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, 07 January 2014

My title of these trends has changed this year to reflect the industry morphing into something new, something connected to the digital consumer….for all screens are part of the continuity of marketing messages including the increasingly powerful pocket screen.

As I reflect on last year’s predictions, (you can see here) it struck me how this industry is shaping up and what forces are driving new innovation and how each and every one of us in the industry is one of the forces that count no matter if it is one big screen or 500 small screens all connected to the mobile digital consumer.  I believe that 2013 marked a few changes in the industry; some that were subtle but important and others more obvious and game changing.

And now…on to 2014 PART II (see previous post for Part I)

#6. From Digital Signage/DOOH to Digital Screen Media

 2014 marks the year of significant steps of transformation from an industry that calls themselves Digital Signage/DOOH to an industry of Digital Screen Media.  As we look at the trends over the last 4 years digital signage/DOOH has been fighting to keep its place ahead of mobile and tablets…and as it turns out tablets are being used for marketing messages at the shelf aka digital signage.  I contend that in this colossal wave of change in the way that we implement marketing messages on screens in the marketplace, and that one can no longer separate out one screen from another.  Clearly the definition of what the industry was just 4 years ago is not the same and is a branding challenge for most companies in the industry.

Fundamental steps in transformation from a Digital Signage/DOOH industry to a Digital Screen Media industry

#7.    Innovations

Innovation has continued to awe us at every turn, and 2014, I believe, is headed for unprecedented technological innovation.  I say this not because I have the next big thing, I say this because we are coming out of a down economic cycle.  And when there is a down turn in the economy,  there is cycle of innovation, people create and they innovate something better than what we had before.  The rate at which we are seeing new products and innovations even in 2013 eclipsed all prior years with over 200 new products in our sector alone from a hand cranked powered kiosk to the introduction of 4K screens and 2014 promises to make that look like a walk in the park.

Look for a number of useful products, new experiences and new connections

#8.    Solutions Not Pieces

A major change in who is making the decisions for the brands and retailers has taking place.  The  marketing department is now in charge.  After years of IT making the decisions for our industry, the paradigm has shifted.  This is in part and partial to the omni-channel marketing push and who is driving this.  Screens, CMS, Cables, Media Players are not a solution, they are the pieces.  Marketing wants solutions not pieces.  Marketing gets it. Do the suppliers?  We see software companies and screen manufactures partnering up to supply a “solution”.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, a screen with CMS is not a solution.  Marketing wants great concepts to drive their vision.  Marketing will need total solutions to accomplish this.  And because the concepts are now experiences, the concept will be given priority and the pieces that make up solution will follow. Not the other way around.

Marketing is now in charge and they want solutions for experiences

#9. Consolidation

This has been a significant trend in the industry for the last 3 years. Some say it’s a sign of industry maturity…I say the industry will morph into something completely different.  Among the feverish 22 M&A’s in 2013, some were significant changes; RMG bought Symon, CBS Outdoor was bought by PE Firm Platinum  and became ExterionMedia, Cineplex buys EK3,  Bell buys Astral Media, Stratecache buys Carmanah Signs and PE Firm Generation Partners funds Captivate .  Some of these trends are consolidation to buy market share and some are other industries buying into the marketplace and a few are PE firms expanding the current business.  The other news comes when Intel introduced RCM and this will have significant impact on CMS pricing. Pricing has gotten so aggressive that there are only a few Saas platforms that will survive the next phase of the industry. I have another thought on the industry consolidation; Remember when AOL bought Time Warner? Who would have thunk? With mobile growing at a rate of 146%, I believe we will see some cross platform investments and acquisitions that may surprise us.

Look for cross platform M&As as the industry morphs

 #10.  Growth

As I look in to the crystal ball in this number 10 trend I see growth in certain areas of the market within our industry. They include Corporate Lobbies where the experience is now amped up.  Just take a look at what Arsenal Media did with Christy, or Array Interactive did with Adobe’s lobby.  This new lobby inspired experience trend will see growth in the market place.  QSR will continue to grow with new innovative experiences based on menu boards and queue line promotions, just take a look at Dee Da Restaurant. Retail is changing and requiring less space and virtual aisles and engaging the digital consumer will have tremendous impact this year with brands.  Healthcare will continue to expand for obvious reasons, but the model to capture more purpose of these screens will also change.

Growth- Corporate Lobbies, QSR, Retail with experiences that engage the digital consumer and Healthcare for sheer necessity

Posted by: Admin AT 10:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 17 December 2013

My title of these trends has changed this year to reflect the industry morphing into something new, something connected to the digital consumer….for all screens are part of the continuity of marketing messages including the increasingly powerful pocket screen.

As I reflect on last year’s predictions, it struck me how this industry is shaping up and what forces are driving new innovation and how each and every one of us in the industry is one of the forces that count no matter if it is one big screen or 500 small screens all connected to the mobile digital consumer.  I believe that 2013 marked a few changes in the industry; some that were subtle but important and others more obvious and game changing.

And now…on to 2014.

1.       2014 is the year of BIG and small!

This coming year promises that you will need to go big or…go small. With the trends that I see in the marketplace, it’s no longer (within the retail, hospitality and dining environments) ok to put a screen on the wall and expect the consumer to pay attention.  There is now a higher saturation of screens in the market place. The shopper is no longer wowed by the HD screen on the wall.  In the 5th Screen’s Good, Bad and Ugly Content Worldwide Survey, 40% of the participants saw digital signage in the retail environment.

