|| Blog: Lyle Bunn
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
In the wake of US retailer Target closing 133 stores just 2 years after their opening, Toronto Star Fashion Columnist Karen von Hahn offers some insights into the buying attitudes of Canadians versus Americans. This commentary by Lyle Bunn looks at buying habits through the lens of Digital Place-based Media. It is useful to read von Hahn’s her full article What Target’s fail Says About Canadians.
Canadians are different shoppers than Americans notes Karen von Hahn.
1. Canadians do not shop for sport. Perhaps it's the self-denying, tight-fisted Scot heritage or the wish to provide a better life for the next generation. Canadians do not enjoy parting with money, perhaps because Canadians simply have less disposable income than Americans since mortgage interest payments are not tax deductible and the cost of living in Canada is higher including everything from a accommodation to cars, to a bottle of wine or going out to dinner.
What this means to digital signage use and providers: The consumer purchase journey must include regular, ongoing profile of the brand and its promise. And, the point-of-purchase, or in the case of food services, the point-of-ordering must motivate trial, buying, upsell and cross-sell if the revenue aspirations of the brand or retailer are to be achieved. Digital media offers the opportunity to brand and merchandise simultaneously while presenting brand attributes in its most inspiring manner.
2. When Canadians do spend they are extremely discerning and are “touch and feel” shoppers. The comparative success of premium high street brands here such as Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and JCrew, each of which took baby steps here in their expansion, shows that we will pay more for brands that deliver.
What this means to digital signage use and providers: American retailers are aware of the value-consciousness of the Millennials demographic which is evidenced across all consumer demographics in Canada. “Value” is an expression of total benefits including such elements as suitable quality at suitable price, the purchase experience and remedy when the brand promise is not met. Digital signage can establish appropriate expectations including presenting the benefits that consumers could anticipate receiving. Many US retailers and brands (i.e. TJX in its Winners banner) test approaches in Canada before wider roll-out in their US locations, or monitor Canadian approaches (i.e. Tim Horton’s, Holt Renfrew, Air Canada Center, Oxford Properties, ScotiaBank, TD Bank, etc.) precisely because Canadian shoppers are more discerning and the competitive environment demands greater differentiation. It helps that many of the digital signage primary providers were founded or have principle operations in Canada where “best practices” can be advanced, tested and profiled. Hundreds of end users for example, attended the Digital Trends Showcase (DTS) in downtown Toronto in October 2014, which demonstrated merchandising approaches using Adidas as the sample brand. A major consumer package goods (CPG) will be used in the fall 2015 DTS demonstration event.
3. Canada’s urban centers are well served by brick-and-mortar retail options. Extensive, robust Internet access serves both rural and urban shoppers.
What this means to digital signage use and providers: Retailers must generate traffic and then convert shoppers to buyers. By offering an environment that merits being a destination, the retailer enjoys traffic, visit frequency, a deeper shopper loop and increased numbers of people in the shopping party and dwell time. These translate into conversion based on the 3 Ps, product, price and promotion. On-location media that adds to the experience and engagement results in increased conversion, basket size and share of wallet.
When online research is part of the path to purchase, message fidelity is fulfilled and content costs reduced through “transmedia,” where communications are adapted and repurposed while using the same graphics, font family, benefit statements, tag lines and story line. Brands can tell their story and sell their story through high quality video, animations and graphics that echo each other online and in-store.
4. Canadians are distrustful of hype, and when all the hype is investigated, God forbid the retailer or brand does not deliver, resulting in utter dismissal and disdain for the hooey.
What this means to digital signage use and providers: Eyes are attracted to messages that matter and the brain engages with communications that indicate how a problem is solved or an aspiration fulfilled. The inherent ability for dynamic signage to present features and benefits in the context of weather, economic or social conditions means that the brand or retailer is continuously able to put their best foot forward. The “bliss point” of a satisfied consumer and equally satisfied retailer is achieved.
In conclusion, in its ability to simultaneously brand and promote while adding a positive, modern ambiance and vitality that increase the attractiveness of a location, digital signage offers high return on investment to retailers and brands.
Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s Dynamic Place-based Media industry. He has assisted over 300 organizations to benefit from the media, has helped train over 10,000 end user and professionals, and published over 300 articles, whitepapers and Guides including the popular “Dynamic Media in Retail” guidebook and NRF15 Summary available at http://www.lylebunn.com/Pages/aboutus.aspx. Email
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
So many digital signage installations are either a “train wreck” today or are going “off the rails” on their path into the ditch. Many are under-performing.
We’ve all seen them… dark displays or error messages showing, or stale, boring or poor content.. In each case, under-achievement of the intended return on investment and little chance of system build-out through further investment.
Failure starts to show at the planning stage and rears its head especially during operations.
The effect of that the initial investment does not provide the intended return, and ongoing investment to system build-out. Without build-out, the benefits of broader multi-location installation and the amortization of the costs of volume purchasing, content and operations are not realized.
The causes are typically one or more of the following:
Inadequate planning lies in the short-sightedness related to clearly defining business goals and the content approach that is central to achieving these through the technology. The initiative will fail unless objectives are defined along with the content to achieve these, following by sourcing and installing the technology suited to presenting the content that achieve the goals.
Organizational issues can be blamed when one part of the organization (such as facilities operations or Information Technologies) puts the digital signage in place, while another (such as visitor relations, marketing or human resources) is expected to use and operate the system to generate return on the investment. The lack of investment understanding, budgeting, suitable personnel or skills, or over-arching executive validation causes the initiative to hobble along, being "good enough” and never fulfilling the full promise of the media.. or simply stagnating. The fault in this case is insufficient planning.
