3M tech opens possibility to analyze screen placement effectiveness in retail

November 4, 2011 by Dave Haynes

I am down in St. Paul, Minnesota with a group of industry smarty-pants … plus not-so-bright me … on the invitation of 3M.

The display and graphics group at 3M is getting increasingly active and interested in the business possibilities for its technology and services, particularly as it relates to digital merchandising in retail.

We had a tour of 3M’s very impressive Innovation Center, and spent a lot of time having a look at, and feeding back our thoughts on, what the group is planning on bringing to market. We are all NDA’d, so all I can say is it was interesting.

What is OK to already talk about is the company’s VAS image analysis technology, which 3M thinks has a role in helping produce more effective content. VAS has been around for a while but what is quite new is the ability to machine-analyze and predict what visual elements will get attention in video clips.

What is also intriguing is the capability to use the technology to analyze composite images of screens dropped into a retail setting. The heat-mapping COULD provide some solid clues as to whether screen placement plans will work.

The technology is primarily intended to help predict what the majority of people will look at in the first three seconds something pops on a screen. The idea is to run a still or video spot through the process, and see if the heat-mapped analysis lines up with messaging objectives, or sends people looking an inconsequential or overly dominant elements.

There are different models for using and buyibg the service, inclusing an iOS app that would allow someone to run an analysis of a still image on site.

They gave me a demo account to fiddle about with, which will help me get my head around it a bit more.

Thanks to Jeff Dowell and his colleagues for the day. Time to catch a plane.

Leave a comment