A Dozen Big Ideas from the Idea Conference

November 6, 2006 at 3:11 pm (Digital Signage)

What’s the big idea, blogging about an article that isn’t directly related to digital signage? It’s that exactly– big ideas that can help any project, from rock band to business. Here are some good ones, taken from a recent article in AdvertisingAge (look below for links).

In a recent AdvertisingAge article video clips of 12 Big Ideas from the industry’s most dynamic minds are showcased along with a brief summary. As the marketing director of a digital signage/software marketing company , I really enjoyed listening to these clips. As I listened and read their ideas, I imagined seeing my clients nodding their heads as they relate to the thoughts of these speakers.

Here is a summary of their main points:

  1. Limitations and small budgets are inspiring “I can be at my most creative when I have constraints,” said Anne Saunders, senior VP-global brand strategy and communications, Starbucks. The coffee behemoth started out humbly as a small Seattle chain. “When I have a lack of time or money,that causes me to think differently. We don’t spend a lot of money on traditional advertising.” Less than 2% of Starbucks’ operating budget is spent on advertising. Instead, word of mouth and the physical presence of each location have been its best tools.
  1. Trust your gut — not research Pointing out that Steve Jobs didn’t create great ideas by doing market research, multilingual ad man David Jones, global CEO of Euro RSCG, exhorted ad execs to stop asking permission. Drawing on British comedian Vic Reeves’ assertion that “96.2% of all statistics are made up,” Mr. Jones argued that the best ads aren’t based on research. He cited P&G’s brilliant viral effort for Charmin toilet tissue created by Euro rival Publicis, which riffs off the many euphemisms for elimination and, as Mr. Jones said, did plenty to put the brand in pole position.
  1. Think like a band “What does a band actually do? They create music and they don’t know whether it’s going to sell,” said Chris Stephenson, general manager-global marketing for Microsoft’s entertainment business, which launches its much-anticipated MP3-and-video player, Zune, on Nov. 16. “They’ll tour — they’re not sitting in an ivory tower behind their desk. It’s a very do-it-yourself culture, but ideal. This idea of thinking in a really open-minded, expressive way like an artist is really important.”
  1. Approach your consumer from a ‘molecular level’ The first thing Steven J. Heyer, CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, asks himself when it comes to designing a new hotel is: “What do we want our guest to feel?” He and David Rockwell, founder and CEO of the Rockwell Group, discussed the innovations they’ve made to the luxury-hotel industry by designing experiences that appeal to the traveler who hates traveling but loves being there — think mountain views, health spas and expanded bars.
  1. Digitize everything Not just your ads, but also your store, your product and even your employees. Here to help you is Linden Labs CEO Philip Rosedale, creator of the virtual world Second Life. What was once the futurist domain of “Tron” is now something anybody with a broadband connection — and potentially an ailing first life — can tap into. Think you can’t make an emotional connection in the digital world? Then you should have seen the star of a heart-tugging video Mr. Rosedale screened, a woman who found a husband and a career in Second Life.
  1. Nostalgia is death Quoting Bob Dylan, Paul Budnitz, founder of Kidrobot, took aim at the marketing world’s tendency to slavishly ape bygone pop culture. (That means you, VH1 and Hello Kitty.) Mr. Budnitz said there’s no creativity behind thinking derivatively –l ike, for example, when marketers create toy spinoffs of blockbuster films. He offered the notion that real creativity is about making something that is “entirely new and in the moment.” He did, however, distinguish nostalgia (bad) from appropriation (good), in which familiar themes serve as a jumping-off point for the creation of a completely fresh idea, as evident in the twisted work of Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami.
  1. Let consumers inside For the Barenaked Ladies’ first independent release on the Nettwerk record label, co-founder Terry McBride wanted them to be able to work outside the 12-song-per-album box. Their recording sessions yielded 29 songs, from which Mr. McBride pulled 250 tracks for fans to mix into their own versions. The mixes will be submitted for a forthcoming fans’ EP. “It’s not about control, but the fact that the fan owns the brand,” Mr. McBride said during the Corbis “Who Owns Your Brand?” breakout session. “Fans do all the marketing for us.”
  1. Drugs won’t supply your ‘Aha!’ moment They no longer fuel the creativity of Alex Bogusky, chief creative officer at Crispin Porter & Bogusky. “There was a time where I’d be working on something where I’d need to drink,” Mr. Bogusky said. “The problem is, the longer you do it, the smaller that window for creativity gets. And then you’re trashed.” He also pointed out that getting to that eureka time requires hard graft and is often about ripping up lots of OK ideas and starting over. (And you thought it was just brilliance and the occasional bong!)
  1. Flatten management structure “We don’t have enough managers, and we intended it to be that way,” said Google’s chief engineer, Craig Neville-Manning, who credited that lack of bureaucracy as a big reason for the search giant’s success in bringing new products to market.
  1. Prototype early That way, said Paul Bennett, chief creative at IDEO, you won’t end up with “dinosaur babies” (a product “so ugly only its mother could love it”). Creative teams can sometimes get so wrapped up in a project they can’t let go or realize it’s not going to work the way they initially intended. Making prototypes early on in the creative process helps with troubleshooting and allows for feedback on the more complicated areas of the product. “The notion of prototyping is, if it’s bad, you can let it go.”
  1. Market to the interested In analyzing a recent Iams campaign, David Verklin, CEO of Carat Americas, found that 40% of the American population owns a dog. “When I run an ad on TV, 60% of the people watching have no interest in it. It’s bad for the client because they don’t want to advertise for people who aren’t interested. And it’s certainly bad for the delivery system, putting ads in front of people that are boring them.”

