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The Future of Digital Signage


Webinar May 14, 2014
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The Future of Digital Signage

No longer an afterthought, digital signage is fast becoming an integral element in successful branding programs and marketing campaigns. Deft marketers are realizing that in order to deliver a consistent brand experience, all media channels must be considered at the onset, including digital signage.

To connect and engage with consumers, brands must deliver an integrated experience at the moment of purchase — when consideration turns into a sale. Shikatani Lacroix shares highlights from Digital Signage Expo 2014 and speaks with signage expert Andy McRae and place-based signage guru Lyle Bunn, one of North America’s most highly regarded dynamic signage experts, on how brands can own the “at-purchase moment” in the digital sphere.

This webinar will discuss:

  • The role digital can play in owning the at-purchase moment
  • Where current gaps exist in the marketplace
  • Which brands are excelling in digital signage
  • Tips on how to improve your digital presence
  • What the future holds for this dynamic medium
  • Highlights from Digital Signage Expo 2014

Fill out the form below to watch the webinar.

Webinar Transcript

Marcos: Hi, my name is Marcos Terenzio. Thank you for taking the time to join us on Design Lounge. Today we’re going to be taking a look at the future of digital signage and owning the app purchase moment. Joining me today, I have long time colleague Andy McCrae from Dot2Dot Communications who is also the master distributor of SCALA Canada. Thank you for joining us today Andy and welcome.

Andy: It’s a pleasure to be here. Again, I’m Andy McCrae. I’m general manager of Dot2Dot Communications. We’re located here in Toronto. We are the master distributor for SCALA digital signage software in Canada.

Marcos: Digital Signage Expo, I thought it was a great show this year. We had many technology companies really offering a lot of great solutions and innovations. I even had the chance while I was down there to bump into Lyle Bunn who as you know, Andy is a place-based signage guru and educator. And he was able to share a lot of information that I thought was of great value.

Lyle: My name is Lyle Bunn. I live just outside Toronto and my focus is on providing some analysis of digital signage as an industry in the context of other media. Secondly, to provide advice to end users who are looking at taking advantage of this medium and thirdly, increasing the level of awareness and knowledge in the industry as well.

Marcos: What would you say are some of the benefits to creating integrated digital experiences for brands?

Andy: For me, what we are calling the omni-channel approach if you think about virtually every company out there now has multiple channels to reach their customers. You’ve got website, you’ve got stores, you’ve got social media, you’ve got distribution centers, you’ve got catalogues, any number of ways to contact and reach a customer. And I think that most retailers would agree today that the multi-channel consumer is more profitable to them than someone who just uses one channel.

We’ve always heard content is king and I disagree. I think context is king and content is a tool. If you’re talking about a message that’s designed to cause somebody to change their purchase decision, it really needs to be literally at the point of making that decision. If the message is to drive somebody’s feet to go somewhere or do something it needs to be while they are mobile.

And if your message is just to educate somebody that you have a product or service that’s available, then that might be through TV or print or sometime when you’re sitting doing their research or online. So the message absolutely needs to be specific to the call to action and the situation where it’s presented. And I think it’s a mistake if companies don’t have every element. So that’s sort of an omni-channel approach as well but from a different perspective.

Educate the customer that you have a product or service that’s available. Influence their destination whether that’s to a store or to a website and then deliver on those promises at the point of purchase.

Lyle: The key to the application of screen media in commerce is to realize the degree to which the aperture is opening related to the use of that media. It’s no longer simply messaging. It’s no longer even messaging plus a little more engagement. We’ve now gotta look at the analytics that can come off of this and develop the approaches by which analytics and metrics, consumer behavior can shape that experience going forward.

Marcos: What role can digital play in owning that app purchase moment?

Lyle: The key question of commerce, you’ve just asked it. And so, the importance of the question is really about the role that media can play in that retail that customer facing environment. And with key about the role that digital signage, I’m going to call it screen media. The role that screen media plays is impacted by an ever-increasing aperture. So that role goes beyond brand message presentation.

