March of the Statistics

Many of our past posts have discussed marketing, retail environments, sign design, content and audio considerations. But why is this dynamic sign technology getting so much attention? Why should you invest in this new learning curve as a digital print or sign professional? From software selection, to network design and configuration, to the right displays and peripherals and then installation and training for the client, it is quite an investment. Is it worth it? Okay, let’s march a few statistics out for March, and then you decide…. (We’ll use plenty of pictures to keep it lively!)

It is no coincidence that with 74% of all purchase decisions in mass merchandisers made in store, an increasing number of brand marketers and retailers invest in this medium.

When electronic digital signage first came onto the scene a few short years ago, there was no way to quantify it in terms of return on investment or impact on the marketplace, or even consumers. With the advent of scanner technology, brand marketers and retailers have been able to immediately determine the effectiveness of P.O.P.

POPAI‘s studies, undertaken from 1994 through this year, have consistently demonstrated significant sales increases for products supported by Retail Marketing across industries and geography.

Digital Signage has been proven to reduce perceived wait time by 40%-60%. That makes for happier, friendlier, more relaxed, and more satisfied clients.

LobbyPOP SayingAt the same time, you have a unique opportunity to tell your audience about additional products and services you offer.  You can be sure they’ll remember… it’s proven that digital signage can increase ad recall by more than 60%. And in case you’re wondering about the bottom line: Digital signage increases sales by 18%-62%!

InfoTrends/CAP Ventures has been tracking the industry since 1999, and adjusted Compound Annual Growth Rates are over 30%.

And, the most recent Digital Signage Pricing Report from Wirespring shows that the cost to deploy displays has dropped 14%. When Wirespring first began tracking in 2004, the cost per node (screen and media player) averaged $8500. In 2010, this had dropped to $3720.

It was only a few short months ago that Walmart released some information pertaining to their (in)famous Smart Network. In case you missed the announcement, the company calculated the following percentage increases in store departments using the Smart Network:

Sales lift by department
  • Electronics: 7%
  • Over-the-counter: 23%
  • Food: 13%
  • Health/beauty: 28%

They also disclosed the point in a product’s life cycle when the network seemed to be most effective:

Sales lift by product type

  • Mature items: 7%
  • Newly-launched items: 9%
  • Seasonal items: 18%
  • Items on rollback: 6%

From two case studies on how the Smart Network affects product sales (thanks to Digital Signage Today for the summaries):

In the first, a breathing-strip manufacturer purchased an endcap campaign, in which a 90- to 120-second message ran on endcap screens with product positioned around it. While the program was running, the brand saw a 100 percent sales lift on the specific product, determined by testing versus a control group.

In another campaign, the retailer wanted to increase the number of shoppers that opted in to receive discounts and offers via SMS. It staged a four-week campaign in which shoppers were told that if they’d sign up by dialing a specific code, they’d get exclusive announcements of new “Rollback” offers. During the four-week period, the retailer saw a three-fold increase in daily opt-ins.

Still with me here? We’re giving you this so you can go forth and conquer your clients’ fears!  Okay, how about YOUR fears 😉 Check this out:

According to data cited by Microsoft’s Edson, there are approximately 2 million digital signs across the US right now, and that number is expected to grow to 7 million over the next 5 years. For that to happen in a nice, linear fashion, it would mean that the industry will deploy 1,000,000 screens every year for the next 5 years.

The above chart shows that Retail remains the largest piece of the digital sign pie, and that Hospitality is second. With Retail, we find every imaginable style of display – from kiosks and endcaps, to video walls and window projections. In Hospitality, the range is not so dramatic. Both present ready opportunities for digital sign professionals.

Hopefully this March round-up of current research has given you a new perspective on your own potential in this arena. Next post, a bit about technology as it relates to content…

Sounds Like…

When it comes to digital signage and the dimension of audio in the environment, you are bound to see that sound has the ear of many, and important boundaries for others. It would be nice if we could provide a hard and fast rule when it comes to audio enhancements of your dynamic messaging. But we can’t. We can, however, give you the retail environment “rules of thumb” and bend your ear a bit on ways to implement this worthy tool.

