Blog: Keith Kelsen 

Keith Kelsen (bio)
Chairman & CEO
5th Screen Digital

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

All screens are part of the continuity of marketing and messages including the increasingly powerful pocket screen. It really comes down to what businesses we are in — on the retail side, on the advertising side, or on the corporate communications side. These are all distinct categories of digital screen media, digital out-of-home and digital signage. This marks my seventh annual Top 10 Trends for the industry — trends that are changing in exciting ways, trends that always include the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.

Last year my No. 1 trend was "Go big or go small," and I submit to you how going small and big were high on everyone's list from restaurant tables to corporate lobbies to conversion of billboards. 

For 2015, I would like to open up a dialog with readers with some thought-provoking predictions in an effort to gauge and better understand readers' reactions. For the first time, you get to tell us what you think the No. 10 trend is. 

The main goal of engaging the consumer is to have conversation between the brand and the consumer and ultimately sell something! I submit to to you that everything we do is simple: The brand converses with the consumer and vice versa. So as companies look at what they are really doing in this business, does this realign their goals and thinking?    

And now … on to 2015.

1. "Moment of Truth" is now "Moment of Everywhere"

Brands and retailers are finding new ways to partner to increase sales and gain loyalty while aligning goals between them with omnichannel strategies, brand power, content and technology. Large brands are looking for, and continue to support, innovation to reach consumers in ways that are meaningful and provide ROI. Just like the video camera controversy five years ago, now tracking where the consumer is in-store has taken front stage. This too will become a moot point as the consumer learns of the benefits of iBeacon, Wi-Fi technologies. This moment of truth is when, wherever and whatever the consumer buys. Yes, it still happens in retail environments, but then again it's everywhere, and it's here now.

Look for the interconnection between digital screens and notice of where the consumer is (location) and the number of visits the consumer makes, their smartphone, their daily patterns both online and off line to arrive at the moment of truth. 

2. My Smartphone is now my smart button? Or is the IoT (Internet of Things) now the IoE (Internet of Everything)?

It seems that one of the largest impacts on the digital signage industry is the smartphone. Although it really depends upon the type of network one is talking about, still there is no doubt we are connecting with the smartphone. Intel is driving the chipset down to the size of a button, and then there is Edison, a miniature computer based on the same technology condensed into the form factor of an SD card, which has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in based on Linux. This wearable-type technology can have impacts in retail that are just now becoming apparent. This is an early trend in the marketplace. Imagine if you will, that my smartphone is a roll-up screen and the rest of my computing power is dispersed among the cloud, e.g., the Chromebook where everything is in the cloud. With distributed technology, I could walk up to a shelf, and the shelf would know what product I have been buying and even suggest another product that is complementary. What if my cart was using wearable technology that knows my list of standard groceries that I buy 99 percent of the time and then adds a couple of variations to my screen or a coupon offer to my loyalty program while in the store? Perhaps my favorite ice cream is now calling me – yes, really calling me on my screen -- and a virtual cow is now moooving my purchase into reality. The integrated chips are so small and connected that every product can have one next to it for the latest in healthy snacks, or how to BBQ that steak with the new rub … The cloud knows everything.

Look for experimental projects that use this newfound chip to drive new experiences in retail.

3. BYOS – bring your own screen

Again with the smartphone, I know. But in the world we live in we must connect the brand with the smartphone consumer. Interactions can be driven with larger screens by creating deep experiences, even product specific experiences that are tailored exactly to the consumer and brand. In a world where everyone has a smartphone and they bring it with them everywhere, one must take advantage of this as a brand and retailer. In DOOH there are deployments using the connection between the brand and the smartphone in several ways. It's not just one technology to drive this connection, but many.

Look for more inventive ways that brands will use all screens in the marketplace to make the connection to the consumer's smartphone in an attempt to carry on the conversation, even if it means giving something away to get that phone number and the opt in.