A sense of ubiquity, presenting the attributes, the aspirations of that brand, even beyond engaging consumers. Even the role that it could play in multi-channel communication as it triggers the engagement on a mobile device, for example. Moving into areas of even analytics and metrics where we are capturing insights, which when applied can activate that continuous loop of improvement that continuously improves the engagement and the on location experience.

Andy: I was looking at a survey over the last couple of weeks. It was a 2013 retail survey that came back and it was talking about the role that print plays in the point of purchase time frame. And I think digital will accomplish the exact same thing as a print ad which can be anything to a call out that there’s a special or product is here or the price of the product or the features of the product. The differences with digital is you have that immediacy and you’re able to change that messaging based on any kind of an input.

So I think digital will own that moment, and it gives the retailer or the brand, and sometimes it’s not the same thing can give the retailer or the brand the power to change that last message they give to the consumer and it can be specific to that consumer or can be specific to that location or can be specific to something else going on in that environment. It’s flexibility.

Marcos: Where do you think some of the current gaps are in the marketplace today with brands?

Andy: So I think the question that brands are asking. The information brands want to get has changed. There was a time when it was about cost per thousand pairs of eyeballs. Anytime I was doing any kind of marketing or advertising, I wanted to know how many people were seeing and what it was costing me per 1,000 pairs of eyeballs.

Then it got a little more complex and people said, “Now I want to know whose eyeballs are seeing this messaging and how much is it costing me for these eyeballs.” And the question that we’re seeing now and for me, it’s a gap because there are not a lot of companies who to this point have been able to step up to fill this gap. Now people want to know why. So if I do something, if I have a campaign or I see a spike in sales, now it’s not just enough to see the numbers to see that my sales went up or to see that my traffic went up.

Now I want to know why it went up. So the gap for me in the deployment of digital signage technology is just growing in leaps and bounds. Prices are coming down. Capabilities going up, but there’s a gap in this strategy. There’s a gap in answering this question, “Why am I getting these results?”

Lyle: Huge gaps. The number one priority is integrating the medium into the intended brand experience, so that integration is the number one gap. The second gap is assessing the role of different types of media across the continuum so that the right messaging and engagement medium gets applied. Interactive versus display versus spectacular, etc. It’s a second area of breakdown at this point.

The third area of breakdown and this is the wobbly knees that are trying to hold up digital signage, but the third area of breakdown is in content strategy and tactic. And so we see this very powerful medium that can deliver a customized message to a targeted audience at a key point in time. And we see too much repurposing of media assets in a transmedia structure coming from TV, cable, print, web, etc. and not taking advantage of the inherent capabilities of a place-based media.

So those are the three major breakdowns. Integrating it into the broader promotional plan, integrating it into the use of multiple devices to achieve the results, and thirdly, assuring that the messaging and the content and the engagement, the interaction experience achieves the results. Because after all, what we’re really trying to do here is move the needle on the valuation of that brand. We’re looking to increase the valuation of that enterprise, the equity that’s built in that brand. And then from that, we’re getting into these areas of action to be taken.

Andy: And by the way, I think that social media, and we’re still struggling a little bit as an industry trying to find the relevance where it’s going to fit in and really serve a purpose, but I think where it’s going to fit in is in answering that question why? Because what’s happening people, they’ll go out and they’ll do something, they’ll buy something, they’ll react to a message and they want to share it. And social media is giving us this raw unfiltered response to our communication programs. I’m not saying it’s easy to collect that and analyze it but a lot of companies now are trying to do that. They’re trying to monitor their social media feeds and get some sense of the raw reaction to the programs and the campaigns they’re running.

Marcos: In your experience, what do you think is the next big thing in digital signage?

