silhouette of a baby sitting down might look like an amorphous blob.) Elements that don't have a strongly discernible silhouette are harder to see unless you're staring directly at them.

When it comes to timing, don't allow motion to interfere with readability or comprehension. Keep in mind that in most cases, you have between 1.5 and 3 seconds to convey your message before the person looks away. That's not much time, and anything that confuses the senses or muddles the message needs to be avoided.

Likewise, allow ample time for the viewer to read any text. For designers, make sure you can read your copy five times in the allotted time period. For other parties reviewing the design, make sure you can read the message three times before it is moved or wiped from the screen. 

Static elements should be the most important features of the ad
. Whatever is the primary focus, make sure it stands still. Subtle motion surrounding or behind it can enhance the scene without reducing recognition or comprehension.

Gerba cut right to the chase on tickers:

"I hate tickers," he said. "They are so terrible at what they do. If anybody started to do a little research, they'd start agreeing with me.

If you have any important information, it should not go in a ticker.

Tickers have a 10-22 percent lower recall rate than static text on a screen, Gerba says, and take anywhere from twice as long to 10 times as long to recognize/comprehend.

Scene composition

In Western countries, the eye moves from top-left to bottom-right in a zigzag pattern, as if reading a newspaper. Keep this in mind when placing visual elements and text relative to one another on the screen.

Visually separate, distinct elements of a shot speed up comprehension. Therefore, think like a filmmaker and split clips into scenes and shots: One 15-second clip becomes two 7.5-second scenes, which become four 3-second shots. Every frame or shot should function as a standalone "poster" — in other words, all information should make sense to the viewer if the screen were frozen at that moment.

Screen location and placement

The "decompression zone" is a "messaging no-man’s land" at the store entarnce, lasting for 15-20 feet inside the store. As a general rule of thumb, don't put digital signs near entryways.

Put your screens as close to head-height as possible, because that is where people look. And keep in mind the "angle of awareness," the 20-degree field of (vertical) view that is actively viewed by customers as they move through an environment.

Readability is crucial for onscreen text, and that leads to some general rules of thumb for the size of text relative to distance from the viewer:

Distance from viewer to screen

Minimum readable height of text



As they move through the store, consumers tend to look down on purchases; we "buy on our left" when pushing a cart down a walled aisle, otherwise we buy on the right.
Dominant flow is from the back of store to the front. The beginning of a trip favors new, less familiar items; end-of-trip (near checkout) favors "grab-and-go" and recognized brands. Likewise, front endcaps favor recognized brands, and rear endcaps are more suitable for less familiar brands.
Campaign integration
In-store multumedia campaigns marry digital and static media, but why bother? Because recall is significantly better when contents across various in-store channels (screens, printed ads, shelf ads, cart ads, audio, etc.) are consistent and reinforce one another.
The simplest form of integration marries the product being advcertised, complete in its packaging, with the digital media promoting it. Agencies are starting to get the hang of this, Gerba said.
Pitfalls to campaign integration include clean store policies, managers being selective with what they deploy and the fact that only 45-60 percent of POP materials sent to stores ever get used. Make sure the content on the digital screens will make sense to the viewer if other pieces of the campaign are left out or don't execute properly.


There are two approaches to using sound with digital signage: passive (which influences shopper behavior without their specific knowledge) and active (where the goal is to interrupt current behavior in order to introduce a new behavior).

Annoying soundscapes reduce dwell time. If your sounds compete with the host venue, screens might be shut off. And employee fatigue can lead to employees disconnecting or sabotaging the equipment.
On the other hand, a well-designed soundscape has been shown to lift sales as much as 5-10 percent.

Here are a few rules of thumb when considering/using sound:
  • Don't rely on sound alone for the message.
  • Use sound to augment an already compelling message.
  • Visual messages should always work without the sound.

This session was based on material published on the WireSpring blog. 

