Published in IT/AV Report, Fall 2008

Digital Signage Scenarios
By Chris Colt

Encouraging visual stimulation.

These days, it is nearly impossible to go to any place of business and not see flat screens playing advertisements or providing information. Whether pumping gas, waiting for the doctor or even taking a break in the ski lodge, digital signage is everywhere. Digital signage has been growing for years, but recently is making a strong presence not only in Corporate America, but also within the retail industry and banks. For our purposes here, digital signage is defined as “a network of digital displays that is centrally managed and addressable for targeted information, entertainment, merchandising and advertising.”

Define ‘Digital Signage’

Many end users refer to digital signage as “a dynamic digital display that allows for the sharpest new instrument in communications.” With solution costs dropping and the ease of deployment increasing rapidly, this technology is quickly working its way into daily business life.

What are some of the benefits that digital signage has offered to end users? The list is long and is really dependant on the business challenge being measured. Some of the key areas that have been experienced by many users include:

• Revenue Generation

–product/service “lift”
–inquiry increases on products/services
–improved branding
–increased customer loyalty

• Cost Reduction

–better display control/spending
–public information and safety
–liability containment
–central control of marketing campaigns

The bottom line regarding the use of digital signage is that it allows for more effective communications spending. With the ability to change the message quickly on any screen, the possibilities of digital signage are endless. Here, we’ll offer a high-level overview of use cases and experiences from three different industries using digital signage. These use cases demonstrate a few different experiences/applications of various end users.

Digital Signage In Corporate America

The ability to deliver the right information at the right time is proving to be more and more crucial within Corporate America. With critical emails going unnoticed and print materials being dated and untimely, there is a great need for a better method of “getting the message out.” What better way than digital signage?

Deploynent of rich media in Corporate America has been ongoing and evolving for years but, recently, hardware and software have become more affordable, and more corporate communications professionals are realizing the positive impact of digital signage. For example, one Fortune 500 organization uses signage within 50 campuses across the US. The application started out as a simple way to welcome guests, inform employees of HR-related materials, provide weather and stock updates, and provide live TV feeds.

Originally, the real estate on each 18-inch to 40-inch LCD flat screen, located at the entrance of each building, was showing one region of content. As time progressed, the system was displayed in up to 15 different locations of all 50 campuses. The real estate on each screen varies, but many have three different regions that include one main video window, one smaller side window and a lower section for tickers. This allows the client to deliver content that includes all previous pieces mentioned, along with:

• employee communications

• employee recognition

• employee training

• client news

• safety/emergency alerts

• corporate news

• conference room schedules

• streaming video from executives

• town hall meetings

• corporate goals and performance information

• hiring initiatives

• facility maps

• Sales Tip of the Day clips (this is market-specific for each region from the senior vice president of sales or outside training agencies)

• divisional information to keep other business units informed of what each
BU is doing

• displaying of ad campaigns

• campus information

• menu boards

• information to inform employees they could view any content they have seen on an internal portal

• ability to keep those who do not have access to PCs informed

• the list continues to grow....

The result for this client is a much easier method of keeping the employee base informed.
An additional note to add is that the “Sales Tip of the Day” has been received well by the sales team and has led to increased sales activity. Overall, the experience for this Fortune 500 company has been a rewarding one, and it has plans to go international with its solution.

Digital Signage In Retail


Many retailers either have adopted or are beginning to adopt digital signage in their store architecture. The benefits of a system are far greater than old methods of static and paper signage. With the deployment and management costs of signage systems dropping, digital signage is growing rapidly within the retail segment.

One particular retailer decided to roll out signage to all 325 store locations. The purpose was to ensure that the company was maximizing its branding campaigns and had the ability to change content quickly and efficiently within each store. Each location operated by this retailer has anywhere from four to 20 LCD screens throughout the store, playing mixed-content loops. The loops vary in length, but each clip within the loop runs from 30 to 60 seconds. The overall play list being used is about 12 minutes long and is “day parted” based on customer demographics in the store.