First, it helps to think of audio as sugar in your content recipe. You may not need it, and if you add too much, it is just too much. And like sugar, it can add a great deal of appeal, and assist in delivery – the way a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down… In the most delightful way!

Second, you can simply destroy your employees as though using some wicked form of torture, if you play the same audio track over and over and have no way to limit the sound to a particular environment. This is a fact. And it leads to manual disengagement, as in, the volume is turned off.

Third, however, is the new research showing that comprehension, attention, and retention are improved with a good music and voiceover track. In fact, a music bed helps to deepen the experience, and depending on your system objectives, it can enhance a brand’s style.

And Fourth, audio will often reach a client before they are aware of a screen. What you have then is the power to draw eyes to your digital display that much earlier.  

So, how do you compromise between engaging the ears, and saving your employees’ sanity? You can and should give serious consideration to a sound cone which hangs over your display, and presents sound waves in a tight dimension around your system. Only when someone is within a few feet of the display can they hear the music. In addition, motion detectors can assure the sound plays only when someone is present.

We like the Cone of Silence offered by Interface Group. The patented design delivers a column of sound directly below the sphere providing crisp clear stereo sound. Outside the column, sound level drops 80% so that adjacent patrons are not bothered by the audio content.  In fact, the Library Journal supplement publication Library By Design featured this product for the library system. So if it works for a librarian, it will work great for your clients as well!

The audio component of your presentation gives you a distinct advantage when it comes to edutainment content. Without music, most material falls a bit flat. Test this yourself: play a movie trailer with and without audio. The impact of a good music score can’t be taken lightly. But if you have no way to control the audio either by motion or a “cone of silence” then you run the risk of creating a negative where there was a positive impression. In your needs analysis, look at your environment and the factors above.

That’s very sound advice 😉

Our Predictions All Came True…

Back in 2007, one of our blog posts predicted that the “traditional” sign industry trade associations would be looking at dynamic digital signage as the new frontier. That, we can now boast, is a prediction fulfilled. See our July post of 2007 for the exact prediction for the International Sign Association’s involvement to come. That day has come!

Digital sign pioneer and explorer, Lyle Bunn, Strategy Architect, published this in Digital Screenmedia Association news:

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.

How about another prediction – one so important we built our entire LobbyPOP premise upon it. We began our foray into electronic digital signage in 2006 after extensive research, specifically choosing an “Edutainment” format for our own specialized content. LobbyPOP content is very recognizable, and always provides engaging graphics, quality video, voiceover and music to present interesting and important facts about a particular industry’s products and services. We dubbed this “edutainment” as a reflection of the education and entertainment value encompassed in quality content. Now, without blowing our own horn too much, this year in March, Digital Signage Today featured an article which touted a “new” concept, “Infomercials coming to digital out of home.” Wow- the sound of thunderous applause here at LobbyPOP headquarters! 

In a move that in hindsight seems incredibly obvious, advertising technology firm rVue has partnered with a direct response TV firm to bring direct response ads to the digital signage networks using rVue’s Demand Side Platform.

 Yes, it seems incredibly obvious to us!

“It is a very exciting time, and we’re really working hard on bringing forward some what-we-believe-to-be-very-important initiatives and solutions for our space,” rVue founder and CEO Jason Kates said in a recent phone interview.

As anyone who follows our blog knows, we squirm when the words “important” “initiatives” “solutions” and “our space” are all in the same sentence.

“We must be one of the last media in the world who haven’t had this developed as a full-blown opportunity for us,” Kates said.Social Media, Google, Online Content Convergence

Perhaps. Perhaps not… Can it be the new frontier has been soundly mapped already? Hardly! We have much to learn and review when it comes to touchscreens, social media on display, and content delivery technologies. We are eagerly watching developers create the new, converging technologies that will empower screens like never before. We are beta testing some exciting new content delivery vehicles as well! You may therefore be looking for our next big prediction, considering our track record 🙂 Well, we never want to disappoint, so here goes:

We see Google, Social Media, and Microsoft all becoming critical to the digital media platform. What we see also is the confusion this creates in the marketplace, as clients and media providers try to sort out what is relevant and important. Of course, we have some thoughts on these subjects. You’ll have to read our next posts to learn more…  Remember our motto: A Step Ahead… is a Great Place to Lead!