Posted by: Christopher Hall AT 02:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 22 March 2010

by Chad Udell, contributing writer

At The Iona Group, we produce a lot of experiences for museums and tradeshows. These are often installations that will run for a solid eight-12 hours a day for weeks and be in operation for years on end. (Many exhibits have five-10 year life spans in the museum world.) Uptime and dependability is crucial. Over the course of too many projects to count, I’ve assembled a list of must-dos for any kiosk we build. These are things that have worked for us and sometimes learned via trial and error. Make sure this kind of thought goes into your kiosk deployment.

1. Uninstall anything that isn’t necessary. Spamware, bloatware, crapware … whatever you call it. Many PCs ship with an abundance of free trials and demos of security software, photo-editing junk and lots of other utilities you simply don’t need. Uninstall them to free up space and increase stability. You may find it easier to simply wipe the hard drive after getting a PC and reinstalling the OS.

2. Disable all those extra services. Look at the average system tray and process monitor of your average PC. So many cycle and RAM stealing little apps. Get rid of ‘em. A kiosk does not need a Skype Widget, IM bug or Weather Station app.

3. Run network cable to every station. If you can, try to make sure that every machine is network addressable. You might not need it right then, but trust me, it’ll come in handy at some point or another. Wireless N is an option as well, but a Gigabit Ethernet connection is better.

4.Install remote monitoring software. VNC, Apple Remote Desktop, Windows Remote Login, whatever you have available, put it in there. It may save you a long stressful drive somewhere. Of course, this kind of requires each machine have network access. (See, I told you No. 3 would come in handy.)

5. Use UPS (uninterruptible power supplies) whenever possible. You don’t want a power blip taking down your piece. A relatively inexpensive UPS can provide enough protection and peace of mind that you really should just plan purchasing one for each kiosk right from the start. Make it part of your routine hardware estimation process.

6. Test temperature, modify cabinets or cases accordingly. Computers get hot. Frequently, cabinets for installations are tight and offer poor ventilation. As part of your testing and burn in, run a temp monitoring software. Note the PCs temp after five minutes running, then at 50 minutes, and then at five hours. If the PC is still running, great. If the temp seems a little higher than you think it should be (anything over 70° C is cause for alarm, IMHO), you probably need better ventilation. If you can switch PCs to a lower power usage, great, do it. If not, it’s time to modify the cabinets and put an exhaust fan or two in the cabinet. Get some standard-size or even small PC fans, and wire them into the power supply via a Molex connector. See the temp drop accordingly.

7. Schedule startup and shutdown. A timed circuit typically does startup and shutdown of an exhibit. This is easy for the museum staff to manage. This is also generally bad for your hardware’s long-term health. I recommend scheduling the shutdown via a scheduled task on a PC. A Mac has this capability in the Energy Saver preferences. Automated startup is also nice to have on an exhibit, as it requires a lot less human intervention on the beginning of a day. Macs again win in this department as the OS manages it. On a Windows PC, you are going to need to set this up through the computer’s BIOS. A safe and programmed startup and shutdown is going to lead to fewer HDD issues and far fewer Windows disk checks, and more. In conjunction with this, obviously, putting your app in the system’s startup folder is a great idea, but you may want to write a startup.bat batch script of AppleScript to start things up a bit after the system has fully initialized. This will allow for any extra drivers or third party utilities to be running before the experience kicks in.

8. Protect the desktop. This is of paramount importance. If your app crashes, what does the visitor see? Hopefully very little. I recommend using an application like Public PC Desktop to lock everything down. The desktop will be hidden, keyboard input can be limited and virtually everything you don’t want a user to mess with is disabled. I have used this utility many times and it has never failed.

9. Install an "Always UP" utility. I know your app will never crash, ensuring that the kiosk is always doing what it should, right? Well, just to be on the safe side, consider running a utility like "Always Up." This little genius monitors active processes to check that your desired app is running. If it is, no big deal. If the app has hung or otherwise crashed it can restart it. Additionally, the application can be configured to email a contact should something prove to be unrecoverable. Bullet proof.

10. Clone the hard-drive. When everything is done, what sort of security/peace of mind is there? A great deal, if you have an exact clone of the hard drive of the machine you just installed. Trust me on this, the extra $100 for the disk and the little effort it takes today to produce a drive clone is totally worth it. Install Acronis on a PC or Super Duper on a Mac to help you with that.

