In a couple of memorable moments from the futuristic sci-fi blockbuster movie Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s character is served up personalized ads as he passes video billboards and as he enters The Gap, where a video salesperson greets him by name and suggests products based on his shopping history. Sound crazy? Well, these scenarios are much closer to becoming reality than you might think.
We’re in the middle of an interesting transition from traditional static advertising to a much more interactive medium, driven by advances in technology and changing buyer behavior. Digital signage, also known as dynamic signage, is becoming integral to how companies will interact with consumers to create a more optimized user experience: IDC predicts that digital signage in the retail sector alone will grow from $6 billion in 2013 to $27.5 billion in 2018, a 35.7 percent five-year CAGR, as retailers continue to digitize the consumer experience.
The challenge and the opportunity for marketers is to make that experience more seamless for users while also accommodating new buying behaviors in a walk-up, in-store setting. How do we break down the barriers between brick and mortar and digital while making the experience fun and productive?
From a marketing perspective, we’re creating an environment in which we move beyond traditional form factors and toward a personalized way of information sharing and problem solving. Consumers have increasingly high expectations and less patience. We expect great experiences all the time and we’re irritated when that doesn’t happen. A survey of 1,500 consumers found that 88 percent of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience, so the stakes are very high to get it right the first time (Source: Gomez Report). As a result, we choose more carefully with whom we interact.
To embrace the customer experience model, marketing, sales and customer service must come together to make it a seamless experience. Digital signage offers a very powerful channel to engage with consumers, but the technology is only part of the equation. Today, the average consumer is bombarded with more than 5,000 advertising messages per day. The opportunity is to serve up content that is more appropriate and personalized, to align with what that consumer is trying to do at that point in time. Think of it as Just-in-Time manufacturing but from a digital marketing standpoint. What information is most important to a buyer at specific points in the buyer journey? How best can you leverage the impact of reviews and endorsements from other consumers? How can you truly demonstrate the value of a solution or product in a digitally engaging manner that is part educational and part entertainment? You need to orchestrate all of the channels to present your story in an integrated way that makes sense.
On the technology side, it is important to put the customer at the center of this universe and ensure that technology is an enabler and not a barrier. Leading technology organizations such as Intel, Cisco, H-P, and Samsung are investing significantly in the area of digital signage. Solutions are being developed in a wide variety of areas, including:
- Rich Content, with touch-enabled displays to render video streaming of sales support informationAnonymous Video Analytics, with facial recognition software to empower personalized interactivity by demographic group (for example, females over the age of 50 in a shopping environment)
- Augmented Reality, looking through glass at actual products, along with related pop-up graphics
- Wayfinding and Product Information, to quickly locate desired products in a physical shopping environment
- Mobile Phone Integration, to save product information for later, or to access real-time discounts in store.
CompuCom has strong partnerships with each of these technology firms, which enables us to co-develop solutions and help make the experience more rewarding for consumers and B2B end users. For example, we’ve partnered with Intel to create a tool called End-User Orchestrator that enables remote takeover of devices and digital signage for support, repairs and even to change content. CompuCom is also developing an ecosystem of persona portals that deliver a more robust consumer-like experience in B2B settings (think Amazon website for enterprise support and service).
As consumer preferences continue to evolve toward more immersive experiences and expectations, it is a wonderful challenge and opportunity for organizations to embrace this change and create a digitally powered conversation and conversion toward lifelong customers.
Do you have thoughts about where digital signage is headed? I welcome your comments and questions.