Archive for November 2007

So now we’re giving out TVs?

November 30, 2007

I am traveling, and again missed the Toronto network mixer. Rob Gorrie has a post on his blog about the event, which was triple-teamed for hosts and included a TV as a giveaway.

So the bar has been raised just a bit on this thing, and it apparently resulted in a solid turnout, which is great to hear.

That’s it for this year as it is Christmas party season (why I am in Montreal right now), but look for another event in mid-January.

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DS Expo adds pre-show events

November 30, 2007

So if you were looking for an excuse to get down to Vegas a little early to have some fun and get out of the February cold, the Digital Signage Expo show has organized a couple of pre-show events, according to Digital Signage Today.

The pre-show escorted coach tour now will occupy the complete morning of Tuesday, Feb. 26, beginning at 9 a.m. Stops during the four-hour tour will include digital signage installations at Planet Hollywood Hotel, the Verizon Wireless Store and the Steve Wyrick Theatre.

A series of presentations concerning case studies and installations from around the world will occur from 2-5 p.m. following the coach tour.  

I’m thinking 9 am might be a wee bit early for a lot of people, particularly with that bar industry show on in town during the first half of the week — which is apparently about as crazy as trade shows can get.

Paul Bolte gets Captivated

November 30, 2007

Elevator guys Captivate Network have hired Paul Bolte away from subway platform TV guys OneStop Media.

Bolte will run the Canuck sales team, having run sales at OneStop and before that, with Cineplex Media (pre-movie ads in theatres).

Bolte fills a rather large hole left by the departure of Dean Lacheur, who was at Captivate for a long, long time and with bis brother Neil and buddy Steve Amo pretty much invented the medium when the company (pre-merger) was known in Canada as Elevator News Network.

This also, presumably, creates a hole at Toronto-based OneStop, so if you are in that game you may want to drop Mike Girgis a note.

Kris Matheson is THE MAN

November 30, 2007

So I was sitting, joking with Kris Matheson from Artisan Live, about one of us winning the Digital Signage Man of the Year. Then they call him up.

That would explain why he decided to come to the Strategy Institute meeting at the very last minute, ensuring Air Canada a 4th quarter profit with his hours-before airfare from Toronto.

img00048.jpgI quite honestly have no idea who awards the thing and what the criteria may be, but Kris and the Toronto company where he runs marketing have been very active evangelists for this space for the last 2-3 years and the honor is well-earned.

The award includes the use of a Mercedes coupe for one year, and a signed photo of Lyle Bunn.

OK, I may have made that last bit up. Lyle never signs photos.

UPDATE: I wrote that on the plane and had no time to post. Since then, I figured out the award is the work of the Digital Signage Forum, an online discussion group on this business.

According to the forum: “Kris is credited with starting Artisan Live and has brought digital signage to the forefront of retailers, brands and agencies’ minds as a communications tool in retail and out-of-home environments. Under his leadership, Kris and his colleagues at Artisan Live have won many Digital Signage Awards and have written articles in many leading industry publications. Kris is also involved in monthly Digital Signage Socials, an intimate setting that brings retailers, brand and agencies together with industry players to discuss trends, interests and ideas regarding digital signage.”

Brandy Siler, a sales exec with Blue Pony Digital, was woman of the year. “(She) has really put a lot of time and effort into the industry. She really cares about it and has worked hard to educate those involved in the importance of creative and high quality content. Under Brandy’s supervision, Blue Pony’s Digital content is located online and in more than 1,350 screens in digital signage with consistent high quality advertisements and tradeshow content for many high profile vendors”.

Don’t know Brandy or the company, but congratulations (sincerely).

The winners get three months of free advertising on the Digital Signage Forum and a certificate. And apparently I’m wrong about the car thing.

Strategy Institute: what the planners say

November 28, 2007

Basically, there’s too many of us and too few of them.

Too few planners, that is, according to the three agency people wheeled in this afternoon to fend off questions from network operators trying to tap into the budgets the planners control.

The key messages, which you have likely heard before:

DOOH is, honestly, considered in plans, like everything else.

Just because your media network makes sense for a brand doesn’t mean there’s money available.

Free, short-term tests with legitimate measurement will win favor because the risk vs reward is nice and low. They’re more likely to buy in if they have validated measurement data that proves the operators assertions.

If you get an audience with these people, don’t go nerd on them. They won’t get it and they don’t care. They assume it works, but don’t need to know how.

Pre-selling networks doesn’t resonate well, unless the network is ready to go. They feel burned and get cranky when they sell a client on an opportunity, and then the thing gets delayed but the deals or rollout are not REALLY done.