11. Purchase the OEM support. Most PC manufacturers offer 24/7 next support or at least two-day support for business hours. These agreements usually cover just about anything that would happen to a PC in average situations. Fried Motherboards, failed power supplies, etc. Covered. Pay for this now or you’ll pay for it later.

12. Use as low power of a CPU/GPU as possible to get the job done. It’s easy to get enamored with hardware. A hot new CPU and ridiculously powerful GPU are fun to develop for. You can really stretch yourself and provide top tier experiences for your client. A small bit of guidance though. IF you can provide a great experience on a second generation of technology or a slightly less powerful CPU, do it. The extra reliability offered by a second or third revision of a machine is oftentimes a significant increase in stability and heat/cooling problems.

13. Hide the cursor well. Purchase a utility to hide the cursor. Using the Windows control panel is a pain and is unreliable.

14. Use logging software. Crank up logging in the Windows Event viewer. Make sure applications keep a simple log of their activity, too. If a problem ever does arise, you’ll at least have a good starting ground for analyzing what went wrong, when it went wrong and where to go from there.

15. Disable auto updates if possible. Windows update and all the other auto updating software options on your PCs should probably be turned off if you can manage it. A PC that doesn’t require tons of security patches etc should especially have this service disabled.

The writer is lead developer for

The Iona Group, a corporate communications company centered on creating solutions which educate and motivate target audiences. Through the use of proprietary 4D methodology, The Iona Group integrates its skills, expertise and experience with leading technologies to create a user experience that best meets client needs. Reprinted with permission from
Posted by: Christopher Hall AT 12:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  
Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Dusty Lutz, general manager of NCR Netkey, agreed to answer some questions for and about the company's future in the wake of Netkey's acquisition by NCR Corp.

Here are five questions for NCR Netkey:

Q: Company officials have already talked about how NCR sees a ‘blurring of the lines" between digital signage and kiosk applications. How does the addition of Netkey bolster that continuing convergence?

A: "There is increasing interest in enabling interactivity with large format screens, in essence combining the best of digital signage with self-service kiosks to create a more immersive and engaging consumer experience. The digital signage helps drive the visual merchandising marketing messages while the kiosk provides the ability for the consumer to view product and services information and, if necessary, order and purchase from the device.

"Using software that is optimized to support the workflows around both signage content delivery and touch screen enablement is the key to successful interactive digital media deployments, and this is what the NCR Netkey platform delivers today."

Q: With Netkey, how is NCR better positioned to move forward with digital signage and kiosk applications, and possibly pure digital signage apps?

A: "With the acquisition of Netkey, NCR has expanded its portfolio of self-service and kiosk applications. In parallel, having the Netkey software allows NCR to move aggressively into the marketplace for digital signage-only solutions. Netkey has a modern, robust software product and one of the largest installed bases of screens in North America, and we have aggressive expansion plans for the NCR Netkey digital signage solution in 2010. There is a tremendous demand for a feature-rich, market-proven digital signage software product that is sold and supported on a global basis by a company with the experience, reputation and depth of resources that NCR brings to the table."

Q: How will this most directly affect the deployers of NCR or NCR Netkey solutions?

A: "This acquisition is a plus for the customers of both NCR and Netkey. Businesses that trust NCR for point of sale, ATM, self-check-in and other self-service solutions now have access to Netkey’s self-service and digital signage applications and management software platform. For Netkey’s customers, they have the confidence of knowing that their Netkey solution is now backed by a Fortune 500 technology leader that is committing the resources to enhance and expand the Netkey product suite and the customer support infrastructure."

Q: NCR provides total solutions — both hardware and software. Netkey was strictly software and therefore "hardware agnostic." Will Netkey software continue to be available for hardware other than NCR’s?

A: "Absolutely! We are committed to offering Netkey as a best-in-class software solution able to be deployed on the kiosk and digital signage hardware that is most applicable to meeting the customer’s exact need. We demonstrated this commitment in NCR’s booth at the National Retail Federation Expo in January, where we had Netkey software running not only on NCR hardware but also on kiosks from IBM and Olea, and digital signage displays from Samsung. Netkey has a long history of delivering successful projects working in partnership with providers such as IBM, KIOSK Information Systems, Frank Mayer and Associates and others, and we will continue to do so when that is in the best interest of the customer."

