QR Codes are everywhere! Those little black and white squares with the weird matrixing. Scan one with your mobile device and you’ll be directed to a website with more information. They’re a great tool and are getting more and more use every day. They’re on the packaging of thousands of products. In every kind of printed media. On real estate signs, digital displays and business cards. Strangely enough, they’re even gaining popularity as tattoos.
A Japanese subsidiary of Toyota developed Quick Response Codes in 1994 and used them to track automobiles through the manufacturing process. Though they originally patented the technology, the developer ultimately chose NOT to exercise the patent rights. And probably lost millions, if not billions, of dollars as a result.
The latest release from Flypaper Studio™ Inc., Flypaper 3.9 gives content creators the ability to incorporate this technology into their digital displays and further engage their end users. Simply enter a URL and the new QR Generator creates a QR Code and inserts it into the content. Consumers use their mobile device to scan the code and are directly linked to additional, targeted information.
The QR Wayfinder will get end users where they’re going. They’ll type in beginning and end points to get a QR Code they can scan with their mobile device to download specific directions to their destination.
There are also many other great new and enhanced features in Version 3.9 of Flypaper.
- We’ve added a dynamic Charting Component and also made improvements to several existing Components in the Pro edition. The Image Gallery, Image Cube, CSV, Clock and Weather Components all feature enhancements over earlier versions.
- Flypaper Pro also now features templates specifically designed for digital signage applications. These templates can be used ‘as is’ or customized for your specific signage needs.
- Another big change, available in all editions, is to our Flybrary. Version 3.9 introduces ‘list view’ of Flybrary items. If you know what you’re looking for, a text list can be scrolled through more quickly than page after page of thumbnails.
- And finally, we’ve added a Safe Image Search to prevent the accidental NSFW photo from showing up just as your boss walks into your office! The default setting filters out any inappropriate images and produces only Flckr-approved results.
Current users can add these enhancements today by selecting “Check for Updates” in the Flypaper Help menu. For more information about Flypaper, or to download a 30-day free trial, visit www.Flypaper.com.
Many thanks to that anonymous developer in Japan who gave us QR Code technology. Guess it’s fair to say that his, or her, impact on the world, just can’t be measured in dollars and cents!
I love buzz words. Every industry has them. Web 2.0. Web 3.0 (whatever happened to that?). Cloud Computing. In digital signage there’s a phrase du jour as well: digital signage ecosystem. You can’t walk an exhibit hall or have a conversation with a reseller without hearing it. As with all new, catchy phrases it’s important to understand what it actually means. After all, there are a lot of people who still don’t know what “the cloud” is.
A digital signage ecosystem is a complete solution for an end user that includes, in a nutshell: displays, players, scheduling/content management software and of course content authoring, which can mean both software and services. This is the most basic definition. What’s amazing (or not) is that it seems like every organization within digital signage is abuzz with the ecosystem chatter. From small DOOH providers to enterprises like Intel and distributors like Ingram-Micro, the ecosystem talk is, well, all over the system.
Every major industry has an ecosystem to benefit everyone from the developers, to the resellers, to the end users. Look at CRM for example. An industry that basically grew out of contact management in the ’80s has sprung up to be a diverse net of software solutions for SMB to enterprise, custom to out-of-the-box. It has service providers that specialize in every platform, and complementary software systems that integrate with each other (billing, email marketing, etc.). There are entire conferences and tradeshows, online learning, countless media and educational disciplines that bring all of these providers together. The CRM industry is its own self-sustaining, economic engine.
Ecosystems are a sign of a healthy industry. They make implementations easier and more cost effective. They help small providers boost sales by pairing their products and services together, sometimes with larger products and services. They enable services companies to work with a larger, more organized tool box, as opposed to 20 small ones that scatter and mess up the garage.