Revenue sourcing is sometimes expected from advertising as endemic or third party organization are invited or expected to pay for message display. Without focusing on activating this revenue, it simply does not occur and this source of funding is not realized. The fault is in the planning.
System outage: Digital signage is a technology system of media ingest, management and display, with the inherent needs of system performance monitoring and remedy as needed. The approach to making “help” happen is part of planning as are the establishment of training and human resourcing needs.
Poor content is the not-so-silent killer of digital signage. Stale or poor content are the cause of under-performance of most systems that are currently operating. It is the content that ultimately achieves the results once the technology is in place and operational.
No Analytics: The lack of quantified impact data means that value is unknown, and more important, that there is no baseline for performance improvement. In both cases, further investment has no validation. Information about impact does not need to be expensive or time-consuming to gather, and offer the strong basis for network health improvement. The free, 21-page paper “Digital Place-based Media ROI Analytics - Defining Value. ROI or Die! can lead a network operator through the process of assessment.
Poor planning is again the culprit. Content strategy must consider intended results from the target audience along with the viewing timeframe and context. Content spots then align with the display location and playlist daypart and structure.
The style guide and mechanical specifications of content for use by others who are submitting their messaging for display can help assure that content is suitable for display and of high quality.
The “Content Scoring Framework” paper will help improve content:
It is a “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail” world where digital signage is concerned.
All circumstances related to network failure can be overcome through suitable front-end planning, while operational problems, extra-ordinary operating cost and under-performance can be addressed in a network review process. Independent, experienced expertise can be extremely valuable.
Papers referenced in this article are available for free download from http://www.lylebunn.com/Pages/aboutus.aspx to help in the assessment and improvement of network planning, content. Download:
• Content Scoring Framework
• Digital Place-based Media ROI Analytics - Defining Value. ROI or Die!
• Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail
• Getting Higher Value from Existing Digital Signage Networks
Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon) is an analyst, advisor and educator in the Digital place-based and enterprise media sectors. He has assisted hundreds of firms to define and implement their media programs and was named as one of the “11 Most Influential People” in place-based media by DigitalSignageToday.com.
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Digital out of home messaging brings tremendous economies and agility to branding and promotional marketing. Messages can be created quickly often using graphic, animation and text elements that are used elsewhere in campaigns. And unique messages can be created to suit the target audience, display location, time of day and reflecting the context in which the message would be viewed, such as major holidays, events, weather conditions and world events.
But this ease of message creation places a burden of clarity on the marketer or communicator.
The simple question is “are we clear?”.
The message must achieve intended results, and the minimal amount of information required to achieve this always makes for the best digital out of home use.
The medium can, and should be used to achieve multiple goals simultaneously.
As a minimum, the message should include the identity of the product or service being offered, its core value proposition (i.e. benefit) and a call to action, which might include a telephone number, web address or invitation to engage with product/service/event information through TXT, download or mobile commerce.
When the intention is to increase brand awareness and recall, the primary message elements would include brand identity, tagline, value proposition and other information that allows a viewer to align with and aspire to the brand.
A promotional or merchandising message would seek to achieve viewer response with the promise of value that matters to the viewer. Examples include attractive pricing, selection, ease in getting the value, the benefits of improved life and fun.
Message benefits are maximized when the message is visually appealing and easy to read.
Our brains are hardwired to notice motion, and so the visual appeal should include animation that will attract the eye even unconsciously. Viewers will pay attention and “ingest” messages that they believe are relevant to their wants or needs, and they will unconsciously ignore messages that are not.
Content creation traps that must be avoided include:
- A lack of visual that easily represents the product or service
- Too much information, beyond what is required to achieve the outcome
- Text that is to small to read from the intended viewing distance
- Use of background and text coloration that make the content challenging to ingest.
- An unsuitable length of message relative to the viewing experience. Two short causes viewer frustration (and de-brands), while messages that are too long minimize the opportunity to make best use of display capability.
Generating engagement on the path to purchase can be achieved with simple messaging when the answer to the question “are we clear?” is “yes!”
Lyle Bunn is an analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s digital place-based media sector who has assisted hundreds of organizations to gain advantage from the medium, and who has helped to train thousands of professionals.
Tuesday, 06 May 2014
The presence of dynamic digital media hit its highest point among static sign and digital graphics providers during the 2014 International Sign Association (ISA) Expo held in Orlando April 23-26, 2014. The ISA is a 2,300-member trade association of sign providers that employs or directly impacts over 250,000 American workers and represent over $49 billion in annual revenues. The ISA Expo is the largest gathering of sign providers with over 17,000 delegates and about 500 exhibitors.
Since first offering education related to digital signage six years ago, the event this year offered more than 42 separate educational sessions in the ISA EXPO “Dynamic Signage Education Day,” on a show floor stage and in sessions offered in a co-located showcase offered by Almo. The Dynamic Digital Park on the show floor was 38% larger than in 2013, and included the range of hardware, software and services required by static sign companies to offer digital signage.
Research findings released by ISA in advance of the Expo noted that the number one issue impacting sign companies offering digital signage is "technology selection,” reflecting that 63% of sign companies are confused about technology selection. “How to” education related to technology configuration, content creation and selling the medium profitably were aimed at de-mystifying digital signage while exhibitors such as Capital Networks, Insteo, Kramer and many others were ready with products and answers to fuel sign company success.
