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same person when they are waiting for their car to be retrieved from valet parking, because the chances are strong that they’re leaving.

We talk here about “a person”, but we don’t mean that the on-screen promotions are actually aimed at named, identifiable individuals. That is feasible to a limited extent if, for example, customers are invited to make their identity known by sending a text message to the screen; and where the casino has a hotel attached, it’s also viable to deliver much the same material that’s seen on public displays via in-room TV with added personalisation, although that’s not normally considered digital signage as such.

And it is possible today for audience-

recognition systems, using cameras built into screens, to make a pretty good guess at the gender, age and ethnicity (and intriguingly, although probably irrelevantly for most casinos, body type) of the person standing in front of them. This allows content to be fine-tuned on the fly according to their demographic.

However, though these technologies can

certainly enhance the capability of screens to deliver appropriate messages, none of them is essential for effective screen deployment. The key to showing the right content at the right place at the right time is to exploit the casino’s understanding of its clientele, and assess what kind of customer is most likely to be in that location at a certain moment, what they are doing, and what they might want to do next.

THE PLACE TO BE One sign of the rapidity with which digital signage is going mainstream is the line-up at this

spring’s Screenmedia Expo in London, held May 18-19 at Earls Court. Alongside big names from the digital signage sector itself, such as software suppliers

BroadSign and Scala, will be tech giants including AMD, Cisco, HP and Intel. The attention they’re now paying to digital screens in public places is a strong indication that the technology is growing more stable and mature, enabling businesses such as casino operators to invest with confidence.

Also present at Screenmedia Expo, of course, will be a host of specialists. They include Harris, a major player in broadcast technology, as well as innovators such as Minicom, dZine and Omnivex – the last a firm with a strong commitment to incorporating real-time data into screen displays, as we discuss in our main feature.

And an extensive conference and learning programme, running alongside the event, covers

everything from creative content production to the benefits of different business models. For more info, visit

Some venues that operate screen networks go

further than this in their quest to extract commercial value from the displays, by selling advertising time to other organisations that want to reach a similar customer base. This is quite common in leisure businesses such as gyms, for example, although less often found in casinos, with their imperative of keeping the customer on-site rather than driving them away to other destinations. Probably the best option for casinos seeking to generate revenue purely through the screens, rather than employing them to create sales uplift, is to offer advertising spots to retail tenants. Conversely, this could be presented as a free benefit of tenancy, aiding in attracting and retaining the best retailers.

Nicer queues Other applications for screens have softer

benefits, in that it’s not so easy to discern a direct bottom-line boost, but unarguable that they improve the customer experience. For example, it’s well-documented that dead time spent waiting in queues seems briefer, and less annoying, if there’s a distraction like a screen. This is also an occasion where the casino can expect the display to hold attention for an extended period, perhaps as long as several minutes, and can therefore show longer-form, more detailed content (by contrast, for screens in locations like lobbies or concourses where people tend to be moving about, each content element should only be a few seconds in duration).

And, of course, if the screens can be used to

advertise products or services available at the front of the queue, there’s a double benefit – sales uplift, plus improvement to the customer

40 APRIL 2011

experience. For this reason, digital menu boards are becoming popular in fast-food and self-service restaurants.

Another soft benefit is way-finding. Casinos

tend to be large establishments with complex layouts, and while conventional signage and maps can help the customer with orientation, screens – particularly interactive, touch- enabled ones – can do much more. For example, they can highlight routes between two spots selected by the customer. They can be updated in real time to reflect issues like out-of- service elevators, or retail and food-service opening hours, showing only what’s currently available to the customer. They could even, integrated with a casino management system, display which Blackjack tables have vacant seats, which slots have not paid out a jackpot for the longest period, and so on – like any large business, the casino will hold in digital form vast quantities of information that it can leverage to improve customer service in a way that would be impractical with printed signage, but is easy with digital screens. For instance, the digital signage specialist Signs4U has developed an interface that links gaming jackpot controllers to the multimedia management system from C-nario. “Now the system is able to display jackpot data, which is retrieved from various jackpot controllers. This real-time data is fed into the system and converted into a graphical, fully configurable jackpot meter,” the firm says.

Further uses for screens include safety and

emergency messaging; regulatory compliance (for example, through displaying nutrition information on digital menu boards); and employee communications (either through

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