Lyle: The next big thing in place based signage is really clear. And it is really the integration of this enabling medium into the broader media model. So the paid, owned, earned media model. The paid partner owns, earned media model and integration so that there’s leverage provided to the investment in other media and there’s leverage from investment in other communication approaches as well.

Marcos: Innovative brands are realizing that in order to deliver a consistent brand experience, they really need to consider all their media channels and deliver integrated digital experiences. I thought at the show, I saw some great examples of this. Adidas is one that really stands out in my mind. They were able to combine various app purchase moments by introducing interactive window shopping.

And this was a great experience because even if the store was closed and after hours they had exterior facing window displays that were interactive and showcase the product in a really fun and engaging way, so they were able to attract consumers that passed by. And once they attracted them, they were able to then prompt the use of their mobile device to interact with the screen even further, and eventually, take it all the way to an online shopping experience where they could actually purchase items, which I thought was a very innovative and progressive. What brands do you think are doing a really good job at delivering integrated digital experiences today?

Andy: I have a few favorites. And what I’m seeing right now what’s really working is when any brand or retailer or company is approaching this from a campaign mindset. So one of the mistakes, one of the traps I think companies fall in is they say, “We need to do this. We are not 100% sure why but we need to do this, rather than take the approach that we have strategic objectives we need to achieve.”

And those objectives may be increase sales, it may be increase basket size, it may be increase brand loyalty which means repeat business. I think if you start with those objectives and then you think about a strategy on how we deliver those objectives and then design the content in the form of campaigns to achieve those and you must have measurement. And measurement for me is not just raw numbers, but also the why people are doing what they’re doing. So you know what’s working so you can do it again and you know what’s not working so you can stop doing it.

So there are some brands who were doing that exceptionally well. Coca-Cola from a campaign perspective are phenomenal. That recent one they just did on Valentine’s Day with the virtual vending machine, it was only visible to couples, fantastic, had a product attached to it. WestJet did a great job with that Christmas Wish Kiosk on the Toronto-Calgary, Hamilton-Calgary event. Again a single campaign that probably, immediately didn’t increase sales since they were only talking to people who had already purchased a plane ticket, but from a brand loyalty bring back customers’ perspective, it was phenomenal.

And the viral nature of what both of those campaigns did. It went out onto YouTube. They were both on prime-time news. So the extension of that ad, of that branding was phenomenal. I think in the restaurants page you look at Tim Hortons is doing across Canada. I think they’re doing a great job. I think there’s some growing pains and I think that will evolve to be maybe a little more interactive, but it’s impactful. There’s a lot of information there and in a relatively limited space. So I think they do a very good job of getting that brand that would…

Lyle: Lego, because they’re reinventing their brand, they’re bringing fun. They’re bringing fun, and this is the most powerful element of any brand’s development. Lego is doing it right because they’re integrating the technology and the use of the technology into the shopping experience, the browsing experience, the buying experience and importantly to their integrating that use of technology into their associate assistance program. They’ve really integrated it into the associate representation program. So, they’re doing it really well.

Disney’s doing it very well as well, for many of the same reasons because they’re looking at the medium to deliver on the objective of fun. Engaging their consumers fully, 360 degrees, and engaging their consumers in ways that are going to cause that park experience to be a life-altering always remembered experience. So, Disney is doing it well as well.

Marcos: How do you think brands can improve their digital presence?

Andy: I think that again the issue is strategy. A lot of brands, a lot of companies, they’ll put a digital sign up, they’ll put a screen up, and they have not put the time and effort into the strategy and clearly understanding the objectives and the value of the objectives they are setting. So what ends up happening is it becomes commoditized. I’m going to find the cheapest software, or the cheapest screens, or whatever might be to get that message up as opposed to coming at the strategy and understanding the value to the company and the brand of achieving that strategy, and then look at how you implement.

Marcos: What’s the best way for a brand that just gets their feet wet, if they’re just starting to explore the possibilities with digital signage?