4. Go big, go small or go home

This trend is still very strong in the industry; we see not only tablets being used in restaurants at the table, we see them used at the shelf in luxury goods. On the big-screen side, technology and costs are now allowing us to deploy large-screen experiences that drive highly experiential engagements in retail and DOOH. This trend will continue for years to come. Creating large-screen experiences has a profound impact on the viewer in several ways: 1. The mind converts 4K and high-def into a window, rather than a picture, creating a false reality with a memorable impression. 2. With large life-size images the mind immediately goes into a flight or fight mode. This is an instinct that happens in a nanosecond. By understanding these driving factors, one can create large-screen experiences that have a lasting impact that laser-burns the brand into the consumer's mind.

Look for more deployments of small screens (tablets) and big-screen experiences that are out of this world and that connect with the consumer.

5. Content and emotive understanding

Understanding what drives an emotional reaction and understanding when a customer is happy, agitated, angry, etc. are at a basic level the key ingredient to create an experience with great content. The bottom line is that we want to make the customer feel something, and if we can make them feel happy, then guess what? They buy.

Using technology-driven algorithms to see how a consumer reacts emotively will drive new content that will make the customer happy. Yes, we could actually create the happiest place on earth with every piece of content that is created.

Look for more feel good content that has been tested with software facial algorithms and proven to makes us happy.

6. Digitizing America, are we there yet?

The digitization of American business is well underway. How does this affect the digital screen media business?

As the Internet of Everything and back-end systems are becoming aligned with front-end experiences something very cool happens: relevancy, personalization and conversation.

The omnichannel experience in which a story can start and end on any device or screen creates what is known as the "transmedia" experience. Transmedia content is several stories across multiple forms of media in order to deliver unique pieces of the story that together make up the whole -- content created to be displayed in such a way that the continuity and narrative of the whole is only apparent when we experience all of it. Combine the transmedia experience with power to purchase with the back-end digital infrastructure, and wow!

Look for experiences that cross not only the digital world but the physical world to create a total transmedia experience that crosses the path to purchase in personal and time-interrupted chunks that bring us to the brand and the product to buy.

7. Bigger data, smaller chunks, big picture

Data collection on every move we make is more apparent than ever before. It's been creeping up on us over the last few years. For anyone that has used Google maps, you can go to on your smartphone and see where you have been.

Ok, did you look? A little scary … get over it. In combination with what I buy online, where I go and which stores I shop at, and what I buy at those stores, the big picture of me gets clearer and clearer every day to the brands that want to reach me. Yes, I am plugged in, tracked down and exposed to the brands I love (and don't care about). And I'm OK with it. It makes my life easier to go somewhere where I have been before, to buy my favorite jeans or make reservations at my favorite restaurant. The "Big Picture of Me" is what the brands know I do. This translates to better, more personalized experiences for me.

Look for innovative ways that will take the collection of big data and make it useful for the retail, hospitality and travel industries to capture attention and pamper you to purchase through every screen you touch.

8. New business models

As retail changes up its business model and new cool technology arrives on the scene, this changes the very screen media business that we are in. This creates new business models that are taking advantage of the vast changes in technology upon the world. Anything from how we connect, shop and drive, to robots that will help us. We need to nimble, innovative and aware to survive. It truly is a rush to 2020. 

Look for new business models that will make the experience transparent and frictionless along the path to purchase.

9. DOOH growth

Yes, it's been a decade in the making, but agencies are on board more than ever. Programmatic buying of media is also a significant factor. This really gets to the core of getting the brand message out to the consumer in multiple channels, and it is changing the world for this industry. We say it's about time. Why is it changing?  Standards, commitments from major agencies, the work the industry has done and proof that it is working. There is no better time to own an advertising network than now. We will also see consolidation as this trend ramps up this year.

Look for tremendous growth in this DOOH sector that will take it to new heights along with consolidation.

10. We Leave this trend open and up to you. Send your insights and what you think this trend is to , tweet at us with the hashtag #Top10Trend, or leave a prediction in the comments section below. Get your thoughts in today and look for a post on the No. 10 trend, based on your input, in February.

Posted by: Admin AT 11:48 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Part 2 of 4
Consumers today are more demanding and frustrated than ever with their in-store shopping experience.  And evoking a positive reaction to motivate a shopper to buy a product in a retail store is extremely difficult.

