Articles and Whitepapers
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Five Steps Retailers Can Take to Keep Shoppers
Jeff Hastings, BrightSign CEO
On the surface it would seem brick-and-mortar retailers are in trouble. Big legacy brands like Sears and JC Penny are dramatically scaling back their storefront presence, while retailers like Toys R Us are shuttering altogether. True, e-commerce is causing havoc in the brick-and-mortar space, but I firmly believe that reports of the demise of retail are greatly exaggerated.
Customers still enjoy the experience of going shopping – most people are not so reclusive that they wish to curtail in-store shopping altogether. They don’t want to live life between four walls with everything brought to their door. They like to get out, to meet and interact with people including knowledgeable retail assistants. There’s an upside to seeing and handling certain products before purchase.
The key to recovering foot-traffic in retail is the shopping experience itself. Here are five examples of our customers around the world going to extraordinary measures to enhance the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience:
- Make The Customer’s Experience Smooth and Seamless: Robinsons 200,000 sq. ft. flagship store in the Dubai Festival Mall has signage that can be instantly updated by store staff. Customers are welcomed by way-finders directing them smoothly not only to the relevant department, but to the brand that they’ve come to see. Each department has brand columns featuring video content provided by those brands. In the VIP check-out, further screens advertise special promotions to the most affluent customers.
- Encourage Interaction: Travel is a top online purchase, but the UK’s first interactive holiday store, Cruise 1st in Manchester, offers customers a truly unique space in which to select their next cruise holiday. Passing shoppers are attracted by in-window screens and a 2×2 video wall showing 4K video content and images. In-store, live TV content from Cruise 1st’s own Sky TV channel is displayed on a video wall. Touchscreen kiosks make choosing a holiday a game for the entire family.
- Beacon Technology: Improves the overall digital signage experience by increasing audience engagement and creating a personalized experience on two screens. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon technology, 2-way communication between digital signage and mobile devices is achieved and allows for the delivery of highly targeted promotions based on location as well as the ability to control digital signage playback from a mobile device.
- Use Social Media On The In-store Signage to Engage Customers: Vegas EXP has embraced digitally enhanced experiential shopping. It has a total of 28 screens, with a 55-inch interactive display in the heart of the store. When idle, the screen displays content such as notable Instagram feeds and the local weather forecast. When customers engage with the display, they can browse the online catalog but also have fun with the “selfie mode,” scrolling through and taking selfies in front of various iconic Las Vegas backdrops.
- Create a “wow” factor: El Palacio de Hierro’s flagship store located in Mexico City has replicated a large overhead stained glass ceiling with a 60-inch LED sphere and full-ceiling LED display installed atop the store’s 66-foot-high main concourse.
With innovations like these, it’s clear to see we’re not even close to end-times for the physical retailer. The dip we’re seeing in retail is a sign that retailers haven’t yet hit on the right formula to stay relevant in this digital age. But savvy retailers are facing the issue head-on and using digital signage to deliver the right experience to keep customers coming back.
If you were unable to attend the DSF Austin Meet & Greet on May 9th, a pdf version of the presentation by Manolo Almagro and John Dubois, is now available.
Meaningful Analytics AI + Machine Learning – (View Presentation)
This May the FDA’s long-awaited menu-labeling regulations went into effect, following a one-year reprieve intended to give restauranteurs more time to become compliant. This legislation is far-reaching, requiring restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to display nutritional information on their menus to help customers make healthful, informed choices. And while these new rules squarely affect fast casual chains, the regulations are far-reaching in that they apply not just to fast casual, but to other chain locations offering food service such as movie theaters, convenience stores and even vending machines.
Video walls are growing at a 23.8-percent CAGR, according to Zion Market’s 2017 research report. That staggering number is driven by users’ need to stand out, engage and attract attention, according to Daniel Griffin, Userful’s VP of Marketing.
“As more screens are out there, in order to catch attention and engage an audience, people realize single screens aren’t enough and that has helped drive the huge growth in video walls,” Griffin said.
He does not expect this strong growth trajectory to slow down anytime soon.
“There’s no doubt that there’s enough demand out there that everyone in the digital signage industry needs to ensure they have a strong video wall offering that is feature-ful, scalable and flexible,” he said. “The growth numbers make it clear that people are turning to video walls in a very significant way.”