Go for a brand back rub Eric Plaskonos, director-brand communications at Philips Electronics North America, introduced the concept of “brand chiropractics” to the crowd in his closing statement, citing Philips’ recent innovative spreads in Gourmet and its sponsorship of commercial-free football games. “It’s slightly unorthodox and [hands-on], but when it works it makes you feel really good.”

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Digital Sign of the Times

November 1, 2006 at 4:59 pm (Digital Signage)

Even though this article from August’s VARBusiness has mostly information and specs about monitors, there’s also some good info about the direction digital signage is headed. More and more small and mid-sized businesses are turning to digital signage as a worthwhile and even crucial marketing initiative, while thousand-screen deployments for multi-million dollar companies remain rare. The key is to find a solid provider, install a few screens in high-traffic areas, and begin to measure your ROI. That seems to be the big debate: Will spending all of this money be worth it to my company in the long run? Research shows that customers respond favorably to in-store digital media, and that such POP advertising can increase sales of advertised products by alarming amounts. And, ss Chris Drynan mentions below, they’re irreplacable for getting the attention of your already captive audience, such as the guests waiting in your office entryway. This gives you an early first impression; a chance to get them interested in your products or services before they’ve even heard your sales pitch. But the real question remains: Will I make back what I spend on this massive installment? The longer your signage system stays in place, the more likely you are to earn a positive ROI. With constantly changing content, it’s easy to see how quickly you could save money on printing, shipping, and hanging traditional in-store signage as opposed to the instantaneous deployment of digital ad campaigns. DigiSignage’s ROI calculator claims an ROI of over 2,000% for a large signage system that remains intact for 5 years and is continually updated with new marketing material. While pilot rollouts and smaller systems shouldn’t anticipate that level of return, they can almost guarantee that they’ll still have an eye-catching display that will keep their customers’ interest piqued. And with the cost of monitors, displays, and screens hitting all-time lows, especially those made specifically for digital signage use (no speakers, hi-def video), it’s easier than ever to get involved inexpensively.

Excerpt, “Digital Sign of the Times”, VARBusiness, Aug 18 2006
By Shelley Solheim

“I think digital signage is more integrated into business processes than it used to be. A lot of our reps see value in selling it more than they used to,” says Chris Drynan, director of business development and marketing at En Pointe Technologies, a solution provider based in El Segundo, Calif. “We’ve seen a good spike in sales over the past six to 12 months, and we see more opportunities in the pipeline. “We see [these displays] all the time in client hallways, where we didn’t see them 18 months ago,” Drynan adds. “We’ve even started to use them internally, and we’re seeing the benefits of internal messaging for our sales reps. We also plan to put [digital signage] in our entryway in the future, so when people are sitting out there, they can get a feel for what we’re doing and what’s new that they might not have known about.”

