Integration, simplicity help maximize promise of digital signage

According to a recent Forrester report, in-store digital signage advertising and marketing campaigns are resulting in a financial lift of anywhere from 15 to 60 percent in revenues. The same report says that those results only scratch the surface of this communications medium’s potential. So, what steps do retailers need to take to maximize its promise?

The problem, one executive feels, is simply a matter of retailers not thinking of the technology within the bigger picture of marketing goals.

“From a retail perspective, because most of the systems are not retailer-owned, they kind of exist as islands — they are not strategic systems,” said Ken Goldberg, CEO of Real Digital Media.

One key to becoming more strategic with digital signage is to integrate the signage campaign technology with inventory and other store systems, Goldberg said. Integrating with POS applications only tells a part of the story in that marketing managers can tell after the fact what products sold when a certain film or advertising loop was played. However, gaining insight into the movement of inventory while particular campaigns are being aired can help store managers adjust advertising strategies on the fly to maximize the sale opportunities of shoppers currently in the store.

“Any retailer who’s interested in this has a data warehouse with all the data except for the data of when things play. So, take the data warehouse, add in the playout logs and do the correlation and the reporting,” Goldberg said.

Until that integration is realized, current digital signage implementations are merely Internet/satellite infrastructures bringing targeted messages to digital screens, which until this point has produced modest effectiveness, according to the Forrester report.

Goldberg is not frustrated by the inefficient use of the majority of digital signage systems being used by retailers around the world. In fact, digital signage is following the same progression on the road to relevance to the CIO as other retail technology systems.

“Nobody believed that scanning and POS would have a payback, but people took a leap of faith, and now no one thinks twice about scanning,” Goldberg said.

Paradoxically, making more strategic use of digital signage tools may involve making them less technological — i.e. user friendly for the technological novice or average office employee.

“If you make it a technology project, you’ve already lost the game. Give me power, broadband connection and rules about file download — not hardware, applications, etc., to maintain,” Goldberg said. “[Marketers] don’t need helpdesk or anything like that — just give them the rules and the IP bandwidth.”

Ultimately, simplicity will not only drive adoption, it will enable advertising professionals and store managers to focus on using the technology to boost marketing, store operations and merchandising. This will, in turn, drive marketing personnel to shoot for higher goals than maximizing purchases, according to Nikki Baird, a Forrester analyst and author of the firm’s recent report.

“Having the right objective in mind is critical,” Baird said. “[Just focusing on] a pure sales increase can be disappointing. People who look for brand enhancement, and also employee communications, they feel like they’ve gotten something much more valuable overall.”

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