But mostly, an ecosystem shows maturity. It positions the entire industry for rapid growth and expansion into new areas. It takes fragmented products and services and gives them connectivity. For digital signage, it’s not just a buzz word. Our ecosystem is here.By Trivantis.Admin | Posted in industry news | Comments ( 0 )
Just when we think we’ve gotten a handle on how consumers engage with screens, Apple and Microsoft release new operating systems. This shouldn’t seem like something we need to think about too closely, but in fact these releases send a serious message to the digital signage world. One that we ignore at our peril.
Up until now, signage technology and implementation has been built around how people use personal computers and online content. Rightfully so, as we’re simply providing another screen, another way to market, inform and engage. And up until now, the operating systems for personal computers were designed to support a consumer that used a mouse and a browser to find information. Apple’s Lion OS and Windows 8 are brilliantly designed to do this, faster, and more organized, while also supporting the touchscreen. This last part — the touchscreen — is a relatively new frame of reference for the personal computer experience. And it’s on the verge of becoming the norm.
Why is this? It’s simple: Tablets. Both of these major operating systems are made for direct manipulation of objects on a screen, a la the tablet screen technology. While many people have quickly become accustomed to swiping and swishing on their smartphones and iPads, this kind of experience is completely different from the way we have worked on computers for … well, decades. But consumers are decidedly drawn to this tablet way of working, so much so that major operating systems have taken this into account. And so should we with digital signage.
Of course, this capability is here now. Earlier this year hardware developers announced digital signage screens with multitouch capability, and screens that could even respond to the wave of a hand. Intel’s AIM suite technology can enable screens to collect visual data and then deliver content specific to the person standing in front of the kiosk, making it an even more personalized experience.
So this changes the expectation for digital signs, doesn’t it? Very soon, consumers will expect that every time they are faced with a screen, they will be able to manipulate it with their hands. People will intuitively do this without instruction because they are already doing it on their smartphones, tablets and eventually their computers. Apple and Microsoft have anticipated this (some might say Apple started it). The digital signage world shouldn’t overlook this as something only significant to the small-screen market.
I’m willing to place a bet that in the next two years, digital signage screens that don’t interact with people like a tablet will be seen as archaic. This statement isn’t meant to make you anxious. In fact, it should do the opposite. Think of how much more important digital signage systems will become for business when they can engage customers in this way? And we can get there, fast.
I’m not saying we should follow Microsoft and Apple’s lead because of who they are. I’m saying we should follow their lead because they’re on to something.By Trivantis.Admin | Posted in industry news | Tagged apple, microsotf, os, tablets | Comments ( 0 )
A lot of smart people are saying that Digital Signage will grow more than 20 percent in the next four years. A recent report by ABI Research reinforces this, by estimating that the industry netted $1.3B in 2010 and will grow to $4.5B by 2016. Jose Avalos from Intel just wrote on this site that we’ll see 22 million digital signs in the next three years.
So where will we see this boom? My guess is it will come mostly (but not all) from the early adopters who have been validated. Why? Large organizations that have successfully deployed digital signage systems and embraced the full ecosystem will start to get more bang for their buck. Technologies and services are getting cheaper as they get better, as it usually goes. And so companies that have been devoting large budgets to digital signage in the past will not only be able to do more within those budgets, they’ll be able to justify a greater spend. If I were a betting man, I’d put my marketing attention first on companies that have already shown their love for digital signage campaigns and are ready to see the latest and greatest.
But large companies won’t take all of that growth. There are many underserved industries that may be ready to dabble in digital signage that are worth watching. DS is becoming more ubiquitous and, quite frankly, obvious. Industries that have been sitting on the sidelines, such as education and BtoB, are starting to want to play, which is going to increase its spread. We see it in the form of numerous established technology resellers who serve niche markets and who now want to figure out how to sell digital signage as part of their offering. These are industries that are starting to embrace a more rounded approach to digital marketing, including online and mobile strategies.
