Tagging: Driving the Next Wave of Innovation in Digital Signage
Making every screen in a digital signage network a means to reach customers with content— including hyper-local content—meant specifically for them.
The digital signage industry has matured greatly over the past several years. What was once a novelty is now commonplace—even ubiquitous. As we go about our days we encounter digital signage in restaurants, medical offices, sporting arenas, museums, airports, hotels, shopping malls and even gas stations. In many cases these displays are so artfully integrated into their surroundings that we hardly notice them until the screens come alive with videos or other interactive content that draws us in.
Herein lies one of the greatest challenges facing today’s digital signage industry: customizing content to maximize each and every screen within the digital signage network.
It is easy to take for granted the enormous amount of work that goes into deploying a digital signage network. Envisioning, designing and installing even a modest network entails faithful collaboration between the integrator and the end user, scoping out a network that fits budgetary requirements and delivers a finished product to suit the end user’s requirements. And once the network is installed, there remains the challenge of creating, distributing and managing content to entice and engage the viewer. Herein lies one of the greatest challenges facing today’s digital signage industry: customizing content to maximize each and every screen within the digital signage network.
On the Rise: Complexity of Deploying Content
Expansive digital signage networks make it easier than ever for businesses to connect with customers. Yet as the number of screens increases, so does the complexity of deploying content that is relevant to the viewers of those screens. After all, there’s little value in displaying the same content across a large number of screens. That is why the true value-add happens when content is customized based on where the various screens are placed—either in a single store for men’s, women’s and children’s departments, or in airports across the country according to different weather climates and regional events. This enhanced level of customization used to be complicated and difficult to achieve. But thanks to new “tagging” capabilities, highly targeted content deployment is easier than ever to achieve.
The ability to “tag” media for customized playlists is driving the next wave of innovation in digital signage. In practice, tagging gives businesses an easy way to categorize content and players by adding labels for the purpose of creating and playing highly targeted digital signage presentations. Put simply, tagging enables businesses to target content to specific audiences.
Tagging individual media files to create “tagged playlists” (Figure 1) makes it possible to cue very targeted content to display in specified areas at specified times. For example, a large clothing store can distribute unique informational and promotional content to display in particular departments, and during specified sale dates. Therefore someone shopping the men’s department on a weekday afternoon will view content altogether different from someone shopping the jewelry department on Saturday Sale day. This ability to fine-tune messaging—whether by day-part, to address specific audiences, or for individual promotions—via digital signage assures a deeper connection with customers and ultimately fuels bottom-line revenue growth for the department store.
And for businesses that want to take tagging one step farther, they can now tag individual players (Figure 2). Player tags allow the end user to filter content in tagged playlists on a player-by-player basis. This is an additional level of customization users can add to tagged playlists. In this use case, a single playlist of multiple media files is compiled using tag rules. The media files are also assigned a “player” tag. The net result is a single playlist that delivers a uniquely customized playback based on the specific media player that’s pushing content to the displays, eliminating the need for multiple tagged playlists.
For example, it is common for car dealerships to have promotions that vary regionally. In this case, a single “promotions” tagged playlist can be created and pushed out to the entire digital signage network, automatically displaying only the correct regional promotions on the appropriately tagged players.
Revenue Generation “Outside the Walls”
Beyond these tagging capabilities, tagging outside the walls of a business is now possible thanks to enhanced geo-tagging capabilities that distribute different batches of content to play based on where the signage is placed within a geographic area. This is most useful with mobile signage that displays different content based on where the signage “travels.” For example, digital displays mounted in public busses broadcast different content based on where the bus travels, ensuring that passengers view hyper-local content relative to the route they are traveling.
The ability to deliver location-based content via digital signage opens up some compelling revenue-generation opportunities. Using the public bus example above, you can see how the bus fleet operator would have a compelling sales pitch to entice potential advertisers. Each ad display becomes much more valuable when the fleet operator can guarantee that the ad will only be displayed within a quarter-mile radius of the advertiser’s place of business. The fleet operator can sell advertising space at a premium because the advertisers have a much greater chance of converting sales based on those ads. It’s a win-win for all involved.
For as sophisticated as these tagging capabilities may seem, they are surprisingly easy to implement and manage. All of the tagging features described are included in BrightSign Network—a scalable, cloud-based, digital signage network management service.
We’ve only begun to see how targeted signage content helps businesses connect with customers. Bluetooth/Beacon technology to trigger content when a customer comes within view of the screen, audience recognition technology to guess the viewer’s age and gender to deliver highly customized content, and now tagging. As these capabilities interweave, digital signage will no longer be a vehicle used to broadcast content to the masses; rather, it will become a sophisticated medium with the chameleon-like ability to deliver individualized content to each and every customer.
BrightSign is a member of the Digital Signage Federation, the only independent, not-for-profit trade organization serving the digital signage industry. The DSF supports and promotes the common business interests of worldwide digital signage, interactive technologies and digital out-of-home network industries. To learn more, go to www.digitalsignagefederation.org
Jeff Hastings is CEO of BrightSign, the market leader in digital signage players. He is responsible for the company’s global strategic direction. Prior to BrightSign, Hastings held leadership positions at prominent digital media companies including Corel, M-Audio and Pinnacle Systems. He previously served as president of Rio, the company that pioneered the MP3 space by introducing the industry’s first MP3 player. Hastings holds a BS in computer science from Purdue University and holds eight U.S. patents.