The industry is headed toward creating BIG screen participation marketing experiences using huge video walls and large 65-80 inch screens with touch, gestural, virtual aisles, and augmented reality to engage the consumer in experiences that get the shopper off their pocket screen and onto the brand screen, engage them and then link to their small pocket screen to continue the conversation between brand and the shopper.

For the small screen, think tablets and mobile.  Both iPad and Intel based tablets are permeating the market place.  The recent announcement of Applebee’s deployment of Intel based tablets at each table is leading the way.  We now see them at Subway on the counter next to the register, in the hands of associates, at the shelf next to products, in new concept stores. These small screens will be interactive with a personal one on one purposed experience and with the goal to continue the conversation on the smallest screen; the pocket screen. And to help this #1 trend, tablets are getting more powerful and less expensive by the day.  The key to their success will be how these screens engage the shopper.  These deployments will, I believe will be the most significant growth area in the marketplace. Remember that saying great things come in small packages.

The combination of BIG and small screens in the new retail environment is the key to brick and mortar brand survival in the digital world.

2.       Participation Marketing and Gamification

In today’s attention grabbing environment the consumer is inundated with over 1,200 messages per day on average according to recent studies.  But, it is no longer the consumer watching, it’s about what they do.  And they DO media, not watch media in the marketplace.

Today if a screen does not deliver an engagement and story in a PoW network (Point of Wait, where the consumer has dwell time) or PoS Network (Point of Sale, where the consumer is shopping) environment it’s a waste of resource and the consumer will simply not care.

The engagement process might be touch, gestural, augmented reality or simply text to this number from their pocket screen.  The key is to give the engaged the consumer the chance to win something, anything or just offer to give them something and they will give you (the brand), personal information in return and connect with you the brand on their pocket screen for the ongoing conversation. The Gamification of retail is underway and using participation marketing techniques in 2014 is going viral and it will give the brand and retailers a high ROI and ROE (return on engagement).

The anti has just gone up and the consumer demands something to DO not something to watch.

3.       Great Content

Today’s consumer demands high quality experiences and the only element that we have to deliver on that promise is to create great content.  Content is one of the most challenging daunting tasks that has plagued the industry, but this year is the year that agencies are stepping up to the challenge.  We have reached a point that the knowledge base has finally sunk in…TV ads do not work on digital signage. Yes I know, those of is in the industry have been saying that since day one.  But now over a decade and half later agencies are on board with this.  And purpose built media for digital signage is now the new standard. In my recent 2013 worldwide survey on content 55% of the survey participants said that the content was mediocre and 8% considered the content bad. In contrast 35% considered the content good and only 2% considered the digital media to be great.

So why do I think Great Content is on the horizon? Now we know.  Now we know that every piece of brand media that the consumer comes in contact with has to be great or risk the perception; Bad Content=Bad Brand, Great Content=Great Brand.  Combine this with the fact that brands are making larger investments in their digital assets or they die. Brands understand that the past decade of feverish developments in intersecting digital technology requires them to create great content in the digital world. As brands become digitally bonded with consumers, the only perception is how great that content is and this will directly affect the consumer’s attitude toward the brand at every digital touch point.

 Look for great content on all screens, because the brand’s survival depends upon the digital bond.

4.       Connecting The Dots

This has been on my list for the last 3 years and this year moves up to #4 position.  The pressure for all screens to work together seamlessly is even stronger in 2014.  Call it omni-channel, transmedia experience, mobile connection, or whatever.  The bottom line is that a consumer is looking for an experience that is seamless. From their point of view, that means what I see on TV, on my tablet, on my smart phone and in-store creates a seamless experience on that path to purchase.  The industry gets it, the agencies get it, even IT gets it, and marketing definitely gets it.  But it does take the fundamental architectural changes in the backend.  And that process began for most retailers in the last 2 years and it is still in it’s infancy.  Through the omni-channel implementation in the retail sector, the seamless experience will become more of a reality this year. This is the time when the consumer touches the cloud and the consumer does not care which screen they are interacting with as long as it is entertaining, helpful, or useful.  Look what Apple just did…iBeacon (although not new just NFC the apple way)… but it does that tell us the experience is changing in retail and it simply does not matter which screen.  Digital signage will be a connected cloud experience or it will be ignored.

 Look for more seamless experiences across all screens where digital signage is a part of the cloud ecosystem.

5. Data and Experiences

Big Data is something that was a buzz in late 2012 and in early 2013…but what happens when small data drives the real time experience?  We have seen this in simple terms when weather data drives products offered like hot chocolate when it’s snowing or an umbrella sale when it’s raining.  But the world of data is changing and becoming part of the very fabric that we live in.  AutoZone utilizes big data to tap into a variety of databases, such as the types of cars driven by people living around their retail outlets.  This has given Auto Zone a competitive advantage because they can offer inventory to their customers with what they want, where they want it.  Image when this gets integrated into their digital screen strategy.

Small data will begin to drive our interactive screen experiences in new (unnoticed by the consumer), but extremely useful natural ways.

Posted by: Admin AT 10:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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