In many ways, the spread is due to CMOs and digital agencies that are dedicating a slice of the marketing pie to digital signage — which has been left out of the game in years past. These industries newer to DS probably won’t purchase massive systems right off the bat. But they will explore “starter” systems for the purposes of integrating messages they are already delivering through other digital mediums. For instance, if a new retail outlet is deploying a campaign based on specific product promotions, they may want to integrate screens in-store that reinforce the deals being promoted online. Or, concurrently, get consumers who are in the store to engage with the screens in a way that allows the store to continue marketing to them after they leave. For businesses like this, the signage system is more of an end cap that starts or closes a sale.
Of course, the growth could very well be even across the board, as I’m just making a prediction here. New companies, large companies, all industries could embrace digital signage the way they embraced social media and pay-per-click. It’s not just for those in the know anymore, it’s a standard part of marketing campaigns that are meant to reach the largest masses. Everything today is integrated as marketers want online promotions to reinforce email campaigns, to reinforce PR, which all ties in to a mobile ad. Now that digital signs have the capability to engage more than inform they become part of that mix as well. And does it really matter? $4.5B is $4.5B, no matter how you slice it.By Trivantis.Admin | Posted in industry news, sales & marketing | Comments ( 0 )
Now that we’ve all grown comfortable with the content possibilities for digital signs, let’s talk about how what’s ON the screen can be carried OFF for further engagement. Given a head start of many years, online marketers have figured out hundreds of ways to do this through e-mail, online ads, and social media. And now the same can and should be done through digital signage. It all comes down to the connection between the screen in front of the customer and the smartphone in their hand.
Here are three reasons why mobile matters to resellers:
1. Vendors Want Content Consistency
Five years ago your average buyer looking for a digital signage network wasn’t as interested in engaging the customer so much as informing them. The same was true for most areas of digital marketing. Websites were being used as brochures and the idea of using a sign to collect customer data would have seemed completely foreign. Today, marketers are searching for any means possible to give customers personalized experiences with their content, then gather enough data on them to get them into the sales funnel. That’s the new expectation. The good news is that digital signs can do that as well. Especially with the advent of multi-touch, customers are using signs more and more as a main interaction point.
Every good CMO is looking for ways to consistently thread their content together from every point of customer engagement. They want the coupon to reinforce the billboard, which reinforces the e-mail, which is solidified in the mobile ad. Now that digital signs have the capability to engage more than inform, they become part of that mix. You can bet that every major brand is factoring mobile ads and mobile marketing into their overall campaign. If you can show that your signage solution can tie into that by giving them another portal to reinforce a message, you’ll be providing that much more value and moving up the food chain in the budgeted spend.
2. Mobile Helps Bring Measurement to Signage Marketing
Consider this opportunity: A young woman is standing in front of a digital sign in a mall. The sign can tell that she’s a woman between the ages of 20 and 25. It flashes a promotion for 20 percent off at the Gap. But in order to get that promotion she has to use her mobile phone to scan a quick repsonse code on the screen. She scans the code and a few things happen: 1) The young woman has chosen to use a sign in the mall the way consumers today engage with email marketing (think Groupon). 2) The Gap now has this woman in their pipeline to market to, and may also have some valuable demographical data. 3)The Gap can test the validity of the promotion. If the woman doesn’t use the 20 percent off coupon that day, the Gap can send her targeted and geographical ads to influence her back to her local store to shop, or to shop online. Concurrently, they can very easily track how many people respond to the kiosk promotions, to more accurately measure if the signage campaigns are working.
3. Customers Will Expect It
This is really a result of touch screens and the booming tablet market. It would be hard to find a consumer that doesn’t interact with their tech. Hand a smartphone to a 12 year old and they’ll know what to do with it. In the next two to three years, people will walk up to digital signs and they’ll expect that they can touch it to navigate to the information they want, or simply to find something cool. They’ll expect the interface to echo what they’ve become used to on their other devices. They’ll expect some kind of promotion to pop up. They’ll expect to be able to tag and reference what they found on the sign that they want to pull it up later. This is how people are using every other digital technology in their arsenal. Progressive resellers will find ways to meet this expectation sooner rather than later, so their customers can beat the curve.
