SignChannel社社長 ジェフ・ポーター(Jeff Porter)

動的なデジタルサイネージは、あらゆる場所で立ちあがっています。「Best Buy(米国最大の家電量販店)」などの小売業者は、店舗の画面メッセージで新聞から「今週の特別品」をコーディネートするためにデジタルサイネージを利用しています。「ウォールマート」は「what’s new」をプロモーションするための店舗内テレビネットワークを持っています。「Regal Cinemedia」のような映画館オーナーは、長編映画が始まる前にのエンターテイメント用に、デジタルプロジェクターの衛星ネットワークを使用しています。「マクドナルド」のようなファーストフード事業者は、デジタルメニューボードを使って販売を刺激する実験をしてきました。「ShopRite」のようなグローサリー店では、プラズマスクリーンをデリコーナーの後ろに設置して、本日のおすすめをお客様に伝えたり、待ち時間にお客様を楽しませる内容を流してたりします。地域の銀行や病院の待合室のような比較的穏やかな場所でさえ、デジタルディスプレイネットワークを使って、告知、教育、エンターテイメント、関連する取り扱い商品やサービスのプロモーションを行っています。

そこでの疑問は、これらすべての作業を始めるためにどのくらいの時間がかかるか?ということです。クライアントの最大のシェアを持っている、昔ながらの広告やビジュアルマーチャンダイジングの専門家と、ITやディスプレイの専門家を一緒に得ることはなかなかのチャレンジです。この2つの陣営がお互いに話をすることは普段はありませんから!そして、そうするときでも、彼らは成功した開発をするのに必要である結果の全てを考慮するでしょうか?
例えば…だれもがプラズマスクリーンや衛星ネットワークなどの高額なアイテムに注目しても、多くの場合、ネットワークを駆動するソフトウェアは考慮されないのです。実際は、ソフトウェアは日常的に収益があり成功するネットワークをオペレーションするために最も重要な要素のひとつです。よいニュースは、それがもはやロケット科学ではないことです。スクリーンネットワークの開発をするために探している初心者の方の手助けをするために、過去15年間にそのようなネットワークを展開してきた私の経験の一部をみなさまと共有したいと思います。以下は私が考える、考慮すべき事柄のトップリストです。

コンテンツが一番大事

陳腐に聞こえるのはわかっていますし、みんなが同じことを言っているのも知っていますが、どんなに多くの人々がいまだにコンテンツの舵を見失っているかって驚くほどなんです。コンテンツは、「絶対に」生き生きとして、適切な内容で、魅力的でなくてはいけません。これはテレビではなく、ウェブではなく、サイネージの話なんです。 同じ広告ばかり一日中24時間流してはいけません。そしてそれはまた、彼または彼女たちがいる場所に関連している内容でなくてはいけません。例えば、私は過去に素晴らしいLCDスクリーンを使ったファーストフードチェーンのネットワークをみたことがありますが、新製品のメニューを表示してクロスセリングする代わりに、彼らはトイレットペーパーの広告を流してたんです。それってファーストフードとなにか関係があります?これがお客様に与えたいインプレッション?もちろん違います。もしあなたがお客様だったら、新メニューのアイテムを見たいと思いませんか?そしてまたその場所のオーナーとして、お客様に対して一人当たりの収益を高めるために、アップセルをしたくないですか?もちろんしたいですよね。お客様の財布は開いてますよ。さあ、アップセルしましょうよ!

また、みなさんはみなさんのお客様が「どこ」に敏感であるか知ることが必要です。もしあなたがホームセンターを経営しているのならば、冬期に除雪機を販売することはミネアポリスなら有効ですが、ニューオーリンズでは間違いなくダメでしょう(※訳注。ニューオリンズは暖かく冬期でも雪は降りません)。みなさんは、簡単に個別のコンテンツを作成し、効果的なコストのシステムを持っている必要があります。もしお使いのシステムがMPEGを再生するだけのものだったら、どうやって各店舗のためにユニークな動画を作成する余裕ができるでしょう。そしてお持ちのコンテンツがすべてMPEGだった場合、どうやってコンテンツを送信できるでしょうか。毎月1ギガのMPEG動画を必要とする店舗が500店あったら、みなさんのネットワーク上では500GBのトラフィックになります。いくつかの小売業者だったらこの手の「予備の帯域が転がっている」でしょう。多くのみなさんは衛星を使ったマルチキャストネットワークを検討する必要があるでしょうね。ま、もっと簡単に低帯域幅のコンテンツを作成するために、ソフトウェアを慎重に見たいと思い始めるかもしれません。