Mark O’Connor of Roland said it well during an in-booth session, reflecting that “Sign shops should not have to go back to school or get a degree to make digital signage available.”
impulseGUIDE used ISA Expo 2014 to unveil its digital signage offering for static sign providers, which includes several patent pending innovations related to content management approaches. As a Buffalo, NY sign provider serving the food services, retail, hospitality and consumer services sectors, the impulseGuide system is “content-focused” which offers recurring, high margin revenues to sign providers wishing to offer dynamic signage while leveraging and advancing their capabilities in this additional area of their services portfolio.
Frank C. Pusateri said “The impulseGUIDE solution has been designed for sign providers looking for profitability through system sales, ongoing content creation, customer retention/upsell and improved prospecting for other lines of print and graphics. Digital signage makes a value addition to the sign shop portfolio” while cautioning sign shops to offer a solution that can be easily scaled in terms of network size and the addition of content that improves customer outcomes through better audience targeting, dayparting, templates and infotainment.
“Gamification” is growing as an everyday promotional approach and the digital signage system must be able to use this methodology.”
As the ISA Expo was in process, FASTSIGNS® International released an expanded section of their website focused on digital signage www.fastsigns.com/digital-signs). Drue Townsend, Senior Vice President of Marketing said, “This content is very educational for prospective digital sign buyers, and it shows our capabilities regarding planning programs, developing and managing content and integrating digital signage into an overall mix of other marketing materials, décor and general marketing programs. As the franchisor,we provide internal training and marketing support to prepare our 545 locations in 8 countries to be able to offer a wide range of solutions to meet the needs of businesses and organizations of all sizes”.
Distributors can play a valuable role in the sourcing of dynamic signage by sign providers since they are one point of supply for flat panels, hardware, software and other services, many of which appear to be quite similar in function and value.
Synnex, a distributor of static sign, digital graphics and dynamic signage products has suggested that sign shops should be looking at providing a complete solution that includes the display, content management software, media player, mount and in particular initial and ongoing content. Each of Synnex, Almo, N. Glantz, ND Graphics, Ingram Micro or other sign and digital graphics distributors have in-house staff that can assist sign providers with configuring solutions that can meet end user requirements, or they can connect sign companies with representatives of companies whose products and services they distribute.
Static sign and digital graphics providers are well suited to providing end users with dynamic digital signage, as has been reflected in numerous articles by Sign and Digital Graphics magazine in the past six years. These companies intrinsically understand short form messaging and the location-based sign requirements of end-users. Many of these firms have been providing outdoor electronic message boards and integrating dynamic signage into their proposals for campuses, healthcare and consumer service establishments for many years. They are aware that end-users are increasing their use of dynamic signage, in part due to its use by their competitors.
The recurring advice offered in many ISA Expo presentations can be summarized with these 3 points:
- START, by learning what digital signage can deliver for end users. Use digital signage as an extension of your current portfolio of offerings to serve existing customers and prospect for new ones, since many of these may already be investigating or shopping for this medium. Offer a system that is suited to ongoing and growing needs. Note that every dynamic signage installation requires content.
- Focus on providing “content creation” services since, once the technology system is in place, it is “content” that delivers the communications value. The need for content is ongoing “Think of the system as the razor and the content as the blades” said Pusateri.
- “Partner with or sub-contract to an experienced audio/visual or information technology integrator if you are not comfortable with the technology element” advised Mike White of Multi-media Solutions, which has delivered digital signage for more than 10 years to a wide range of end users.
Sign providers that are considering their offer of digital signage systems and/or services commonly ask some questions. The following offer insights by Lyle Bunn, reflecting and adding to an ISA Expo session titled “How to Sell Dynamic Digital Signage.”
Where is the profit in projects?
Profit always comes from serving needs. Where digital signage is concerned profitable revenues are primarily derived from technologies (i.e. supply of hardware, software, installation and operational services) and content. Since content requirements are ongoing, content services such as playlist strategy and administration, and the composition of individual message spots offers the largest and ongoing profits.
Are there areas of supply not currently well served or that are emerging?
Many small and medium-size businesses do not know who to go to for digital signage, yet this investment can offer high value in terms of sales lift, business branding, improved ambiance at the location and the reduction of perceived waiting times by patrons. Food services, consumer services and staff/visitor communication are under-served by larger digital signage suppliers and trusted sign providers are well suited to offering digital signage as a part of their portfolio. Dynamic signage for staff or visitor communications, which can include video walls in lobby or storefront are increasingly popular because they communicate while adding to the vitality and positive energy of a location, even to the point of enabling artistic expression of a brand.
How much preparing is needed to get to revenues?
Two elements are necessary. Every supplier needs to know what it is supplying and for digital signage, they need to recommend technologies that are suited to the requirement. There is plenty of information available for the” how to” elements. Examples include websites such as www.LyleBunn.com/RESOURCES and the FASTSIGNS and impulseGuide sites noted in this article.
The technology element is easily satisfied in sourcing from a distributor such as Synnex, N. Glantz, Almo, Ingram Micro, ND Graphics or others, which have assessed available technology elements and can offer a specific all-inclusive proposal that can best suit the end-user requirements.
When would partnering make sense and get me there faster?
Partnering or subcontracting makes sense when additional required skills are required. The sign shop may wish to partner, for example, with an audiovisual or technology integrator to provide hardware, software and installation or with media composers such as Web design freelancers or companies related to content elements. The key is that the sign shop be positioned as the primary an ongoing provider.
Where would revenues be exposed to unworthy effort i.e. What is not worth doing?
