Digital picture frames starting to morph into digital signs

September 26, 2008 by Dave Haynes

I spent a very painful morning almost two years ago talking to Chinese and Taiwanese vendors at the CES show in Vegas, asking a bunch of them if they had a frame that A) had wifi capability, and B) some sort of developer kit.

The uniform answer: Yes! With a blank smile.

I could have asked them if they minded if I stuffed a hungry wolverine down their pants, and still got the same happy answer. Why companies send people to staff trade shows in Vegas when they can’t speak English, I’ll never know.

There is a point to all this, amazingly enough.

I was looking for a vendor who had a product capable of turning those digital photo frames that were coming onto the amrket then into very interesting little digital screens at the shelf edge in retail. Now, almost two years later, the building blocks are in place — though the company pulling it together seems to be going off in a different direction.

Reports Media Daily News:

Those screens that allow people to run a continuous loop of family photos will now include a media suite with advertising. An arm of Interpublic’s Initiative has cut a deal with Frame Media to give clients such as Dr. Pepper and Lionsgate a presence — running alongside a real-time information ticker and other content.


The picture frames — about the size of a computer monitor — have a wireless Internet connection that allows it to showcase news, stock quotes and ads, while photos cycle on screen. Screens with content on the top and banners on the bottom are slotted into the rotation of images.

Frame Media, the developer of the technology, and Initiative are billing it as a test. Marc Simons, manager at the Initiative unit behind the arrangement, said the agency is “looking to learn a great deal about how our brands’ targets use this new medium.”

Video here 

Weather updates and sports scores will join stock quotes and news alerts as real-time info appearing on the digital screens. But Frame Media also offers hundreds of “channels” covering topics such as entertainment, sports and lifestyles that consumers can choose.

Initiative client Snapple will own a “content channel” where the brand’s well-known “Real Facts” — such as “A goldfish’s attention span is three seconds” – that appear inside its bottle caps will fill the screens. Some 650 “Facts” will be in rotation.

Frame Media has inked deals with the majority of the companies that market the frames, allowing it to offer its content and ads next to the photos. Consumers can opt-in to the media suite upon purchase.

Now I am profoundly uninterested in having a little screen on an end table in my house feeding me fun facts in between shots of my son playing beer pong at college (though they might divert me from fixating on why I sent him). There is a really good device in most homes that works really well at providing relevant content on demand … called a TV.

Then there’s that other Internet thing.

As always, I concede not everyone thinks my way and maybe there’s a real market here. 

BUT … the intelligent delivery of targeted information, which Frame Media espouses, sounds awfully like a platform for using those little frames in retail, where there is definitely a market. Peddling brands in the home gets those brands no closer to the big moment when people make buying decisions. But get these relatively inexpensive little fellas in the stores, then you’ve got something …


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