Imagery is Worth a Thousand Milliseconds

From Wikipedia: A millisecond (from milli- and second; abbreviation: ms) is a thousandth (1/1,000) of a second.[1]

When we look at dynamic digital signage, it is vitally important that we know the standards when it comes to frames per second in the world of A/V. To create the illusion of motion, video (just as with film movies) consists of a series of images displayed in rapid succession.  Each single image is referred to as a Frame.  The number of frames displayed per second is the Frame Rate.  Ranging from 24 Frames Per Second (FPS) to more than 60, each video rendering standard has a purpose and appropriate set of applications. This is a long subject for a later post.

What is important to know is that the images on your digital display, especially those incorporating “motion” and transforming from one context to another, are relaying far more information than any set of words could ever reproduce. Why is this? It is closely linked to the nature of the left and right hemispheres of our brains.

The main theme to emerge… is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively and that our education system, … and modern society discriminate against the right hemisphere. –Roger Sperry (1973) 

 “… now that computers can emulate many of the sequential skills of the brain’s left hemisphere – the part that sees the individual trees in a forest –… it’s time for our imaginative right brain, which sees the entire forest all at once, to take center stage.”  – Dan Pink, NY Times, April 6, 2008, “Let Computers Compute. It’s the Age of the Right Brain”

You might say that we have entered the Age of Dynamic Digital Signage. Each of us, you, me, our audience, all have the capacity to absorb untold millions of bits of information in one gulp, so to speak, via our Right Brain attributes, as we look at an image, a scene, or a face. The Left Brain, on the other hand – the younger, less primal brain – needs to immediatly judge and sort, pocketing bits of data and filing each into a mental file folder based on its qualities. This entire subject comprises the material of tomes, millions of pages of research devoted to the amazing conversation and unique languages of the left and right brains.

All you need to know is that pictures really do convey a thousand words. What a boon for digital signage! The medium that is best able to convey mood, feeling, subliminal connection, brand building, and appeal to the senses is electronic digital signage! Combine music, the engaging montage of images in support of a product message, and you are finally able to hold attention, lift sales and build your brand’s appeal.

…“The era of ‘left brain’ dominance—and the Information Age it engendered —Is giving way to a new world in which ‘right brain’ qualities— inventiveness, empathy, meaning— will govern.” —Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind.

 Building Brands with Digital SignageInventiveness… empathy… meaning. These are qualities that should be imbued within your digital content design. LobbyPOP is gifted with a talented team of dedicated and creative humans who use technology – audio and visual elements – to create powerful messaging that goes far beyond what digital print alone could ever achieve. You are invited to visit the LobbyPOP YouTube channel to experience some of the magic.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  — Albert Einstein

Next post: How About Color, Contrast and Brightness?

 

Content Design is… Sign Design

When Booz Allen Hamilton asked marketers which organizations would become more important to them by 2010, media companies, media planners and communications planners topped the list, with 52% believing they would be more integral. Ad agencies of record? Only 27% thought they would be more integral. At the same time, 53% of media sellers say they expect to do more business directly with marketers.

We hold firmly to the belief that the strongest visual communications companies in North America are perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between creative, engaging content, and millions of small and medium businesses. Already deeply immersed in visual communications, the digital sign company professional must make absolutely certain they bring to the table their deep expertise, and not undervalue it. Electronic digital signage has much the same mission of digital print signage: To convey a message in a readable, conspicuous and legible manner in order to elicit a positive action on the part of the viewer.

Digital SignageWhat many creatives and ad agency executives forget is that electronic digital signage is SIGNAGE, not television. It is a hybrid product, including elements of the best commercial spots we see today, but clearly featuring the fundamental message for which it is established.

