Archive for April 2008

New industry paper estimates installed base to triple in five years

April 30, 2008

Research house NSR released new numbers yesterday about the size and state of this industry, with estimates on where we are and where this is all going.

According to NSR the industry, which has the majority of deployments and revenues globally from retail, hospitality, healthcare and transportation verticals, is poised to grow from an estimated installed base of about 210,000 sites in 2007 to more than 850,000 sites during the period from 2008 to 2013. Though North America and Europe remain leaders in deployments, countries such as China, Australia and India in the Asia Pacific are witnessing tremendous growth and are estimated to reach the scale of their early-adoptive counterparts over a five-year period.

Revenues from advertising, though hard to come by initially, have picked up considerably with advertisers recognizing the impact of the medium on consumers, especially in retail locations such as malls and supermarkets. Here, once again, the global industry is expected to grow at a healthy rate of about 18% from its current estimated figure of nearly $1 billion annually in advertising revenue.

The numbers are based on interviews with some 200 companies and for a measly $3,000 a copy is yours. I just plugged this for NSR for nothing so I am sure my complimentary copy is being slid into a FedEx envelope and heading my way even as we speak. Right guys?

In looking around I see various people such as Adrian are begging to differ with some of the estimates. Every time I see revenue estimates they look very different, owing a lot I expect to included geographies and whether digital screens are broken out or lumped in as alternative media. As for the count, that’s really hard to nail down globally, as the screen count is huge, but the numbers of screens at each site varies.

China’s Focus Media, has for instance, more than 110,000 screens, but at how many sites? PRN has 250,000 screens, but that’s at 6,500 stores and the count includes all those crappy old TVs hanging from Wal-Mart ceilings, and, I suspect, TV walls in the electronics departments.

Numbers of screens is an impressive thing, I suppose, but I suspect advertisers are much more interested in sites when they look at market penetration.

In the interests on the industry’s integrity, this needs to get set straight. I’m willing to go personally count all of the screens in the Caribbean and South Pacific and will be available to start in mid-November, or whenever winter decides to return to the Great White North.

Brain wave measurement picks apart how people respond to ads

April 29, 2008

The Ad Lab blog has a piece flagging articles in MediaPost and the New York Times about something called neuromarketing — using the measurement of brain waves, skin response, eye movements and pulse rates to get a fix on how people are responding to advertising messages.

The articles look at companies like NeuroFocus and EmSense and how they apply biometric science to stdying the efficacy of ads.

Winners of Effies “tend to be a little less emotional and use rational claims a bit more” than winners at
Cannes, Ms. Moses (EmSense) said, and ads that won Lions tended to be much better liked than their Effie counterparts,
reports the NY Times.

But surprisingly, “there are very important similarities” between the two types of winners, she added, whichcan help guide future campaigns.

Fifteen of the 19 Cannes and Effie winners engaged consumers faster than average spots, Ms. Moses said.
“Typically, a spot engages with viewers in 5 to 7 seconds. The Cannes and Effie ads engaged, whether
emotionally or cognitively, in 1.5 seconds.”

Whichever award the commercials won, they had an equal effect on purchase consideration and on brand
favorability, Ms. Moses said.

This is relevant because of the very limited time spots running on screen networks have to make an impact with viewers.

Meanwhile, the MediaPost piece looks all the way into how ad layouts and screen designs are done. The thinking involves Web site, but most or all of the thinking translates into our space.

Switching a brand logo on a Web site from the right-hand side of the page to the left can have a profound impact on the way that image is processed by consumers and could ultimately give one advertiser an advantage over another, according to new research from NeuroFocus.

The Berkeley, Calif.-based neuromarketing research firm has compiled a list of more than 65 best practices aimed at helping marketers develop visual ads that are more effective and engaging. The insights arose from a series of studies conducted from the summer of 2006 through the fall of 2007 at NeuroFocus’ labs in Berkeley, New York and Chicago.

Using eye-tracking studies, galvanic skin response (GSR) data, as well as the info from sensors placed on the test subjects’ scalps (called electroencephalography, or EEG), NeuroFocus gauged the impact of variables such as the placement of images versus the placement of text, the use of motion and animation, and even ad models like pop-ups and puzzles. The company also tested consumers’ reactions to the stimuli on screens of varying sizes, including 40-inch plasma monitors, 17-inch computer screens, portable gaming devices like Sony’s PSP, and the iPhone, as well as within a YouTube window.

NeuroFocus segmented test subjects based on age and gender, due to biological differences in the brains of women and men, young children, adolescents and adults over 60. Although the research crossed language and racial demographics, NeuroFocus maintains that because the studies involved reactions to visual stimuli on a neurological level, cultural differences actually did not influence the results.

“Neurological principals that hold true for English speakers are 100% valid for a Hispanic audience and vice versa,” said Dr. A. K. Pradeep, NeuroFocus’ co-founder and CEO. And because the firm has based the best practices on these neurological findings, Pradeep said that they work despite any demographic differences. “What’s interesting is that there are some laws we’re bound to obey, and this research has done an amazing job of teasing out what those biological invariants or constants are.”

