Moving Day

Posted July 31, 2008 by Dave Haynes
Categories: News

Well, the end of the month seems like as good a time as any to re-point the blog from here to over there.

The new home for this is

I would set up an automatic re-direct, but there’s that sticky little issue about not knowing how to actually pull that off.

Most of the stuff that is here, has been migrated over to the new WordPress blog. Any new posts are going on the new, dedicated site, which remains pretty much a blog, but has a few twists.

A job board that is intended to let companies take the things they post on their own site and put them here as well. There’s no charge associated with it, and users can fill in the fields without my getting in the middle of it. I popped up a few things I know are out there, but from experience I know several companies who have sniffed around looking and found general job sites are way too broad in terms of the readership. At least with this, there’s little chance somebody will see the job post if they’re not already involved, somehow, in the space.

I also have an events calendar up. I am not all that happy with the one I am using right now, but it’s a start.

Links are buried in directory instead of on the main screen. There’s a way to do that in the Joomla 1.5 content management system, I’m sure, but I’m a rookie and somewhat hampered by being 50 and thick as a plank.

There is an RSS feed for posts built in. I think there is one for this WordPress version, but strangely I have never subscribed to myself. I have better taste than that.

I’ve added a little thingdoodle that creates an RSS feed from the RSS feeds that I sort through on Google Reader. This way, I can flag some things I have read on other blogs or sites but I don’t need to replicate them.

Finally, I have added a banner ad along the top. I’m not sure what all to do with that, but Joomla has that capability, and my buddy Kevin will take a free plug for his consulting firm, iBall Media.

I suspect I will continue to tweak things and add as I go. Let me know what you like and would like to see, and I have no doubt you’ll let me know what sucks.

DSE ’09 announces breakout show for something pretty much everyone at DSE does

Posted July 30, 2008 by Dave Haynes
Categories: Events

There’s a reason for this … just what, we’re not sure.

Digital Signage Expo (DSE) will introduce a new Out-of-Home Network Show, Feb. 25-26, 2009, in Las Vegas, reports Digital Signage Today.

“We are introducing the Out-of-Home Network Show to showcase private networks, an innovative result of the digital signage industry, because they are becoming more widely accepted as a viable communications and advertising medium,” said Chris Gibbs, executive vice president of ExpoNation LLC, which produces the co-located shows.

DSE’s Out-of-Home Network Show will showcase private network operators of place- and ad-based installations including traditional, vendor owned and operated, venue-owned and venue-outsourced businesses. In addition to exhibiting, operators will have the opportunity to make a 20-minute presentation to introduce their unique offerings to attendees in the Theater Pavilion.

Either I am missing something (always a possibility), or this is kinda like having an auto show and a breakout area at it for companies with cars that are are leased. Or something. What? Huh???

Nothing on the DSE website to help me out.

New research halves standard number on buying behavior

Posted July 30, 2008 by Dave Haynes
Categories: Research, Retail

Marketers have for ages been talking about how 70 per cent of purchasing decisions are made in the store.

But new research from OgilvyAction suggest the real number is more like half that – 34.9 per cent.

According to the study, reports Retail Wire, 39.4 percent number is the real number of consumers who wait until they’re in a store before deciding what brand to buy. About 10 percent change their minds while in the store and 20 percent leave a product on the shelf that they intended to buy. Nearly 30 percent of consumers wind up making a purchase from a category that they didn’t intend to buy from before walking into a store.

The 70 per cent number came out of work done for the Point of Purchase Advertising Institute (POPAI) more than a decade ago. POPAI says it is sticking to its numbers, suggesting: “There have been various studies that have arrived at different in-store decision rates over the years, based on unique methodologies, trade channels, and the context and location of consumer interviews. POPAI welcomes any research that helps brands, retailers and agencies understand the strategic importance of marketing at retail.”

The OgilvyAction research probed 14,000 total shoppers globally and looked at shopping behavior in 13 categories, including beverages, confectionary, hair care and household cleaning products.

While the new research failed to answer just how much advertising outside the store environment influences purchases, it did determine important factors that drive impulse purchases. Sampling and product displays ranked one and two.

“The good news for marketers is that a product display and sampling can build brand equity,” Jeff Froud, senior strategic planner for OgilvyAction, told “No matter what rulebook you studied when you were studying marketing, price promotions don’t build any brand equity and in some cases can be equity destroyers.”

