That is the question that was posed to exhibitors of KioskCom Self Service Expo in October by Mark Freed of J.D. Events, the show's owner and operator. It was a good question because there is often a blurring of the line between the two. Historically, digital signage was on LCD or plasma panels and mounted high on a wall, while kiosks were various computer screens from 8- to 19-inches and were usually touchscreen interactive. But when you consider LCD technology that has become cheaper and more commonplace, coupled with the use of touch overlays that are capable of being used on 42- to 60-inch screens, well, it's not a stretch to say that digital signage is interactive, and essentially a very large screen kiosk.
Or is it?
Digital signage can be interactive, and I think that is what determines what you call your project. Digital signage management tools often limit the amount of full programmable interaction you can create to accomplish your goals. After all, the main difference between kiosk management software and digital signage management software is that DS tools allow for scheduling of content into predefined zones or templates. A kiosk application is not expecting "scheduled content" and the way that information is laid out on screen can be most anything imaginable. So if you are running a system with a digital management tool you should think of your application as digital signage or perhaps interactive digital signage.
If you are using a kiosk management tool, well, it could be a kiosk. But it could also be simple digital signage. It's confusing, I know. Even for those of us in the industry, the lines between them are gray.
So when is a project digital signage and when is it a kiosk? The show made it a contest for exhibitors to come up with an interesting answer. Below are some of those answers. The winner was Dr. Robert DeVargas, chief financial officer of Eternal Interactive LLC. He made his answer a bit of prose which I enjoy:
Is it signage or a kiosk? The answer's tricky to tell;
For everything a kiosk is, the signage is as well.
There is one trait to ponder, that may put this to rest;
It's not how each one functions, but how they're used the best.
For it's signage at a distance, for many eyes to see;
But when a user's on it, a kiosk it must be.
Thanks, Dr. DeVargas, for a good, quippy response. Below are some of the other responses:
"Digital signage is a kiosk when its message contains a call to action that can be immediately acted upon by interacting with the same sign."
Presentation Concepts Corp.
"Kiosks and digital signage share the same mandate of attracting, engaging and communicating with today's hi-tech consumer offering everyone universal and ubiquitous access to the benefits of the digital economy. This new culture of fast-paced individuals who manage their lifestyles through technology ... have indeed spawned the age of the kiosk and digital signage as a means of meeting their unique needs for digital engagement in the public sector."
--Doug B Matatall iPhoenix Corporation
"When is a kiosk digital signage? When you see it hanging 10 feet off the ground where you can’t touch it. (Good for physical security concerns, bad for interactivity)."
--Tim Burke (author of this Perspective)
"Q: When Is A Kiosk Digital Signage?
A: A kiosk is digital signage when it is networked to other kiosks and large-format displays, and showcases digital content in any form. Additionally, a kiosk qualifies as digital signage if it is tightly integrated with, and strategically complements, a digital out-of-home media network, regardless of its size, placement, or environment. Finally, if consumers can't tell the difference, and respond positively to displayed content, then the kiosk is digital signage. Today, marketers do not need to choose one or the other. Rather, cost-effective kiosk and digital signage applications may be seamlessly deployed side-by-side, working closely together to stimulate consumer behavior."
"When you can attach an ROI and you know what channel the sale came from."
SkyMall Corporate Office
As you can see, the answer depends on whom you ask.
Self-service and customer service -- the two are not mutually exclusive concepts. Experticity has proven that with its innovative self-service solution that enables retail customers to speak live one-on-one with off-site customer service representatives via kiosk. Watch as Matt Scoble, vice president of business development for Experticity, demonstrates this solution on an NCR SelfServ 60 kiosk.
Whether it's a survey kiosk or a check-in kiosk, an important facet of any self-service deployment is the ability of the user to input information. Digital touchscreen technology has made it possible for the user to type in his information on a virtual keyboard shown on a touchscreen monitor. Is the high-tech option the best to use, or are old-fashioned tactile keyboards the better choice? Tim Burke, owner of Electronic Art, explains the advantages of each option on an IBM Anyplace kiosk.
Ever since redbox planted its first DVD rental kiosk, self-service deployers have been jockeying for space in the competitive landscape of the digital entertainment industry. Much has been made of Blockbuster's announcement in August that it would use NCR's Express Entertainment kiosk as a platform in its attempt to compete against redbox. Jola Moss, NCR's entertainment industry and solution marketing director, demos the Express Entertainment kiosk and comments on the future of the digital entertainment industry.
If you can imagine 140 football fields, you have an idea why digital out-of-home network advertising is becoming hotter every day.
That’s how much area it would take to lay out all 900,000 of the digital signs expected in the market by the end of 2009 if each were a 40-inch display.
“That’s 6.3 million square feet of dynamic digital display area,” marveled Dale Smith, senior director of business development at Peerless Industries Inc.
Size isn’t the only thing that matters, however, among a number of factors fueling the growth of the networks. Proof-of-performance has improved dramatically, more ad space is available to sell, planning and placing the ad content has never been easier, and an increasing number and diversity of media-buying divisions are writing checks, taking money from pockets typically emptied into TV and Internet buys.
Proof of the boom: the Out-of-home Video Advertising Bureau, whose members include many of the largest DOOH networks, reports that video advertising networks are a $1.01 billion industry now and growing at 25.4 percent annually. The Bureau predicts the industry will be at $3.2 billion before 2012.