A crucial element of any signage system is the ability to “day part,” with screen content changing based on the time of day. This particular retailer proved in studies that day parting was the most effective marketing campaign in 75% of its stores. In the morning, the content is geared toward senior citizens; at lunchtime, it is mixed between mothers and seniors; and in the afternoon, it adds the teenage crowd. The evening play list brings it all together.

Integrating Point Of Sale System

Another particular interest for this retailer was the ability to integrate its point of sale system into the signage system. With this crucial integration, the retailer can trigger specific ads to play based on inventory in the store. And, if a specific product is running low, ads for this product can be pulled from playing, based on attributes defined within the signage software.

This retailer has found that digital signage can be integrated with other popular applications, such as Google Calendar. Each store manager uses Google Calendar to book events for the day, week and month within the stores. Digital signage software allows this information to be displayed on an ad within the stores. Store managers never have to touch the signage system; they just continue using the Google Calendar program they are familiar with and the signage system updates custom ads by reading the Google feed.

Other benefits this retailer and many others have reaped by utilizing digital signage include:

• grabbing customers’ attention and influencing their purchasing decision

• touchscreen initiatives

• employee training

• product training

• promoting, up-selling and cross-selling products

• reduction of perceived wait time

• enhanced customer experience

• loyal customers

• entertainment within the store

• targeted advertising

• streaming video from executives

• consistent branding across all stores

• cost savings over distributing print ad campaigns

• ability to change promotions at a moment’s notice

• selling ad space to suppliers to offset costs of system

Much like signage in the corporate environment, the list of digital signage benefits in the retail segment can go on and on. With the economy tightening and society becoming much more visually driven, retailers are taking advantage of the opportunity to make the in-store experience more engaging.

Digital Signage In Banking


For the banking industry, the use of digital signage networks has become a much greater strategic initiative. The banking segment as a whole is challenged to find and meet the needs of its existing clientele. For most, the challenge revolves around:

• meeting customers’ service expecta tions to increase loyalty/trust

• uncovering purchasing demands

• enhancing the customer bank experience

• converting these opportunities into sales/revenue

Although these areas may not fall into every bank’s strategic initiatives, the objectives tend to be similar across the industry. So, how can a bank attempt to control these challenges? Based on the experiences of many existing bank networks, the process starts by defining the bank’s key objectives within the branches. It must be understood what customers want and do within the branches.

Once the customer’s needs and wants are determined, banks then can break down customer visits into components. Most banks will find this to be a four- to five-step process within each branch. This is where digital signage can be used to enhance the customer experience. It is crucial to define where signage should be placed and what kind of messages should be displayed. Much like in the retail environment, a greater percentage of sales and loyalty can be achieved when a bank can control or enhance the customer experience.

Although each bank is unique in its target market and market share, the following are key applications or results from signage systems in banking:

• enhanced customer experience

• improved branch productivity

• reduction of perceived wait time

• branding

• increased product/service revenues

• live TV

• targeted advertising

• employee training

• product overviews

• promoting, up-selling, cross-selling

• loyal customers

• interactive kiosks

• streaming video from executives

• cost savings from distributing print ad campaigns

In today’s challenging economic times, the banking industry has become more focused on obtaining and maintaining loyal clients. Banks are finding that improving the in-branch experience with digital signage is an effective strategy. The easier the banking process and the more customer-focused the branch, the more a client will be willing to be loyal to one bank for all banking needs.

Conclusion

Digital Signage is here to stay. It is a technology that fits a wide range of needs and applications in the market. When time is taken to observe the many places that digital signage is displayed, it can be an eye opening experience. Instead of being a strictly retail solution, it is now making more appearances in universities, hotels, bars, supermarkets, gas station pumps, buses, city streets, zoos, museums, casinos, restaurant chains, hospitals, airports, doctors’ offices, sports arenas, ski resorts, subways, highway billboards…and the list is growing.

Strong growth in digital signage will be evident as businesses realize the impact that can be made from this type of visual stimulation. The question is, how far is society from experiencing technology that was displayed in the movie Minority Report?

Chris Colt, regional sales manager for Planar’s CoolSign Division, has 13 years of enterprise business software and managed services experience.

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