Digital Signage

The Wow Factor: Ways to amaze and engage

In environments oversaturated with digital screens, it is necessary to find innovative ways to rise above the visual “noise” level to attract and hold viewer attention. Going big is a surefire approach to getting noticed. Large, bright displays and videowalls are reliable ways to draw viewer attention and set the stage for communication and engagement. Other attention getters include Ultra HD resolution screens, mobile connectivity, interactivity, awesome content and even glasses-free 3D.

Although signage located in high-foot-traffic areas is attractive to brand marketers and ad agencies, capturing the attention of viewers on the go and ensuring that their “dwell time” will achieve desired results may not be so easy. To rise above the visual noise level in such areas, “the bigger and brighter, the better” is the mantra of DOOH network pros. Take, for example, the Mitsubishi Diamond Vision Ultra HD LED display on the façade of the New York Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square. Checking in at 25,610 square feet with 10mm pixel pitch spacing and a pixel density of 2368×10,048, this Clear Channel Outdoor mega billboard offers premium brands a new way to stand out in one of the world’s busiest shopping and sightseeing areas.

In quieter public areas with a more relaxed customer flow, a targeted and personal approach can draw customers in. At some movie theater multiplexes, signage screens employ both old and new techniques and technologies to grab the attention of moviegoers. For example, directional speakers are integrated into TrailerVision’s 52-inch HD displays, which also feature Bluetooth, NFC (Near Field Communication) and QR code technologies to engage viewers through their smartphones or tablets in a “conversation” that can continue long after the popcorn is gone.

Staying on top of wireless trends is one way to get personal with out-of-home viewers. According to Gartner forecasts, 50% of smartphones will have NFC capability by 2015. Top brands are already making NFC part of their engagement strategy. To get up to speed with NFC, check out Ian Poole’s NFC Tutorial at radio-electronics.com, resources at NFC Forum (nfc-forum.org) and Near Field Communication (nearfieldcommunication.com), and developer’s kits such as the interactive digital sign-age NFC kit from Elo Touch Solutions (elotouch.com).

As videowalls become simpler to deploy, they offer a cost-effective way to draw in and engage customers. A high-end digital home entertainment store in my town, ET Audio/Video, has installed an eye-catching videowall with nine Samsung 55-inch commercial-grade LED-backlit LCD flatpanels with ultra-thin bezel. This ready-to-deploy Planar signage package includes mounts and a switching system, complete with power supply and HDMI/DisplayPort connections for 2K/4K content sources. The store added a custom speaker bar from Leon. “We also added a Crestron DM 32-input system that enables us to control the sources independently,” noted Ray Benza, CEO/Co-Principal, Entertainment Technologies Audio/Video. The primary reason for the decision to install a videowall was to get noticed. “People see it and it draws them in,” said Benza, who reported that the store has already sold and installed the system for three private gyms.

The immersive value of 3D is obvious, but its signage utility has been limited by the difficulty of equipping “free-range” audiences with stereoscopic eyewear. However, with the developments in auto-stereoscopic display technology, several companies have 3D signage projects in pilot tests. Having recently completed one at one of the top seven hotel chains, Inception Digital (ID) is proceeding with 3D signage pilots at three additional hotel chains, five restaurant chains and six retail store chains. “The feedback has been extremely positive,” said Michael Brazeau, SVP Market Development at ID. “We are seeing a dramatic increase in viewer dwell time. People spend more time viewing the 3D display as compared with those viewing a standard 2D display.” Brazeau also noted that, as an AT&T network integration partner, ID plans to develop the largest private dedicated bandwidth broadcast network for restaurant venues in the United States.

Other signage players are also pushing the 3D envelope. In partnership with Electrosonic and Harkness Screens, Christie has been demonstrating developments in 3D projection technology. These include 90,000 lumens of brightness, a six-primary-color system and dramatic reduction of 3D crosstalk.

Interactive touchscreens are used increasingly to enhance visitor experiences. Ringing in the future of touch and personalization technologies, Nasdaq in Times Square recently installed interactive systems that support numerous simultaneous users, yet provide a personalized experience. At Nasdaq MarketSite, each guest is provided with a nametag card, a unique user ID based on 2D barcodes that enables the delivery of tailored information to the specific cardholder. Each interaction is tracked, creating a seamless experience that becomes more intuitive each time.

The Nasdaq videowalls employ Multi-Taction iWall displays and Codice software integrated with the existing CRM system. The lobby installation features three 55-inch MultiTaction displays in landscape mode, and the dramatic videowall in the TV studio consists of four 55-inch MultiTaction displays in portrait orientation. McCann Systems of Edison NJ worked on the AV integration and Reaktor on application development.

Content producers are also doing their part to attract and involve viewers. Techniques that are proving successful in grabbing attention and engaging OOH audiences include static poster-style elements combined with dynamic video; selfies and other local, real-time content displayed on big screens; and customized, relevant content based on viewers’ real-time interactions with the system.

How will you help your clients rise above the digital noise level?

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