生き生きとしたコンテンツを作りましょう

もしみなさんのコンテンツがテレビみたいだったら、人々はそれを切ってしまうでしょうね。 従業員は同じループの反復を嫌います。それじゃダメなんです。みなさんはお持ちのPOSシステムや管理システム、ウェブストアなどに簡単にサイネージをインターフェイスすることができるシステムを検討するべきです。この方法ならば、ほんのちょっと、もしくはまったく人間の介入なしで自動的にみなさんの画面で価格の調整を行うことができます。これにより、あなたが利益を最大化するために、ショップごとに違う金額で同じ商品を宣伝することが可能になります。もしあなたのサイネージネットワークが「この金額でいますぐ購入!」というアクションのコールを持っていない場合は、小売りでは効果的ではないかもしれません。他の例をご紹介しましょう。あるコンビニエンスストアでアクションのコールを使ったとっても効果的なキャンペーンで、スプライトのプロモーションをしたとしましょう。みなさん、結果に信じられないくらい満足する…もしくはしないでしょうか?2日後、売り上げはゼロまで落ち込みます。何が起こったんでしょう。かれらはスプライトの在庫を切らし、Cokeのドライバーは2日間在庫を補充する予定になってない。これはよくある問題です。もしあなたのシステムがPOSシステムに添付されていたら、ひとつの商品が完売したとき、自動的に他の商品に置き換えることができます。 それは可能ですし、難しいことでもないのですが、適切なソフトウェアソリューションと可能性に対応するためのフロントアップ計画が必要になります。国レベル、地域レベル、ローカルコンテンツを提供することも、またシステムを面白くするための方法の一つです。カンタンに聞こえますが、あなたは事前にお使いのシステムでそれが実現できるか確認しました?これはみなさんの生産コストにどんな影響があるでしょうか。お持ちのMPEGファイルを再エンコードすることなく、変更することは可能ですか?国や地域、地元のコンテンツの挿入を行う必要があるときに、帯域幅の要件にどのような影響があるでしょうか?

現地での収集が重要ですLocal Buy-in Is Critical

国や地域、地元挿入型システム(この言いまわしはケーブルテレビ用語を借りました)で、私たちは現在、各店舗レベルでの参加が可能になっています。食料品店を例にとってみましょう。想像してみてください、店長の写真が彼の店で歓迎用に画面に出ている、もしくは多分デリ部門のベティさんが「いらっしゃいませ」と歓迎しているところを。多分店長は広告じゃない特別を追加できるでしょう。Perhaps the Manager can add an unadvertised special that he needs to move. Perhaps the bananas are looking a bit ripe, and he’s not looking to have a sale on banana bread any time soon. How can he push the things at a local level? Will the signage system that you choose empower the local staff to work WITH you, not against you? If the employees are a part of the network, it provides a sense on ownership and pride to your staff, and more importantly to you, they won’t try to sabotage the network. Imagine a system in the same grocery store where the screens are at the checkouts (with a really short loop time because your customers have a short dwell time in line), but the audio with that system is so obnoxious that it drives the checkout people mad. They will find a way to cut the speaker wires, or worse yet, pull the plug on the entire system. On top of that, I’m guessing that you’ve just grabbed whatever TV commercials you happen to have lying around, and the content WOULD NOT WORK WITHOUT AUDIO. Major problem. And let’s not forget rule number one again… what is your content? Are people going to “get out of line” to go back and pick up the thing that you are advertising? Guess again. The products better be within arms reach at the checkout. Chewing gum and breath mints might be good sponsors for this screen, but you had better create specialized content that works without audio, and better yet, provide some other localized content that might be of interest to your shoppers. Maybe there’s a community bulletin board announcement on the system. Perhaps include the store manager’s picture thanking you for shopping at his store today. All of these things can make a huge difference in the success of your network. This is not to say that you can’t reuse any of your b-roll from your TV ads. Please do, but remember where the content is going and how the viewer will perceive it.