Sign companies should be cautious in investing undo amounts of time in training a customer or prospect about the benefits and processes related to digital signage. During the process they should reasonably expect that the end-user will answer key questions such as what benefits do you want to realize, how might it physically be placed within the environment and who, if anyone might be involved in contributing the benefits achievement. Sign companies should also be cautious about responding to Requests for Proposal unless they have unique insights and a service record to the requesting end-user. RFP evaluations can become very subjective in the complexity of comparing one solution to another on an “apples to apples” basis.
How can the risk of loosing profits best be managed?
The greater your productivity in sales and supply efforts, the greater your management of risk will be. The two go hand-in-hand. Supply processes and expectations should be defined as clearly as possible, as is the case with other communication services.
Is the effort and investment related to digital signage really worth the rewards?
In the situation where sign companies can add digital signage as an offering in an existing, trusted supply relationship, the addition of digital signage makes very good sense not just as a sales and revenue instrument, but as a way of protecting an existing account from those who may offer digital signage and leverage this into the offer of other sign and communication services.
What is the opportunity cost of waiting just a little longer for things to mature?
Digital signage has been maturing for 20 years and has really accelerated in its stability over the past 10 years. Technologies have become highly reliable and cost-effective, while at the same time end-users are seeing the use of digital signage by their competitors and many other businesses. More end-users are installing digital signage every day as a way to maximize the benefits of their communication investment. Asked yourself this… How would you feel if in going into a customer location you saw that they had installed digital signage that they had sourced from one of your competitors? Would you begrudge not having enjoyed the revenues and profit that comes with the technology supply in the ongoing licensing of digital signage software? As noted previously, a good supply opportunity still exists in providing new and fresh content, and the way in which content gets results.
How do I proceed from a technology standpoint? There are two approaches, both of which are valid and even complimentary. One approach is to use an inexpensive media player and software combination to deliver basic digital signage for an early customer with a relatively simple requirement. This will allow you, as the sign shop provider to familiarize yourself with the medium and better understand the level of supply that makes most sense for your firm. Recognize that in many cases, a more functional and cost-effective system may be required to assure the best value to the end user and supply profitability. The sign provider can start simple and “move up” to more functionality, or, as has been found by many sign shops, can start with a more enabling infrastructure and then focus on maximizing the benefits from its use. While “starting” is the key it is of greater importance at times to start with the “finish” in mind. Choose a solution that meets longer term needs because dynamic signage is typically in place for a four to seven year period once installed.
Static signs are not going away, so plan to integrate digital signage into existing communications approaches to maximize the investment and benefits in customer, patron, visitor, traveler, staff and student communications.
Lyle Bunn is an analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s digital signage industry. He was named one of the 50 innovators and influencers by Sign and Digital graphics magazine, and one of the 11 Most Influential People by DigitalSignageToday.com in 2013. He has published over 280 articles and whitepapers, assisted over 300 end user organizations and helped to train over 10,000 professionals to benefit from digital signage. [email protected]
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
This paper outlines the status and provides a qualitative analysis of the outlook and inherent tensions in North America's digital signage industry, while providing an approach for assessing supply and project outlook.
In summary, 2014 has an extremely positive outlook for digital signage in North America. The use of the medium continues to grow in corporate and brand application and it continues to be integrated into communications plans and location experience. Technology elements and supply approaches are advancing. Industry challenges can be addressed including key tensions such as the range of supply options and the lack of return on investment analysis, along with other sources of project and investment delays. The outlook for digital signage and place-based display media for 2014 is positive for communications application, revenue and jobs.
Download the report here
Provided by Lyle Bunn
Wednesday, 01 February 2012
This summary of the National Retail Federation's (NRF) BIG Show in January is through the lens of the value and directions of digital in-store and dynamic place-based media to improving the success of brands and retailers. While the marquis theme of the event was "Engage and Evolve," the three retail industry priorities of technology, engagement and talent were reflected by many exhibitors, retail sector briefing reports and in conference sessions. Sections in this article include:
• NRF event perspectives
• Retail and technology
• Engagement - Bricks, Clicks and Picks
• Digital in-store
• Analytics & in-store media
The National Retail Federation (NRF) indicates that retail contributes $1.2 trillion in direct GDP in 2009 including food services and drinking places. Direct employment is 28.1 million. There are 3.6 million establishments, 95% or 3.42 million of which are one location businesses. There are 917,000 locations of multi-location retailers. The NRF projects a 3.4% increase in 2012. Directly and indirectly, retail accounts for 11.9% of all business establishments in the USA, supporting 1 in 4 (42 million) American jobs and contributing $2.42 trillion to annual GDP.
Online retail is currently $176 billion, 3% of annual retail revenues, having grown by 11% over the previous year according to Forrester Research, however this is projected to grow to 11% in the next five years.
Digital media exhibitors at NRF included 30 providers of digital in-store media including industry-leading suppliers such as NEC, Stratacache, Hughes, Harris, AOpen and YCD and Scala at the HP booth. Dynamic media exhibitors were busy throughout the show. Many other suppliers attended to connect and learn.
Kevin Lawrence VP, enterprise sales of Broadcast International, which serves organizations such as Bank of America, Microsoft and Hollister, commented that "the NRF event was great because it validated what we are hearing from so many of our customers. They want to leverage digital media to better inform, influence, and educate both customers and employees. They expect solutions that provide a more interactive and engaging customer experience by embracing touch, sound, mobility, and more. They demand analytics that allow them to assess the effectiveness of their campaigns and they want to work with a single partner to accomplish it all."
