Tag Archives: The Preset Group

Are Consumers Blind to Place-Based Digital Signage?

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

The more I reflect on my time at DSE last week, the more rich I feel it was. And the funny thing about it is, I didn’t spend my time racing around seeing everything under the sun. I focused on a couple of activities and spent the rest of the time meeting & talking to people. There are some incredible minds in the digital signage industry. That much is for sure.

One of the richer times I had and that I wrote about last week was my dinner with Dave and Pat from Preset. It was really an interesting discussion – I was able to hear from them more than surface thoughts on important concepts that this industry wrestles with. In a lot of ways, it was kinda like a master class for me. You ever have those times when you find yourself in a situation where you’re like, holy crap, there’s some serious knowledge here? Well, that was me then.

One of the things we talked about was this idea of screen blindness. It’s an idea that I’ve thought about for awhile now. The question is – is the average consumer blind to outdoor screens? (And I’m not talking about Times Square or the strip in Vegas. I’m talking about standard outdoor screens like in elevators or in lobbies or at the gas station.) They’re everywhere now, so when someone encounters a screen, how much do they pay attention to it? Or better yet, how much do they even notice it?

I would say (and I did that night) that the answer is a) yes, generally consumers are blind to the screens, b) they don’t pay much attention to them and better yet c) they notice them less and less.

The reason? Mainly content and lack of interaction. Over time.

I think these digital screens have been around long enough with bad content that the average consumer perceives them as delivering little value. There are, of course, exceptions to this statement, but overall, most of these screens seem to be filled with advertisements, boring/useless content loops and/or some sort of broadcast news. They’re push-only devices delivering content that is completely un-engaging, un-inspiring, and most of all, something any one of us could experience on our own personal mobile devices.

And it’s been this way for years. Literally.

So, why pay attention to them?

I think this is a serious question that everyone who is trying to reach and engage consumers outside of the home, through these digital screens, must answer.

I don’t think the answer is because it reaches them at the right place and the right time. That, to me, is a given, and sure there’s value in that – reaching someone when they’re closer to the point of sale. Giving them a pertinent message while they’re in a waiting in a doctor’s office. But I think people been reached in the right place at the right time in so many un-effective ways, over time, that they see less and less value with these screens and are becoming blind to them.

Next time you’re in the presence with someone, outside of the home, in the vicinity of a digital screen, watch them. Do they watch what’s on the screen? If so, are they watching because they’re engaged? Or are they watching because it’s a distraction and something to pass the time?

Place-based digital signs, in order to be truly effective and valued, cannot be viewed as simply good at distracting people.

They have to do more. They have to deliver good, relevant content and more and more, in order to re-see them, to associate them with value, they have to engage consumers in some way.

So, that’s what I think. What do YOU think? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Is Digital Signage Good for Just Utility? Or Experience, Too?

11th Screen | Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

I had a great dinner last night with 2 of the Preset Guys – 2 EXTREMELY smart and experience digital signage veterans who have done loads of work for high-profile companies/clients – Pat Hellberg and Dave Haynes. We talked a lot about the “DOOH” industry (and how to pronounce it?!) and “digital” signage and engagement and content and storytelling. And I’m putting as many things as I can in “quotes” just for Pat – know he likes that stuff. Anyway, it was a great discussion and it produced some interesting questions. I’m going to cover a few of them in the next couple of days.

First one up – this concept of “utility” and “experience.” Technology is beautiful because, along with many other things, it can effectively serve as a utility or create an experience. Most of the time, the same technology can accomplish both, there just might be different ways it manifests itself in doing so. Let’s take mobile for instance – if you want to simply opt someone into a communication stream/database, you can accomplish that through SMS (something very utilitarian) or through a QR Code (something more experiential).

As far as digital signage goes, there’s a large part of me that believes its primary benefit is one of utility. The platforms are dynamic and deep – they can hold a lot of content and ads. The signs are dynamic, potentially constantly in motion and just as potentially attention-getting. Place them at point of purchase, advertise whatever merchandise/deals you want, and you can change them on a daily basis. In that scenario, digital signage makes a lot of sense to serve a specific utility. Same can be said in quick-serve restaurants (QSR’s). Need to change the menu, or price, or nutritional value? Bang on the keyboard for a second and viola, the display is updated and you don’t have to reprint whatever it was you were using 5 years ago. Another great use for digital signage.