フックを手に入れましょう。場所、場所、場所You Gotta Have A Hook, Location, Location, Location

これは十分簡単に聞こえますが、あなたに画面を見る理由がない限り、誰だって画面を見たりしません!あなたに必要なのは「フック」-画面を見る理由です。これは「3番カウンターで25番チケットが出来上がりました」のようにシンプル、もしくは一日4回のターナープライベートネットワークからのカスタマイズされたCNNフィード、衛星を通してのブラスティング、ニュース、天気、スポーツと株式ヘッドラインニュース、It could be as simple as a “Now Serving Ticket number 25 at counter number 3” or as sophisticated as a customized CNN feed from Turner Private Networks, blasting in over satellite, the news, weather, sports and stock headline news four times a day that could be interspersed with your venue specific content and advertising. どのくらい簡単にみなさんのシステムはそのような種類の「フック」とインテグレートできますか?なんだと思います?戻って、あなたが選んだソフトウェアがなにかってことです(誰かがちょっと遅すぎると言い出す前のちょっとした迷惑)。

 

これは、1日4回では、衛星を介してでブラスト、ニュース、天気、スポーツ、株式ヘッドラインニュースターナープライベートネットワークからのカスタマイズされたCNNフィードとして「カウンタ数3で今サービングチケット番号25」のように単純として、または洗練されたかもしれませんそれはあなたの会場の特定のコンテンツと広告が点在することができました。

And let’s not forget the famous real estate saying “location, location, location”. This is absolutely true in signage networks today. Proper placement of the screens with the appropriate content is absolutely critical. No one is going to strain his or her neck to look 12 feet up in the air at a cheap TV set. Screens by the check out are “too late” unless you’re selling chewing gum or breath mints. Find a location where people need to visit or have a natural waiting time and, hopefully, your content will be able to influence purchase decision at the last minute while improving the overall customer experience.

小規模のアップデートは簡単ですか?

Everyone can do a big update. No problem. Just send hundreds of MPEGs to each location. Brute force and ignorance can make this happen (although perhaps not as easily as you might have originally thought). But what if you need to just update the price of something at the last minute? How hard is that? How long does that take to make the change? And how many megabytes (or better yet kilobytes) do you need to send in order to make this change? And if we’re talking megabytes, how long will it take to transmit, for instance, 100 megabytes to 500 stores for a “simple price change”? Choosing the right architecture can make the difference between a system that is a joy to work with and a system that looks to your IT department as a “denial of service attack”. Obviously having a system that can do small updates with small file sizes makes this a breeze.

閉じられたループシステムを持つ必要があります

One of the key drivers in terms of a network of advertising based displays is the revenue you can expect to get from the ads. This is measured in CPM (cost per thousand viewers). Some signage networks have failed in the past because they were not able to get a high enough CPM to cover their costs. Obviously having a cost effective network is key, but don’t forget that this should not jeopardize your CPMs. The best way to achieve higher CPMs with advertisers is to be able to prove to them with affidavits that the ads actually ran as scheduled, with full ability to drill down to a specific ad in a specific location. In order to support this, you’ll need a two-way network to return those “billing logs” and to roll that up into a report that can be sliced and diced by the advertiser. Having a cheaper one-way satellite network with no return might sound good to your CFO, but it may have an adverse impact on your ability to charge a premium CPM because you can’t prove that any ads ran. And you will need the back office system to keep track of this for billing purposes as well. Make sure you look into this aspect when choosing a system. Having a full two-way network also brings the possibility of continuous monitoring of your network. Your Network Operations people can then pro-actively respond to a fault in the network, instead of waiting for the phone to ring (if anyone bothers to call at all with a one-way network).

ITの人に話をしないでください!他によい方法はありませんか?”Please Don’t Make Me Talk To The IT Guys! Isn’t There A Better Way?”