Just what elements of science are found in sign design that are not found on the list of considerations for ad agencies and media houses? There are three, and every sign professional knows them:

  1. Legibility
  2. Conspicuity
  3. Readability

In our next post, we’ll talk about the scientific principles and human factors research that give us these “rules” for sign design!

For Digital e-Sign Professionals

You may be a Digital p-Sign Professional – offering every wide-format digital print product your clients need. You could also be a Digital e-Sign Professional – giving customers electronic digital signage as well. While “e” and “p” are only 11 characters apart, there is a world of difference between print and electronic mediums. Thus far, over the past three years of engagement with the digital print sign industry, we have verified that the electronic medium presents some challenges for anyone who works in digital print and static signage.

Here are the most common hurdles, and how we address them:

  • File formats and square pixels. To create stunning wide-screen images, and provide the quality your client either expect now, or will expect soon, you have to know a tremendous amount about non-linear video rendering, frame-rates, aspect ratios, and how these translate from one program to another. You will want to allow for long rendering periods – far longer than even a grand format digital print file – if you are crafting a five-minute edutainment sequence. Workaround? The content can and should be created by experts, and delivered to you for your client’s playlist.
  • Choosing one delivery system over another…. and understanding what the heck you are talking about. Digital print experts are able to quickly ascertain the substrates needed for a particular sign, indoors or out. In addition, mounting hardware, installation services – these are all slam-dunk easy parts of the visual communications package. But start talking about wired, vs. wireless, vs. all-in-one systems, vs. push technology, vs. pull technology, vs. cloud-based, vs. RSS feeds, vs. traffic cams, video feeds and existing collateral, and you have digital soup. Solution? Start with a simple questionnaire that places the focus on the client’s abilities and needs. A Q&A logic tree will lead you to the perfect solution. In this way, you focus on the user experience and find a system that is truly usable.
  • Knowing what to ask a customer and how to present this technology. We’ve seen more digital signage installations in the past year alone than we’ve seen in the previous six years combined, because it helps brands and retailers who are struggling to find creative, affordable ways to increase sales and amplify the message.  That is the foundation of what we do at LobbyPOP: we build on this experience, and provide an affordable Digital Sign Expert certification course which addresses this very issue.

 Next post: Media Development

The Fourth Screen

The number of public displays is forecast to grow by 44% in 2009 reports Chris Connery,Vice President of PC and Large Format Commercial Displays at DisplaySearch. But this increase to the 900,000 displays of 27” and larger already installed is the tip of the iceberg, since smaller displays are typically used for elevators, shelves, service counters and other uses. “Digital signage is accelerating rapidly, even in the midst of a recession in the larger economy” explains David Keene, Executive Editor of Digital Signage magazine, “because Money is shifting into more ‘TiVo-proof’ places where consumers commute, wait, shop and gather, prices for LCD displays and related technologies have declined.

Add to that, a demographic shift toward younger consumers with mobile technology devices, and you have the ingredients for the kind of technology boom not seen since the birth of the Internet.”

Beyond the “three-screen” world of televisions, computers and mobile devices, National Datacast, Inc. a subsidiary of PBS, sees digital signage as the “fourth screen”.

PQ Media, providers of media econometrics are bullish on digital out-of-Home. “Despite severe economic headwinds and declining traditional advertising spending, the U.S. digital out-of home (OOH) media industry grew 12.3% in 2008 to more than $2.4 billion
and is on pace to grow 9.1% in 2009, according to PQ Media research. Digital out-of-home accounts for almost 30% of the overall out-of-home advertising market, which grew 5.0% in 2008 to $8.31 billion. “Economic crisis are resulting in a seminal transition across the media landscape,” says Patrick Quinn, president & CEO of PQ Media. “This will likely be the first recession in which advertisers not only spend less, but also spend differently.”

We believe affordability is and will remain a determinant of adoption rates for digital signage systems. As systems proliferate, and when the economy improves, the cost for some of these hardware and software packages – internet based or not – will be close to free. The X factor will be content. That’s where we hang our hat.