Small and midsize businesses are warming to digital signage as display prices continue to fall, and major distributors such as Ingram Micro and CDW are starting to offer digital-signage-in-a-box solutions targeted specifically at SMBs. Just last month, D&H Distributing signed a deal with American Industrial Systems to resell all-in-one digital-signage displays to small and midsize companies.

“Historically, in enterprise deployments, you’re mixing hardware with proprietary software, then tying it to standalone PCs or to a network,” says Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing at D&H in Harrisburg, Pa. “This is much easier.”

In the future, the distributor will also offer MediaView and SmartView products for wireless capabilities and an integrated PC that allows video, pictures and text to run simultaneously.

Schwab points to what he considers an ideal application for an all-in-one display offering: a real-estate office that simultaneously offers a slide show of available houses, lists the phone numbers of local contacts and provides information about regional events such as open houses.

Industries such as health care, government and education are among other verticals that offer new areas of growth for digital signage.

“Everyone’s looking to get huge multi-thousand unit installations, but those are going to be hard, and few and far between,” says Hans Baumann, senior product manager at NEC Display Solutions. “There are a lot of smaller opportunities at universities and hospitals.”

You can read the fuill article here: http://varbusiness.com/article/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=191902339

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Flash9… what a feeling!

October 9, 2006 at 1:10 pm (Digital Signage)

The quality of content for digital signage displays varies broadly–from low-level, static images to blockbuster-worthy graphic effects. But what medium can be used for animation, video, and interactive design? The answer lies within 10 years of creative vision and envelope-pushing from Macromedia and Adobe, manifesting itself in a program called Flash. While it may be responsible for those annoying pop-ups and confusing websites, Flash is irreplacable in the digital signage industry because its versatility allows it to solve a myriad of problems. I’ve been the Creative Director for Captive Indoor Media for a few years now, and I know first-hand how Flash has helped us create great screen content. It has the ability to bring in dynamic information on the fly, such as retrieving live weather and news or auto-populating the correct, current numbers for a bank’s digital rateboard. Using the powerful and mature ActionScript language, you can build attractive presentations and interactive applications. Flash can be used to show video in all or part of the screen and you even have the ability to move or alter the video feed dynamically. It can even be used for touch-screen interfaces. I used Flash to build our corporate demo CD that we send to clients. The possibilities for digital signage are virtually endless, and as more retail video software providers abandon their built-in content creation tools in favor of the robust Flash9 (coming soon!), the importance of in-house Flash developers and designers will become appartent. We currently have several designers and programmers who know Flash inside and out and are already creating media using the latest language, ActionScript3, an engine that dramatically improves the performance of Flash content, especially pertaining to embedded video. With the digital signage industry growing by leaps and bounds, it’s crucial to find a provider that understands and embraces the expanding Flash medium, and can successfully use it to create impressive, dynamic screen content.

-Brandon Bass

(excerpt from) Picture This: Flashy Digital Signage
Jeff Sauer, Digital Content Producer
Oct 4, 2006 3:49 PM


This year marks Flash’s 10th anniversary, and its new owner, Adobe, is marking the occasion with a section of its website (adobe.com/products/flash/special/flashanniversary). The site reflects on Flash’s history and growth, offers tricks and tips from Flash developers, and has the winning Flash-enabled websites that visitors voted on from a number of influential Flash-driven websites from each of the last 10 years. There are some amazing websites, especially when viewed in the context of traditional HTML or even Java-scripted websites.

It probably won’t take too much looking at those sites to realize that Flash is extremely capable and presents information in a rich way. Indeed, it is far more mature and proficient at developing eye-catching content than any of the digital signage creation tools currently on the market. Of course, Flash doesn’t inherently have the scheduling component that digital signage products have, and while it does have serious network management tools, they are not specifically designed for signage infrastructures.