“More and more of our communication is moving to store,” A.G. Lafley, chairman and chief executive at Procter & Gamble, said last month at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes. “And the reason it’s moving to store is that more and more consumers are… making their purchase decisions in store. And in a period where you have a fair amount of food price inflation, we think more of that shopping list, whether it’s just in [a shopper’s] head or actually written down, is being decided in the store.”

Industry experts weigh in on Wal-Mart TV 2.0

Posted July 30, 2008 by Dave Haynes
Categories: Opinion, Research

The online discussion forum Retail Wire attracts a very knowledgeable crowd — what it calls a Brain Trust — to comment on various issues of the day, including recent news that Wal-Mart is taking its in-store video network in a new direction.

This is a site requiring registration, but it’s free, and worth the few seconds it takes to capture your data.

What some industry experts have to say:

Obviously, Walmart has a lot to gain with their in-store media effectiveness, so it is no wonder they will roll out next generation, more creative in-store programs. Suppliers want to move as close to the consumer purchase decision as they possibly can, so moving general advertising dollars to in-store media with Walmart helps them and also ingratiates them with their largest retailer.

Buyers at Walmart have goals to attain, and the amount of in-store media support their suppliers purchase could well be one of their success measurements, so buyers will encourage and endorse this in-store activity.

Finally, suppliers can use these Walmart spends to help validate the specific level of investment support they provide to Walmart, so suppliers who are challenged to validate their support dollars to Walmart will have this support as an advantage when discussing P&Ls, which have always been a hot topic of discussion in planning meetings with Walmart.
Dan Nelson, CEO, Leadership Resources

It’s a smart move for Walmart to find ways to make in-store media more accountable and interactive. As marketers are moving away from TV spend (albeit slowly) there’s a great opportunity for retailers to pick up some of those above the line media dollars–if they can prove effectiveness.

The first couple of iterations of Walmart TV didn’t do a lot to distinguish in store advertising from general advertising but the promise of more interactivity and accountability make in-store media much more compelling. If there’s revenue to be captured, I think we can expect more retailers to move this way.
Lisa Bradner, senior analyst, Forrester Research

Of course, any retailer-operated advertising medium “fully financed by suppliers” is laughable on its face and questionable in its delivery. We’re all familiar with how it works. Suppliers don’t support efforts of this type willingly, but are strong-armed into paying the freight. This is followed by pricing adjustments that are eventually passed along to consumers, and a dearth of success reports for the medium in question.

On the other side of the equation, retailers have been numbingly unable for decades to convince product manufacturers that their stores are, in many ways, advertising tools superior to broadcast and print media. Retailers are chronically clumsy and ham-handed in their attempts to make this very credible case, including trying to tap into the more than $7 billion spent annually on distributing printed coupons. And brand broadcast expenditures are much, much larger. What is the best place to distribute coupons, the Sunday newspaper or a supermarket? No-brainer, right? If 70% of purchase decisions are made at the shelf, stores are the best places to communicate brand messages, right? And yet retailers haven’t made these cases because they always return to their tactic of choice: brute force.
M. Jericho Banks, Ph.D., Partner-Owner, Select Marketing LLC

It is hopeful that Wal-Mart’s in-store network would be really helpful to the customer. Let’s look at some facts about shopping at Walmart. The store is big! Some departments are easy to spot, others are obscured. How about using digital signage and interactive video to help the customer find their way to desired products…and first of all, finding out where they are in the store to start. That brings up another idea; how about a lost parents or Dad finder, similar to what theme parks do. Somewhere to sign-in if you get separated from your shopping companions.

Secondly, customers shop Walmart to save money. How about the system facilitating comparison shopping? This would be not only the cost compared to Walmart competitors, but how about bringing in Consumer Reports to tell the customers about products that are really a great value, or the cost trending of items that are becoming more expensive or reducing in price.

Not everyone shopping the aisles in Walmart, or any store for that matter, has current information on fashion trends or any idea on what goes with what. In an effort to help all of America to become fashion savvy and look good, how about information coordination, and detailing in the apparel aisles. Maybe even introduce “My Fashion Coordinator” software to allow the consumer the chance to input ergonomic particulars about their bodies, and get helpful input on a desirable fashion direction.