For example, consumers interpret info on different parts of a screen with different sections of their brain. Generally, elements in the left visual field are interpreted by the right frontal lobe, while elements on the right are picked up by the left frontal lobe. “The right frontal lobe is particularly good at interpreting imagery and iconography,” Pradeep said. “And the left frontal is better for semantic and quantitative info.” So an advertiser or TV show producer has reduced the engagement potential and effectiveness of their content from the onset if the bulk of the textual and numerical info is placed on the left side–with the imagery or brand logos on the right.

“Take that simple principle and go see how many brands have gotten it wrong,” Pradeep said. “How many billboards have gotten it wrong? When you see a TV ad, look at how it ends and see how many have the logo placement wrong. Then look at something like Target’s in-store displays and see how many of them have gotten it right.”

“We’ve found that about 75% of all content–not just advertisements–is not neurologically optimal,” Pradeep added. “The opportunity to improve is tremendous.”

D-Link enters the fray. D-Link???

April 28, 2008

Consumer-oriented networking gear firm has announced it is getting into the digital signage business, and is showing its somewhat vague market entry at the Interop trade show this week in Lost Wages.

In a press release, D-Link says it will be demonstrating both large and small digital signs and a back-end content and advertising delivery system ideal for businesses and system integrators who serve that market.

The news release continues with the explanation that: D-Link will offer solutions for wired and wireless in-store media networks. Special hardware and chipsets in the digital displays will allow configuration of a system of networked display stations managed by a back-end content server. Same or different groups of photos, videos, text, and audio can be scheduled for delivery to control content at each station. Touch screens and keypads allow interactive applications. Engaging consumers with rich content while shopping can provide both consumer information and targeted advertising while enhancing the consumer experience.

Not exactly deep on detail, but if I had to guess D-Link is stuffing a variation of its little HD set-top box thingdoodle inside a panel, or on the back, and driving content from a PC or even a USB key.

India free software player Infosignz releases pricing

April 28, 2008

Fledgling Indian DS software player Infosignz has cleverly attracted attention in a crowded field by offering a limited version of its product as free, with the caveat that a  fully functional version was coming and it was NOT free.

Infosignz has now released that pricing, which shows the price for something with the functionality serious companies will need is pretty much the same as what many companies out there are charging, on the low side, for Software as a Service. About $28 a month, though there’s an intro offer of  $10/month right now to get some business in the door.

This sort of effort is interesting, and definitely not good news for the many service providers out there who are charging considerably more than this, and able to do so because few companies are open about their rate card.

OVAB proposes measurement guidelines

April 25, 2008

The Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau has told the American Association of Advertising Agencies media research committee there are three key factors in measuring digital screen networks:

  • A network’s “gross venue traffic” – which is another way of saying foot traffic, footfall, or how many people darken the doors day to day
  • The ability of ads on a network to be noticed – that one’s a little squishy, and has to do with dwell time
  • The network’s “presence in the zone.” – which seems really squishy and subjective

Suzanne Alecia, the new president of OVAB, introduced these guidelines during that MediaPost Digital Out-of-Home Forum earlier this week. Scouring around on the OVAB website, and reading through news stories, I couldn’t find anything to elaborate on the squishy stuff.

Alecia did tell the forum the guidelines have not yet been published, and conceded they were not perfect but a “reasonable compromise” for a nascent industry.

Anyone know anything more?

Mixer comes off without police being called

April 24, 2008

Given the short notice and the great weather, a smaller but decent crowd for the latest Toronto mixer tonight.

We had maybe 20 people, with many of the usual suspects and some new faces, like Jamie Cuthbert from SaiTECH (interactive stations in the auto sector), Greg Cook from TAB Technical Environments (IT) and Russ Morgan from Brand Infiltration (marketing).

Worth the effort, as even with this bunch there were meetings getting set up. We’ll lock down the next one sooner so there’s more time to plan attendance.

More consolidation: OnSite buys Boondoggle

April 24, 2008

OnSite Network has announced a deal to acquire Nevada New Media, the owner of Boondoggle Sports Network, a screen network playing in the same restaurant and bar space.

No deal terms were released.

The buy almost doubles OnSite’s footprint, to 200 locations in the US, which in relative terms is still teeny. But the plans are much bigger.

“This acquisition accelerates our growth plans and keeps us on track to be in 1,000 locations by the end of this year,” said Allen Marrinson, President & CEO of OSN. “We are also in the process of deploying to already committed venue locations in Houston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and cities in Southern California and other metro areas.”

What is it, by the way, about the number 1,000 in this industry??? I’m still waiting for the guy who tells me, ‘We’re planning to do 675 locations by the end of Q1 2009.”

OnSite plays in that somewhat murky part of the business in which broadcast video signals from networks are squeezed so that there is room on the screen for a banner strip along the bottom and one side. There are varied opinions about whether or not that infringes on the broadcaster’s rights.