Still, there is an army of Flash developers and creators out there on an order of magnitude far in excess of any digital signage tool, and many are already working in the creative and web departments of companies that might be interested in using digital signage. Therefore, it’s inevitable that more Flash content will start to emerge as signage and information presentation reach the next level.

Nobody’s arguing these days that digital signage won’t be big, but thus far, it has been a slow road. That’s mainly because of the human costs, rather than the hardware costs. StrandVision smartly helps smaller potential users move past those inherent roadblocks. Leveraging existing Flash content and expertise could very well be the catalyst for getting larger companies to move, too.

None of that means that AV contractors need to become Flash developers; however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that contractors who enjoy success with digital signage will be the ones who understand the underlying technology and the possible solutions first — and that will probably include an understanding of the content itself and where it comes from.

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Designing in the moment

October 5, 2006 at 10:35 am (Digital Signage)

The ability to instantly repurpose and redesign the screen content for your digital signage system is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’ve got the power to completely change your digital content instantly and provide a fresh advertising message to your customers. Unfortunately, this also means you also need to make new content as often as your sign changes (which is often in a good digital signage campaign). After all, one of the most common mistakes in implementing digital signage is allowing the content to get stale. The “wow-factor” we hear so much about is lost when your recurring customers are confronted with the same content they’ve seen before. Sure, the screen itself is cool, but the content is fundamentally what makes the real impact. Here’s an excerpt from an article I found that speaks to this problem:

EXCERPT – Picture This: The Content of Digital Signage
Apr 1, 2006 12:00 PM
By Jeff Sauer
, Sound & Video Contractor

“…But what exactly is digital signage content and where does it come from? On one level, especially in our industry, designing digital signage content really means assembling existing content, including still images, video clips, text, and audio. The obligatory layout and scheduling software that accompanies each of the digital signage products, however, rarely includes much ability to build anything other than textual elements… It’s more common for the elements of digital signage content to be created by design professionals using applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, nonlinear video editing systems, or a professional animation tool. Often, those content elements are repurposed from television, print, or other existing promotional materials. However, as digital signage matures, it will likely become increasingly important for content to be generated specifically for digital signage. Awkwardly, the traditional model for creating that type of content typically means involving an ad agency, which in turn hires a production staff. But that’s an expensive and drawn-out process that does not suit the constantly changing nature of effective digital signage. As such, it’s a dynamic that probably needs to change in order for digital signage to proliferate.”

I totally agree with this guy. Digital Signage demands quick turnaround and instant implementation in order to maximize potential (and ROI). Like Sauer writes, most software for managing digital signage doesn’t offer much ability to build content yourself. So how do you maintain your signage system with constantly updated content without hiring an ad agency and design team working around the clock? A Louisville-based company called Captive Indoor Media provides full-service digital signage solutions, and also quick-turnaround content design and creation. Additionally, they start each customer off with hundreds of pre-made ads that can be used as they are, or customized, altered, tweaked, and repurposed in any way imaginable. Using a cheap ($99) and easy tool, marketing directors or entry-level employees can edit files directly and push them out to be displayed on screens in no time. It doesn’t have to be an extremely time-consuming process–you can rely on CIM to get your content done and on your screen in time for any promotion, or get it done yourself with minimal effort. Check them out: Digital Signage from Captive Indoor Media.


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Targeted Marketing through Detailed Reporting

October 2, 2006 at 10:33 am (Digital Signage)

Here’s a super-short article from MEDIA Magazine that has far-reaching implications about just how important digital signage will become in the following years. Digital Signage networks are already targeted at specific audiences, and can update their messages based on time of day, location, weather, etc. But with the onset of RFID readers and personalized self-service kiosks, digital signage installations are taking on a whole new level of customized consumer interaction. This article points out the data reporting that is a crucial component of your digital signage software, When you can track and analyze how your customers respond to certain campaigns instantly, you’re better prepared to react, evolve, and stay perfectly targeted in your marketing.-BBASS