Andy: There’s no replacement really for a good pilot. And one of the pet peeves that I have is if you’re going to pilot something, you really need to pilot the strategy. Again the screens, the software, the content, or tools to deliver on the strategy. So you really need to pilot the strategy. It’s not enough to just put up a screen or do a piece of it because you won’t get that that real result. So I think that to get your feet wet, pick a store, have a control store. Pick a location, have a control location, have clear objectives and measurement and then try it.

Lyle: So if we are to look at how brands should move into the use of the medium, the starting point is the attitude that underpins it. And so the attitude that they want to go into it with is that of mobilizing the desires of their patrons. So that means, delivering fun. Activating an enjoyable engagement with the brand.

That, by the way, doesn’t take very much technology to be able to do that, but it’s also a mindset about speaking about benefits rather than features. So well a certain technology product that on an electronic store could have a long list of features, what we really want is to watch the game with our friends and family and thoroughly enjoy it. With the delivery of benefits, there’s a natural transportation into the engagement between the brand and the consumer where that consumer can accentuate and accelerate and lift up the brand because their needs are about to be satisfied.

Marcos: So what do you think the future holds for digital signage?

Andy: Without a doubt, we’re going small. It’s in store retail right now. Retailing and when I say retailing, I include things like QSR and just about anywhere where there are customers. And digital signage, there was some concern that we may actually leapfrog right from traditional signage to mobile, but I think that people realize that digital signage is that connector between all of the pieces. So the future, in my opinion with digital signage is a highly integrated very intelligent connection method to connect all of these channels.

You know, digital signage, any signage for that matter was always one to many. And one of the advantages we get with digital is that it can be one to many, but also one to one because of this interactivity capability through things like QR codes or NFC or even just a messaging itself driving a consumer to go to a microsite or something. So you can have the best of both worlds. It’s still one to many, but it can be one to one.

Lyle: What does the future hold for digital signage? That’s the billion-dollar questions in commerce and for brands isn’t it? So there are four main indicators of where those dots are connecting. The first indicator is that it’s not digital signage, it’s screen media. That implies multiple sizes of screens in different formats from spectacular to video, walls to network signage, to iPads, to desktop, countertop, phone, watch, glasses, how far down the line do I need to go, but it’s a multi-screen world. So it’s screen media, media having to be applied in these different things.

Secondly, the realization is related to blink. And the fact that our brains are hardwired to quickly capture a message and then to determine that the relevance of that message to us, so that in that blink, the brand message is delivered, and the engagement commences.

Third, I’m going to use the word nimble here. It’s media nimbleness connected together. So being nimble with the messaging, to be able to respond to changes in the context of that consumer, weather conditions, financial conditions, the day of the year, month, week, day, my world changes close to Valentine’s Day and so shouldn’t there be a nimble delivery of media related to the context of my life. So those three things are top of mind.

The fourth is integration. Integration with the environment, where we don’t have internet on a stick, basically, hanging down from the top of the ceiling in the stadium, but it’s integrated into the usage scenario. The traffic pattern and becomes as we would see street furniture being on a road and digital signage being added to the street furniture to enhance it. It will be integrated into the environment, integrated into the traffic, integrated into the visit experience, integration.

Andy: I also see 2014 by the way, being a breakout year in digital signage. I think for this point it’s been something of a wild, wild west and some brands out there, leading edge brands who are trying this and I think 2014 is the year that we’re going to be dragging the vast majority of companies into this phase.

Marcos: That was great Andy, thank you so much for sharing such insightful information with us and our viewers. I’m sure everyone’s going to walk away with this a lot more knowledgeable in the industry and that basically concludes our segment of Design Lounge.

What we’re going to do now is move into a question and answer period. You’ll notice there’s a phone number on your screen. Andy and myself and Lyle will be here for the next 10 or 15 minutes to answer any questions you may have. So, please pick up the phone and share any questions that you might have and hopefully we’ll be able to provide further insight.

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