The Intel product showcase was elbow to elbow throughout as they demonstrated a dozen advanced applications currently in use by brands and retailers such as HSN, Kraft Foods, Macy’s, adidas, the LEGO Group, Petrobras and others. A 3D aerial imaging kiosk profiling Coca Cola reflected the Intel partnership with Provision, the leader in commercial application holographic display.
Intel also included a new prototypes through its partnership with Inwindow Outdoor, an interactive digital out-of-home advertising company that has developed street-level storefront interactive advertising campaigns for American Express, HBO, Ford, HP, Microsoft and NBC. The Intel/Inwindow Outdoor prototype, being called the "Experience Stations" engages consumers through information presentation and interaction (multi-touch and gestural). The slick prototype incorporates a large-format 70-inch touchscreen display and near field communication (NFC) capability for two-way transactions with mobile devices. The Experience Station can also enable users to take and send pictures, download coupons to their phone using NFC, connect to social media sites, check the weather, and look up information. When users approach the screen, the system's cameras use Intel's real-time analytics software (Intel uite), which detects gender and age and then plays targeted advertising based on the audience demographic. Analytics are at the heart of The Experience Stations, which provides metrics on audience count, impressions, level of engagement and dwell time.
Several exhibitors demonstrated closed-loop systems of message presentation, mobile opt-in, coupon offer and redemption with analytics at each step in the commercial process. The Intel AIM Suite of Anonymous Viewer Analytics is typically integrated with all major digital signage content management software systems.
Scott Hines, president of CopiaMobile succinctly outlined the benefits of such closed systems, including the Wave2Save experience:
- The multi-media, multi-channel approach incorporates message presentation, mobile detection and offer, opt-in and sales activation in a turnkey solution with a strong foundation of analytics at each stage of consumer engagement.
- It leverages available digital media infrastructures to deliver higher ROI to retailers and brands.
- No character entry or scanning a QR code is needed to activate engagement – although these can be added.
- The experience is multi-sensory including visual and auditory with the cell phone making a whooshing sound during wave and cheering when offers are redeemed.
- A tactile experience is offered with the phone vibrating when offers "land" in the phone and waving your hand provides a physical experience.
- The system bridges the physical and the virtual world creates a much more compelling interaction for consumers.
- It's easy to get consumers to adopt an experience that they enjoy.
- Tying the wave experience into creating user-generated content, where the consumer actually participates in the campaign gives the consumer benefit beyond just offering them a discount.
- Gives retailers a way to incent consumers without giving away gross margin.
Similar systems are available from iSign, MobileGreeter, ComQi, YCD and others and it is clear that mobile marketing platforms such as Foursquare, Bee Marketing and others can and will integrate message presentation display into the mobile ecosystem. Digital Signage Expo (March 5-9, Las Vegas) and Customer Engagement Technology World (March 28-29 San Francisco) are expected to feature these display/mobile/analytics multi-channel systems prominently.
Retail and technology:
Retail is focused on providing people with what they need and want including products, goods-related services and experiences. It is a highly competitive industry given the effects of the economic climate, consumer preferences, supply chains and technology upon it. Customer satisfaction and retention are the top strategic initiatives for retail notes a Retail Horizons Benchmark study which reflects that loyalty programs, group buying, localized coupon offers and transparent price comparison are increasing competition among retailers.
The retail sector is similar to manufacturing, distribution, health care and financial services in having used digital technologies to gain operational efficiencies. But the retail sector is poised as no other industry to exploit digital technologies for sustainable revenue growth through its use of digital technologies for customer relationship management and business analytics. Technology investments are the second largest expenditure by retailers behind inventory according to 2011 report Retail Horizons: Benchmark 2010. Retail and technology are natural partners – not just because of the symbiotic win-win relationship, but because each industry is continuously reinvesting and refining itself to better serve its clientele.
Charles Darwin said, "The fittest win out at the expense of their rivals." On that theme, the retailers and brands that exploit the enabling value of technology will have the competitive edge.
A large audience was held spellbound during airing of the 5-minute video by Corning called "A Day Made of Glass" aired by Mitch Joel, author of Six Pixels of Separation
"Retailers are living in hell because of the uncertainty, constant focus on cost, benefits and testing, and because of the options available to them," declared Joel. He added, "Retailers that are daunted by options will fail due to death by analysis paralysis."
Joel continued, "At this point, successful retailers have already moved forward with digital strategies and have embraced multi-channel. They are looking to new ways where digital can increase insights, engagements, loyalty and brand-building."
Engagement - bricks, clicks and picks.
Seventy percent of Americans shop multi-channel including in-store, online and mobile. Retailers and brands are responding with a shift from transactional to experiential marketing, while assuring maximum "fidelity" – consistent brand messaging. The paradigm shift is occurring from multi-channel to omni-channel engagement, which reflects the melding of the engagement experience between the retailer/brand and the consumer.
Digital in-store media bridges bricks (the physical environment), clicks (online information and commerce), and picks (consumer selection and its influencers). It also turns presence into engagement.
Seventy-one percent of retail executives say that shoppers want a meaningful experience with the sales associate as brand ambassador with strong product knowledge and the ability to upsell and cross-sell for greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, according to a Deloitte industry survey.
Many presenters spoke of the need to improve their advertising plans to shift media buying investment away from "renting eyeballs" and into owning audiences. Many retail executives, including Lauren and Bonnie Brooks reinforced the priority of shifting to "brand demand" messaging from brand awareness involving more experiential and social media.