Getting The Drop On Media — While You Shop

IN-STORE DIGITAL SIGNAGE IS ABOUT to get a lot more attention from data-addicted media buyers with the unveiling of a state-of-the-art, real-time measurement system created especially for in-store networks. Washington-based DS-IQ and Broadsign Inc. have integrated their technologies to create a system capable of measuring and predicting sales lift based on ads running on various retail networks. “This integration will help the digital signage industry to upgrade its status as an emerging medium and an indispensable part of the media mix,” explains BroadSign CEO Cord Christiansen.
The new technology enables BroadSign play logs to merge with retail point-of-sale data so that retailers and advertisers can monitor how each ad campaign affects sales directly from their laptop PCs.
“Leading retailers and consumer packaged goods companies have told us that they want to expand the use of in-store media to reach their consumers and boost same-store sales,” says Tom Opdycke, CEO of DS-IQ. “But in order to start moving their ad dollars, they have to have access to this sort of detailed information.”
Tricia Despres is a freelance writer, who has worked at Starcom Mediavest and Discovery Communications.

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Lessons Offered By New York Subway Digital Signage Network

September 29, 2006 at 10:51 am (Digital Signage)

I was in New York not long ago and I remember seeing how brilliant and eye-catching these things are. It’s not Times Square, where you’ll find yourself completely surrounded by flashing lights and in-your-face marketing messages, but rather a subtle and catchy way to promote in a high-traffic area, the subway entrances. This article not only talks about those signs in particular, but about digital signage in general and the way it is growing into an important tactic for practically every industry.

By Lyle Bunn
Digital Signage is being called “the last mile of a marketing program”, offering more cost-effectiveness, flexibility and control at product and service selection locations. Many retailers such as Apple, McDonald’s, Bank of America, Circuit City, Safeway, Sears, Virgin Music, US Postal Service, Nike and others ran successful pilots during 2004.

At the same time, some of the firms shifting ad spending to digital signage include astute media buyers and brand-builders such as Bayer, Black & Decker, Colgate-Palmolive, Disney, DirectTV, Frito-Lay, General Mills, Heinz, Kodak, L’Oreal, Minute Maid, Nestle, Sara Lee, Starter, The New York Times, LG Mobile Phones, ABC, Fox, Univision and Lee Jeans.

Here are a few of those valuable lessons:

Lesson One
from New York is ­ “Build it and they will come”. The pressure to get more results from advertising continues to grow and digital signage display is becoming a part of $149 billion annually invested in advertising. At one end of the scale, CPM (cost per thousand) rates of $2-6 make digital signage an inexpensive media buy. There is a question of how long this bargain will last as performance is increasingly proven and more advertisers take advantage of this powerful new communications medium. Revenue increases of 30% are being realized on products profiled, ranging to 109% for a new soft drink and 319% for a new calling card. Digital signage in bank teller lines results in customer inquiries about new services.

Lesson Two
is that “Wireless networking is effective for digital signage”. This is important for signage location flexibility and deployments in harsh, highly obstructed environments. “Wireless networking has performed well and the system has had no image drops whatsoever” said Rex Williams, President of UDN, which installed the New York network. WiFi 802.11 using multi-polarity antennas from WiFi-Plus Inc. (www.wifi-plus.com) has provided reliable, secure and cost-effective connectivity for the 80 New York street level LED panels. Williams added “Wireless works for digital signage. While it was the only option for installing the New York system, it has proven totally reliable with zero content drop performance”.

“Cost-effective, reliable, fully secure and interactive image transport done wirelessly by satellite has long been used for Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) and business television applications” said Larry Steinman, President and CEO of BTV+ , which is contracted by some of North America’s largest organizations to deliver interactive content to more than 13,000 locations in the USA, Canada and Mexico (www.btvplus.com). Steinman adds, “digital signage applications benefit from the cost-effectiveness, location flexibility, security and reliability that satellite connections provide for digital (IP) communications. Overlaying full motion signage on an existing IDL or BTV (business television) infrastructure is easy. Content management, network monitoring, troubleshooting and reporting tools are well advanced.”