Q: And finally, how can the two companies’ strengths complement each other to lead to new product innovations?

A: "We are barely four months along with the combined company and we have already made great progress toward not only identifying but developing new, highly innovative products and services that leverage the best aspects of what NCR and Netkey have to offer. One of NCR’s strengths is the relationships we have built with businesses over our 125-year history. These relationships have been earned by listening to our customers and providing a wide range of proven solutions that deliver measurable value. Netkey, as a smaller organization, has been focused on targeting and addressing the very specific requirements of organizations that are looking to drive sales and enhance the customer and employee experience using kiosks and digital signage. Together, NCR Netkey brings to customers the best of both worlds, with a focus on innovation backed by deep tradition."

Posted by: Christopher Hall AT 08:27 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Unbeknownst to the digital signage and digital out-of-home industry, there are groups of creative professionals out there truly excited by the opportunities of the space. These people are exactly what the industry has been waiting for to take it to the next level.

The key to identifying such leaders is to take a closer look at their backgrounds.

Those who have only worked in the traditional print/point-of-sale space jump on the chance to create digital content on signage and love it, says Peter Viento, a 15-year shopper-marketing veteran who has worked across media formats.

"They get really excited because now there’s the flexibility of going from a picture with words to telling a longer story — they can do more, come up with a bigger concept and really blow it out," says Viento, who is the executive creative director at Saatchi X in New York.

Viento also loves the ability to tailor the messaging depending on the location of the screens in store, plus the quick turnaround nature of digital.

His team recently put together a mini-spot for a client. "It had really beautiful footage which we created the messaging on," says Viento. "Now when we go into that retailer and we see it, my guys are pumped. They think it’s the greatest thing ever."

Similarly, over at Atlanta-based SapientNitro, the team is fascinated by the endless opportunities with different screens and surfaces, with the goal to be everywhere the customers are and give them the same brand experience.

"We want to make everything touchable. We have whiteboards filled with ideas," says John McHale, who has been with the agency for three years as the creative director.

Without a doubt, Sapient has a culture of embracing new media and innovation: It was the agency, in partnership with client Coca-Cola and Samsung, that rolled out interactive vending machines. The 46-inch LCD touchscreen combined with Flash technology, motion graphics, video and Bluetooth capabilities for mobile downloads generated much buzz and recognition. Specifically, it turned what was once a pure transactional experience into a true interaction.

The experience really pushed McHale’s team to explore ways to expand the footprint of a brand. He has no shortage of designers and staff with a passion for new technologies that can help create unique and immersive experiences. Granted, Sapient is a digital advertising and marketing agency.

For creatives with the traditional print and TV background, the uptake and enthusiasm for digital signage can be less. This is sometimes due to the fact that "in-store" isn’t considered as exciting or that the budgets are much smaller than they’re used to for TV.

Drivers for innovation

What one acclaimed creative finds most interesting about digital is the fact that it’s constantly evolving and the toolbars keep getting bigger as new technologies are invented. With over 14 years of experience in interactive marketing, Lars Bastholm has seen inventions that seem small and inconsequential at first, such as Google, YouTube and Facebook, turn out to have mass impact on marketing.

For the chief digital creative officer of Ogilvy in North America, digital media provides the playground for engagement, entertainment and involvement, but also utility. As an example, Bastholm cites the Charm Toilet paper "Sit or Squat" iPhone application. It’s not exactly a brand or category that goes for "fun" advertising, but the application where they crowd source information on all the public toilets in the world is brilliant, he says.

"It’s right for the brand. It’s incredibly helpful for the consumers looking for a restroom in a city they don’t know. It puts them top of mind."

To help encourage clients to try new spaces and channels, Bastholm typically asks clients to set aside 10 to 15 per cent of the budget to do things that have not been done before. The investment is used to test pilot different ideas to see how they work, see how consumers respond, then adapt accordingly.