Experience has shown that when retailers use displays technologies for both customer and staff-facing messaging, revenues are maximized. In retail categories such as technology, cellular and sporting goods in which associated-assisted sales are significant, digital in-store media provides and reinforces value while queuing associate assistance.
This direction encompasses linking bricks, clicks and picks to assure that customers receive a seamless shopping experience between physical locations, online and mobile.
By showcasing product range and attributes using more advanced in-store digital presentation and interactive media, retailers look to exciting brand perception and the selection and purchase location.
"It is not about advertising," noted Mitch Joel. "It is about publishing messages, information and stories to the world – or those in it that you most want to engage with and with you."
Digital in-store media is a transition from passive marketing to more successful active marketing he indicated, adding that digital and analytics are a bolt-on utility. It can typically be added to existing infrastructure and available space, and can deliver immediate results and insights. It is a high-payback medium.
Joel characterized the broadcast medium of TV and print as passive, detached and physical in comparison to the active, connected, virtual and high-engagement characteristics of interactive media.
Analytics & in-store media:
Several presenters asked in show of hands survey how many had seen the movie Moneyball
. The 2011 movie recounts the transition of professional baseball to an analytics-driven industry. A quote by Mickey Mantle starts the film: "It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life."
Analytics serve to validate investment and optimize campaigns and digital media content related to target audiences toward better communications spending and improving the productivity of retail floor space.
Metrics help to define and refine business objectives, move beyond "the technology" into its application and allows initiatives to be made into "chewable bites."
Workforce analytics and predictive modeling are of growing priority.
A massive transition to analytics and the integration of analytics into operations is expected. Consumer engagement is a "moneyball" world in which analytics drive investment decisions.
This transition to operationalizing analytics recognizes that information is powerful and uses the levels of abstraction of analytics to gain insights as these grow from data to statistics, information and knowledge toward wisdom.
"Digital innovations is unleashing business, technology and systems," said David Lauren, executive vice president of advertising, marketing, and corporate communications of Ralph Lauren Corp. "Our success is anchored in 'merchant-tainment' – the seamless blending of merchandising and storytelling." Lauren outlined how storytelling with images and visuals is manifested in Ralph Lauren branding and merchandising by creating lifestyle aspiration and presenting how this could be fulfilled by Ralph Lauren offerings. Storytelling leads audiences to question "what happened?" and "what if?" which beg engagement with the brand.
Storytelling has been a staple of TV that was transposed onto still imagery and therefore into print (think fashion magazine ads) and more recently onto websites. "The retail community priority of storytelling is to reinforce the brand in the store," noted Lauren. This is well served by digital media that can present images beautifully and trigger mobile, audience-of-one engagement. "A flat screen," said Lauren, "should not scare someone away or discount the excitement or value of a product, but engage and excite the consumer through the message. Excitement happens by reaching an audience of demographic and psychographic profile with images, messages and stories that resonate with and inspire them."
In-store display content can include a wide range of messages that inform and influence. Increasingly, dynamic signage content presents Accuweather or uses links to databases, point-of-sale or other internal systems to make content interesting and relevant.
"The successful retail model focuses on technology, engagement and talent," said Bonnie Brooks, president and CEO of The Bay (Hudson’s Bay Company). The 3,000 NRF delegates who attended her keynote address took notice that The Bay is the oldest retailer in the world, and applauded The Bay’s accomplishment of the best sales increase in December of any retailer in North America. She echoed other speakers on the importance of technology, engagement and talent.
Digital media networks have been used for staff communications and development for many years. Digital media providers such as Hughes, Microspace, Broadcast International and others deliver a strong value proposition to retailers looking to cost-effectively train and motivate staff.
The increased use of digital media for customer messaging has often incorporated the use of the infrastructure for staff communications and development.
The retailer focus on its talent naturally looks to leveraging marketing communications capability. This multi-use of in-store media for consumer, management and staff communications points to a higher value proposition and ROI from digital media investment.
Retailers are taking a big-picture view to the five Ws (who, what, where, when, why) for technology enabled branding and revenue achievement. They are focusing in particular on the why while simultaneously defining and refining their corporate directions, positioning and goals.
Digital in-store media indeed does work in achieving business, communications and engagement goals. But because of the time and investment required, it must be scalable, providing return on investment ultimately at the enterprise level for brand and loyalty building, not just benefits at the transaction level.
Anu Gulta, VP process and profit improvement for Michaels summed up the sentiments of NRF delegates well with the following four priorities of all retail activities and investments:
• Enhance the brand
• Increase consumer reach and loyalty
• Gather and act on insights
• Drive multi-channel engagement
NRF was very exciting when viewed through the lens of digital media. Strong vendors are engaging with innovative retailers and the analytics that underpin digital media are helping to validate digital media investment. 2012 could be expected to be a year of retail sector advancement with and through digital in-store media.
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Recent analyst reports forecast ongoing double-digit growth for the dynamic signage industry in terms of display shipments, advertising and overall industry revenues. DisplaySearch, iSuppli, PQ Media, ABI Research, Northern Sky Research, Frost & Sullivan and others all point to growth in the 20% CAGR territory for most areas of the industry.
At the 6th Annual Strategy Institute Digital Signage Investor Conference in New York on October 17-18, 2011 - with its annual focus on the investment status and outlook for the industry - there will surely be a more intense and thoughtful discussion than previous years. Most presenters (and delegates) are industry veterans with others bringing fresh perspectives at industry touch points.
