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The Age of Digital Signage, by Christian Liu, former CEO of 24/7 Media Asia, China.com

Added: (Fri Oct 07 2005)

Pressbox (Press Release) - This article from former CEO of 24/7 Media Asia of the China.com (NASDAQ: CHINA) group gives a refreshing view on the state of the digital signage industry.

Today, it・s possible for marketers to communicate in ever more attractive ways with their customers through the latest innovation in digital sign technology, or :Digital Signage.;

Digital signage, the cutting-edge alternative to traditional print, radio, and billboard advertising, is growing at a rapid pace as companies like Wal-Mart, TESCO, and McDonald・s are realizing the tremendous potential that digital signage delivers. Companies such as digiSignage (http://www.digiSignage.com/) are solving technical hurdles to bring reliable digital signage solutions to the market. According to market research by iSuppli and published by the Digital Signage Directory, the worldwide retail digital signage market will grow from a current $600 million USD in 2004 to over $2 billion USD in 2009.

Nielsen Media Research also conducted a custom study for major U.S. retailers and found more than 77% of store visitors agreed that the in-store media programming and advertising being tested at Best Buy, Circuit City, Costco, Ralph・s, Sam・s Club, Sears and Wal-Mart Stores was attractive and informative.

Studies indicate that digital signage boosts sales of new products advertised in-store by 30%-300%, increases revenue by more than 30% of profiled products, and receives 10 times the eye contact of static signage. This is very good news for retailers.

Retailers and other service sector businesses are increasingly beginning to view digital signage as a viable means to advertise their brand and their wares more effectively and to further improve the contact with their customers outside of their homes or cars, closer to the physical location of the point-of-sale.

Reasonably priced, large plasma screens are not only applicable for the new generation of HDTV home televisions; they are starting to impact the operations of department stores, large retail outlets, sports arenas, schools, airports, and business organizations far and wide. Digital signage is a sexy hot new growth industry, allowing companies to put relevant, informative programming, entertaining and eye-catching marketing information in front of hundreds of thousands of customers at a very low incremental cost.

Let・s consider the :SUMMER SALE; posters in a retail or convenience store across the country. They are expensive to produce and convey static messages.

Digital signage replaces these posters with large screensXplasma and LCD, or even rear-projectionXthat deliver dynamic advertising content to reach customers in a more effective way.

The Value
Digital signage is one of the most important developments since the Internet. Flexible, less expensive, and easier to change than printed signs. It enables:

1. Advertisers to deliver high impact, relevant & targeted marketing messages to consumers within the stores of mass merchant, department stores, clubs, airports, hotels, tradeshows, hospitals, schools and more.

2. Grab the shopper・s attention and encourage them to buy! Digital signage enables marketers to target specific consumer groups while they・re shopping in-store and making purchase decisions with advertising messages that generate significant recall of advertised products. (The results from Nielsen Media Research・s 2005 study found a 9% increase in Wal-Mart TV Network viewership per store as compared to Nielsen's 2004 study. The study also found that shopper attitudes toward Wal-Mart TV were excellent, 88% percent of viewers agreed that the network is a good thing for Wal-Mart to offer its customers, 86% percent agreed that the network is informative and 84% agreed that Wal-Mart TV provides relevant advertising)

3. Another advantage of dynamic digital signage over current printed materials and static signs is the ability to control and change content and information in centralize networked environment in real time, and enable just-in-time marketing.

4. Digital signage helps improve customers・ shopping experience.

5. Outside business operation hours, a digital signage network can also be used to deliver a cost-effective interactive training and other messages to staff. Keep your staff up to date with latest products information; it can improve the levels of customer service in your store.

6. Hey, they can generate third party advertising revenues too. The bottom line, digital signage is providing companies with significant increases in revenue.

A Closer look
As with other cutting edge technology-based tools, designing and integrating an optimal digital signage system requires knowledge and experience: you need to determine the right business/technology model and the real costs: benefits associated with installing and running a digital signage network. But, if done effectively, the rewards are well worth the investment.

There are a number of factors for unleashing the full power of a dynamic digital signage network:

Content. Yes, everybody agrees that content is king, but simplicity is the key to effective content. Here is the mantra: content needs to be informative, relevant and entertaining! Keep it fresh! Creating the right promotional messages for the specific location and delivering them at the right time is a very specific skill. No matter how great your technology, avoid unattractive or irrelevant content

Connectivity. A poor network design and installation with incorrect cabling or poor wireless connectivity can be the start of a vicious circle of expensive field visits. Choosing the right partner with appropriate skills for network deployment is critical to the smooth installation and efficient operation of a network.

Technology. Choosing a reliable, secure, robust, flexible and scalable technology platform is critical for you to efficiently manage networks of remote displays in the field, enabling easy maintenance, content update, scheduling, grouping, data collection and reporting.

A networked and dynamic digital signage solution ensures that a digital marketing or advertisement plays in a right time, at a right place to the right person with the right message. Among the choices, digiSignage (http://www.digiSignage.com/) provides a robust and proven product line that satisfies market needs.

Location: Seeing is believing
Make sure you place cleverly screens into the customers・ environment for better impact. Messages need not only be attractive, clean and of good design but must fit naturally in the location: they must be in the right place where people can notice them. For example, concentration of smaller hi-resolution screens at eye level promoting location-specific content (such as an N-Brand cereal promotion in the cereal section) can ensure far greater levels of impact.

Conclusion: Think through your goals and design well

It・s important and crucial to plan each aspect carefully in the deployment of digital signage network. Digital signage is changing the face of advertising and emerges as the next killer application. It will revolutionize the way your organization communicates with your customers, increasing revenue opportunities well beyond the expenses involved.

About the Author
Christian Liu is the founder and CEO of C2Networks. Prior to joining C2, he was invited by chinadotcom (NASDAQ: CHINA) to served as General Manager of one of the world largest internet advertising network company 24/7 Media Asia (NASDAQ: TFSN). During his tenure he was responsible for building the management operations for the region first pan-Asian Internet advertising and interactive marketing network.

About digiSignage
digiSignage is a market leader in digital signage technology and innovation. digiSignage's complete digital signage product line serves geographical regions including the Americas, Asia, Europe, Eurasia, and Australia. Visit http://www.digiSignage.com for more details.

Submitted by:Wenny Wang
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