Griffin said video walls have even become a requirement for many big spaces, such as airports, malls, arenas and stadiums. However, Userful is also seeing more immersion in smaller spaces.
With Integrated Systems Europe now in the rear-view mirror, our industry turns its collective attention to Digital Signage Expo later this month in Las Vegas. DSE isn’t the biggest tradeshow we attend in the US, but it’s certainly the show that’s most focused on digital signage. For that reason alone, I find DSE to be an accurate barometer of what to expect in the year ahead.
The digital signage industry is made up mostly of perennial attendees – companies like BrightSign that have been coming to DSE for many years, and that will still be attending years from now. But every year there’s a sizeable crop of first-time exhibitors – last year, of the 255 companies on the show floor, 74 were first-time exhibitors. If those numbers hold true this year, that means nearly three of every 10 exhibitors will be attending for their first time. These new exhibitors seem to fall into two camps: relatively unknown startup companies trying to get into the market, and well-known tech brands trying to make a sideways entry into the digital signage space. I’m particularly intrigued by the latter. Our market has grown far beyond its traditional “signage” roots and it’s understandable that big companies will attempt to wedge their way into our market to make a quick buck.
RealEyes Displays, a company that provides interactive displays for information kiosks, waiting rooms, trade shows and college campuses, doubled in size last year. CEO Alex Bernier attributes this growth to an “industry tornado” that is driving interactive displays into the mainstream.
“Touchscreens have always been there, but new software technology such as Intuiface, and lower costs of high-powered PCs are moving us to what appears to be an industry tornado,” he said. “The design, deployment and support standardization of these systems is making it easier for every vertical to invest.”
His company, which was started by Bernier in 2010, is especially seeing an increase in large interactive screens for trade show booths.
“Clients now have a strong need to show product lookups, 3D models, games, and highly attractive video sequences of their customer journey,” Bernier said.
PowerPoint-driven digital signage? Most people are surprised when I suggest PowerPoint as an easy method for the development and management of digital signage.
As you know, a simple but powerful, method to grab the attention of anyone, anywhere, is to use a screen. TV, computer or mobile screens are great attention grabbers, and most people would admit it’s hard to stop staring at them each day.
A lot of the time, of course, you’re seeing digital signage on those screens, especially at fast food restaurants, airports, corporate lobbies, schools and hospitals. PowerPoint-driven digital signage, for example, tells you which flights are arriving, which foods are available on the menu or special offers in the grocery store. With screens just about everywhere in our lives today, digital signage provides the perfect way for businesses or public agencies to engage with their customers or constituents.
With this in mind, why is PowerPoint an effective tool for creating digital signage? The fact is it’s flat out easy to create digital signage using PowerPoint. Everything you need is available in this venerable, proven application. No more need to haggle with Adobe and Photoshop for your digital signage needs. To this end, here are seven reasons why PowerPoint is a dynamic tool you can use to create powerful digital signage content.
Fastest Way to Create Digital Signage
If you have a computer, you’ve probably used (or at least know of) PowerPoint. Its features are straightforward, and it takes little time to start creating eye-catching digital signage.
With PowerPoint, you can start creating digital signage using templates for hospitals, hotels, schools and a wide range of other sectors. Using PowerPoint slide templates is just as effective as creating new ones.
Just as it’s easy to create compelling content and appealing PowerPoint digital signage, it’s simple to change anything you want and update with new information.
Powerful Visual Transitions and Animations
One feature that makes PowerPoint a powerful tool for digital signage is its built-in transition and animation functions. You can animate text and images and play videos. People love animation, and PowerPoint provides great attention grabbers. Transitions also add a creative side to your digital signage presentations, keeping users interested in what you need to communicate.
Innovative Tool for Real-Time Data Updating
For operations personnel at airports, flight and critical travel information change constantly and needs continuous updating with new arrival schedules or take-offs. One master slide is all you need after creating your digital signage: the new information or data can be automatically updated, with new data from Excel, RSS feeds, databases and more.
Using PresentationPoint’s DataPoint, for example, acting as a PowerPoint add-on module, real-time data is updated, and automatically appears on all screens. All your data signage stays up to date. Any changes you make are quick and prompt.
Suppose you have multiple digital signage screens in different locations in the same shop or spanning several business areas. With PresentationPoint software and PowerPoint, you can create playlists for different digital signage display.