Digital place-based media has achieved a critical mass of installed base of networks, established its infrastructure of associations, events, awards and education, developed supply chains and refined its technologies and business processes. It has also proven itself as an influential media that can simultaneously merchandise, brand and improve a location experience. The investment drivers for advertising-based, corporate and hybrid networks have been continuously refined during industry maturity, and these too will be a key part of the event information takeaways.
While serving as president of the Digital Screenmedia Association, Stuart Armstrong of ComQi would note that "every part of the industry needed to have enough sail up to catch its share of coming winds." As all elements of the industry appear ready to enjoy triple-digit growth (some companies already are), many will continue to be satisfied with two-digit numbers, but this too will call on astute management.
During the two-day event, new industry opportunities will be outlined and best practices in business acceleration will be profiled. Furthermore, a consensus to the answers to two of this industry's primary questions may finally emerge: a) Is the current level of projected growth sustainable and suitable to supply? and b) How should managed acceleration be achieved?
A survey by Digital Signage Today that compares the views of respondents in 2011 to their 2009 views reflects that:
- Expenditure increases are planned. In 2009, 79% said they planned to spend up to $100K compared with 84% in 2011. 16% of survey respondents in 2011 said they would spend more than $1 million, versus just 6% in 2009.
- 73% expect budget increases over the next year versus the 53% who expected it in 2009.
- 57% of displays are now networked versus just 35% in 2009.
- In 2009, 60% of displays had no third party advertising. In 2011, only 37% have no third party advertising.
- 24% of 2009 survey respondents expected to deploy new or additional screens in the 0-3 month period, whereas 49% of 2011 respondents expect to deploy or add displays.
- Respondents expecting to use digital signage primarily for internal communications doubled in the period 2009 to 2011.
Improvements in the design, deployment and operations of networks are ongoing. As the applications grow, and supply of products and services expand - commoditizing and cannibalizing itself - the return on investment proposition becomes more important and put under greater scrutiny.
In my session titled "Investing Wisely in DOOH," I will outline some opportunities, prospects, predictions, and red flags while noting several key industry activity indicators, how and where money is being made in this industry, what mistakes are being repeated and who will have highly successful outcomes.
I look forward to seeing you at the 6th Annual Strategy Institute Digital Signage Investor Conference in New York, October 17-18, 2011 and at Customer Engagement Technology World (CETW) in New York November 9-10, 2011.
Wednesday, 03 August 2011
Hats off to the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA) and its task force that generated the “ROI Calculator.” (To watch a video about the creation of the calculator, click here.)
The excel workbook comprised of several worksheets and inter-rated formulas is an excellent framework for an essential element of dynamic place-based media and digital out-of-home network planning.
By addressing the key building blocks in the analysis of return and investment, then presenting these line items with roll up in summary tables and charts, the calculator speaks the language of project planners and investors.
The DSA ROI Calculator is a useful tool that will help assure that necessary conversations are part of network planning.
Clarifying communications goals and the value expected from the investment is the essential element of project planning. Without this definition of value including tangible returns on investment (ROI) and less tangible return on objectives (ROO), capital and operating costs can be a shock.
The structure of the ROI Calculator recognizes that defining communications value leads to content strategy that defines the technology infrastructure required to deliver the media that assures business value. This is described in my article “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail” which appeared in a Digital Signage Best Practices Guide and is available at www.lylebunn.com - Resources.
Every dynamic media deployment is customized based on specific business goals and the viewer experience at the display locations. Experienced industry consultants, operators and suppliers will offer useful input to the business value aspects of this DSA ROI Calculator, including realistic return expectations and noting where value beyond what is reflected in the calculator could be expected.
The tangible measures of value such as ad revenues, sales lift, print cost replacement, etc., make the current version of the tool suited in particular to ad-based or in-house promotional networks. DSA Executive Director David Drain and ROI Task Force Chair Matt Schmitt of Reflect Systems say that future modifications will address other points of network value and investment.
It will better internalize project planning and increase the value of experienced project and investment counsel. This calculator offers value to DSA members, to which the ROI Calculator is exclusively being provided at this time.
The DSA ROI Calculator is available immediately to DSA members. To learn more about membership in DSA, click here.
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Colleges and universities can enjoy considerable benefits by adding dynamic digital signage networks to their campuses.
I have written this 34-page white paper to assist in the planning and successful operation of implementing digital signage on campuses. Beyond student, staff and visitor communications, new revenue outlets are available through a signage network. Sponsored content and suitable, campus-approved advertising can balance installation and network expenses, expansion projects or bring new resources to individual departments.
This white paper outlines the broader value of dynamic signage on or near campuses. In addition, the proven approaches to effective planning, expansion and use, with a focus on revenue opportunities.
Download the white paper here.
Feel free to pass this white paper along to your colleagues.
Monday, 11 April 2011
The new report titled “Digital Signage Future Trends 2011,” produced by industry publisher DigitalSignageToday.com, reflects key industry developments since the survey and report of 2009. In his forward, Christopher Hall notes that “forecasting larger trends to come is a necessary component of planning for success, and making certain your company is ready to face whatever the future may bring.”
The 49-page report is excellent. It includes 27 pages of charts reflecting the changing digital signage landscape based on over 1200 survey responses. Survey data is followed by commentary on the status and outlook for dynamic place-based media by a dozen people, (including yours truly), which I suggest reflect the views of many industry insiders. The significant cohesion in guest commentary points of view, suggesting that this report aptly represents a best-informed probable future view of the sector.
Download the report.
