Archive for October 2007

More signs of momentum: Screen Expo exhibitor count up 50%

October 31, 2007

From a UK press release:

Screen Expo Europe, Europe’s largest dedicated digital signage and digital media networks exhibition, looks set to be 50% bigger in 2008 and has attracted support from exhibitors from 15 nations according to organisers Screen Events Ltd.

The event, which is in its third year, will be held in London’s National Hall, Olympia on 5-6 February 2008.

Commenting, Mark Pigou, Director, Screen Events, said, “Early interest from exhibitors and visitors alike has exceeded our expectations. We will be welcoming over 30 new exhibitors to the show and many existing clients have increased their presence with us for 2008.

The 15 nations represented will include Russia and India for the first time. We are particularly pleased with this development as it shows us that the market is now maturing and the scope for digital signage and media networks across a broad range of vertical markets is really taking hold.”

My guys will have a big presence there, though I have yet to figure out a reason why their guy from Canada needs to be there. Working on it, though  ;-]

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Something to make your crazy-cheap clients tingle

October 31, 2007

The logic behind buying the cheapest screens and PCs possible to run out a screen network defies me.

Save now. Pay over and over and over down the road.

But those people, while fewer in numbers than us poor sales slobs were enduring a couple of years ago, still exist. And they will be positively twitchy with glee over word that Wal-Mart is coming out with a $199 PC to pair with that $700 flat panel they can get from some Taiwanese guy out in your local industrial parkland.

By all evidence, as detailed in Gizmodo, it is a piece of crap. But it’s also $199, or $195 or so in my suddenly muscular Canadian funny money.

The unit is a full-sized tower, even though much of the case is empty. Seems the target market of first-time PC buyers wouldn’t be able to get their heads around a small form-factor box.

The units come loaded with Linux Ubuntu (good), but a Via C-7 CPU (wheeze) and notsomuch RAM.

I would pretty much refuse to deal with someone who wanted to put hundreds of these big old slabs out in the field, but you gotta know someone will.

And keep in mind Wal-Mart and Everex built these for grannies and people with limited incomes who’ll be thrilled to have email and word processing for $200 (plus a screen).

Wait ’til they find out that Intertube Web thing costs $20 a month. The thrill will be gone.

The DNA of Digital Signage

October 31, 2007

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I mentioned last week that I was in Montreal and was around for a presentation by Phil Lenger, of New York’s Show and Tell Productions.

I was too stupid to take notes but Phil has kindly passed along a PDF version of his presentation, so I can relay some of his key points

He laid out what he has coined LAMBS, or the DNA of good digital signage. LAMBS is an acronym for:

  • Location
  • Audience
  • Message
  • Business Model
  • Screen Type

Lenger says these are all variables that need to work together to pull off a successful project. He cited examples of cases in which someone may may have great location and great audience, but no message or business model. We’ve seen that thing over and over again with the Build It and They Will Come approach to networks.

Being a content, he predictably reinforced the proposition that content is absolutely critical for success, and he refreshingly did so without uttering the words: “Content is king.”

Lenger broke down content in digital signage to four themes:

  • Branding
  • Advertising
  • Information and PSAs
  • Entertainment and Art (or what Lenger calls “the good stuff”)

The result is, in theory, a pie chart with four equal slices. However, in reality the slices are rarely equal. He said while a clothing store will be heavy on branding messages, an airport may be entirely the opposite — heavy instead on information and advertising.

“Your Job is to determine the ‘shape’ of your pie in conjunction with the Business strategy,” suggests Lenger. “After you start to get a better idea about Business Strategy & Content Strategy, then you can begin to think about your Creative Strategy. What is the Personality.”

By personality, Lenger means role. What the sign is supposed to be all about in the environment. And if it is nothing more than a digital sign hammering ads mercilessly at the audience, it is not going to get much respect or attention and its roles becomes expensive video wallpaper.

As he notes: Your audience came for another reason than to watch your sign.

He wrapped it all up by talking about network operators and integrators should really be thinking through the creative strategy, having strong and secondary elements, and having some pacing to the visual presentation. He warned against the endless temptation of repurposing TV and other content, and stressed again the merits of having that “good stuff” that people will enjoy looking at and referencing.

I’ve asked Phil if I can publish the link so you can download the PDF.

Is simple and static better?

October 30, 2007

The former chairman of ad giant Zenith Optimedia, Simon Marquis, wrote a piece Monday in the UK’s Guardian newspaper about the evolution of outdoor advertising.

He goes on about how the old notion of guys in overalls, clutching glue brushes and strips of poster paper, is somewhat antiquated given the ongoing switch to digital. He says all kinds of opportunities open up because these posters and billboards are now turned on, but he’s not convinced that makes for more effective advertising.