Lesson Three
is offered by Williams to others, in particular municipalities, looking to install digital signage networks; “It is imperative that great care be taken by anyone looking to get into this business to ensure that the integrity of the content is impenetrable by outside forces”. System security may be inadequate at the network design stage, or be exposed as digital signage systems expand and use multiple media transport providers (ISP – Internet service providers). Williams added, “The system must be nearly “bullet proof” as far as hackers go. Signage software providers such as Automated Digital Signage Networks (www.adsn.ca) have taken steps to assure security at the content ingest, play-list management, display monitoring and other vulnerable points.

Lesson four
is reflected by various digital signage projects during 2004; “Digital Signage offers high return on real estate”.

Digital displays support commerce, public safety and information needs because they are so visual, vivid and eye-catching. Being able to provide information at a point of decision or when information is needed underpins the value of this communications medium for advertisers and public service providers.

Revenue measures from stock turns, margin per square foot or revenues from print (static) signage locations place a value on retail location space. Revenue from dynamic digital display at, for example $10,000 per month per display to the network owner, offers a good “return on space” comparison. The location benefits of use, such as product lift, branding, better customer relationships, liability containment, etc. are adding to the value assessment. The 25×50 inch LED signs positioned at the street level entrance to New York subways are providing a “return on space” and value along the supply chain from advertiser to signage provider.

To summarize, the lessons are:

1. Build it and they will come.
2. Wireless networking is effective for digital signage.
3. Integrity of the content being impenetrable by outside forces is critical.
4. Digital Signage offers high “return on space”.

Happy birthday New York subway signage network! You show the potential of an entire industry.

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Super-size me: Digital Signage for restaurants

September 28, 2006 at 3:03 pm (Digital Signage)

 When I was first in the University of Louisville’s graphic design / communication arts program, we walked through a typical morning (taking a shower, eating breakfast, driving to work or school, etc) and noticed that the applications of graphic design, packagaing design, and logo/identity design surround us so much that we don’t even notice them. Digital Signage is becoming as ubiquitous. It’s almost expected that any large company will feature some sort of dynamic display to show marketing messages, or flat-panel monitors to replace traditional wayfinding systems. Now the restaurant business is getting involved. Check out this article from QSR



 Ads With That?

Bringing outside advertising to your customers can bring revenue to your restaurant.

With the advent of TiVo and other digital television recording devices, television viewers have the power to record their favorite programs, watch them at their leisure, and, of course, fast forward past pesky commercials.

These technologies deprive advertisers of a once-captive audience. But where technological advancement closes one door it opens another.

Developments in data broadcast technology and high-definition televisions have primed the digital signage market for an explosion, allowing advertisers to reach a captive audience when they’re out to eat, as op-posed to when they are lounging on the couch.

OOH (Out Of Home) Vision Networks (ovn), an advertising and marketing firm, has partnered with Helius, Inc., a business-class data broadcasting company, to pump video advertisements into more than 100 retro diners in the Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey areas.

OVN CEO and President Craig Presser doesn’t mince words about the possibilities of this new advertising strategy. “It’s an exploding market, not even an emerging market,” he says. “Whether you’re in casual or quick-service, you’re going to see place-based media on screens.”

The chrome diners, which seat about 200 and are located in affluent areas, have been  outfitted with five liquid crystal display televisions strategically located in order to grab the attention of as many patrons as possible. Four of the screens measure an impressive 42 inches, while the fifth measures 23 inches.

Each screen is divided into three sections: Two-thirds of the screen broadcasts constant video advertisements, typically for local and regional businesses, and share space with the left third of the screen, which is reserved for whatever the diner wants to broadcast. Diner managers can advertise specials or welcome the mayor with three or four shuffling still images, says Mike Tippets, executive vice president for Helius.

At the bottom of the screen, OVN provides a live news ticker, complete with news, sports, weather, stock quotes, and traffic information tailored to the zip code.

Impact studies, Presser says, revealed that the advertisements were better received without volume, so all OVN advertisements are silent. “We want [the advertisements] to be obtrusive but not at a volume that prohibits conversation,” he says.

Developments in data broadcast technology and high-definition televisions have primed the digital signage market for an explosion.