But what I want to know is where is the experience? Over the last year, I’ve heard software makers and hardware makers and IT guys and AV guys and “content” makers talk about networks. Networks, schmetworks. It drives me crazy that no one seems to be thinking about experiences. One-way, push messaging – regardless of how deep, dynamic and/or flashy it is – does not an experience make.

More and more, consumers want to have an experience with a brand. Typically, they like to dictate what that experience is, but they want an experience nonetheless. Not only do they WANT experiences, they’re starting to expect them. And when consumers expectations change, companies/brands and even entire industries, have to adapt to that change. Otherwise, they’re going to become irrelevant. And at the end of the day, how many brands want to become irrelevant? 0.

So, I really think the industry and all of the players within it are faced with a simple question – do you want to serve a utility? Or create an experience? If the answer is the latter, consumers don’t care about hardware and software and AV and IT and networks. They just want a great experience.

Can we make it so?

Friday’s 4-1-1, Looking Ahead to DSE Style

DSE Show Floor

The Digital Signage Expo (DSE) holds a special place in my heart. It’s the first conference I covered as “press,” it’s the first time I was really in the know, behind the scenes, the first time I met all of my industry friends face-to-face – in a lot of ways, it was THE thing that really put my blog on the radar for many in the industry. I will be eternally grateful to Geri Wolff (responsible for organizing the entire thing) for taking a chance on someone she’d never heard of and letting me in (as press).

So, Monday, I’m off again for this year’s DSE. I’ve got a different schedule this year because I’m taking part in a few pre-conference activities and by the time it’s over, I will end up missing the last day of sessions. But this is a busy time of year back at work (preparing for SXSW) so I’ve got to make a couple of sacrifices. Today’s Friday 4-1-1 is dedicated to some of the things I’m looking forward to this year.

1. There’s nothing more important than relationships and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really great people in this industry. Most of them will be here this week and I’m looking forward to seeing them again. I talk to many of them on a daily basis so I’m sure we’ll pick up as if no time has passed since we actually saw each other. There’s no substitute for face-to-face time and I’m going to take advantage of it.

2. The Preset Group Mixer – I wasn’t able to attend last year, although the guys at Preset were kind enough to invite me last minute. I was buried in SXSW to-dos. Not this year. I’ll be there and I’m really looking forward to it. I suspect I’ll see alot of people that I already know, but many more who I don’t. The guys at Preset are top notch, so I suspect this mixer will be the same.

3. Christie MicroTiles’/Arsenal Media’s BuzzWall – 7′ tall, made up of 41 tiles, multi-touch, multi-user, recently installed for the Miami Dolphins. Sounds a lot like the Hard Rock Cafe’s Rock Wall, just different hardware (which I suspect is what makes this pretty cool). Here in Dallas, Jerry doesn’t even have one of these in his place. I’ve got to see it in action.


4. Wednesday morning’s morning sessions – DSE/DSF has really done a good job this year of focusing the educational sessions. There are various tracks, and they’re actually good and seem to be geared to more than 101-type sessions. There’s a content track (fantastic move!), an interactive technology track, a business track, and 6 others. Wednesday morning, I’ve got to decide between the Content session, the Marketing/Advertising session, and the Interactive session. All look to be awesome. At this point, the Advertising/Marketing session is the favorite.

“Uh-huh” – Like I said, Geri Wolff, has been extremely kind to me and I can’t thank her enough. She’s kept in touch with me over the year and has really treated me well. I’m looking forward to thanking her face-to-face.

“Duh” – I’m teeing it up for a little golf outing with Dave Haynes, Bill Trainor, and Andy Bruce. I haven’t played in a couple of years. I have no idea how it’s going to be. If nothing else, it will no doubt, be fun. Hope I represent, though.