Buyers, sellers tuning in
NBC, ABC and CBS have been promoting DOOH ad placement to their advertising clients, often bundled with TV network proposals. Cable system and billboard ad sales organizations have been ramping up their efforts, and print media is expected to engage DOOH ad sales as a way of leveraging their sales organizations.
But some media buyers and planners are looking for a different way. Brand managers, agencies, creative houses and others have become frustrated with the high amount of effort it takes to place ad campaigns that take fullest advantage of the medium. Here, network operators have an opportunity to capitalize on the sharpening of their own marketing kits, proposals and analytics.
“A fact of modern life and commerce is that better approaches will be used,” said Shelley Palmer, media guru and author of the best-seller “Television Disrupted,” when addressing a packed house at the NEC Digital Solutions Summit in late August. “Digital out-of-home is powerful because of its placement at point-of-event such as purchase, decision or attention. As an addressable media, it exploits the digital communications supply chain to provide better message targeting capability – the holy grail of the advertising.”
DOOH network account execs easily could fill a media buyer’s calendar, and ad placement is becoming increasingly easy. Industry associations such as OVAB and www.OOHDigital.ca offer direction to many networks.
And DOOH ad sales agencies such as Adcentricity, SeeSaw Networks, Charter Media and MediaPlace offer convenience to media planners and buyers. New entrants to this service area such as rVue, UnSoldSpace.com and AdSemble suggest that the administration in using DOOH for advertising will become more streamlined.
Not only are placement options becoming more sophisticated, so is the understanding of the medium’s potential. Rocky Gunderson, vice president of SeeSaw Networks, said he is seeing companies using DOOH in ways more sophisticated than ever before, and believes the model is moving beyond place-based advertising into more strategic communications.
“That’s really exciting, particularly when from a creative perspective you see how effectively digital-signage can deliver a relevant, timely message,” he said. “When you add to that the explosive growth in digital-signage companies, increasing the venue choices brands have to advertise in, this media now has the reach of TV with the target-ability of the Internet. Planning teams are beginning to stand up and take notice.”
Rob Gorrie, president of Adcentricity, agrees.
“Today there’s a better understanding of the digital OOH medium, and folks are more comfortable with how to use it,” said. “This is what’s driving demand for digital OOH. And it’s about time.”
Lyle Bunn is a commentator, contributor and consultant to North America’s DOOH industry.
I love Southwest Airlines. The low fares are great. The egalitarian boarding system is great — even after they implemented the new numbering system. Snacks and meals? No big deal. Airports have restaurants. The main things to me are a cheap seat, getting where I’m going on time with as little trouble as possible, and dealing with employees who give a damn about me and what I want.
That's why I was so disappointed with a recent change Southwest made to its beverage service.
I fly enough with Southwest and drink so little on planes that I usually have some coupons in my computer bag for that occasional glass (or two) of bourbon I'll tip back on a late-night flight home. But if I don't, I like to pay cash. It's easy. If I charge something, there are receipts to worry about, and I harbor this secret dread that something will be wrong with my credit card and the attendant will yell out in the cabin that I’ve been declined.
But if I'm buying drinks for a client on a flight, or if I've left all my cash in Las Vegas, the card is good, too.
Bottom line: I like choice. And Southwest has taken away one small sliver of it. Now, if I don't have coupons, I'm forced to swipe. In the words of the immortal poet David Spade, "me no likey."
Making matters worse, the explanation just doesn't feel right to me. In justifications published in news accounts as well as announced over cabin P.A. systems, the airline says it went to credit-only payment because customers wanted it.
Nonsense. Do some travelers want to pay by card? Of course they do. But it's hard to believe there were many travelers clamoring for the elimination of the cash option. Did a single flyer utter the words, "Please, don't let me pay by cash. Force me to use my card?" I doubt it. Once my current stack of coupons goes, I may never have another drink while I roam about the country. (I might not have anyway, since they stopped serving Maker's Mark. But that's another column for another kind of Web site.)
Here's the point for self-service deployers: Keep customer options open. And if you do shut an option down, level with the customer about why you’re doing it.
I would never shop at a grocery store that is self-serve check-out only. Sometimes I don't even know what kind of fruit my wife has tossed into the cart, let alone how much it costs. Sometimes a box is too big and I don't want to fuss with getting it out of the car before I get to my car. Sometimes I just get lonely, for heaven's sake, and like a cute cashier to ring me out!
But even worse, though, is when I want to use self-service and walk through a store with rows of self-service checkout stands sitting closed, red LEDs warning me away as though there were some latent danger lurking beneath the cold scanners and inside the folds of plastic bags. If you're going to deploy self-service, have enough of it available that the option is a meaningful one.
Same thing for hotels and others: If you're going to offer self-service, have enough of it for the option to be meaningful. And while we still shouldn't have to say this, make sure the kiosks are working.
Home Depot learned the choice lesson the hard way a couple of years ago, when the CEO oversaw a mammoth self-service deployment that overtook, rather than augment, the human side of the checkout process. Customer-service ratings fell. Sales dropped. And soon enough, the CEO was printing resumes, perhaps (one hopes) at a self-service copier somewhere.
Must customers have everything? No. They don't. Despite the gotta-have-it-all hype used to describe the modern consumer, truth is, most folks know there are limits to what stores — and airlines — can and cannot do. What is important, however, is to make available everything feasible. And if you're not going to do so, to fess up on why, and prepare for the consequences.
"The Digital Screenmedia Association and its membership is critically important to the growth of the industry. We are paving the way for accelerated industry growth and excellence of digital screenmedia deployments worldwide".
Managing Director, Direct Sales ComQi