Substantial maturity in the way that digital signage is being configured and an acceleration of its use in a wide range of vertical is reflected in the survey data. While “that” it is being used is inspiring in being quantified, “why” it is being used is interestingly, very stable and relatively unchanging.
Some key survey findings include:
- Expenditures are increasing. In 2009, 79 percent said they planned to spend up to $100K compared with 84 percent in 2011. 16 percent of survey respondents in 2011 said they would spend more than $1 million, versus just 6 percent on 2009.
- 73 percent expect budget increases over the next versus the 53 percent who expected it in 2009.
- 57 percent of displays are now networked versus just 35 percent in 2009.
- In 2009, 60 percent of displays had no third party advertising. In 2011, only 37 percent have no third party advertising.
- 24 percent of 2009 survey respondents expected to deploy new or additional screens in the 0-3 month period, whereas 49 percent of 2011 respondents expect to deploy or add displays.
- Respondents expecting to use digital signage primarily for internal communications doubled in the period 2009 to 2011.
Commentaries on future trends are provided by 11 high profile industry representatives including seven technology providers, the CETW event producer, an author on content, an industry blogger and an industry consultant/educator.
The commentaries cover a wide range of subjects including brand communications approaches, content, technology infrastructure, standards, managed services, engagement, social media, transmedia and mobility, menu boards and third party advertising.
The commentaries point to the advancing of the effectiveness of dynamic signage in its increasing value as a part of a collective of communications and interactive devices for patrons, consumers and staff engagement.
Increasing operational effectiveness is a key industry direction. Technology elements and content are key components of this direction, as are the important advances in advertising and sponsored content planning, flighting and administration.
The 2011 trends report provides a positive outlook for industry growth based on the results of survey respondents from a wide spectrum of end users and suppliers. It offers valuable insights into the market growth and the dynamics that are impacting and could be expected to continue to drive this dynamic place-based media directions.
Lyle Bunn is an independent consultant and educator in North America’s dynamic signage industry who regularly assists end users in their dynamic media systems planning. He has published over 200 articles and white papers and regularly presents at industry events. See www.LyleBunn.com or email Lyle at LyleBunn.com.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Download the white paper
The term "Content is King" has resonated as dynamic out-of-home and digital signage networks present messages on digital display screens in out-of-home points of purchase, transit, gathering, work and study. The estimated 1.4 million displays operational in North America offer highly targeted, centrally-controlled rich media and it is this "content" that delivers communications and marketing results.
This paper addresses some of the key elements related to dynamic media content to define a baseline for conduct related to content, and establish a clearer vantage point from which to advance the practice and application of dynamic media content.
Table of Contents
A. Dynamic Place-based Media
A1. “Dynamic Place-based Media” by any name
A2. Status of Dynamic Media Networks
A3. Inherent Capabilities
A4. Performance of Dynamic Signage
A5. “Content” in Context
B. Content - Opportunity
B1. $3.5 billion and growing
B2. Providers: Current and Emerging
B3. Cost of Content
C. Standards of Practice
C1. Key elements of Design
C2 Content Creation – Simple Guidelines
C3. The “Call to Action”
C5. Content and Advertising Standards
C6. Dynamic Content Provisioning
D. Improving Content Practices
D4. Events and Training
E. Critical Success Factors
E1. Clear Communications Objectives
E2. Technology System for Content Effectiveness
E3. Operating Efficiencies
F. Outlook and Conclusion
F1. The “Future Isn’t What it Used to Be”
Download the white paper
Monday, 13 December 2010
2011 will likely see a shift toward the term "enterprise media," reflecting advancement and positioning of dynamic place-based media. This coincides with the maturity of the industry and the emergence of static signage and digital graphics/printers which have called themselves "digital signage" providers for many years.
Think "enterprise media" for corporate communications and "media as enterprise" for advertising-based networks.
"Enterprise media" resonates with communications, marketing, technology and finance executives, as well as IT Integrators. It reflects the scope and value of dynamic place-based and screen media, AV/IT/media convergence, integration with other applications and has more "cache" than "digital signage."
Wednesday, 01 September 2010
This week, a rAVepubs.com article asks "Why aren't ProAV integrators doing DS yet?" The post, along with its illustrative graphic, hit the nail squarely on the head. Too true!
The “zzzzzs” have been coming hard from AV integrators, despite considerable prodding and education by InfoComm, champions such as Gary Kayye and some rational, clear-thinking providers of digital signage technologies.
While members of the army of AV integrators are being awakened by the message of a new day being delivered by distributors (Synnex hosts events in major cities, the next of which is San Francisco Oct. 21), and others, digital signage continues to rapidly find its way into the market – around AV integrators!
Yes, IT integrators are stepping in and stepping up, serving client relationships in situations where the IT department (which has an increasing hand in all major digital signage projects), decides not to be the integrator itself. As the key technology elements of display, media player, content-management software and connectivity become more integrated, other “non-technology” supply options become possible.
Enter the massive base of static sign and digital graphics providers. It is telling that both the Screen Graphics Industry Association (SGIA) and International Sign Association (ISA) have dramatically increased their focus on digital signage in their respective October and April Las Vegas conferences. Suppliers in these organizations have strong market presence and awareness of communications goals, and they even have their hand on messaging assets such as logos, etc., and they can see the revenue potential.
Woe that the AV integrator be relegated to the “hang and bang” line item when deployments proceed, while others enjoy high margin sales and ongoing revenues.
Wake up and start shooting, AV integrators. Shooting off proposals, that is.