Archive for February 2006

Load ’em up!

February 28, 2006

Why do so many ad-based network operators make it so hard on themselves to get their sold spots noticed?

So many start-ups insist on loading up a screen with as much content as they can possible jam on the screen at one time. By the time a viewer gets finished reading the news headlines, sports scores, weather forecasts and stock prices, three or four ads have gone by unnoticed.

I get the concept that a screen with nothing but ads playing, one after another, doesn’t exactly make for a consumer-friendly service, or one that drives loyalty. But screens with multiple content zones mean sold ads never get noticed, and that’s not so good when research is done.

Here’s an example (and I wish this operator nothing but good fortune) of a network that has pretty much gone over the top on content, jamming in so much content on a wall mounted screen that most of it is impossible to read unless a viewer stands right in front of the display. Unfortunately, this is in a cafe where people are seated at least several feet away.

My advice, having learned some lessons about the perils of multiple content zones, is keep it simple. Go big on one screen with a headline and maybe one other item, and then go full screen with an ad (believe me, the media planners want ALL the screen), and back to content, and so on.

 That way, you provide a service to the audience, AND your advertisers.

One store, 63 plasmas

February 24, 2006

Stumbled across what has to be one of the most aggressive, and pricey, digital screen installs to date for a single store.

The evidently massive James Richardson Duty-Free shop at Tel Aviv’s new airport has a network of 63 big plasma displays dispersed around the store, humping products but also telling shoppers about customs requirements and currency rates.

The booze, perfume and jewellry items that duty free shops sell are all seriously high margin items, so I can imagine how the operators figured out a return on investment. It’s great to see a retailer totally embrace the potential for an in-store network, and do more than hang a screen or two in the window and entry. 

A REAL touch-screen

February 23, 2006

The bright people over at Toronto’s Fourth Wall Media — who have done some really nice looking work in the Toronto subway system and in some Hilton hotels in Canada — are part of a mobile interactive display for Vaseline that really puts a different spin on the whole notion of touch-screens.

The brand has a 900-square foot interactive display going around to major shopping malls, encouraging people to poke at a 32-inch screen to get graded on their “touch quotient.”

Another station has a mannequin with designated touch points that, when prodded, lights up video areas that have little fact pieces about body parts (and undoubtedly why you need to slather Vaseline on them so they don’t fall off).

“The brand’s studies show that there’s a touch deficit in Canada and Vaseline is trying to explain that without the hard sell, so we decided to take a science centre approach,” Fourth Wall’s Ian Gadsby says in a news release.

The display is at a mall in Calgary right now and tours around for a few more weeks.

I like this notion because it at least tries to draw people to the screens with something far more interesting than the “pound away here to learn more about this product” schtick you see with most interactive screens.

Given that the display is intended for busy moms, I am not sure how many of them have the time to stop and learn up on skin lotion, but good on Fourth Wall and the other people behind this for trying something new and going well beyond simply sticking up a big screen as display eye candy.  

Analyzing content

February 21, 2006

There is nothing particularly new or brilliant about a digital signage company declaring: “It’s the content, stupid!” or the old chestnut: “Content is king!” Many, many people have long been telling their clients and their industry that these networks are just big, interesting money pits unless the content is well-considered and compelling.

What’s interesting about Manchester, UK-based Pixel Inspiration is that they are working with university academics to explore “the psychology behind content and reveal how and why certain content affects its target audience, while some simply does not work.

The work is being done with professors at the Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at the University of Wales, in Bangor, Wales, and Pixel is making a PDF of its initial work available off of its website. Unfortunately, it is a big document that is more than a little hard to read on the screen, but is protected from being saved or printed.

This first bit is more of a round-up of relevant literature on common psychological thinking as it might relate to signage, such as colors, font styles and so on.

 Interesting stuff …

Top 10

February 17, 2006

I like the approach AdSpace Networks is taking in the US malls where it has digital screen networks running, as it gets pretty much to the heart of what these networks should be all about – helping consumers and driving sales for mall tenants.

As aka.tv reports, AdSpace’s “Today’s Top 10” program sorts through what its operators deem the best deals in the mall. AdSpace then cranks out free 10-second spots for each and roll them into the ad loop.

I imagine there’s a little more than that to the deal – it smells a little like brand or retail banners are being bonused with these freebies to make them happy – but spots that tell consumers where the deals are make much more sense to me than a lot of what I have seen running in mall networks.

Sorry, but when I am wandering around a mall, I don’t need to read what’s happening in the financial markets, or see a brain-teaser. But tell me a Nikon digital camera is $200 off right now, and you’ve got my attention. 

Tamper-goof

February 11, 2006

Was in the Montreal airport yesterday, a place that seems to be perpetually under repair or upgrade.

One of those new upgrades appears to be digital screens, for something, in the departure lounges. Those areas have high potential for screen media, if well conceived, because we’re talking about a seriously captive audience, sitting bored to tears waiting for their flights to board.

I called this post “Tamper-goof” because the back-to-back screens suspended from the ceiling are within easy reach of curious fingers, and are therefore going to be subjected to all kinds of abuse. People will tug on the cables, fiddle with the control buttons, pull on the mount, scratch the screen, on and on.

The folks who put these up — it wasn’t clear who because they were turned off — did a good job in getting them down low enough that they will be noticed and impactful. But like so many installations I’ve seen through the years, they’re putting way too much faith in the general public. The company may have saved a few bucks by not putting any protection on the screen or the controls, but there’s a very good chance the techs will be back a few times fixing or even replacing things.

My rule of thumb: if a screen is within reach of people, assume tampering. 

News from the summit

February 9, 2006

Spent a couple of days hanging out at the Strategy Institute’s digital signage show in Toronto.

New location. Free parking (if you look around). Better food. Fewer people. The organizers put on a good event, but they need to work at getting better speakers and start spreading the shows apart more. Some of the people there had just seen each other two weeks ago at the show in Lost Wages.

The trade show floor was fairly spartan — populated by Capital Networks, Panasonic, Artisan Live, AVW Telav, Digital View, LG, Scala, Sony, AdFlow and Sharp. The biggest buzz seem to be around interactive displays, both at shelf edge and on big honking screens.

Most impressive sighting: Sharp’s new 65 inch LCD. Wow. And at $22,000, it should be Wow!

Coolest thing: The interactive touch panel Windsor, Ontario’s McGill Business Solutions was touting in the Panasonic booth. This is one of those gadget screens that TV traffic reporters use to zoom in on traffic cameras and maps to show where the pile-ups and rubberneckers are located. But it didn’t take a lot of thinking to scheme up some interesting ideas around wayfinding and advertising applications. One problem – the very nice mcGill guy was a little wishy-washy on price … which usually means LOTS.

My takeaway from the show. Lots of activity and the people there — those not working directly in the business — were on a mission to find solutions, noy just kick tires.