Focus on our strengths – day-parting, quick, cheap change-outs, regional zoning, cost reduction.

Mobile will be big, and it’s a good idea if your screens have some relationship with these devices (which everyone has).

Strategy Institute: case studies and advice

November 28, 2007

So some of the event sponsors are now up pitching their pots and pans, so I’m outta there and hanging out in the trade area — where there are donuts but, sadly, nothing yet involved a twist-off top.

The second session this morning was about new venues, and some of them were indeed new. But the first guy up was Mike Hiatt, the director of Internal Media Networks for Wal-Mart. That’s not a terribly new venue in the US, but certainly one that is evolving.

I missed the first bit, but did catch the tail end and Hiatt’s cautionary note about the industry. He said he fears all this stuff could end up being a fad if operators don’t step up and provide networks and content that are compelling and really enhancing the environment. He suggested that money that is moving from TV into digital out of home could shift back if advertisers don’t see value.

Hiatt also noted the TV networks watching the money slip away because of DVRs and fragmentation are “not going to just take this sitting down.” If they sort out those problems, the money that is leaving could go back if there’s no strong reason to stay in digital out of home.

One of the best digital signage installs I have seen is at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago, which based on my experience yesterday is about a $6,000 cab ride from here.

It’s the biggest Hyatt on the planet and as of a couple of years ago has more than 70 plasmas around the facility. What is striking about the job is the way the hotel integrated the screen network very effectively into the operation, and the environmental design.

The screens are all about navigation for room and conference guests, information and promotion — with a signature 10-screen array in the main lobby. The screens pull a lot of their information automatically from the sales and catering system, and then dynamically display it.

The Hyatt people laid out their approach to zoning the facility:

  1. Invitation – when you walk in
  2. Transition – now what?
  3. Traffic Flow – aka navigation
  4. Categories
  5. Check-in/check-out – what they describe as a great upselling opportunity
  6. Exit

They are also getting into things like digital concierges. All very cool, but it takes a very big hotel with a very big budget to make this happen.

Then the Ontario Science Centre laid out the ambitious signage program they have activated, which is all about education and true interactivity and has little to do with advertising.

What’s interesting about their story is the insatiable appetitite they have for the latest gadgetry (it’s a science centre, after all) and the learnings they have had in dealing with millions of school kids poking, prodding and smearing screens. Suffice to say they now know a lot about ruggedization.

The project was funded by foundation dollars from a Canadian grocery empire, and is somewhat ahead of most science centres that get by on government dollars and admission fees. The centre is being steadily approached by other science centres, and the interesting thing is that the Ontario group is finding itself with a wealth of content and capability they may be able to re-sell or syndicate.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority also presented, laying out how it looked at its options for a signage network and took it internal, building up a navigation and information network that may scale to as many as 200 screens down the line.

Strategy Institute event underway

November 28, 2007

It is noon here and a vendor has a mike inside the room, regaling the wonders of his solution.

So I am outside, and have time to bang off a post.

There is a good crowd at this thing — maybe 200 people, possibly more. There are most of the usual suspects here, but also some interesting name tags  from big companies  clearly starting to take an  interest in the space. Almost NO retailers, however.

Vendors include I-Gotcha Media from Montreal, Roku and Arbitron. There’s more, but that room’s over there and I am happy here on this couch.

Stuff that made me want to scribble notes (so far):

Channel M talking about a 40-hour playlist in the Ashley Furniture Store network it runs.  The stores need that kind of loop length or face staff insurrection from workers driven nuts by repetitive audio and video. That’s a nice production contract for Channel M.

ClubCom talking about the 80 million viewers it has monthly on some 2,000 networks installed in fitness clubs, and particularly how they got to that footprint with the CLUBS paying the capex AND a monthly subscription fee. That beats the hell out of fronting the costs and hoping to win it back in ad revenue, though ClubCom takes a piece of that, too.

Adspace talking about plans to double its network to 200 malls by this time next year and the fundamentals of advertising in what is essentially a glance medium. People don’t just stop to look at ads on vertical screens plopped on the mall walkways, so any spots, they say, HAVE to keep the brand on the creative for the full length of the spots. And the creative needs to be big, bold and “snappy” to even get noticed.

Jeff Jensen of Adspace related one campaign it carefully measured through intercept surveys and determined that at the end of various steps in measurement, 13 per cent of the people interviewed saw the screen, recalled a spot, went to that store in the mall, and made a purchase.