In terms of digital OOH hitting that stride as a permanent buy, he suggests doing the PR and letting people know about the success stories in the space. The three constituencies to influence are:

1. Creatives – They can get inspired to try and play in the space if it’s "fun"

2. Business Units – They need to see it was effective, efficient and entertaining

3. Consumers – They should enjoy it enough to demand more of it

McHale, who started his career in book publishing and design before transitioning to digital, sees innovation being driven from a peer-to-peer perspective. He looks for what’s recognizable in other formats and explores how they can be applied to different mediums. Examples include applying elements from the Web to phone, or how to build on the idea of the Wii interface. The Sapient digital team, much like Viento’s retail team at Saatchi X, is actively exploring RFID, quick-response (QR) codes, e-couponing and more to enhance consumer brand interaction.

At the end of the day though, one of the key drivers for adoption of new spaces and innovation is effectiveness.

Measuring success

While advertising-based digital OOH networks often stress the number of views generated, a successful digital campaign is often seen through the lens of data capture or actual sales lift.

"Anything that motivates a consumer to act, to give you their information and to engage with your brand or product or services, that’s definitely the number one metric for success," says Sean Cunningham, VP, associate creative director at Hill Holiday, a multidiscipline communication company.

"Lead generation and acquisition is very important."

In the retail world, "moving the needle" is the best way to gauge success, says Viento. This often involves running a digital campaign, then tracking sales from the particular retailer and seeing if there is a lift.

The number of impressions still remains important since it translates to "softer" metrics such as brand recall, brand recognition and brand love.

However, executives from the creative world readily admit there are many ways to measure success and defer to the analytics team on the details.

At the end of the day, what makes it worth all the late nights and extra hours for a creative professional is the talk value.

"If the consumers are talking about it, if the press is talking about it, if the industry is talking about it as something that’s pushing the boundaries, as something new and fresh, I would say that’s a success from a creative standpoint," says Bastholm, who is no stranger to industry and peer recognition. He is one of the most awarded creatives in the digital marketing industry, having won a multitude of international awards, including three Cyber Lions Grand Prix.

The more retail, interactive and digital talents continue to embrace and drive innovation in digital signage content, the more the industry will grow to its full potential.

For more insights on how creatives feel about the space, join Peter Viento, John McHale and Sean Cunningham at the fifth annual Digital Signage Content Strategies Summit on April 12-13 in Las Vegas. Also be sure to catch Lars Bastholm’s keynote on the "State of the Digital Creative Nation."

Christie Liu is a conference producer at Strategy Institute, host of the Content Summit.

Posted by: Christie Liu, of the Strategy Institute AT 03:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 08 March 2010
The Indiana prosecutor who had threatened to take deployers of redbox and other movie kiosks to task for renting R-rated films to minors has decided not to press charges.
Steve Levco, prosecutor for Vanderburgh County in Indiana, said his decision was based on conversations with local citizens.  It “seemed pretty clear to me that the community would not be behind the prosecution of this,” he told the Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press.
The law Levco would have used says businesses may be criminally liable if the material they provide to minors violates “community standards.”
According to the story, Levco had been contacted by someone speaking for owners of local video stores who said the store owners checked ID so that age-restricted material was not rented to minors. Although the kiosks rely on credit-card usage and an assurance from users that they are 18 or older, they do not currently have the means to compare, say, a photo ID with the users.
A redbox spokesperson said that confirmation of age is a requirement of redbox.
“When renting a movie from redbox, customers must confirm they are 18 years of age or older with a valid debit or credit card.  In the event a customer selects an R-rated title, the customer must confirm they are 18 years of age to proceed with their rental.  The confirmation process also provides customers with an option to select an alternative film,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail to this site.
In addition, he said, most DVD players have built-in parental controls which can block children from watching movies with offensive language or content.
“Whether renting movies online, from a kiosk, from a store or purchasing content from the Web, parental supervision is the most important factor in entertainment access and selection.”
Jeff Dudash, a spokesman for NCR Corp., which operates the moviecube kiosks, said the company applauds Levco's decision not to proceed.
"We have processes in place for age-appropriate rentals," Dudash said. "We're affordable, accessible and family-friendly."
Dallas-based Blockbuster, which has partnered with NCR for a line of eponymous video-renting kiosks, continues to combat the loss of business not only to redbox, but to Netflix. The rent-by-mail innovator has begun offering instant downloads of movies, further digging into its revenue.
Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes recently told investors that unless more major studios decided to withhold new-release titles from DVD kiosks by four weeks, the company would need to close even more stores than the 1,000 currently planned.
“If [the withholding] happened, you would want to keep more stores in operation, to enhance [our] consumer relevance,” Keyes told Home Media Magazine. “[A retail window] would more clearly define the use occasions for those channels.”
Posted by: Joseph Grove AT 01:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 03 March 2010
I’ve been reading everyone’s reactions to the 2010 DSE show this week, and have scoured the blogoshere to compile what I believe to be the top posts. You will notice some common themes among the various posts.

