Lynne d Johnson



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11.19.13 01:07 PM

Social Media Opportunities and Challenges in Digital Signage

Back in 2010, when I was SVP of Social Media at the Advertising Research Foundation, a member in the mobile industry was interested in learning whether the opportunities in digital signage were right for the company to explore. I ended up writing a small POV/Insights Brief paper for the member, and after doing a bit of research, this is what I found (keep in mind, these findings are from 2010 and many of them are still relevant today---three years later):


The Future of Shopping Becomes More Social
In this video, Cisco takes a look at the future of shopping. What is clearly evident from research and current trends, is that shopping is going to become more social. For example, say a customer “checks-in” to a store, and they receive recommendations of what they may like to purchase based on past purchasing behaviors or recommendations from friends in their network. Already with Bing, you can use Twitter and Facebook on the HTC HD2 smartphone to check if Bing shopping has given you the best prices.

In 2007, Facebook launched Beacon, a service that shared your purchases on several retail sites online with your friends within Facebook. With better opt-in and privacy measures than what Facebook offered, the opportunity is there for a partner to make such social shopping experiences exist on a mobile to digital display format. (Update: As we already know, Facebook became a crucial factor in building out the future of social shopping as brands like Levi's proved below. We already know from various studies that peer recommendations drive purchase intent and increase engagement with a brand. But how does this translate to digital signage?)

Location-Based Technologies To Play A Greater Role in Digital Signage
As can be seen in the LocaModa Foursquare example, the opportunity exists, again at store level for a rich interactive experience. Restaurants, retailers, and C-Stores can employ such technologies to publicly share who is checking in to their locations. This might go one step further, enabling customers to share with one another what theyʼre currently doing (as in purchasing or eating) at their location. A restaurant example might include uploading a photo of your meal with a message that can be displayed on a digital display and sent to your social networks to share with your friends.


Augmented Reality at Point-of-Sale Increases Engagement and Purchase

An example such as Legoʼs Digital Box Kiosk uses Augmented Reality to show customers what they can do with Lego Technic. Itʼs an opportunity to see in 3D imaging, or as close to reality, how a product actually works and functions. Legos boxes also have AR built in with a QR code that can be held up to a Kiosk to activate an AR feature that displays a 3D model of the Lego kit inside. The opportunity exists to include social sharing of the AR experience, but also of mobile QR code features being added to the experience. Several mobile apps can already scan QR codes to provide consumers with more information and interactivity. (Update: While the QR code hasn't been as successful in the US as in some other countries, barcodes are capable of and more likely to be scanned.)

Revenue Models are Becoming More Attractive
Revenue models are increasingly changing as hardware prices per-screen continues to become less expensive. Overall, prices have deflated by approximately 30% over the past few years. This makes the ROI for digital signage much more attractive. Also, because of media convergence, economies of scale can be achieved, therefore making planning and purchase of DOOH much easier than ever before. With this in mind, integration costs are still high, yet since hardware costs are now a smaller fraction of the overall deployment costs this channel is still a valuable spend for advertisers.

Digital Signage Has Great Impact on Lift
Research has shown that digital signage communication has potential to lift product and service inquiries, as well as purchases and usage. This creates brand awareness as well as customer relationship management opportunities. There is an increased reach for a product or service with digital signage, and social media enables a higher level of engagement. Through social--texts, downloads, mobile browsing, sharing, voice-there is great potential to increase foot traffic to locations and web traffic to sites, also increasing in-person, web, and mobile purchases. Shopper behavior is greatly influenced by digital messaging, as outlined in the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau guidelines, which provide results for measuring the size of an audience in a given space. Nielsen research further supports that digital signage changes consumer behaviors. Social media and friend networks can be the driver of those changed behaviors as the trust level for friend recommendations outweighs the trust level for messaging coming directly from brands. The industry should also focus on increasing the ability to precisely target intended audiences.

Four Screen Cohesion
The opportunity for providing campaigns and context to the user experience that work fluently across the four screens --TV, Web, Mobile, Digital Signage -- is becoming a greater reality. As millennials increasingly become the target consumer for advertisers and venues, their socially connected lives will bring with them greater opportunity to provide deeper, richer, consumer experiences not only across the four screens but in a heavy integration of mobile, social, and digital signage.