There’s been a lot of buzz about facial recognition in a digital signage. To some, it sounds a bit “big brother” and to others, it sounds like a pretty cool technology. Most marketers and companies exploring ways to improve their digital signage systems just want to know what it is and what it isn’t.
First, let’s imagine this scenario. A 35-year old female walks into a clothing store, and the sales rep greets her, “Hello, sir. We have a wide assortment of trousers for men over 65.” Well of course that would never happen because a live sales rep would be able to identify that this is a young woman.
However, this scenario happens all the time with digital signage. That is, a digital signage display will attempt to either target a wide array of customers, hence not really identifying with any specific target market; or focus on a specific segment, thereby alienating all other target markets. Neither approach is effective and at best attracts a small percentage of total viewers.
Facial recognition in a digital signage system solves this age-old dilemma once and for all.
A small, unobtrusive camera is placed inside a digital signage display. The camera sends images of the viewer to software that identifies the viewer’s age range and gender. The information is then sent to the digital signage player, which displays content based on the viewer. So a 35-year old female will see a clothing ad that is much different than what is shown to a 70-year old male.
When Flypaper demoed its facial recognition integration with Intel’s Aim Suite at DSE in February, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and surprising. While we expected to hear that folks felt Flypaper’s facial recognition was simple and easy to use, and could save a ton of marketing dollars, we were very surprised to hear the “customers view.” That is, we heard again and again that from a customer perspective, they were happy to see ads targeted at them, versus “throw and stick” ads. I mean, how many times have you seen an ad that had absolutely nothing to do with you and wasted your time? Every day?
Facial recognition in a digital signage system helps to minimize “throw and stick” advertising.
But while facial recognition can display target content, we must keep in mind that consumers are in control. That is, with the advent of active participation in adverting, consumers must be allowed to ultimately choose the content they view. Flypaper suggests creating interactive touch-screens that allow the viewer to navigate the content displayed to him or her. In other words, present the viewer targeted content, but then allow them to navigate and choose how they ultimately decide to interact with the content through a touch interface. Flypaper has thought this through and baked interaction into its entire core Components with the simple click of a checkbox.
Facial recognition is here, folks. You’re going to see it more and more. Start investigating it now. By the 2012 DSE, you’re going to see a lot more vendors demoing facial recognition. You’re also going to see a lot more commercial digital signage displays utilizing the power of facial recognition to target their content.
I hope one of them be yours…By Trivantis.Admin | Posted in industry news, partner news, product news | Tagged industry news, partner news, product news | Comments ( 0 )
Please allow me to indulge in a frightening scenario. It’s the not-too-distant future. All major computer manufactures are engaged in an intense consumer battle. And while all manufactures are deploying the same O/S on their computers, each manufacture has ensured that files created on their brand will only run on their systems.
If this is too scary, please do not read further… it gets much scarier…
You have just finished a huge Digital Signage project for a Fortune 50 customer who will be deploying on thousands of Dell devices. But at the 11th hour, the customer has decided to deploy on HP devices instead. Oh, no! All your work has been for naught… and you must start from scratch!
This scenario is, of course, a dark fantasy conjured up from my deepest nightmares. Or is it? You see, in our industry, there are a number of players with closed systems. That means that content created on one system will not play on another system. I repeat: The hard work you put in to create a Digital Signage project will be lost if your consumer decides to switch output devices.
We all understand why these players want to be proprietary. It’s the same reason Sony did not lease Beta. They want to dominate the industry through hostage tactics. This is bad for so many obvious reasons. When companies are held captive, competition is stifled. When competition is stifled, new and better fails to reach the marker. And when new and better fails to reach the market, the Digital Signage industry suffers as a whole.
I submit: Closed systems will hinder the explosive growth of the Digital Signage industry. And that’s bad for everyone.
When I designed the myriad of output formats in Flypaper, I paid careful attention to be as player agnostic as possible. We spent countless hours testing and retesting our output formats on tons of DS players, ensuring that our Video, single SWF and EXE outputs were compatible across the board. Our philosophy is, “Design once, run everywhere”. And that should be the philosophy of all content creation applications.
