Digital Signage Asia 2008: Let content strategy dictate your technology, says Jeff Porter, EVP, Scala

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | October 06, 2008
Jeff Porter of Scala discussed digital screen deployment ideas and success stories in his presentation at Digital Signage Asia 2008

On day

one of the second edition of Digital Signage Asia 2008, held in Mumbai, Jeff Porter, executive vice-president, Scala discussed and shared with the audience deployment ideas and examples for digital signage screens across categories and how companies have benefitted from these.

Scala is the world's leading software platform for digital signage and has been providing software and services since 1987. It has deployed over 80,000 systems worldwide. Porter has been with Scala since 1994 and is also on the board of directors of POPAI, the global association for marketing at retail.

Porter started his presentation with a few pointers. "Rule one is: Don't start with technology. It's about what you're going to do with technology. Rule two is to develop a content strategy and let that dictate your technology. And rule three is to re-read rule number one," he said.

Jeff Porter
Porter went on to share examples of how companies, hotels, restaurants and call centres use digital signage to their benefit. He pointed out that digital signage could be deployed in various environments, such as travel agencies, call centres, corporates, auto dealers, quick service restaurants, gas stations, waiting rooms, hair salons, gyms, fashion retailers, banks, grocery stores…in short, at almost every conceivable location.

Porter talked about how many car companies don't have corporate email accounts for employees working in their factories, and therefore, use digital signage to communicate with them -- for instance, announcing the 'employee of the week' or sending out messages from the general manager.

He shared how financial site, Bloomberg's editors from around the world do about 50 updates a day, which feature first on their digital signage network and then on the Bloomberg TV service.

He also shared an example of how a store chain with a spread of over 5,000 outlets in the US used digital signage effectively. This digital signage convinced only 1 out of every 10 people walking in, to buy one more item than what was on their list. This contributed a quarter of a billion dollars to the store's bottom line.

Banks can also use digital signage at ATMs, where a lot of their customers carry out most transactions, to inform them about new products and services.

At grocery stores like TESCO, which is UK's largest network and utilizes 5,000 screens in its 100 locations, digital signage can be used to promote house brand items, as well as vendor advertising.

Porter shares how campuses use digital signage networks for emergency alerts after the Virginia Tech shootout incident in 2007. Campuses also use these screens for day-to-day updates, to announce guest speakers, and so on.

Quick service restaurants like Burger King use digital signage for menu boards. In Burger King's 600 stores, using digital signage has promoted up-selling, or adding on another item. This saw a 13.3 per cent lift in average check. Porter said that if a customer would usually spend five dollars on a meal, this signage promoting an item would make him spend six dollars instead -- an extra buck that he wouldn't think much about. But that extra dollar spent from all outlets would mean a 20 per cent increase in sales for the brand.

A number of gas pumps also use digital signage. Fuelcast Media offers solutions where, when one lifts the nozzle to fill the tank, the screen comes to life, rather than screens continuously playing content loops. This is a smart solution, since there's a guarantee that the customer is standing directly in front of the screen. The screen also provides car tips and promotes convenience store items. Pumps like Shell, ESSO, BP and Holiday use digital signage.

Porter also discussed targeting audiences through digital signage. "There are 160,000 gas stations in the US. You cannot create 160,000 playlists for these. Instead, program software to smartly play them location wise. For example, a screen in California will only give weather reports and updates of only the state and not other states," he said.

Sprite also did some promotions on digital screens at a convenience store. After some days, they checked the sales graph and noticed a big lift for the first couple of days, but then a sharp drop. The drop was only because the convenience store ran out of Sprite.

Porter also shared the information on the outdoor advertising company, Lamar, that operates in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico and has the largest outdoor LED network today. "Two per cent of all their screens are digital, but 17 per cent of revenue comes from digital," he said.

Porter ended his presentation by saying, "You have to figure out how many locations you need to have critical mass. You'd rather have 200 well-targeted screens, rather than 5,000 loosely deployed screens. You have to target your venues more specifically."

Digital Signage Asia 2008, in its second year, is presented by Scala. The associate sponsor is Vu Technologies, network partner is BusinessQ and media partners include Point-of-Purchase, Outdoor Advertising,, DSW, The Brand Reporter and afaqs!

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