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Markets: Digital Signage

socialise their content and pull these fans in to communities.”

Retailers, especially, are also facing the challenge of internet shopping – a point made by Howard Smith, founder of Dynamax Technologies. “In today’s challenging economic conditions, advertisers need to differentiate themselves from the competition and to resort to a variety of tactics to determine an audience to take an action that has a monetary cost attached such as buying or donating,” he says.

NEC provided the display technology which powers the Revolution Manchester Media Wall at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester

Interactive digital signage applications

. A Cadillac showroom in Italy uses touchscreen technology to help customers find out more about the range

. 300 bus shelters in Reading, UK – a joint project between JCDecaux and Kinetic – feature 13 brands interacting via NFC and QR codes

. A Tel Aviv pub in which a Carlsberg game uses a QR code to allow a voucher to be downloaded

. Visitors can use touchscreens and games to interact with exhibits at the UK’s Museum of Science and Industry

. At the UK’s Bluewater shopping centre, an invitation to send Mother’s Day tweets via a screen with the chance to win a Twilight SagaDVD

“Besides that, online shopping complicates things even more, as customers don’t have to visit stores to pick up their goods. This is where interactive digital signage steps in and brings an added value to the ‘offline’ shopping experience and makes stores more attractive. The most recent installations we have seen created a real buzz around a brand or a retailer, proving that they are as much about branding as they are about informing customers or streamlining the in-store buying process.”

Hugh Coghill-Smith, sales and marketing director at Onelan, sees a similar challenge – and opportunity. “Increasingly, consumers have become used to – and like – serving themselves,” he says. “Interactive digital signage can support that in the retail environment. Monitoring customer interaction also allows a retailer to gain a much deeper insight into his customers, allowing him to better direct future marketing and service provision.”

A clear response

Interactivity in advertising isn’t just about consumer engagement, however. Ever since US retailer John Wanamaker – considered by many to be the father of modern advertising – is alleged to have said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”, advertisers have struggled to measure and maximise their return on investment (ROI). Few approaches

get content, vouchers and so on from DOOH signage or posters while on the move. Touch- or gesture-controlled screens, on the other hand, provide a more engaging and memorable experience that is likely to create a positive brand perception. Gamification [using game design techniques in non-gaming

‘Research has shown the positive impact interactivity

delivers’ Neil Chapman, Clear Channel

have proven more measurable than the ability to count individual, identifiable consumer responses – and well- designed interactivity can deliver that. But how are consumers supposed to interact with digital signage? “The key technologies are touchscreens, QR codes, cellular phones, and gesture technology,” says Yael Elstein, vice president of marketing for YCD Multimedia, which acquired C-nario in 2011.

“The most important type of interactivity is touch, although there is increasing interest in QR codes and near field communications [NFC],” adds Coghill-Smith.

“That said,” he continues, “there has been a lot of hype around NFC, but until it is adopted by the iPhone and iPad, it’s questionable whether it’s worth investing in the technology.” Chapman, however, believes it has a future in digital signage. “The most appropriate form of interaction is whatever is right for the brand and consumer,” he says. “It really depends on the campaign objectives, the target audience and the environment. The interaction should be contextual to all three to be most effective.” “For example, NFC will provide a quick tap connection for consumers to

environments] for brands is huge right now, and gesture combined with augmented reality on small- and large- format screens is the perfect way to deliver this in high dwell time environments when consumers are in the right frame of mind to play.” But interactivity doesn’t have to be directly user-driven: the key is that information unique to a specific customer’s needs is delivered. Thus, as Schwede points out, a barcode reader that allows a customer to scan an item to obtain product information, or a display that is triggered when a product is lifted, are no less interactive than those where the consumer takes a conscious decision to interact.

A measure of success

Many commentators believe that an important reason why the digital signage market has not grown more rapidly is because advertisers are unsure how to measure its effectiveness – or its ROI. Advertisers are used to thinking in OTS (opportunities to see) or CPM (cost per thousand impressions) – but the accurate measurement of the effectiveness of digital signage has, until relatively recently, proved elusive. Given that interactive digital signage is more expensive than ‘passive’ digital signage, it would be easy to believe that an acceptable ROI will be harder to achieve. That, it seems, is not necessarily the case.

Chapman again: “This is something we are currently measuring ourselves, but other research has shown the positive impact interactivity delivers,” he says. “It is logical to think that, if someone enjoys interacting with a screen or finds it useful, they're likely

18 IE May 2012

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