Let's focus on what was in Las Vegas... 
By Chuck Gose, MediaTile

There have been a few mixed reviews on last week's Digital Signage Expo. The consensus seems to be that there was too much focus on digital signage hardware and software providers and not enough on content, strategy or integration. If that was the case, then don't fault those who were there - fault those who weren't…continue

Themes From DSE
By Ken Goldberg, Real Digital Media

Let's take a break from the drama surrounding the DSA and DSF, which received enough attention over the past week. I'll have some new thoughts on that later this week or next. The real news is that the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) was held last week in Las Vegas and continued its own growth and maturation, matching that of the industry it serves…continue

Where’s this thing going?
By Pat Hellberg, The Preset Group

DSE veterans (some of us have been around since DSE’s predecessor, the Digital Retailing Expo, barely filled a small hall in San Francisco in 2004) have never seen as much activity nor felt as much energy as we just experienced in Las Vegas.  Exhibitors entered DSE 2010 anticipating the norm:  that they would spend the majority of their time educating the “tire kickers.” But instead, we heard that buyers were qualified/legitimate and conversations were pointed/positive.  Some vendors were even writing business on the trade show floor.
So the future is bright, right? Maybe yes, maybe no…continue

Impressions from DSE 2010

by David Weinfeld, The Preset Group

The trip to Las Vegas for Digital Signage Expo 2010 was great. The entire Preset Group team was there, which made for a fun, busy week at the show. Our pre-show mixer went off like a rocket ship, seeing around 180 of the over 210 registered attendees make their way into Lavo for the event. The excitement from the mixer spilled over into our meetings throughout the whole week…continue

#dse2010. Whew.
By Paul Flanigan, The Preset Group

Another Digital Signage Exposition has come and gone. Last year I spent all my time in the sessions. This year, I spent all my time on the floor. Instead of giving you the top five things I learned (as was my habit with shows I attended last year), I will just drop some thoughts on you. Take ‘em or leave ‘em. (Or hold ‘em or fold ‘em, as Mr. Rogers would have you do if you’re the gambling sort.)…continue

More DSE 2010 Impressions
By Dave Haynes, The Preset Group

So the theory was that because I was not going to be chained to a booth, I for once could really have a good look around. Didn't work so hot. I did indeed see a lot more than usual, but there were a lot of vendors and I ran out of time to have more than a glance at about two-thirds of them. I never did get upstairs for any conference sessions.
Oh well. Here's what I did see...continue

#dse2010 – One Canuck Perspective
By Dmitry Sokolov, Ingram Micro Canada

DSE organizers recorded some 160+ individual Canadian registrations; accounting for the booth staffs of Canadian software companies Capital Networks, X2O Media, CognoVision, Intello, Harris and Scala’s Canadian contingent, the total Canuck ‘visitor’ traffic would have been close to 100 attendees…continue
Posted by: Bill Yackey AT 11:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 02 March 2010
DSE was a whirlwind week, as it always is. The first day’s educations sessions were well attended and from what I could tell received good feedback. I attended the DOOH Advertising Summit for most of the day. Those who had not yet seen the keynote speaker, Shelly Palmer, were impressed by his insight into this industry from a media perspective. I heard him speak at an NEC event several years ago and have been keeping up with him ever since. You can follow his blog at

The Summit was an obvious success, and something I think Exponation will likely continue. All seats were full for most of the day, and during the morning sessions there were about 25 people standing in the back, including myself.