A free and open exchange of content formats is vital for our industry. It will help proliferate Digital Signage content. The proliferation will create more jobs and opportunities. And that’s good for everyone.
Next Blog: “The Power of Extensibility”By Trivantis.Admin | Posted in industry news | Tagged Content, digital signage | Comments ( 0 )
You are in the process of deploying a digital signage network and the question of content format arises. Which content format should you choose—video or flash? Well the answer depends upon your hardware budget, what you want to do today and what you expect to do in the future.
Let’s start with a discussion about hardware budgets. Digital signage networks that rely on content built in video formats generally use less expensive hardware. Digital signage players designed for video are less expensive because displaying video content on the LCD panel does not require a lot of computing power by today’s standards. This can be accomplished with relative inexpensive chips (the electronics) inside of a digital signage player.
Digital signage networks that rely on content built in Flash require players with more computing horsepower and thus use more expensive hardware—CPUs, GPUs, memory, etc…. Flash content is rendered in real-time on the digital signage player and then displayed on the LCD panel. The computing power needed to render the Flash content increases as the complexity of the content increases.
So video is the clear winner, right?
Not necessarily, it depends upon what you want to do today. If the primary goal is to broadcast passive content to as many locations as possible at the lowest cost then a video centric content strategy and network may be the way to go. Any additional information added to the video stream (stock tickers, weather information or other feeds) will have to be done before the video stream leaves the production and broadcast facility. Depending upon how much additional information has to be added, as well as additional hardware needed for the broadcast facility to accomplish the task, can easily drive up the total cost and offset any savings from the digital signage players.
Also video content has to be streamed or transmitted to display location which consumes bandwidth. You can install a media server at each physical location to deliver content to multiple digital signage players, just be sure to factor the additional hardware and bandwidth charges into the total cost. With Flash the content files are stored locally on digital signage player and then rendered to the display so the need to constantly deliver content either through a media server or directly to a player as in the case of video content, is greatly diminished.
So more expensive general purpose players that support Flash are the way to go, right?
Again not necessarily, if the goal is to create flexible, dynamic and engaging content that the audience or a viewer can interact with using a touch screen or other feedback device then a Flash based content strategy is the only practical option. You could have developers build content with software development tools used for complete applications, but this would be a very expensive and time consuming choice.
So what is the right choice?
To determine what is right today, you must look to the future where you will most likely want to have a digital signage network that not only delivers passive content inexpensively, but also have the ability for your audience to interact with content and provide valuable feedback. So this means the best solution is a hybrid—capable of displaying video and/or rendering Flash content. For locations that will only have passive content, such as a display in a waiting area or check out line, a video content delivered to a low cost digital signage player optimized for video is fine. For locations that you may at any point in the future to provide interactive content a higher performing digital signage player capable of rendering Flash is the clear choice—even if you are not sure right now and only use it for video content.
Now the next decision you to make, is what strategy and tools are need to produce Flash or video content. That is a topic for another discussion.By Trivantis.Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged digital signage network, Flash, motion graphics, video | Comments ( 0 )
First you got the budget approved and now you’ve spent the money on the digital signage network, created all of the content and had a successful deployment. Life is good! Then your boss asks “What’s our ROI?” And you think to yourself “Oh $@#*!”, while you are actually looking down at the ground, and then blurt out “Give me six months and I may have an answer.”
Right behind the content development bottleneck, calculating a meaningful ROI is the second biggest problem for the digital signage industry to solve. Billions of dollars are being spent annually but it doesn’t appear that anyone really knows if they are getting a positive ROI.
Typically when asked about ROI for DS implementations it’s the same old standard pat answers. If sales are increasing it’s because of the success of the DS project. If they are bad it’s because there was technical issues or bad content or the dog ate the ROI report. Same old clichés, but no real facts or figures.
In doing research on ROI I found quotes like “There isn’t necessarily a link between ROI and digital signage.” and “Until recently (and even still), the world of digital signage metrics was a bit of a wild, wild west environment.” Really is that the best we can do?