The digital signage in various screens or locations is remotely controllable and can run on any schedule you set. If the digital signage in the morning is showing a video of hardware tools, you can create a program that will start displaying a video of groceries during the afternoon.
Works on Any Digital Signage Screen Size
When you create digital signage, PowerPoint will display it on a monitor or television screen of any size. With our software, you can even spread out a single presentation over multiple screens of a video wall setup.
Ultimately, you can radically enhance how you distribute your information when you use PowerPoint – coupled with our DataPoint module – for digital signage. Digital signage, to be sure, is the best way to showcase new business or public information of all kinds. All you need to get started is a screen, a computer and PowerPoint – and you’re on your way.
There’s a lot of buzz in the digital signage industry, as well as the markets the industry serves, about fine pixel pitch LED displays, and their ability to create bright, seamless visuals that transform spaces.
It’s easy to find technical documentation about LED displays and diodes, but a lot harder to find solid information, written in non-technical terms, that explains the technology, the marketplace, ecosystem and applications. That’s why this Special Report – The Total Guide To Fine Pitch LED – from 16:9, was put together over the last few months. It reflects many, many conversations, as well as a specific trip to Taiwan and China to visit manufacturers and fully understand the ecosystem.
Washington, DC-based media production and live events company, Quince Imaging is concluding its 20th year in business with an upgraded corporate headquarters to accommodate its rapidly growing staff and service offerings. The company’s flagship work is 3D projection imaging and if you’ve attended a professional sporting event recently, chances are you’ve seen some of Quince’s work.
Bill DuLaney, business development manager, has watched the digital signage industry grow throughout the past 25 years. He said the industry, particularly projection, is in the middle of a massive sea change that is putting the technology on-trend with what consumers want – experiential, entertaining, immersive experiences.
“Projection has been around since the late 1890’s. Over the past 25 years, it’s gone from CRT technology – big, heavy, analogue-based technology – to total digital-chip based digital light processors with high brightness lamp technology. Now we have further improvements as we are transitioning from lamp to laser or solid state technology,” DuLaney said. “Every time someone says projection is dead, it’s not. It continues to keeps growing. In fact, designers and clients continue to push the technical and creative limitations and want to do high-end, spectacular installations using the highest resolution you can achieve.”
In fact, according to a market report from Technavio, the projector market (globally) is expected to be in excess of $132 billion in 2019, growing at a CAGR of more than 18 percent.
Projection offers “the highest resolution you can achieve,” DuLaney says, because there is no limit on pixels – you can continue to add projectors, and servers to fit whatever size or shape you’re aiming for.
“It’s the only video technology that’s not constrained by screen size. That’s valuable,” DuLaney said. “Because of that, it’s the most cost efficient technology when you break it down by cost-per-pixel.”
Quince Imaging is seeing some trends emerge within its business, such as retailers using projection imaging to create storefront windows or illuminating a certain area of their store, or projecting rotating outfits on a mannequin.
In sporting arenas, teams are going for the “wow factor” at every turn and the ROI comes with the fan engagement these projections are yielding on social media.
“People like it because of the engagement. The number of eyeballs on these displays, not only in the venue or facility but also on TV, and streaming sites, all of which translates to hits on social media. Engagement is proven ROI,” DuLaney said.
He adds that the market has changed in that brands are looking for new ways to present and differentiate themselves.
“Experiential is a hot trend and rightly so, whether you’re a brand or an agency. This is a proven way to hit certain demographics through unique, fun and engaging types of technologies. It could be purely immersive and interactive, bringing in the power of personal and shared experiences, augmented reality, or a combination of each.” he said.
Projection is an ideal way to achieve an immersive digital experience because there are no seams or bezels. The improvement of the technology is enabling projection to become a better experience as well. Both the image quality by virtue of new video standards (HDR, 4k, 8k) and the server technology have made strides in the past few years alone.
“The past three years especially has been a sea change and it has to do with advances in video card technology, software, and solid state lighting. We don’t have to replace lamps every 500 to 1,000 hours anymore. And the color saturation and gamut of LED and laser as a (solid state) light source is much wider than lamp technology can give you,” DuLaney said. “All of this is going on at the same time. Thus every six months there are improved products.”
Real-time rendering is another significant advancement, DuLaney said. Clients can preview what the project is going to look like before it goes live.
