Digital Signage

¿Comprendes Español? That’s Just For Starters!

Admirable

Admirable’s content mix makes viewers feel close to home.

A smattering of words and phrases in Spanish won’t take you far in running a profitable Latino-oriented signage network or even garnering a small part of that rapidly growing business. Beyond language fluency, a deeper understanding of the cultural and social preferences of the community that media buyers seek to reach is necessary for the success of any ethnic network.

For instance, the Hispanic population in the United States is nuanced not just in terms of dialect but also cultural proclivity based on country of origin. The Venezuelan expats in Chicago, for example, have many different interests from the Colombians in the same city. However, there are some commonalities that could be leveraged across a network. “We know that our viewers dine at restaurants that make them feel connected with their home country,” said Kristian Diaz, Chief Technology Officer of Admirable, a Spanish-language signage network. “Research confirms that Hispanics designate eating out as their number-one leisure activity. So, we serve up content, such as soccer games and other sports, entertainment videos and funny animations, as well as news that is global, country-specific and local, in addition to advertisements and the restaurant’s own messaging.”

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Admirable (www.ad-mirable.com) has been operating a network of 3000 static displays at restaurants and bars in the US for more than a decade. Two years ago, the company established a digital signage network with 265 screens, mostly in restaurants, with only five located at consular offices. Admirable’s digital screens are located in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami. Diaz said that all the screens are NEC commercial-grade, 42-inch, LED, edge-lit LCD panels with built-in TV tuner and serial control capability. “We selected these screens based on price, RS232 control, appearance and low power consumption. RS232 control is very important for us because we are not the venue owners. It is the optimal way to have full control of the on/off schedule, input source selection and volume. Additionally, we can more accurately report proof of play to our customers [advertisers] based on the status of the screen.”

Admirable selected Nexcom and AOPEN media players based on their high performance, small form factor and price. Local companies, such as HD Solutions in Chicago and Honest Install in Dallas, were contracted to install the media players and display screens.

Selecting a content management system was not easy, given the numerous options available, but Admirable knew what features it required. Diaz and team looked at several cloud-based software solutions and tested three. “We wanted to work with a known and trusted CMS provider that had an ad-based approach to content distribution and reporting,” Diaz noted. The BroadSign platform runs not only the player software, but also anonymous video analytics and custom integrations. “Our whole network runs on BroadSign. Some of our content, such as interactive games, polls, SMS and social feeds, includes ActionScript or JavaScript code that queries our servers. This type of content is developed in-house,” explained Diaz.

Discussing the roles of various signage system providers, Diaz said, “I believe that they should simplify their product and service offerings when dealing with smaller customers. Many times, these types of customers feel overwhelmed by the amount of technical jargon and the lack of clear heuristics for decision making.

“Normally a first approach with a potential customer is followed by a questionnaire regarding the network’s objective with regard to content production, distribution, network topology, screen sizes, site descriptions, etc. It is important for the customer to know the objective of each question and how the answer will affect pricing and why. I think this establishes a trust-based relationship that can end up becoming a win for everyone.”

Operating a network for a specific vertical viewership can be a challenge, but Diaz noted that the tools available today provide distinct advantages. For example, because of the amount of investment in equipment placed in third-party locations, Admirable anticipated the challenge of tracking every movement of devices, and uses barcode technology. Another example is Admirable’s selection of a CMS platform that supports its advertisers’ need for micro-targeting viewers by specific factors such as age, country of origin, income level or location. Corona, Telemundo and United Airlines are among the advertisers that have availed themselves of Admirable’s ability to segment its viewership.

With every digital signage deployment, it is necessary to learn about the viewing patterns of targeted audiences and to identify the objectives of all stakeholders. In designing networked content for specific vertical markets, it’s particularly important to be aware of unique differences that create both challenges and opportunities.

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