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Article: Monetizing Digital Signage Interactivity. An Empirical Approach

BlueFire Digital will bring series of papers on digital signage interactivity from mobile phone. Topics will include SMS, Bluetooth and Wi-fi at technical level, real life scenarios and more importantly how to monetize from it.

More and more brands are focusing on and leanings towards measurement based advertising. The argument for the brand is simple; it defines some sort of framework to calculate clear ROI. As with any sound investment the marketing budget is an investment for future earnings and should have clear returns. More importantly, this approach illuminates successful mediums from unsuccessful mediums. Naturally money flows to successful mediums.

World Wide Web, iPod and Tivo has turn in to butlers for the US consumer with delivering contents on demand. This coupled with transition in US consumer behavior of spending more time out of home has slowed the growth of print, radio and TV advertising. Although these mediums provide soft data on circulation, listeners and viewers respectively, there is no clear way to close the loop. Hence the ROI based on these number lack confidence compare to pay per click for example.

What does all this mean for the digital signage industry? It means that in certain verticals digital out of home networks have potential to thrive. Connecting digitals signs with ubiquitous mobile phone has clear advantages for brands, networks and more importantly the consumer.

For digital networks, combinations of these two platforms provide data on number of interactions, duration of interactions and location of interactions. These interactions clearly validate, exactly how many people are actively looking at their screen as well as estimate how many passive eyeballs were fixed to the screen. In addition, mobile interactivity on digital signage can accurately determined how long the viewers are looking at the screen at a particular location or network wide.

For brands, the union of these two platforms can provide data on who interacted with their advertisement, time, date, and geographic location as well as consumer data for immediate and targeted future communication. Immediate communication can deliver promotion unique to each user on their mobile phone to drive traffic to a website or at a point of sale. Data from website traffic or sales registry can be linked to unique identifier in the promotion to close the loop. Moreover, excess inventory can be moved via targeted future communication and results can be analyzed via same methods.

And finally for consumer, these two platforms can provide what they want and how they want it. The viral component of mobile promotion can be share with friends and family in physical worlds. They also have ability to share their interactions on web via social networking sites.  

To explore these statements in real life environment lets examine details of recent, mobile interactive study in bar/lounge setting with Sha Keb Consultancy, a California based consultant group for nightclub and bar industry. 

The study consisted of contents showing text messages sent by viewers with uTV (picture to screen) application. In this particular study bar employee went around the venue taking pictures from his cell phone and sending them screen using MMS.

The study was conducted on two Tuesday night events in a row in an upscale bar/lounge in Sacramento, CA with DMA raking of 20th in USA.

Image 1: Actual screen shot of the content displaying text messages and pictures.

Graph 1: Frequency of interactions by hour.

The content was shown continuously for 4 hours starting at 10 pm on 2 digital displays and one 16 feet projector behind the bar. Within first hour (10 pm) there were total of 45 interactions (Graph 1). The next hour saw the highest number of interaction as people made their way in to the establishment with 76 interactions. As time went on there were total of 36 interactions after 12 am.

This graph is generated from the time of the first interaction to time of the last interaction for each unique mobile phone throughout the night. There were total 17 people who sent text message to the screen at least one time throughout the night (Graph 2).  Total of 9 users sent text message to the screen multiple times within 15 minutes of their first text while 6 users spent up to 30 minutes with the screen sending text messages. A total of 16 viewers interacted with the screen for more then 30 minutes to up to 2 hours.

Graph 2: Duration of interactions for unique viewer.


Graph 3:  Percentage of viewerís interaction with screen by duration.

During the course of two nights we found 35% of the participants spent some time glancing at the screen while 54% of the participants 15 minutes looking at the screen (Graph 3). In addition 46% of the participants spent more then 15 minutes looking at the screen.

The result clearly show that:

*      Viewers have natural tendency to interact with the screen

*      Majority of the viewers interact with digital signage multiple times

*      Interaction with digital signage significantly increases number of times viewers look at the screen

*      Interaction on digital signage can initiate consumer brand dialog

*      During this dialog promotional material can be distributed uniquely and economically to the viewers mobile phone

*      Consumer-brand dialog can be tracked and stored for future communication

*      Interactivity can generate meaningful measurement data for networks and brands

Technology used:
BlueFire SMS for text to screen application.
BlueFire uTV for picture to screen application.
Graphs were generated by BlueFire analytics system.

H. Jay Patel is President of BlueFire Digital. BlueFire Digital provides mobile interactivity solutions for out of home digital advertising industry. BlueFire Digital specializes in Bluetooth and SMS connectivity to engage brand with consumer on their mobile phone.

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