… outdoor is an all-comers’ medium – its two-dimensional nature is not a shortcoming but positively liberating: a good, simple brand message is all that’s required.

The digitisation of media means that outdoor is becoming capable of performing more and more extravagant tricks. Huge screens at railway stations are not really posters but out-of-home television or public-arena cinema.

I wonder whether this is necessarily a good thing. To my mind, the single most powerful reason for outdoor’s enduring power as an advertising vehicle is that it is one of the last bastions of the simple static image. Ironically, it is its very lack of sound and movement that draws the observer in, providing something for the brain to engage with actively.

Simple, I agree with entirely. Static, not so sure.

Onestop looking for an ops guy

October 29, 2007

Like standing on subway platforms and having the tunnel wind and dirt blast though your hair?

Onestop Media Group, the company doing the Toronto subway rollout, is looking for a director of operations to handle that expansion and some other things in retail the Toronto company has on the go.

“They need to be experienced in the nitty-gritty of installations, planning, and managing an operations staff. Onestop is, as you know, very active in the space and looking to do some great new stuff in 2008, ” says Ian Gadsby, CTO for Onestop.

If you want a copy of the job posting, zip him an e-mail at igadsby@onestopmediagroup.com

Loto-Quebec’s digital signage drives lottery ticket sales

October 27, 2007

POPAI put on a “POPAI University On The Road” session in Montreal the other day, and because I was in town, I was able to sit in and have a listen.

There were three good speakers, but the most relevant for me was Francois Bourdeau of Loto-Quebec, a communication specialist there and the very enthusiastic guy behind Loto-Quebec’s digital signage efforts to date.

Bourdeau laid out how the corporation, which has more than 8,000 points of sale around La Belle Province, started looking at the opportunity three years ago and building a strategy. They knew they were going to be changing out their aging lottery ticket machines for new ones with more bells and whistles and much faster printers, and there was an opportunity to add a screen to each of those.

They also wanted to spray the territory, so to speak, and make a claim on prime visual space in thousands of drug and convenience stores where other powerful brands also covet space.

They have now put out 350 screens, covering four retail verticals and kiosks. More than two-thirds of people surveyed liked the screens and almost all agreed the screens were “a positive element” in the retail environment.

More to the point, Bourdeau showed some numberless graphs that clearly indicated the screens were helping move the sales needle. He wouldn’t say how much, but did indicate it was several percentage points. Given the lottery business is a mature one, in which sales have all but flattened out, Bourdeau termed the sales impact as “huge” for the lottery corp.

The plan is to eventually have 19 inch screens at most or all sales locations.

Digicurvers adapt code of ethics

October 27, 2007

Well, I thought I was done with Digicurve and GSBC, now that this ceaselessly entertaining bunch in Thailand has decided maybe they can’t immediately dominate a very crowded digital signage industry and maybe they don’t actually have what was touted scant months ago as the hottest tech stock on the planet. Now the guys are humping a Romanian mobile wireless software bag of tricks.

First, Digicurve issued a press release letting the world know they will soon be known as Fightersoft, and then laid out their plans for a code of ethics. The press release goes on in detail about how Fightersoft will be honest with its suppliers and partners and with potential customers, noting: Advertising, marketing and promotional materials cannot contain unfair, inaccurate or deceptive statements or grossly exaggerated or unwarranted representations.

The company even specifically says it will obey the law.

Now you cynics out there might suggest all of these clauses require what is just normal behavior for almost any company on the planet. But maybe they just need a little reminding around the executive floor.

This comes the same day this blog was all but carpet-bombed with pro-GSBC/Digicuirve/Fightersoft comments — all from exactly the same IP address (202.69.177.9) and though the untraceable Yahoo e-mail address changed with each of them, almost all were clearly written by the same person, given the stream of conscience/punctuation-free writing style.

One of those comments from that IP did come direct from ringmaster Ronald Flynn:

Jealousy is a powerful tool. It seems as though the owner of this site does not like my success. By the way thank for the free promotions.

Regards Ronald flynn

Ronnie, you’re most welcome. Do let us know when you start using that code of ethics.

Flynn’s e-mail address, by the way, is: pRINCEFLYNN@YAHOO.COM

UPDATE: Now someone who knows these guys, and I guess was involved with them, has started body-slamming them with stuff that any libel lawyer would embrace with glee. And Mr. Flynn and his aliases are responding in kind. This is a blog about digital signage guys. Take your personal attacks elsewhere. I am deleting any new comments from the bunch of you.