Independent research firms KRC & Vanson Bourne reported in a recent survey of 5,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 69, that there is an overwhelming agreement amongst shoppers that retail ads and promotions do not resonate. And the channels most likely to be LEAST APPEALING are ads through mobile apps, email, online and in-store. However, over three-quarters agree that they would be more likely to purchase from a retailer again if they provided offers targeted to their interests, wants or needs.

Furthermore, around half of those surveyed are prepared to share online preferences and shopping behavior in exchange for receiving ads or promotions that are more targeted to their personal interests and needs.

Almost all would be willing to share at least one piece of personal information if it means they receive more customized offers. And 78% of shoppers would be willing to share their email address.

To attract and converse with today’s “Digital Everywhere” shopper, the store must meet the consumer on their own turf by providing true ”Digital Destinations.” Digital Destinations are a well calibrated combination of psychological, emotional and social ingredients that engage the shopper’s persona, augment the retail store’s physical environment and enhance the brand’s image.  And at the heart of these digital engagements is “Gamification.” Gamification is the study of how games can be designed and used to engage shoppers and create a more stimulating, fun and persistent shopping experience.  For more than a century consumers have been exposed to games when they shopped.  These ranged from Green Stamps to redeeming a free gift for cereal box tops.

Gamification – A chance to win from genres of games, providing the psychological motivation to play and win

“Gaming Digital Destinations” are captivating, fun, bold engagements within the store that carry on beyond the four walls of the space to provide a truly omnichannel experience. At the same time, they create an entertaining experience that motivates the shopper to come back to the store to play again and again.

The Gaming Digital Destinations involve not only the larger screen experience but also the consumer’s mobile screen and the associate’s tablet. And it continues at home leveraging the relationship created at the Gaming Digital Destination.

Gamification relies on an understanding of human psychology to inspire and motivate shopping behavior. The key psychological, emotional and social ingredients of Gaming Digital Destinations include:

Emotional Drivers – Creating a connection with the consumer by triggering one or more of the eight psychological drivers: Self-Creation, Mastery, Dreaming, Security, Playtime, Sport, Sanctuary and Connection

Selfie-Sharing – Creating a two-way conversation between the brand and the digital shopper

Personalization – Using unique visual choices that align products with the distinctive persona

Using these key ingredients, the retailer and the brand can engage the digital shopper to have fun on their in-store Gaming Digital Destination and when the consumer leaves the store, continue that conversation on their pocket screen and home screen — anywhere, anytime.

Next week I will highlight Omni Channel and Gaming Digital Destinations.

Posted by: Admin AT 02:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 22 April 2014

With spring here, I thought it’s time to talk about color. The basics of color can summed up by saying that there is a rainbow out there– so use it. BUT…use your rainbow sensibly. Some color combinations a pleasant to view; others are jarring, even ugly; while still others send messages based on our common cultural background (red and green mean Christmas in the U.S.; red, white and blue imply patriotism). And some combinations simply make it too difficult to present text in a readable and comprehensive way.

First, let’s look at the typical color wheel that is most familiar when choosing colors while working in PowerPoint or Word. (Figure. 1) If one looks closely at the color wheel, one notices the outer edge of the color wheel displays the darker colors while the center shows the lighter colors. This is based on the 32-bit color standards of RGB (red, green and blue, where values of zero for each creates black, while R, 255 G, 255 and B,255 is white. A value of R,255 G,0 and B,0 is pure red, and so on. Setting different values for R, G and B within this range of 0-256 gives several million possible color choices, although a very slight change in a single value rarely produces a color that the human eye can distinguish from the original.

When selecting colors from the wheel one can use the combination of inner wheel colors and outer wheel colors to set a contrast to any presentation using text. Figure 2 shows how choosing contrasting values — such as white on black and grey on black — directly affect how well the content will be comprehended and the speed at which one can comprehend the message.