I went next door to steal a chair from Alan Brawn’s new training course, the Digital Signage Display Experts certification, which had about 20 people in it. Brawn said it was a good number for the first time the course was held, and that many people were upset that it coincided with Brawn’s Digital Signage Expert Certification because they couldn’t attend both. I myself am a certified expert and would highly recommend the course to industry newcomers.

Highlighting the DOOH Summit was Palmer’s keynote and a breakdown of the Walmart SMART Network, which I wrote up on The article can be viewed here.

Association undertones

Many of the conversations throughout the week were tinged with Association talk, reflecting the decision on the part of Exponation to launch the Digital Signage Federation a week before DSE. Expnation also announced its interim board for the Federation on Wednesday morning. Here are the initial board members:
•    Phil Cohen, President & CEO, Care Media Holdings
•    Rich Cooley, CEO & Founder, Visser Digital Media
•    Alan Brawn, Principal, Brawn Consulting, LLC
•    Laura Davis-Taylor, Vice President, Creative Realities, Inc.
•    Jack Sullivan, Senior Vice President, StarCom World Wide
•    Jennifer Bolt, Executive Director, TracyLocke Advertising
•    Bob Stowe, Director, Marketing Services, Wendy’s International
•    Carre Dawson, Director of Business Development, DS, Harris Corporation
•    Bil Trainor, President, Capital Networks Limited
•    Brian Dusho, President, BroadSign International
•    Ken Goldberg, CEO, Real Digital Media
•    Pierre Richer, President & COO, NEC Display Solutions Americas
New tech

The show floor was of course packed with new technology, so instead of breaking it all down here I’ve included links to some significant stories that came out of the show that I posted on

Also be sure to check out the photo gallery from DSE 2010 and if you are on Twitter, search the hashtag #dse2010 (or click on it here). The guys at DailyDOOH calculated that the number of Twitter impressions for #dse2010 was 534, 233, with my account @DigSignageToday accounting for 51, 729 of those. Not bad!

DSE: JANUS adds emergency messaging, visual paging

DSE: MediaTile demos new interactive HumanKiosk

DSE: 2010 Apex, Content award winners announced

DSE: LuxuryTec, N4D form partnership on 3D displays

DSE: LG announces new hires, messaging, products for digital signage unit

Digital Signage Association votes for independence, tradeshow 

DSE: D.A.T and bring advanced alert tech to DOOH networks

DSE: Wireless Ronin reaches milestone in food service digital signage

DSA elects new officers

DSE: PlayNetwork debuts the C500 Media Player

DSE: Hiperwall teams with Ingram Micro to deliver video wall systems

DSE: Philips Public Signage introduces slim 65-inch display

DSE: Harris Corp. demonstrates latest DOOH advancements

Magnetic 3D unveils glasses-free 3D solutions at DSE 2010

DSE: Symon Communications launches a different approach to 3D digital signage 

DSE: Cisco focuses on content creation for digital signage

DSE: Hughes launches digital signage iPhone application for instant emergency response 

DSE: Seven principles of success for digital signage
Posted by: Bill Yackey AT 11:58 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 02 March 2010

Vigix Inc. will be featuring a new vending kiosk solution at April’s KioskCom show in Las Vegas, and the company is confident the systems it’s calling the "first true vending kiosk" will be a showstopper.

"We’re looking forward to winning the KioskCom Excellence Awards this year," Vigix Inc. vice president of marketing Ross Elkin said, only half-jokingly, in a recent phone interview.

While there are things called kiosks out there vending product, they’re essentially just bigger, more advanced vending machines, Elkin says.

"What we have is the first true vending kiosk," he said.

ZoomSystems, with its automated retail stores or ZoomShops, and redbox, with its DVD-dispensing kiosks, might take umbrage with that description, but Elkin says the new Vigix kiosk does offer distinct advantages over pervious transactional kiosks.