If you’re going to DSE and you’d like to get together, drop me a line and let me know. As always, thanks for reading!

Friday’s 4-1-1, Preset Style

Happy Friday, everyone.  Time for Friday’s 4-1-1.  Many of my readers know the guys at The Preset Group.  Since the beginning of the year, I’ve gotten to know each of them fairly well.  They’ve been very good to me, and all of my experiences with them – collectively and individually – have been more than pleasant.  Real good guys.  Solid minds, too.  This week, I’ve had various interactions with them and they just produce such good content, so I’m going to be an aggregator of sorts.

1.  Sixteen:Nine and rAVe Work New Partnership – Two very bright guys in the digital signage/DOOH space have partnered together to essentially bring us double-great thinking in 1 location.  I’ve sat in quite a few press “quarters” with Dave and we’ve had some good discussions.  I even had the privilege of speaking on a panel with him earlier in the year.  He’s probably the most knowledgable person in the space I’ve met.  And I’ve seen Gary go through one of his presentations.  Dynamic guy.  Knowledgable, too.  This is a powerhouse of knowledge.  I think all who follow each of them just benefited greatly, whether or not they know it right now.  Soon, they will.

2.  Mark Cuban’s Views on the Fan Experience – David Weinfeld wrote a piece earlier in the week about how Mark Cuban views the importance of creating an “experience” (similar to a wedding) for fans at sporting events (in this case, HIS sporting events).  As David points out in this article, digital signage and the physical things around us have great potential in sporting venues.  Cuban gets this, too.  I think the power of mobile, though, (as David and I discussed) is extending the experience beyond the actual venue.  The brand (in this case, let’s say the Mavericks) should recognize that the venue (digital signage or not) and mobile are merely channels to extend their story.  The question is not “which technology do I use to create an experience at a particular place?” but really, “how do I tell my brand’s story at a particular place on a particular piece of technology?”

3.  What Do You Reach for in the Morning? – Paul does these down-and-dirty surveys on his blog every so often and this week, he wants to find out why people use their mobile phones.  If you haven’t taken it, go over there and do it.  It will take 1 minute of your time.  Literally.  Mobile is definitely a gateway between the offline and online worlds that I so often talk about.  Next up on the survey list should be, now that we know how you use mobile, do you integrate it with other mediums/channels?

4.  The Advertising Slogan Generator – From Paul’s Twitter feed, it is what it says it is (and yes, I know, not the first of its kind).  Enter a word, see your advertising slogan.  I smell an idea perfect for interactive signage, both at the aforementioned sports venue or in a densely populated environment – transit, wait – whatever.  Text your word in, see your slogan on the big screen.  Simple idea.  Engaging.  Multiple extensions, including commerce.  How hard was that?

“Uh-huh” – Bad Digital Signage Projects Hurt Us All – Dear All DOOH Decision Makers (Advertisers and Agencies) – Don’t Suck.  I say this tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, count the number of DOOH/IOOH installations that have made sense vs. the ones that haven’t.  Overwhelmingly weighted on the haven’t-made-sense side.

“Duh” –  See above.  Case in point for a head scratcher.

Happy weekend, everyone!

“Turning on Digital Signage” Webinar Recap

Today, I attended the Digital Signage Federation’s first “learning series” webinar – “Turning on Digital Signage” brought to us by the guys at Brawn Consulting.  In short, it was a great session with lots of helpful information, all presented in 1 quick hour.  It was very much a 101-type session on digital signage, placements, “components” of the network and even selling, which makes sense coming from someone who leads a consulting group.  From my POV, it was really geared to companies who would sell services of the digital signage network “components,” specifically hardware and software providers (makes sense because they’re AV guys, too).  There were mentions sprinkled in about content, and I appreciated that they were sprinkled in in the right context (working together with the components and identifying ways digital signage can be used in various locations).  I think anyone listening, particularly those who want to learn the basics of this thing called “digital signage,” walked away with learning something.  Here are the specific nuggets of the session that I walked away with:

  • The “industry” doesn’t talk about “digital” signage and “interactive” signage as separate terms.  “Digital” signage can become “interactive,” but in the end, it’s all digital.  I either have to accept this or continue pushing this.  To me, there is a big distinction and it’s important to differentiate the two.  (“Digital” signage and “traditional” OOH are about 1-way messaging.  Both can become “interactive,” therefore becoming conduits for 2-way interaction.  Push/pull messaging vs. just push.)  But what this does is exacerbate the problem of people talking consistently about this space.  Although there were mentions in text of “interactivity,” everything today was talked about as “digital signage.”  I believe the opportunity for this “OOH” medium is the possibility for interaction, driving deeper into brands.  Not just an efficient way to “display”/push messages out.  I’ll keep talking the way that I talk, but I am becoming more and more aware of how everyone else talks about it.
  • I’m big into models.  The Brawn guys have created a model that identifies 7 Key Elements to Digital Signage:  Hardware, Software, Connectivity, Content, Operations, Design, & Business.  I want to get a copy of this deck so I can absorb everything involved in each of the elements.  Overall, though, this is a “simple” guide.
  • I loved how they put consumers before makers/distributers/sellers in terms of identifying value.  They were talking about identifying what’s “valuable” before you implement any digital signage solution and they started with the audience (consumers).  This is music to my ears.  If it’s not providing value to the people who are ultimately going to use it, it’s no good.  (They also presented a “value triad,” which was another model that I thought was effective and simple.  Want to see it again, though.)
  • There are ~350 companies out there selling digital signage software.  Wow.  And I know first hand about this, because I spent the last four years of my life creating a custom piece of interactive signage software.   I understand and appreciate nuance differences, but 350 different solutions?  How can one navigate the space well enough to know what software is best for them?  I know the end user (consumer) doesn’t care about this, but as someone who would need to ultimately buy (or create) one of these, I wouldn’t know where to begin.  Actually, I would….now I understand what the guys at Preset & Brawn do :)

As I said when I first learned about this series, education sessions like this are needed.  They’re the “right” way for an organization like the Digital Signage Federation to take responsibility and own education.  Many people need to be hearing about this and listening in on these sessions.  I would love to know who participated today and what they got out of it.

Can’t Ever Be Too Prepared

The panel discussion went well today at IACP.  I was pretty nervous leading up to it, primarily because I didn’t feel like I was prepared.  One of my college professors, the late, great Larry Hovis (from Hogan’s Heroes) lived by the mantra:  Be on time, Be prepared, and Be sober.  Simple, right?  It’s good.  Pretty much covers the bases.  It’s interesting to see how many people you come into contact with during a day can’t meet these criteria.

So the lack of preparation was with me.  I was up late last night trying to finish my presentation and practice.  I should have been at this stage days ago.  Instead, I felt like I was preparing for a personal BD pitch – pulling things together at the last minute.

But alas – I did finish, of course, and everything came together and when the panel started, all was good.  I was worried that I would be speaking over everyone’s head, talking about social media and social objects and content/context and all they wanted to hear from me was Video 101.  But I think I broke it down well, where it was digestable for everyone in the audience (wide range of audience, in age, digital acumen and focus).  I got some good feedback from some of the attendees, so mission was accomplished.  And now, I have a pretty good POV on content (objects) and context (relationships).

In the spirit of getting better, I’m always looking for feedback, so if you have any, let me know.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Additional note – I hung out with Pat Hellberg from the Preset Group for a few hours last night and I’ve got to say, I really like those guys.  (Pat ran Nike’s digital signage network for a long time.)  They’ve been really good to me, which I appreciate.  They’re all very smart and it’s always fun to talk to smart people.  They’re also huge advocates of the DOOH space and doing everything they can to help companies navigate in the space.  Pat listened to my POV (which was really my presentation) on content/context and provided a bit of insight (via something kinda unrelated).  In any case, if you’re looking for someone (or a group of guys) to give you the 411 on digital signage/DOOH, look no further than the Preset Group.  They’ll steer you right.

Three Bloggers’ Perspectives

Was on a panel with Adrian Cotterill from DailyDOOH and Dave Haynes from The Preset Group.  This is our perspective.