“If you’re in a stadium and you have a touchdown catch, you can replay that back in slow motion on all of the digital signs immediately and have it streamed simultaneously. We are rendering high resolution video files in real time. We don’t have to wait anymore,” DuLaney said.
He also notes other trends quickly coming down the pike in projection and digital signage, notably augmented reality and hologram technology. Lowe’s and Home Depot, for example, are working on AR where customers can use photos of their dining rooms and pull the kind of style they’re looking for to pre-model in a 3D environment.
“When you do this in a 3D environment, versus a standard display or phone, it changes everything,” DuLaney said. “The AR and VR technology is making these experiences more personal than ever before.”
Though Quince is positioned well amidst all of these changes, challenges remain in keeping up with the swift pace of technology advancements.
“All of these video and creative standards are changing. We have to have the best team in place with the best solution to keep up with the latest products and trends,” DuLaney said. “Then there’s the budget challenge. We have to educate clients on why our solution costs more than what they can purchase at Walmart or Amazon. There is no list price on creativity. There is a sweet spot between activating something really creative and not breaking the bank.”
Quince Imaging case study
Though Quince Imaging got its start 20 years ago specializing in high-end events, it has found its sweet spot in sporting arenas. To illuminate an arena, it takes anywhere from eight to 12 top-of-the-line projectors and lenses. There is also the mounting, the electrical, signal flow process, servers, programming, and then adding in custom 3D animations. The price tag isn’t cheap, but the ROI speaks for itself.
“Sports is our biggest market dollar for permanent installations. We’re still in the beginning of this because we’re figuring out the sponsor equation,” he said. “This is valuable for sponsors. They can own a moment and grab eyeballs for a minute, 90 seconds, two minutes, and not have to share it. That’s the holy grail of advertising.”
Teams are using signage to sell not only ads but also tickets. DuLaney said the market will continue to grow because sports is an ever-evolving marketing machine, always in search of new and competitive ways to reach customers.
“Once the Cowboys or Manchester United do it, everyone else will want to do it, albeit better” he said.
Because of this growth, Quince keeps redefining its successful case studies. The United Center in Chicago, for example, posed a structural and mounting challenge for projection because of its existing roof structure and the huge video boards that affect the angle of the projections. Quince’s engineering team came up with a solution to do one system for two sports – the NBA’s Bulls and the NHL’s Blackhawks – including the content.
“Clients now see the value of a company that understands this technology not just from the science/engineering part, but also the creative side. The United Center project is one we can really hang our hat on,” DuLaney said.
Another of Quince’s milestone achievements was the viral success of the Cleveland Cavaliers pregame court projection at the ceremony honoring the jersey retirement of Zydrunas Ilgauskas in 2014. Since then, Quince went on to permanently install the Cavs 3D projection system, as well as develop creative content for major events and projects, including the “Cavs Arcade.” Quince Imaging was selected to design and adapt a full-court projection reminiscent of the classic arcade game Pong.
Cable news channels picked up footage from Ilgauskas jersey retirement and it received 2 million + hits over a couple of weeks. Since, Quince and the Cavs have worked together extensively to coordinate pre-game shows, halftime shows, time-out entertainment and more.
“Once we saw that go viral and the team saw that, it became valuable to tie it in for fan engagement and interactivity,” DuLaney said. “The theme is creating memorable experiences for people and using imaging technology to do it. It’s very exciting for brands and anyone in the entertainment biz who wants to separate themselves from the noise.”
People often ask me what to expect from ISE, and I think this year will mostly be a year of incremental upgrades, rather than a breakthrough year. Everything I’ve seen points to there actually being fewer vendors in attendance due to massive consolidation across the industry. People are focusing on quality and come to shows like ISE with the mindset of “I’ve had this experience already, what can I learn at ISE to help me do a new roll-out with different technologies that provides a better experience?” We love that because at the core of our product is great technology and high reliability, so customers – old and new – are coming to us for that better experience. Knowledgeable customers are good for BrightSign, and we definitely welcome them with open arms.
In terms of trends, I think we’ll see a focus on new interfaces, such as voice and AR plus a demand for media players that can deliver 4K live-streaming media.
I think we’re still a ways off, but digital signage interacting with voice-enabled products is certainly exciting, in particular for retail. We’ll undoubtedly see demos of voice interaction at ISE, but the actual roll-outs in 2018 are less realistic.