These are signs of changing times and they are everywhere. Banks, retail stores, exhibitions, malls, airports, restaurants — digital signage is being mounted at all these places. Enter the world where flat screens offer high-quality, value-added marketing content.
Digital signage is a broad term used to describe the integration of a variety of technologies, including software, that culminate in a single end result — a unique and powerful communications medium that provides unparalleled opportunities for marketers to capture audience’s attention, educate and inform, build brands, improve customer experiences and drive sales through the use of digitally powered signs (such as plasma display panels, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), kiosk stations (such as ATMs, computer monitors and normal televisions) to replace and enhance traditional media such as posters, outdoor billboards, etc. The concept has been around for some time, but now digital signage is fully coming into its own since the days of the dot matrix display boards, the first usage of this technology.
AN ATTRACTIVE ALTERNATE
Digital signage is now a viable and affordable alternative to traditional printed signage because the prices of display hardware have tumbled. Thus this new medium of Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) (also known as out-of-home advertising, in-store TV, captive audience TV, digital signage or dynamic digital display) looks set to offer advertisers one of the most targeted and powerful ways of reaching consumers. The type of content on this type of signage can vary. Pakistani marketers looking to improving the effectiveness of their marketing communication are fast replacing the static point-of-sale signage, especially in today’s multimedia world, where it doesn’t have the POP! it used to.
Aside from content such as TV ads, messaging on DOOH can also provide a website address, mobile number or even an IVR, which, when dialled, provides a pre-recorded message specific to the ad display location for exhibit, product or other information. DOOH can also be made interactive with sensors, touch-screens and other interactive devices which can be installed alongside these displays, allowing content to respond when consumers pass by. This enables the customer to fully engage in the communications experience, and this also provides valuable marketing data.
There are several dimensions of this technology, including comprehensive control over how, when and where your messages are delivered, based on the location or time of the day. This is called narrowcasting. Narrowcasting involves streaming specific data to specific audiences as opposed to traditional broadcasting, which targets a great swath of general viewers.
Digital advertising makes it possible to present messages on multiple DOOH displays through eye-catching dynamic content targeted by demographic, psychographic and geographic specifications, besides other customer-defined business rules such as the time of day, store zone, etc. Since the content can be changed or updated at any time from a remote computer containing the solution’s administration software, the displays are designed to show product information to consumers with the hope of encouraging sales that would not normally occur according to consumer’s traditional shopping patterns e.g., on a given day, different ads for a clothing store might be presented to reach the young people between 18-25 year olds through displays at bus shelters, coffee shops, on campus, in food courts, petrol stations, bank machines and in malls, depending on the time of the day they are likely to be there in large numbers.
This kind of specific targeting allows a marketer to communicate their message to the audience at critical junctures and cuts down the total spending on ads. The greatest strength, however, of digital signage lies in its immediacy. Digital signage enables “speed to messaging”, “faster time to market” and communications flexibility when content creation, composition, management, transport and presentation are all done digitally.
This allows the cost-effective re-purposing of ads across media platforms, since digital signage networks are largely automated and remotely controlled. This enables the launching of new communications campaigns with zero courier costs, no on-site personnel requirements and total security. Thus digital signs can literally be reprogrammed with the latest advertising campaign, price change or public message at the click of a mouse button. One mouse click and thousands of screens update automatically.
This also has the benefit of eliminating out-of-date messages to increase relevancy of messages for the consumer – no more posters or messages from last month’s campaign fluttering around. In the future, these signs will also be able to influence inventory and supply chain by promoting products that are in an over-supply and cutting off promotions of products that are out of stock at that location. Targeted, informative content that changes behaviour, such is the power that every marketer dreams of.
Also, since DOOH presents digital messages at the point-of-purchase, it brings “the power of place” (how our surroundings shape our thoughts, emotions, and actions) to life. There is currently no other medium which makes it possible to deliver compelling content at the right location at the right time for maximum impact, for example it is a known fact that over 75 per cent of buying decisions are made at the point of purchase (Source: POPAI). Setting up a digital signage at a shopping mall or retail outlet can influence purchasing right where it’s about to happen. This is what sets digital signage apart from traditional media. It allows you to run purpose-built, meaningful content that can be managed to meet the consumer experience.
DOOH also has been reported to increase customer dwell time. Dwell time is the period during which a dynamic process remains halted in order that another process may occur, e.g. a person stops to glance over at a range of biscuits in a super market. Retail studies have shown that the longer the dwell time, the higher the number of sales.