A large number of signage deployments today are actually done by sending around VHS tapes and DVDs in the mail. It’s the problem mentioned at the opening of this article where no one wants to talk with the IT department, because they always say “no”. So the merchandisers and advertisers alike think, “No problem, I’ll just use a DVD!” I can honestly say that this is a mistake. It is extremely prone to human error (getting the right disc or tape in at the right time and pressing play) and very expensive to feed. I’ve seen situations where companies have switched from sending out monthly DVDs to biweekly updates with a full-featured network, where their costs were LOWERED substantially by moving away from DVDs. Plus they are able to update their screens more easily and more often (for less money). It’s a win-win. So, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your IT group and show them a solution that will not be a “denial of service attack” on their network, and they’ll thank you for thinking of them up front.

With a DVD or VHS network you have what is called a “SneakerNet” – very prone to human errors. Plus, because the system is not connected, you have no billing affidavits, so your CPMs are very low. Making the content in the first place is very expensive (burning DVDs) and you can really only afford to do this once per month. If you run weekly specials, it’s impossible to advertise those on your screens because you’re running the same loop every week for a month. With a networked system, you’ll be able to change this on the fly easily and have completely synchronized media campaigns, both in-store and in-home. Let’s hope that your creative team doesn’t make a typo with your DVDs, because re-burning hundreds of DVDs and sending them out is time consuming and expensive. On top of that, your average cheap consumer DVD player is only rated for about 2000 hours of operation. So plan on swapping out burned out DVD players every 3 or 4 months – not a pretty sight. And for the final nail in the coffin, consider the video quality. If you are driving a plasma screen with a DVD player over composite video, the picture is going to look unbelievably fuzzy. This is true for even many networked MPEG players. If you’re driving your screens in a one-to-one pixel ratio from a VGA based PC, the clarity of the resulting image is going to be night and day better.

Bottom line: Don’t use a DVD player, and if you’re still using VHS, get into the 21st century, please!

ひとつのこと以上のことをしますDo More Than Just One Thing

As long as you are deploying a signage network for your customers, why not consider using the same infrastructure for employee information or employee training? This is a biggie. A number of deployments that I’ve been involved with have found that the employee facing screens have done a more significant job of influencing purchasing decisions than the customer facing screens! Think about it. You have a high turn over of staff. Your customers need to ask one of your employees a question. Even modest amounts of subliminal training from your signage network can educate your staff enough to be a genius in the eyes of your customer. With an even more proactive training initiative using the same infrastructure, you can track exactly who has, and who has not, watched the training videos (which are now digital so that the tapes don’t get lost). So don’t forget the employee angle of a signage network. Maybe it’s just an hour before the store opens. Maybe it’s interspersed throughout the day. Maybe the CEO wants to do a live broadcast to all the employees in each store before it opens. You could even have live events in-stores. A few years ago, Wal-Mart broadcast live a Faith Hill concert in all of their stores. Reportedly, this was the single largest take in Wal-Mart’s history. This was a major event, and was only possible because they were able to re-use their existing signage network. Perhaps you were looking at doing some interactive kiosks. Perhaps you’d like to speed up your credit card transactions (instead of dial-up phone lines today). Why not hook them into the same infrastructure? Your signage network can be the catalyst for many powerful things, which all help to offset the investment.

あらゆるところにお皿を入れられませんYou Can’t Put A Dish Everywhere

While some of these advanced uses might require a satellite system, the costs to deploy a digital satellite network have never been as available and cost effective as they are today (thanks to technology born from direct to home digital satellite TV). Satellite has a ubiquitous footprint (meaning you can put a dish practically anywhere and be connected). However, there are areas where getting a southern exposure to the satellite and putting in a satellite dish are prohibitively expensive – Manhattan for instance. Paying for roof rights can be very expensive there. Fortunately many signage systems can handle a hybrid network topology where some locations are terrestrially connected, and others are satellite. Double-check that however. Also your satellite provider may be able to offer an alternative, since they deal with this sort of situation every day. Other alternatives might be DSL, but you had better do a site analysis on every location, because all of your locations might not be within range. WiFi (802.11b) is another choice, but the coverage maps today from companies such as T-Mobile, Verizon, Boingo, and others might look good on paper, but in reality are very spotty at best (unless your name is Starbucks). Digital cellular connections might be a good alternative, if your content is not too bulky. With these services you can get upwards of 56Kbps (and perhaps 144Kbps) with better coverage than WiFi, but at a substantially lower bandwidth. Piggybacking on an existing network infrastructure can work, but not if you’re going to be sending large MPEG files. Sometimes the best approach is a satellite “overlay” network with a terrestrial return. This gives you a low cost multicast one-way network, while using the existing terrestrial infrastructure for the small amount of data needed to verify transmission and system status.

