The Perspective 
Monday, 05 November 2007
 
Information collected at the cash register is a rich pool of data that can help retailers ratchet up the effectiveness of their digital signage networks.
 
The concept is simple: Take the millions of lines of time-stamped playlist data from the signage network, place them alongside the millions of lines of time-stamped sales data from the POS, and compare. Look for patterns that reveal which bits of content are having an impact on sales.
 
"As soon as the tools for analyzing POS data against campaign schedules and specific content become standardized and easy to use, this metric will beat any other ROI measurements in retail digital signage," said Nurlan Urazbaev, director of marketing for BroadSign International.
 
The challenges
 
While the data is on the network, waiting to be mined, most retailers are not using it. Bill Gerba, president of WireSpring Technologies, said about one-third to one-half of retailers with digital-signage networks are doing meaningful analysis of their playlist/POS correlation. The number is considerably higher for retailers that include self-service and kiosks in the mix, "probably because the kiosks are driving some kind of transaction that’s of a high value to them, and they want to know how to convert it better," he said.
 
Pure digital signage may not be transactional in nature, but its output data still can be analyzed and solid information can be extrapolated. What happened to sales of a specific brand of cookies when its ads were run — and what happened at the same time to the generics? Which spots provided the largest surges in sales of advertised products, and how did time-of-day have an impact? All of these can be tangibly measured when playlist data is taken out of its silo and placed alongside the real-world store data.
 
"Integrating digital signage systems to in-store systems is vital to the success of the concept," said Dick Trask, director of public relations for Scala. "Digital signage needs to become an integral part of the in-store marketing strategy and not a lone wolf vying for recognition."
 
Two major challenges exist for retailers: IT capabilities and the flexibility to react to what is learned.
 
In large corporations, IT bandwidth is less of a problem, since there usually are programmers in-house already familiar with the POS system and the way it stores data. For instance, Trask said the U.K. grocery chain Tesco built its own middleware between its POS and digital signage systems. Smaller retailers may have a tougher time creating this bridge.
 
Understanding the broad view of which types of content are having the biggest impact on sales can be a major asset for the creative team — and can provide solid data to executives on the value of the signage network.
 
A third-party solution
 
For companies unable or unwilling to build their own POS/digital signage analysis tools, there is at least one turnkey third-party solution. Helmed by former executives from Microsoft, MSN and Amazon, DS-IQ’s analytics engine correlates digital signage and POS data, outputting it to a set of custom dashboards on the Web.
 
"While a campaign is still in-flight, you can get detailed feedback on precisely what is working and what’s not, while there’s still time to make a positive difference," said June Eva Peoples, vice president of business development for DS-IQ.
 
One possible downside, Gerba said, is that retailers can be reluctant to open their POS data to outside entities.
 
Peoples would not reveal pricing for the DS-IQ service, but said it "more than pays for itself by optimizing category sales lift."

Posted by: James Bickers AT 11:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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