On the larger portion of the screen, OVN’s digital signage network broadcasts a seven-minute advertising loop. This setup is specifically designed to get the most advertisement impressions from each customer. “In the  diner environment, OVN figured the typical patron stays in the diner for 42 minutes, and we want them to see the advertisements six times,” Tippets says.

Although Presser declined to share the exact number of locations in the OVN Diner network, he says his advertising setup reaches more than 1 million people per month, with 5.8 billion annual advertisement impressions.

This digital signage revolution of sorts should quickly reach the quick-service market. One doesn’t have to look past OVN to find a company looking to work with quick-service chains and franchisees to reach potential customers.

“I absolutely think this can work in a quick-service market,” Tippets says. “In McDonald’s, Arby’s, Wendy’s, Quiznos, or Subway the same things happen. I walk in and stare at the menuboard, and you’ve got a chance to influence me with upsell opportunities. You can introduce me to a new menu item I might not have seen, and the franchise owner also has a chance to share in revenue,” Tippets says.

Presser reports that his company was recently awarded a sizeable contract with a quick-service company and has similar plans with other traditional dining restaurants.

Although some diners might recoil at the thought of advertisements in their face while they eat, Tippets says that advertisements and a news ticker can be a welcome distraction while waiting for a meal. “If I am waiting for my food, I might want to be distracted,” he says. “Perceived wait time is less if I am distracted. That 7 to 10 minutes goes by a lot faster,” he says.

While diner managers expressed some reservations about putting televisions in their establishments at the onset, Presser says positive patron response and a promise of a cut from the advertising revenue helped usher in the big screens.

Each diner gets the television installed for little to no cost, shares some of the ad revenue, and OVN takes care of advertising sales. So far, Presser says, he has a wonderful renewal rate with advertisers.

The technology behind the advertising network is facilitated by another partner, Microspace Communications Corporation, which uses it’s VELOCITY satellite service to beam content to each diner location. Helius’ MediaWrite content distribution management system figures out which advertisements go where, and Microspace beams it there via satellite, where a Helius router unpacks the information and sends it to the LCD televisions, according to a Helius press release.

“The affinity of Microspace’s satellite delivery with Helius’ turnkey hardware/software solution offered a cost efficient and streamlined solution for a network of this size,” OVN’s Vice President of Operations Robert Goldner says in the release. “In addition, satellite is point-to-multipoint, which translates into a faster network that is suited to Out of Home Alternative Media.”

While OVN is just two years old, Helius has been around for a decade and saw digital signage as the logical next step for the company. The company has been in the business of moving data and IP video, had success in corporate training via IP, and saw a clear similarity between broadcasting training content and broadcasting digital advertisements, Tippets says.

After hooking up with OVN, Tippets says his company developed a new generation of the Helius software and hardware. “Instead of just distributing ad spots, now we have a whole workflow scheduling engine at the top end. OVN can check whether an ad can run at a certain time, when the ad stops, and so on,” Tippets says. Now, OVN can create an automated playlist for advertisements that can be customized for each diner. The system will also alert managers if a new advertisement has not been put into a playlist, and it can automatically remove advertisements from the loop after a certain period of time.

With the development of these technologies, the digital signage arena is set to expand dramatically. InfoComm International (infocomm.org), the audiovisual and information communications industries international trade association, reports that digital signage is one of the fastest growing segments of the industry.

According to the International Communications Industries Association’s 2004 Market Definition and Strategy Study, the audiovisual industry reported revenues of almost $18.9 billion and expects a 9.6 percent growth rate over the next five years.

This fast-growing market will likely infiltrate the quick-service market sooner than later. Along with soft-drink machines and hamburgers, high-definition television monitors could soon become a mainstay at your neighborhood quick-serve.

This column originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of QSR. Subscribe and get QSR delivered to your door twelve times per year.


Need a reliable Digital Signage Provider? Check out Captive Indoor Media’s Digital Signage options.

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Today’s Multimedia Advertising

September 27, 2006 at 1:42 pm (Uncategorized)

Digital Signage is undeniably becoming a serious force in modern marketing. This blog is dedicated to providing readers with industry news, links to valuable online resources, and tips for integrating an effective digital signage system in your business.

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