Similar thinking can be applied to color in practical ways while choosing contrasting colors that work. First and foremost, choosing a dark color for the background and a light color for the foreground or vice versa will have a direct impact on the ease of comprehension (Figure 3).

Which colors work best with other colors? Take a look at the basic color wheel (Figure 1), you will notice that in its original design there are twelve colors that make up the wheel. The first circular color diagram was designed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. The color wheel is designed so that virtually any colors you pick from it will look good together. While important aspects of the color wheel and color theory are well known to artists, they might not be fully appreciated by someone that has a technical background. Although the wheel is made of twelve shades of colors, there are basic primary colors that are made of red, green and blue (Figure 4). This is different from the primary colors we learned at a very young age, which are red, blue, and yellow. These new primary colors are based on the medium that we are working in – projected light rather than reflected light.

The colors adjacent to the primary colors) are the three secondary colors of cyan, magenta and yellow. The final six intermediates are formed by mixing a primary with a secondary are known as tertiary colors, for a total of 12 main divisions.

Analogous colors are directly next to a given color. If you start with blue and you want its two analogous colors, you select purple and red . A color scheme that uses analogous colors usually matches well and creates natural and comfortable designs. When choosing an analogous color scheme, however, it is important to make sure you have enough contrast. Choose one color to dominate, a second to support. The third color is used (along with black, white or gray) as an accent.

Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel (for example, red and green). The high contrast of complementary colors creates a vibrant look that is undesirable for digital signage, especially when used at full saturation. Complementary colors are best used as accents or when you something to stand out, but is particularly inappropriate for text (Figure 5).

Warm colors and cool colors are on the opposite side of the color wheel (Figure 4). One can use this basic warm or cool scheme as a guiding palette.

As with any media there are colors that work together well and combination of colors that collide. When choosing colors that work well together, one can reference the color wheel and remember to look at the contrasts (light over dark) even within the same color. For the RGB scheme of colors, yellow and blue work, as well as red and yellow. Just the opposite is true on colors that fight each other or vibrate on the screen (Figure 5). Color combinations to avoid are typically the tertiary complimentary colors.

Applying these best practices will get you great results.  Working with brands and company colors, one can use the color wheel to create tasteful backgrounds and other graphics that will work well with the company’s color scheme. Remember however each display is different from one manufacturer to another.  Colors will vary out in the real world from display to display, so corporate colors will never be a perfect match.

In creating any message, choosing the right color combination can make or break the comprehension of the message.

Author and speaker Keith Kelsen, chief visionary at 5th Screen, is considered one of the leading experts on digital media. More information about his book, “Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage – Content Strategies for the 5th Screen”, published by Focal Press, can be found on the book’s companion website at Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @Kkelsen.

Posted by: Admin AT 02:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Keeping viewers interested in the content is a primary challenge of a digital signage network. For some networks, it’s a greater challenge than others. For example, keeping a corporate communications network fresh can be especially daunting because content is presented to the same viewers day after day. To keep up with that need, many managers of corporate communications networks make a crucial mistake and display all their content assets in the first month of operation and leave themselves with nothing new for the rest of the quarter or even longer, not to mention that their audience becomes bored and is likely to lose interest rapidly. In all networks, and here in particular, pacing the delivery of existing assets is a key to success.  In a corporate communications network it is best to rotate several categories in the main window: corporate content, policies, benefits, financials, and safety tips for instance.

Having a number of pieces ready to be placed into the loop at any time is critical and having them vary a specific messaging while maintaining the integrity of the category flow. A loop that has a safety message in it for example would play through the entire playlist, and then each safety message advances to the next safety message in the queue. This resets the safety message up to the top each time it goes around. So you’re always are getting a new safety message that is different every time—just in case you did sit through the loop twice, you’d get a new safety message.

Keeping ahead of content demands begins with the development of a significant pool of assets prior to launching the network. Think of these as basic building blocks that will be available for a relatively long period and can be mixed and matched in different ways. This is not stockpiling the content around a specific campaign, but rather it is about the overall look, feel, and identity of the site. This involves creating key graphic elements and templates to develop a large library that can be manipulated as you create and present your content. It’s crucial to know the current and upcoming campaign objectives (at least for the quarter, and preferably for the year) to be able to create the necessary content elements well in advance. This is an area that requires full attention, and procrastination is not an option. The more planning for content, the more successful a digital signage implementation will be.