14 people at beginning, easily doubled in 5 minutes

We all went through intros first.  I could have framed myself a little better.  Lav mic is weird.

Dave – been around for a really long time, 2006 started blogs, 1,500 posts, much more of an opinion piece – why you should look at this, bit of a filter for the industry

Q1:  How digital media can improve customer engagement and increase sales lift?

Adrian:  Does digital really need explaining?  Surely, we’ve seen sales lift

Dave:   Digtal media still a little mysterious to people…when we talk about sales lift, we see in the past year that results that are shared around.  Walmart showed up at conference last year and showed results on their smart network – they were getting phenomenal sales lift…industry avg 10 -15 % lift

Mike:  I think you have to separate those two objectives.  Engagement is very different than conversion – it can certainly play off of each other.  Dynamic, moving images have an impact.  When talking about OOH, placement is part of the equation.  Then, f/u with the most appropriate content so it can achieve that goal – sales lift. 

Q2:  Examples of successful implementations and their impact on brands?

Adrian:  Harrods – amazed at how well they’ve done retail…screens embedded into the fabric of their environment

Dave:  Believes that there are more unsuccessful implementations vs. successful…Tim Horton’s (donut shop in Canada) – they see real sales lift on just “digital” amid their menu boards….Microsoft’s retail stores, baked right into it

Mike:  Mini/BMW – digital billboards, RFID, AR

Nike – virtual shoecase, matching shoes kiosk, Chalkbot

 These brands have a very good understanding of their audience so they’re able to use various mediums really effectively.

Q3:  Measurement methodology & ROI?

Adrian:  taken from keynote this morning, the emotions

Dave:  not so down on the research and analytics, yes it’s imperfect, but it does a good job of showing how long people are looking at screens…typically the viewer engagement on these screens is 3 seconds…wow

Mike:  DOOH is passive so measure it like any OOH installation – eyeballs, traffic, etc..

IOOH is active so measure it on actions

 This is why I think interaction is so important.

Q4:  Successful trends we are seeing?

Adrian:  People don’t need an excuse or prompt to touch a screen these days.  Mobile interaction is something that is also taking off.  Audio/music/sound – this being explored more now, too.

Dave:  Mobile & social….extremely early days for that….this industry has to open its eyes a lot wider as to what’s going on around them……the days of “captive” audience is over…no one is really captive anymore

Mike:  I think you have to look at social and mobile separately from OOH.  Both are gaining traction and both will play a large part in OOH.

Aside from that, people are getting more familiar with expectations that they can interact with their surroundings.

Q5:  Who needs to be involved in the process for success?

Adrian:  Surely everyone in the company!  Merchandisers, marketers, IT, and don’t forget retail staff!

Dave:  All about objectives and are you getting return on those?

Mike:  Client side – Brand managers – marketing, communications

 Agency side – brand teams, advertising teams, media buyers, research, analytics

 Implementation side – content creators (developers, designers), system admins (tech)

 End user from the standpoint of acceptance

Q6:  What makes a project a winner?

Adrian:  Microsigns…put them underneath mobile phones in stores

Dave:  Most of the really good projects in this space have come from outside the industry…..

Mike:  Depends on what the objectives are.

 If you want to change perception, can do.

 If you want to deepen engagement, you can.

 If you want to drive sales/conversion, you can.

 It’s all about:

Who are we talking to?

What are we trying to say?

How are we going to say it?

 Q7: What brands and venues can do to succeed through the use of digital signage and DOOH? 

Adrian:   Spend money, don’t try to do anything on the cheap, get good advice, think creatively, don’t forget content, integrate mobile..

Dave:  change in business models

Mike:  Have to be clear about your objectives.  What are they trying to do?

Hope that they have smart people around them.

Agree with cheap and the content.

Q8:  What does the future hold?

Adrian:  Where you now see cardboard and print, you will now see digital.  More installations will be interactive, responsive by touch and gesture, and mobile.

Dave:  I don’t know what he said.

Mike:  Technology gets better, people get smarter.  It’s not about “digital” out of home screens, it’s about interacting with our spaces around us.