There are some companies who are truly making the effort. They are investing in market studies and six to eight months later they have their 3″ report that may or may not give them answers. Even if it does, it is most assuredly out of date information.
This is digital signage, not brick in mortar signage. It’s the digital age and content changes rapidly and the industry needs to be able to calculate and react to ROI just as quickly. I have looked around and think there may be hope and it actually comes from the makers of Scotch® Tape and Post-its®. That’s right 3M™.
According to their web-site (http://www.mmm.com/informatics) 3M Informatics is a radically different Digital Communication Network software platform that measures, optimizes, and predicts the true effectiveness of your digital communication content.
It appears that it is made up of three components; 1) Content Effectiveness Measurement, 2) Automated ROI Optimization and 3) Vision Attention Modeling. They state that it’s precise, accurate and lightening fast. It reveals actual cause-and-effect relationships between your content and your sales data. And it continually optimizes that content for maximum revenue, automatically. If this is true this is not only radical it could be revolutionary.
From reviewing the web-site it is hard to tell if this is general release or not. They talk about needing collaboration partners that have 20 or more properties in their DCN. It appears that the product came out of the 3M labs and combines complex algorithms and visual acuity to get the results. It is definitely worth checking out the site.
Whether it is 3M Informatics or another product this is what the industry needs for ROI. We can no longer live in the wild, wild west! I know that at Flypaper we are confident we solve the industry’s content creation issue. We’d love to be able to see our clients feed that content into a program that shows them instant results. Wouldn’t that be a novel concept?By Trivantis.Admin | Posted in sales & marketing | Tagged Conten, digital signage, ROI | Comments ( 0 )
How many of you remember the early days of the Internet? How many of you remember the times when a Web page would load in one browser, but load either incorrectly or not at all in another browser? The Web master (remember that term?) would remark that so-and-so browser does not support this-or-that HTML tags.
Houston…we have a problem.
When the Internet was in its infancy, everyone (except Newsweek) saw it’s potential. However, its success was dependent on standards. Fortunately, a standards committee was quickly formed which laid down standards which, “…allow devices, services, and applications to be interoperable across a wide and dispersed network of networks.” Standards didn’t just help the spread and adoption of the Internet, it was vital to its proliferation.
Houston…we have another problem.
Digital Signage is in its infancy. Everyone sees it’s potential. However, its success will be dependent on standards. Unfortunately, there is no standards committee. There are no industry-accepted standards, even loosely. The proliferation of Digital Signage will be largely dependent on these standards, so we better get crackin.
Let me give you just one example. Riddle me this: Which video format do you output to for consumption on a DS player? I’m sure half of you are shrugging your shoulders, and the other half are saying, “Whichever my DS player supports.” Right! And oh so wrong! How many of you have had to recreate videos just because you bought new hardware that did not support your current video content? How many of you have a test bed of videos in every format and codec you can pump out just to see which ones play best on the hardware you’re deploying to? This is an asinine waste of time.
Imagine a digital signage world where everyone can universally answer which video format you would output to for consumption on a DS player. Imagine hardware and software vendors supporting the standard. Imagine the huge productivity gains, and the prolific spread and adoption of our budding industry.
At Flypaper, we output no less than 10 video formats and codecs. Not because I love coding (I do!), but because there is no standard. I’d much rather spend my time adding even more cool features to the application than adding another codec because XYZ DS Player only supports some rarely-used codec.
While we’re on the topic of standards, how about the way different DS players handle SWF content loading and sizing? (Don’t get me started; I’m finishing up the blog.)
In summary, the digital signage industry needs standards. We need a Digital Signage Standards Committee composed of representatives from the various sectors of our industry. To facilitate the proliferation of digital signage, we need this committee sooner than later.
P.S. Standards are only half the equation. The other half is the need for open source and extensibility. But that’s a topic for another blog…
By Trivantis.Admin | Posted in sales & marketing
| Tagged digital signage, Flash, industry standards, motion graphics, video
| Comments ( 0 )