Creating a multitude of assets that can be tapped into at any time will allow flexibility in most any campaign. Start with creating graphic elements that can be put together in a number of diverse ways. This enables one to change the look slightly by shifting the elements around on the screen. These graphic elements span the gamut from logos and labels to photographs and icons. A network that will be selling coffee drinks will want to gather images of the coffee cups in use, the logo of the brand, and any logos of the drinks themselves. An in-store network at a consumer electronic retailer would want to gather images of its key products, manufacturer logos, and brand marks, such as Blu-ray.

An internal communications network that will mix messages about safety with those about corporate policy might want to develop several sets of related designs to go on top of the relevant text—a red striped bar for a safety warning, a blue striped one for policy—that will carry consistent elements of the network’s design across various content segments. In some ways, this is similar to the idea behind designing a web site or a print publication.

Although there will be a constant stream of shifting content, there are certain graphic elements that are used all the time and that let viewers know visually what site or publication they are looking at. These elements help create a sense of connection and comfort with viewers yet provide a great deal of flexibility in terms of how a particular piece of content can be presented. Because these elements are important to a network’s identity and used so frequently, they are considered and developed ahead of any other content.

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Well is it? Your viewers might think so…

Boredom –It’s the moment in time that drives us to do something better.

Hopefully not better than watch your screens!

Content is King and to the viewer that content better be great or risk the bored viewer. The bored viewer is a brand nightmare.

Funny thing is boys tend to be bored more often than girls, said Stephen Vodanovich, a professor of psychology at the University of West Florida, especially when it comes needing more, and a variety of, external stimulation.

“Boredom is the brain’s way to tell you, you should be doing something else,” says Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology at N.Y.U.

Jennifer Schuessler wrote about boredom in an essay in 2010 and said; “Boredom may itself be a highly useful human capacity…as an important source of creativity, well-being and our very sense of self.”

On the other hand Anne Gosling wrote; “People who are often bored are at greater risk of developing anxienty, depression and drug or alchohol addiction, display anger, aggressive behavior and lack of interpersonal skills….”

When it comes to feeling bored frequently it may be ones physiology…individuals with fewer dopamine receptors need more excitement to stay stimulated.

Brands want a positive emotional response to their image even on DOOH and digital signage and boring content does just the opposite.

Robert Plutchik created a wheel of emotions. He believed there were eight primary/bipolar emotions: joy versus sadness; anger versus fear; trust versus disgust; and surprise versus anticipation. His model also connects the idea of an emotion circle and a color wheel. The primary emotions can be expressed just like colors at different intensities and you can mix with one with the other to form different emotions.














In Plutchik’s color wheel; positive feelings  such as optimism, love and submission are the results of feelings that are interest & anticipation, serenity & joy, acceptance & trust. As a brand one would want content that is cool, exciting, fun that brings out positive emotions like optimism, love, submission and awe that ultimately bring on feelings that are positive to the brand. These are feelings that we strive for in creating great content.

On the opposite side of the wheel is boredom which is on the way to disgust and lothing…just the feeling of what bad and mediocre content will impart to the viewer.

In my travels I have seen many many really bad pieces of content so, I’m going to vent here….

Ask yourself; Is my content boring? If you don’t know or if it is, then you are hurting your brand or the brands you have on your network. A bunch of text on PowerPoint does not equate to good content, it’s boring! If you are not putting up great content then take the screen down. I’m not suggestion that you spend $250K on creating content, but for goodness sake recognize your limits and bring in the pros for some help or find out how to create great content. Digital Signage is its own medium and it’s unlike any other medium. Content must be created specifically for DOOH/Digital Signage.

Ok…how do you create great content? Follow a few tried and true rules listed below.

In section above, I wrote about boredom and how it directly affects all brands on the screen…

“Content is King and to the viewer that content better be great or risk the bored viewer. The bored viewer is a brand nightmare.”