The use of DOOH has also been reported to enhance the customer experience through value-added ‘edutainment’. In waiting rooms, e.g., such as the doctor’s office, pharmacies, railway stations or banks, these displays reduce perceived wait time. People really enjoy watching the educational programming on these displays and believe that the time spent was less than it really was improving customer satisfaction.
SETTING IT UP
Setting up a basic signage is as simple as plugging a DVD player and a DVD with your ad into a display console and putting it up in a shop. However, for a proper DOOH, the components needed for a digital signage system include: an authoring console equipped with content management software, allowing the playback of content in a variety of playback formats, a server to which finished content is uploaded and from where it is distributed to the different displays of the network, a distribution infrastructure consisting of a data network or fibre optic or CAT5 cable which broadcasts media from the server to the displays and digital signage displays which can be plasma displays, LCD monitors, CRT monitors or kiosk stations.
The distribution infrastructure is perhaps the most important part of digital signage, and choosing the correct distribution technology is a crucial element of any digital signage project. To date, the most common distribution infrastructure in Pakistan has been the data network platform, most commonly seen in the top retail stores of the country.
A data network platform uses a computer network infrastructure in order to transmit content in the form of compressed multimedia files (such as MPEG files) from the management station to the central server and from there to the computer connected to the display device. The central server handles distribution to multiple displays and the display-end computer decompresses the file for display on the display device. This solution requires a dedicated CPU in every single display device deployed.
While offering better approaches and new paradigms of message targeting, DOOH is typically sold on a rental basis. Thus the technology’s inherent capabilities for message targeting combined with attractive rates make DOOH attractive, providing high return on marketing investment. And the best part of it all is that marketers can maximize display value with measurable effectiveness, tallying sales data to the message that was being run on these screens.
The greatest interest in digital signage today is from the banking, telecom and retail sectors, although it does have other uses in healthcare, education and other displays of information, e.g. an average retail store has a footfall of over 500 people per day who can watch these ads and the preliminary results of studies by local major players show that a dynamic content’s impact is higher than that of static media on these locations. So it’s no surprise that the potential for this technology is huge.
Telecom franchises number well over 1600 alone, there are over 5000 high-end retail shops where this technology can be deployed and high-end banking branches number well over 4500.
As one of the suppliers and pioneers in this field, 3M Pakistan is currently assessing the potential of bringing this technology into Pakistan. They’ve already launched one of the components of DOOH amongst their range of products, Vikuiti, which is a range of projection display components. Vikuiti has been tested at over 50 locations in Pakistan so far and have been proven to be an excellent choice, surpassing the metrics of reach, frequency and recall over static media. Within one year of its introduction Vikuiti has already hit the targeted numbers for this market and is growing fast, slowly converting the POS market in Pakistan.
According to Dr Hugh Philips, a cognitive psychologist, human beings “select” or “de-select” what they notice based on the relevance of what is presented. That being the case, motion video and animation coming and going on a dynamic display has a high probability of being seen, and relevant or interesting messages can then fulfil the objectives. The numbers are already promising. Viewers are five to 10 times more likely to notice and recall dynamic media than static media (Source: POPAI).
It’s a high-definition world, and today’s time-starved consumers demand more from their experiences, thus using digital signage can make for happier and more energised customers. With its superior ability to target specific messages towards defined audiences and get noticed, digital signage offers unparalleled opportunities to anyone wanting to capture the ever fragmented audiences’ attention, educate and inform people, build brands and drive sales and profitability.
The advantages of digital signage
• Reaches defined audiences
• Targeted messaging
> Target your messages by screen, location, time or day
> Enables tactical marketing by audience segment
• Captures audience attention
> Increases message impact through eye-catching dynamic
> Enhances the customer’s experience through value-added
> Increases customer dwell time and reduces perceived wait time
• Speed and immediacy of message change
> Reduces time and cost to produce and deploy new messages
> Eliminates out-of-date messages to increase relevancy of
• Ensures local compliance with auditable playback
> Automated playback with no human interaction
> Compare proof-of-play reports to sales data
• Maximises display value with measurable effectiveness
> Creates content schedules containing multiple messages
per signage asset
> Easily tests different message executions and assesses the
impact of each
Published: Dawn Newspaper, Sci-Tech
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