Image via Unified Brand
Many thanks to Guy Tonti, CEO of Unified Brand (www.unifiedbrand.com), for taking the time to speak to Display Alliance about the digital signage industry. Display Alliance is published by Mass Integrated, Inc., a global display distributor. We supply LCD display panels for Digital Signage, Industrial, Military, Medical, End-of-life, Projected Capacitive Touch (PCAP), Laptops, and more. Call or email Jason for sourcing and purchasing: (978) 465-6190 ext. 585 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DA: What is the state of the digital signage industry? Where is it and where is it going?
Guy Tonti: Digital signage continues to grow in both is presence and dollars spent in the competitive space of advertising alternatives. This primarily results from the underlying changes in technology dropping its costs relative to its ability to reach desirable customers. This change is occurring in numerous technology segments of the solution; the internet, displays, player, content development software and demographic analysis; all of which is making digital signage more affordable, ultimately providing a more viable alternative to traditional broadcast TV or billboards.
In the past, advertisers and agencies have viewed digital signage with skepticism. They have not included it in the advertising mix they provide their clients because of its cost and the lack of confidence in the customer analytics. The combination of lowering the relative cost of an advertisement and the increase in ability to measure the signage’s effectiveness is making it a more viable advertisement alternative.
Guy Tonti: Unified Brand has an extremely adaptable and cost effective digital signage content production and distribution model. We interface with our customers at both the system and personal level in truly unique ways such that we can provide for them to make unlimited content changes. This means our customers can react faster to demands for changes in their messaging in ways other advertising medium cannot.
In our automobile dealerships, this means changes in service and parts specials that directly relate to current events. An example is recently Phoenix experienced a “100 year dust storm,” that blanketed the city in an unprecedented layer of powder. Within hours we had content up on all our Phoenix dealership signs announcing special offers on filter replacements. All experienced an uptick in sales of this that would not have happened if word-of-mouth had been the only communication method available.
In our retail establishments, changes in restaurant daily specials based on food availability is a normal occurrence. We now allow for the restaurant announcing it in their social media, to also be automatically changed on the sign. This reinforces the message, and doubles the chance of a consumer purchasing the special.
Guy Tonti: Content is always key, but too often the digital signage customer most important consideration moves to cost of the display.
The effect of changes in display technologies means customers continually see prices drop and the content on the displays looking better. What is hard to quantify at the time of purchase is the difference in commercial and consumer grade displays. A signage customer seeing new commercial and consumer displays often cannot see a notable difference. What needs to be considered is those displays effect on the viewer of the content over time.
The consumer displays do not have the same quality of components to withstand continual playing. They become adversely affected by degradation in components and screen “burn-in” that makes content be much less appealing. The worst case is component failure causing a display shutdown, resulting in a blank screen and a replacement being required. Both of these decrease the viewer experience with digital signage and reflect negatively on the digital sign owner company.
The use of commercial displays means the content continues over time to look sharp and appealing to the viewer, as well the display reliability allowing for less total cost of ownership.
DA: How does digital signage change the customer experience?
Guy Tonti: Digital signage is the only advertising medium that is at the convergence of messaging and point-of purchase. It provides for the digital sign advertiser to provide relevant information to the consumer at the optimal point in the sales cycle.
It is the optimal medium for providing content that is specific to the viewer. All sign owners know their viewer demographics such that tailoring the content to them is possible. Many of our restaurant owners changes their content based on time of day, day of week, and seasonally, with no physical actions required. This makes the signs be more profitable, but more importantly more relevant to the viewer such that they are more likely to watch the display.
It also allows for the sign owner to provide alternate communication methods. Not every customer takes in information the same way. A visual learner in an auto dealership would be much better served learning of a new car’s features by watching a digital sign, and have a higher potential to buy. More many of our dealers their signage reinforces messaging customers have seen on broadcast TV or via the internet, making for a more comfortable buying experience.
Guy Tonti: Our goal for every sign is to increase the amount of time it is viewed. Interesting and exciting content is something we do phenomenally well, but it has become the table stakes every sign owner and sign viewer expects.
The ubiquity of both the internet and mobile devices means a sign owner or screen viewer can easily react to, and then potentially make changes to, the content being displayed.
This technology convergence is allowing for the most exciting area we are focused on is to allow for and encourage the customer to interact with the display.
Our initial focus is for sign owners to allow for relevant and real-time content from their social media sites to be displayed so viewers will feel more connected. The displaying of customer check-ins is the first step to grow the sense of community. A customer checking-in will let others know of their presence in a live manner, while also encouraging the use of social media interaction with the sign owner. The next logical step is for displaying of moderated messaging in a system-to-system manner. This again has the dual purpose of growing the sign owner community and customer experience at that establishment.