Content must be created specifically for DOOH/Digital Signage. So how do you create great content? Here are ten tried & true basics to follow.

1. First and foremost understand who your audience is and tailor your message to that particular demographic.

2. Make the message relevant by understanding why the viewer is standing in front of your screen in the first place.

Now the nuts and bolts;

3. Analyze the current traditional media that is being used. Most digital signage will be deployed as an additive component to existing marketing and advertising campaigns. it’s important to keep campaigns on digital signage aligned with the images and messages of the overall campaign. Operators should closely examine all the raw assets available for each of the other screens—TV and Online, primarily—for material that can be pooled and then reused or re-purposed in digital signage content.

4. Leverage existing content from other media assets. Existing content can consist of both finished and raw advertising footage, still photography and graphic images, animations, sounds, and voice-overs, in addition to the basic graphic elements and in addition to considering the screen-based assets that are available, don’t neglect the potentially large volume of assets intended for use in printed materials. Because print preproduction today is almost entirely digital, the photography, illustrations, and even text are likely to already exist in computer files that are immediately useable on a digital signage screen; images are almost certainly in sufficiently high resolution to take advantage of even the highest of high-definition screens.

5. It’s important not only to collect the available assets but also to take a complete inventory what’s on hand. There are two reasons for this. The first is that one will need to understand what’s available before deciding on what the most relevant and useful pieces of content are and how they might be reused. This will save considerable time when creating the final digital signage content.

6. Networks that are successful have a consistent set of guidelines that dictate the styles, tone, and other characteristics that will make it instantly identifiable to viewers. This includes colors, fonts, position of photos, showcasing products, etc.

7. Choosing contrasting values — such as white on black and gray on black — directly affects how well the content will be comprehended and the speed at which one can comprehend the message. Similar thinking can be applied to color in practical ways while choosing contrasting colors that work. First and foremost, choosing a dark color for the background and a light color for the foreground or vice versa will have a direct impact on the ease of comprehension

8. Simplify text - less is more. Shorten your message and bring forth the highlights. Another issue to avoid in general is the use of text over pictures. This tends to make the message very difficult to read, especially when the picture has shadows, dark colors, or sunny areas with light colors.

9. Define up front the action you want your viewers to take. Tell them the specific benefits. Use curiosity as a motivator to the solution. Headline the most compelling benefit. Call for viewers to take action.

10. Remember that digital signage is a moving, living medium. Using motion to emphasize and bring attention to one’s message, even in text, can be an elegant method to help recall. Use motion and strong bold graphics to make your messages clear and instantly understood.

In summary, creating content is best achieved by following a process that begins at the highest level of your network’s identity and works down. Networks that are successful have a consistent set of guidelines that dictate the styles, tone, and other characteristics that will make it instantly identifiable to viewers.

Posted by: Admin AT 01:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A point of sale (POS) network is what you might expect: digital signage that consumers encounter close to a product or service for sale. These screens are usually comprised of in-store or retail digital signs. These are not ad-based networks but merchandising networks.  

It’s all about the shopper and “How can I help you buy something today?” Sometimes, they include screens placed on the end of an aisle, or end cap, near the deli in a grocery store. When in front of a point of sale (POS) network, the consumer has become a shopper. The mindset of a person who has deliberately entered a store is much more attuned to cues and opportunities related to their needs and the wares on sale at the particular store. They are now reachable with more direct offers about products – and particularly offers that now take into account their gender, age and income, for example. These viewers are shoppers. 

The power of this type of network is that the call to action is immediate; the screens are placed where consumers make their buying decisions. The content is attention grabbing, relevant to product and brand, while the consumer is focused on buying.

While retailers and brands have sometimes different goals, one huge trend that is in common is creating a digital experience -- or digital destination -- that is engaging, interactive, personal and connects bricks and mortar with the new digital consumer while in-store. Putting all these together creates real relevance for the content of a POS network because it can create an emotional response that drives desired behavior.

Posted by: Admin AT 08:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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