[opendtv] News: Lessons learned in New York's subway digital signage network

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2004 08:47:36 -0500

Via Broadcast Engineering's Digital Signage Update

Lessons learned in New York's subway digital signage network  

Dec 22, 2004 8:00 AM, Digital Signage Update , By Lyle Bunn, Guest Contributor

Eighty 25in x 50in subway entrance digital displays in New York City 
- installed by UDN and managed through wireless technology - are 
providing outstanding "return on space" and a highly cost-effective 
venue for advertisers, according to an evaluation of the network's 
first year of operation.

New York's subway digital signage network - with some 80 displays at 
subway entrances - offers some valuable lessons to digital signage 
users and suppliers as it celebrates its first birthday. Significant 
advances have been made in digital signage during 2004 - and 2005 is 
shaping up to be another busy year for dynamic digital signage.

Digital signage is being called "the last mile of a marketing 
program," offering more cost-effectiveness, flexibility and control 
at product and service selection locations. Many retailers such as 
Apple, McDonald's, Bank of America, Circuit City, Safeway, Sears, 
Virgin Music, US Postal Service and Nike, have run successful pilots 
during 2004.

  At the same time, some of the firms shifting ad spending to digital 
signage include astute media buyers and brand-builders such as Bayer, 
Black & Decker, Colgate-Palmolive, Disney, DIRECTV, Frito-Lay, 
General Mills, Heinz, Kodak, L'Oreal, Minute Maid, Nestle, Sara Lee, 
Starter, The New York Times, LG Mobile Phones, ABC, FOX, Univision 
and Lee Jeans.

Four key lessons learned in New York:

1.  "Build it and they will come." The pressure to get more results 
from advertising continues to grow as digital signage takes an 
increasing cut of an overall $149 billion annual investment in 
advertising. At one end of the scale, cost per thousand (CPM) rates 
of $2 to $6 make digital signage an inexpensive media buy. There is a 
question of how long this bargain will last as performance is 
increasingly proven and more advertisers take advantage of this 
powerful new communications medium. Revenue increases of 30 percent 
and more are being realized on products profiled, with striking 
results such as a 109 percent sales increase for a new soft drink and 
319 percent for a new calling card. Digital signage in bank teller 
lines results in customer inquiries about new services.

        2.      "Wireless networking is effective." This is important 
for signage location flexibility and deployments in harsh, highly 
obstructed environments. According to UDN, the company that installed 
the New York network, wireless networking has performed well and the 
system has had no image drops. Wi-fi 802.11 using multi-polarity 
antennas from WiFi-Plus (www.wifi-plus.com) has provided reliable, 
secure and cost-effective connectivity for the 80 New York 
street-level LED panels.

  Interactive content provider BTV said cost-effective, reliable, 
fully secure and interactive image transport done wirelessly by 
satellite has long been used for interactive distance learning (IDL) 
and business television applications. The company said that digital 
signage applications benefit from the cost-effectiveness, location 
flexibility, security and reliability that satellite connections 
provide for digital (IP) communications.

        3.       "Ensure content integrity and security." System 
security may be inadequate at the network design stage, or be exposed 
as digital signage systems expand and use multiple media transport 
providers (Internet service providers, or ISPs). According to UDN, 
the system must be nearly "bullet-proof" to hackers. Signage software 
providers such as Automated Digital Signage Networks (www.adsn.ca) 
have taken steps to ensure security at the content ingest, playlist 
management, display monitoring and other vulnerable points.

        4.       "Digital signage offers high return on real estate." 
Digital displays support commerce, public safety and information 
needs because they are so visual, vivid and eye-catching. Being able 
to provide information at a point of decision or when information is 
needed underpins the value of this communications medium for 
advertisers and public service providers.

Revenue measures from stock turns, margin per square foot or revenues 
from print (static) signage locations place a value on retail 
location space. Revenue from dynamic digital display at, for example 
$10,000 per month per display to the network owner, offers a good 
"return on space" comparison. The location benefits of use, such as 
product lift, branding, better customer relationships, liability 
containment, etc., are adding to the value assessment. The 25x50in 
LED signs positioned at the street level entrance to New York subways 
are providing a "return on space" and value along the supply chain 
from advertiser to signage provider.

Lyle Bunn is senior partner of Apogee Partners, which monitors and 
reports on important technology trends and developments. White papers 
on digital signage are available (no cost or registration required) 
at http://members.rogers.com/apogeepartners/.
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