The new Vigix vending kiosk includes a top-mounted video screen for digital signage and features a slim design, giving it a two-square-foot footprint, Elkin says. The kiosk can be plugged into any 110-volt outlet and offers either cellular-based or hardwired Web access, he says.

So customers can not only buy product at the kiosk, they also could potentially log onto the kiosk owner’s online store to shop, and the top-mounted screen can be used for digital signage which can be controlled by a central Web-based software control system that also allows kiosk owners to view real-times sales and inventory information for the kiosk online.

The kiosks are designed to hold and sell a broad array of goods, but its highest-value application is going to be dispensing items with a certain physical profile in a certain dollar range, like mobile phones, Elkin says. The kiosk also can sell peripheral items, like cellular phone chargers, or digital content. A kiosk owner conceivably could set it up to sell e-readers as well as e-books to load onto it, he says.

The kiosk also can be used to rent or sell DVDs, or small but valuable items like watches, Elkin says. It can hold up to 24 cellular phone-sized boxes or up to 144 DVDs, he says.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based Vigix has rolled out two of the kiosks, used to sell Motorola mobile phones, in Mexico, as well as two more different deployments in Boston, with another Boston site set to debut in the next couple of weeks, Elkin said.

Since the kiosk body itself can be imprinted with logos and the top screen offers digital signage capabilities, the kiosk offers a branding presence in a small enough footprint that it can be located in the middle of mall or airport concourses or store sales floors, which Elkin says has brought in some interesting feedback from one of their retail deployers.

"They said, ‘look, if all this does is break even in terms of the merchandise sales, if all it does is pay for itself, we have self-funding marketing,’" he said. "That wasn’t necessarily our intent at first, but it was interesting to hear their take on it."

Two other elements make the new vending kiosk unique, the patent-pending dispensing mechanism and patent-pending re-supply system, he says. The dispensing mechanism has no moving parts, making it less prone to mechanical dysfunction, and the re-supply system features pre-packaged product containers delivered via a third-party carrier, like UPS, eliminating the need for a "a fleet of trucks and a labor force on the road," Elkins says.

"It’s the design and the sophistication of the systems, as well as the efficiency due to the reliability and the third-party re-supply that really make this something different from what’s been out there prior to this," he said.

The no-moving-parts dispensing mechanism is proprietary, patent-pending Vigix technology that uses electricity, heat and gravity to move the package being dispensed from the cartridge to the pick-up slot.

Vigix’ description of its new vending kiosk as the "first true vending kiosk" is based on three things, Elkin said in an e-mail:  

-First, the two-square-foot footprint makes it a kiosk in the sense that its profile, appearance and dimensions are similar to what we currently think of as informational or transactional kiosks;

-Second, similar to current informational and transactional kiosks, Vigix kiosks are networked and controlled centrally. All user interface content, pricing and upper screen video can be monitored, changed and deployed from a central location using Vigix’s proprietary, Web-based software;

-Third, Vigix’s dispensing system and cartridge-swap re-supply process (also proprietary, patent-pending technology) are radically different from what’s available currently.  Other machines such as Zoom or redbox are some form of modified vending machine: electro-mechanical devices with belts, screw conveyors, and/or mechanical arms.  They are a) large (Zoom has a footprint of about 30 sq. ft.; redbox needs 9-15 sq. ft.), limiting the number of suitable locations; b) mechanical and thus prone to breakdowns; and c) labor-intensive, requiring a fleet of trucks and service people visiting each machine and restocking items one by one.  In contrast, Vigix kiosks are re-stocked via third-party carrier delivering a cartridge that has been packed with product in an operator’s central warehouse.

The kiosks also are anywhere from 50percent to 80 percent less expensive than other vending products, like the ones used by redbox, Elkin says, with a cost per unit as low as about $7,000 or as much as about $15,000, depending on quantity ordered.

The low entry cost should make it more affordable for deployers to roll out larger networks of kiosks, all of which can be centrally managed, and all of which the deployer owns, with only ongoing software licensing fees for the proprietary software used to manage them.

"Our intent is to make the kiosks affordable and allow for a more significant deployment than what might be possible with a more expensive solution," he said.

Posted by: Christopher Hall AT 08:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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