And this goes with my final fact; it is difficult to get help anywhere in a Walmart. So introduce a virtual store concierge who greats you when you arrive, and with motion or heat sensors, guides your through the store. I know that this may be a bit like “Minority Report,” but if that system was developed to be customer-friendly and not creepy, it would be really cool.

Understand that none of these suggestions is better than a front door greeter, a personal shopping assistant, or KNOWLEDGEABLE help available when you need it. But if not, these would be the next best things.
Jerry Gelsomino, Principal, FutureBest

A few thoughts:

1. For in-store digital media to succeed in Walmart or elsewhere, there has to be the realization that, no matter what anybody calls it, this isn’t a television network. While content is king and the reason for someone to go beyond simply noticing and actually watching what is on a digital screen, the medium is not about stopping people for extended periods of time. The environment is retail and people in that environment are on the move. They can get pretty ticked off if someone else is taking up space and interfering with the traffic flow. Messages need to be communicated quickly and be targeted to a given store’s consumers.

2. Digital images on a screen are ultimately unsatisfying even with amazing production values. Retailers need to be looking for ways to use the medium to connect consumers with the solutions available through the store or merchant’s website. Interactivity with video kiosks, especially those that tie to the back-end to recognize a consumer through a loyalty card, RFID key fob, smart phone, password, etc, will provide a level of personalization that will transition digital media from big screens blaring in a store to a tool that helps consumers get the most from their shopping experience.

3. Professionals in this space understand that digital media goes beyond a bank of screens in a consumer electronics department or a monitor offering food preparation tips in front of a fresh meat case. Stores need to start thinking in terms of other locations including store exteriors as a banner and brand-building medium, as well. Look at what Walgreens is doing in New York’s Times Square as an extreme example of another means for retailers to generate revenue and promote products and services.

4. There’s no doubt that marketers are looking more than ever to communicate with consumers in stores. Ultimately, however, the dollars that are starting to move in-store for digital signage and other merchandising tools will go right back out if some, at least vaguely, reliable source of measurement is not in place. There are a lot of companies (brands, retailers and digital tech vendors) working in the digital media space today that are focused on that very issue. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

The new Walmart network may have sleeker flat screens and a more elaborate audience measurement mechanism than PRISM, but it has yet to deliver the kind of behavior-based metrics that (in my opinion) would put shopper media over the top.

Despite the glowing, rectangular screens, this is not TV. Shoppers are busy people focused on a task who want to get their stuff and go. Messages that are not relevant to their mission of the moment or located away from the product in question have very low value. And measuring opportunities to see a message is a poor proxy for tracking behavior that may be influenced by the message.

That said, I am an enthusiastic advocate of shopper media. The store environment offers an outstanding opportunity to reach and influence shoppers. But framing its value in the antique conception of 1950s television advertising is worse than quaint–from the perspective of the brands themselves, it’s probably negligent.
James Tenser, Principal, VSN Strategies

IBC show joins the DS party

Posted July 29, 2008 by Dave Haynes
Categories: Events

Well, if you were trying to figure out a way to get a quick European holiday in this year, maybe you can talk your boss into the absolute importance of attending the big IBC 2008 show in Amsterdam in September.

This year, the show has bolted on a digital signage component.

IBC2008 organizers will add a first-ever Digital Signage Zone to its existing lineup of special technology areas, which includes IPTV and mobile video, to this year’s convention Sept. 12-16 in Amsterdam.

According to the organizers, the zone was added in part based on industry forecasts that project the number of digital signage sites worldwide to grow from 210,000 in 2007 to 850,000 by 2010. That quadrupling in the number of digital signage screens will attract an estimated $2.7 billion in advertising revenues, they added.

The Digital Signage Zone will include representation from Sony, Panasonic, Harris, Matrox, Future Software: DigiSHOW, Thomson and Kinoton. Additionally, Miya Knight, editor of Retail Technology will moderate the opening digital signage panel.

A pretty thin offer specifically in our little space, but it is a big content creation and distribution show and attracts about 50,000 people. There may not be much in DS, but there’s a lot to see and learn in areas like mobile and IPTV.

Ummm … boss???

Details here …

Microsoft reveals multi-touch Surface cousin, called Sphere

Posted July 29, 2008 by Dave Haynes
Categories: Gear, Sightings

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a tech blog post up from a writer who visited the nearby Redmond campus of the software giant, for a look at a different spin on the multi-touch Surface concept.