Overall Opportunity for Mobile In the SM/Digital Signage Space
Mobile is the primary connector between social media and digital signage, providing the real glue to ensure delivery of real-time content and interaction. Partnerships with retailers, as well as social media digital signage operators and networks and brands will provide overwhelming opportunities in this space. Mobile brands also have the opportunity, as Nokia has shown, to push brand awareness and product launch messaging in novel ways. The tremendous opportunity for hyper-targeting, increases the interest in mobile (social networking and location-based) digital signage campaigns for advertisers.


The Digital Divide of Digital Signage
Agencies are allocating spending to DOOH, but they have yet to fully adopt or grasp the full capabilities of this marketing channelʼs potential. This should be a natural fit for a digital agency, especially as it regards the cohesive interplay of four screens into one campaign. Part of this misunderstanding for agencies is that the ROI is not fully understood. Another factor in the slow to speed digital agency adoption for digital signage is that there are always new networks cropping up. This makes it nearly impossible for agencies and marketers to fully understand and keep track of the media available to them or even to understand the benefits of what one network offers over another.

Measurement Standards Donʼt Exist
One of the primary challenges for digital signage are with measurement and creative unit standards. In 2010, network operators have begun to offer audited and accepted metrics, but again these are not standardized across the industry. Since metrics are not clearly defined, the industry-at-large is advocating for aggregators and aggregation models. Broadsign has released audited measurement results from Arbitron to enable advertisers to measure ROI. Together with SeeSaw, BroadSign is releasing an open API to enable the industry to collaborate on open standards for measurement of DOOH. The Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau has also issued guidelines to better understand the value of a DOOH audience to further address the challenges of calculating appropriate metrics within the industry.

AllSystems Arenʼt a Go
Many of the systems for DOOH are complicated and expensive. There are many different groups (players) involved in getting one Digital Signage deployment launched. In this regard, the opportunity for creating large, scalable campaigns is an overwhelming challenge because it is a complex landscape to traverse when it comes to networks. Also, there are myriad environmental considerations at play. Platforms that break down silos need to be created in order for scalable models to thrive in this space.

Technology Challenges
Mobile and DOOH integration isnʼt as easy as it seems, but together they will be the drivers of the interactive and customer engagement model of the Digital Signage industry. Another technological challenge is presented by the varying formats, files structures, and standards between systems, which creates a further technological gap. The major challenges in the tech area come in the form of aggregation and real-time delivery.

Digital Signage is Very Local
According to Adcentricity, 70% of all network sales are from local sales efforts, driven by the network sales staff. Most networks have no national sales force, which translates into agencies and branbrands being unaware or uneducated on the value of DOOH offerings.

What About Those Legal Issues?
There are many issues when it comes to user generated content in the legal arena. Since there are rules for mobile carriers when it comes to mobile content, anyone serving SM DOOH campaigns should consider using systems that support filtering, moderation, and curation. Also mobile users must have full disclosure on messaging pricing, and it is suggested that there be no premium set for messaging to DOOH systems as pricing could prove to be a barrier to interactivity. Disclosure must also be met on the level of access to the user in terms of whether the operator will send further messaging to the user. This can get into murky waters with spamming issues (CAN SPAM Act). Further, attention must be paid to copyright, defamation, privacy rights, and public decency laws when it comes to UGC. Because of this, it is becoming expected that network operators, event planners, and messaging suppliers provide Professional Liability (Errors and Omissions) insurance, covering possible inappropriate content being displayed in public.

For more of what I learned, see the report yourself:

And if you're wondering whether there's still any relevance to this report, here's a recent factoid from Frost & Sullivan.

New research from Frost & Sullivan's Analysis of the Global Digital Signage Systems Market analysis finds the market earned revenue of $1.27 billion in 2012. This is estimated to reach $2.55 billion in 2018, driven by the emergence of turnkey digital signage solution providers across regions. The research includes a market overview, external challenges, market and technology trends, forecasts, market share and competitive analysis, hot company watchlist, in addition to breakdown analyses of digital signage displays, software and media players. The analysis also looks at various verticals, including retail, transportation, hospitality, corporate, education, government and others.

"When properly executed, in-store digital signage reinforces purchase behavior or creates the impulse to make incremental purchases, and are therefore rapidly gaining acceptance," saidFrost & Sullivan Digital Media Program Manager Aravindh Vanchesan. "Content can be highly targeted and, since the merchandise is close to the message, the call to action is clearly communicated to accomplish the desired objectives." (More)

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