エンドキャップのようにサイネージを売ってくださいSell Signage Like End Caps

Retailers often get a significant amount of revenue from their vendors in terms of co-op, MDF (market development funds), spiffs and other incentives to the channel. “You’d like to have a good position in the store for your product Mr. Manufacturer? No problem. It costs an extra $5,000 per month per store for that.” It’s big money and retailers guard this heavily. In-store signage should be sold the same way. This has a dual benefit. Not only will the retailer be able to extract more funds from the manufacturers, but because of the effects of the signage display, more products will be moving through the store on an average day. Uplift in sales of advertised products have been measured anywhere in the 20% to 40% range. This also generates more turns on inventory – everybody wins. Some are fearful that this new medium will “rob Peter to pay Paul” from the precious co-op dollars. This has not been my experience to date. New money is actually found for these new opportunities.

In public networks, such as a shopping mall or electronic outdoor billboards, it may be necessary to have a higher level system in place to keep track of the “avails” (available slots open for advertising) and managing the deployment of ads to the network. In all likelihood, no two screens would be playing the same sequence of ads in this scenario, so it is very important to make sure you have a software system that can keep track of all of these things. Of course, the same system can help you slice and dice the network into demographic and geographic regions to aid the sales process for a particular campaign.

PC業界と戦ってはいけませんDon’t Fight The PC Industry

I’m a big believer in industry standard technology. It’s absolutely amazing what multimedia power is built into the average $500 PC today, which seems to get cheaper and cheaper each day. Don’t fight it. Go with the flow. Locking yourself into a proprietary design will only lead to heartburn down the road. Maybe the proprietary system that you’ve selected is perfect for the one thing you need today. What happens tomorrow when you have a new requirement that you hadn’t thought about before? Do you end of scrapping the entire infrastructure? That can get expensive. A programmable system on industry standard hardware has the flexibility to grow and adapt to the changing requirements, without having to swap out the hardware. As one senior IT manager of a Fortune 500 company told me one time, “Jeff, I already manage a network of 12,000 PCs. What’s another couple thousand?” Chances are these companies have a four-hour on-site maintenance contract with IBM, HP or Dell and they have a pallet load of these standard PCs in the warehouse today. Use them. Even with a new requirement such as High Definition Video support can be easily done with a PC today (with the right choice of hardware and software).

Anyone Can Do A Pilot, But Does It Scale?

There are plenty of suppliers doing small pilot projects with brute force and ignorance (and sometimes SneakerNet), but what happens when you have to scale for real? Does the system really handle that well? What are the limitations? How many 1000 unit deployments has the prospective supplier been involved with? These are tough questions that have to be asked. Are the systems reliable? Do they operate 24/7? What happens if you only have dial-up connections? Does the system still scale? Can the system work in a hybrid of both high speed and low speed networks? What are the implications in terms of content to support this? Is it reasonable to assume that your chosen network can support this content in a reasonable fashion? There are lots of tough questions to ask your future suppliers. These are all very critical to the overall success of your network.

My hope is that this introduction has given you enough of the basics to get started with your own successful dynamic digital signage network. It’s a very exciting industry and I wish you the best of luck.

作者について

ジェフ・ポーター氏はScala Inc.のSignChannelの代表です。 ポーター氏は1994年にScalaに入社。Scala以前は、1984年から1994年までアミーガコンピュータの世界的な商品開発を担当していた氏をコモドールインターナショナルリミテッドが雇用。それ以前はAT&Tベルのラボと、イーストマンコダック社のために働いていました。ポーター氏はイリノイ大学とバデュー大学にて電気工学の修士号を取得しています。