It’s a silver ball that multiple users can fiddle with at the same time, the point of which largely escapes poor, clueless me. It has the usual satellite image of the world (which you can spin! … Whee!!!), photos you can stretch and slide around, and so on.

The Microsoft researcher stressed this is just a test to see what kinds of surfaces this sort of technology can be applied to.

Ok. My dumb-assed point of view is that maybe they try this out on some surfaces that actually have a commercial or consumer application. There are countless applications looking for an affordable solution, like multi-language wayfinding in public places. Why do we keep seeing demos of people flipping photos around???

Anyway, read on …

After months of rumors, Microsoft researchers are taking the wraps off a prototype that uses an internal projection and vision system to bring a spherical computer display to life. People can touch the surface with multiple fingers and hands to manipulate photos, play games, spin a virtual globe, or watch 360-degree videos.

Sphere, as it’s known, is expected to be shown publicly for the first time Tuesday at Microsoft’s Faculty Summit in Redmond. For now, it’s purely a research project. The company says it doesn’t currently have plans to offer it as a product. The idea is to see what the technology can do, and how people will use it.

“It’s really an exploration of ideas,” explained Hrvoje Benko, the Microsoft researcher spearheading the project, during a sneak preview Monday afternoon.

Sphere is a cousin of the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer, already being used in retail and hospitality settings. The underlying hardware for Sphere is sold commercially by Global Imagination of Los Gatos, Calif., but Microsoft researchers made numerous enhancements and developed specialized software.

In a broader sense, the project reflects Microsoft’s belief that many more surfaces will become computer displays, with embedded microprocessors, in the years to come. That view is championed by Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, one of two executives filling Bill Gates’ role at the company.

By their very nature, curved surfaces present unique challenges as computer displays. And in that regard, the sphere is the extreme example.

The Microsoft researchers came up with advanced algorithms to translate images originally intended for a flat computer screen so that they appear properly on the rounded globe, on the fly. They also added an infrared system that can sense when hands or objects are placed on the sphere, to let people interact.

“I believe what we are seeing is the emergence of various kinds of interactive surfaces,” Benko said. “This is one surface that might be serving a particular purpose, but it should probably live in an ecosystem of other surfaces. So what’s really interesting to us is what kinds of interactive surfaces we can make, how well we can make them, and how people interact with them — how they are used.”

Dell’s new little guy, the Studio Hybrid, breaks below $500

Posted July 28, 2008 by Dave Haynes
Categories: Gear

PC maker Dell has announced some details and a name for its new micro PC, aimed at the consumer market but undoubted capturing the interest of screen network operators looking for a player that’s small and relatively inexpensive.

Called the Studio Hybrid, Gizmodo is reporting the unit will cost $499 and is available now in a range of cool colors.

Dell’s Hybrid mini PC is pretty much their worst kept secret ever (which is kinda sayin’ something!) but as of now it can officially adorn the desktop corners of eco- and space-conscious college freshmen or slip into entertainment centers for $499. It’s 80 percent smaller than a standard desktop while slurping 70 percent less power, and 95 percent of the packaging is recyclable, plus it comes with a system recycling kit.

There’s also a review of the unit here at PC Magazine online, though the suggestion there is the price is more like $874. Methinks that’s with the fastest CPU, while I saw some other stuff online suggesting there is a lower-end, slower Celeron that is probably more like the $500 number.

And there are snappies here at Ubergizmo.

The unit is 7″ by 8″ by 3″, which is not as small as the Mac Mini or the little Aopen boxes a lot of people are using (because they’re small enough to slap on the back of a panel or tuck under a counter). But it is still pretty small.

The pros of this sort of thing for our space: cost; reputable, known manufacturer; customer service, among other things …

The cons (and even the Dell guys will say this): it’s a consumer device, not something designed for 24/7 use in environments that may be a lot dustier and crazy than your average home office or college dorm room.

That said, there are an awful lot of network guys out there using consumer devices and, for the most part, getting away with it. This would, however, last about a shift in the grimy air of something like a fast food joint.

There are supposed to be more details here at, but as of late last night when I tried, she no work.

UPDATE; $529 Canuck, $579 to go to a faster Core 2 Duo CPU. Details here