During 2012, I saw a distinct shift in public attitude to digital signage. In 2011, you could exceed customer or visitor expectations by providing exciting and dynamic information live on-screen. In 2013, you will fail to meet their expectations if you don’t.
The change was particularly visible in London during the Olympics last year, and has also been evident in a number of the projects we’ve been involved in like Charles de Gaulle Airport, the stunning Eybl sportswear store in Vienna and the Zurich Film Festival.
At the London Olympics there were screens everywhere informing and entertaining visitors and reinforcing sponsors’ messages. Screens were dotted around the Olympic Park and other venues, highlighting events currently taking place or about to start. They were also placed in London parks, allowing popular events to be watched collectively (and free) by those unable to get tickets. Within the venues, screens explained the rules of the events and what was happening at each stage of a competition, as well as offering replays of exciting moments and close-up views. It is truly inconceivable that anyone will try to run such an event again without at least repeating this feature, if not going further in the use of digital display media.
Similarly, signage is now an integral part of new store concepts and upmarket events. In the new Buy Paris Duty Free shops in Charles de Gaulle Airport, the video walls, and the interactive signage that runs only when a person enters the area in front of the display, were part of the initial design. Eybl World Store Vösendorf, modelled on the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, embodies lightness and transparency, and digital media is integral to the concept of the store. For example, customers looking for running equipment find themselves in a high-definition video park along with other joggers.
For attendees at the Zurich Film Festival, the experience started at the airport with screens looping information about the festival and providing a countdown in anticipation of the annual event. It then extended across the city on 70 screens installed for the duration of the festival, and culminated in a dramatic video wall experience along the red carpet walkway at the festival itself.
Last month I wrote about how innovation in both signage hardware and content development tools is making interactive and uniquely engaging installations more affordable than ever. These reasonably priced solutions have helped drive signage from being a bonus to being an integral part of a retail or event experience. In 2013, every business should be thinking about how they can use signage creatively to enhance the customer, visitor or indeed employee experience.
Two stories on Screenmediamag.com this week highlight the continuing inroads that digital out-of-home is making into the lives of travellers, be they on a long haul or a short one.
From Dubai we have news of a major extension to the digital signage network that serves the legendary duty free operation at that city’s airport, doing a lot more than showing the shiny pictures of watches or perfumes that typified the first uses of digital displays in duty free – this network will, for example, be intelligently programmed to adjust content according to the characteristics of departing passengers, so if there’s a flight to Shanghai coming up, promotions can appear in Chinese.
In South Africa, meanwhile, an established operator of airport screens is now turning its attention to commuter trains and taxis, taking advantage of what sound like some remarkably long dwell times.
People on the move are, by definition, out-of-home – so it’s perhaps no wonder that they have emerged as one of the medium’s most important audiences. And what’s encouraging to see nowadays is the extent to which screens and content aimed at these consumers are being positioned and programmed with ever deeper understanding of travellers’ needs, behaviour, and journeys – whether that’s the trip to the checkout, or to their destination.
Audience measurement has been recognised as a critical necessity in developing the market for digital out-of-home advertising almost since the medium began, and significant advances have been made in providing the credible, robust numbers that reassure advertisers they are getting what they pay for.
(And, importantly though less often publicly said, allow media planners to justify their recommendations if a campaign misfires.)
But like most attempts to model the messy real world mathematically, audience measurement is beset by devilish details. This week on Screenmediamag.com we take a look at the complex challenges that must be overcome to provide a much-needed single, standardised metric for digital out-of-home on U.S. transit systems, and persuade more advertisers toward that medium.
Also among our headlines this week, a new interactive display supporting four independent touch points comes to Britain, highlighting the growing role that multitouch technology is playing in bringing digital information to the out-of-home public.