After a trip from Las Vegas that, courtesy of United Airlines, was worthy of a Salvador Dali painting, I made it to Montreal in time for the inaugural JADN.TV digital signage conference on March 28.
In short: well organized by Arsenal-Media; cool venue atop the Montreal Olympic Stadium tower; wine at lunch (gotta love the French take on life); and a useful set of presenters. Or, at least I gather on that last bit.
There were only two presentations in English, and one of them was me. To summarize my yak, I just about tipped off the narrow podium, spilled my water, back-handed the mike, and blabbered on about something or other for 20 minutes. I did manage to push the right button to turn on my mike!
The other Anglos on the bill were Marnie Boucher and Jon Ward, founders of ShopCast, the Toronto-based start-up that has the deal to roll out screens across Wal-Mart Canada’s portfolio.
In short, Marnie joked about how she and Jon put this thing together from very humble beginnings in her basement, and related the long trip that finally resulted last fall in a long-term commitment with the retailing giant.
Interesting things they learned along the way:
- screens at the entry to a Wal-Mart went completely unnoticed, as in COMPLETELY.
- the first five minutes of the so-called consumer journey are a blur for consumers
- screens mounted too high don’t get seen, and screens too low intimidate consumers, who then skirt around them
- screens don’t much get noticed by transient shoppers, but loyal Wal-Mart shoppers start to notice them over time and eventually rely on them
Boucher related a couple of interesting points about the firm’s sales model:
- the screens sprinkled around the store are being sold on a cost per screen per location model;
- the row of screens at checkout are being sold as an aggregated mass audience, competing with TV.
Ward, who runs the creative side of the firm, says they also learned through trial and lots of error that what shoppers want to see in terms of content is material that treats the shoppers as friends. In other words, spots that provide some value to the shopping experience, as opposed to pure hard sells on price or other, more conventional approaches.
The rest of the presentations were in French, and beats me what they were going on about. I’ll be chasing down some English translations on a couple of the chats, and will pass along.
Organizer Denys Lavigne was happy with the turnout, and gave every indication there would be another. There was certainly lots to suggest there’s a very active industry community in Quebec.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.