Digital signage end-users in hyper-competitive sectors like retail and quick service restaurants have always tended to keep their cards really close to their chest when it comes to talking about the actual impact of digital signage networks.
Why would they want to share results that inform and guide competitors?
There’s also the problem of all kinds of variables that could influence and skew results – like an external marketing campaign or other promotional materials that might have influenced consumer behaviors.
So it can take a working lab environment and the right retailer mindset to get a pure set of results. Digital retailing consultants Ed King and Laura Davis-Taylor recently launched what they have dubbed the Living Retail Lab in an interesting, very busy one-off store in a gentrifying area of Atlanta. The two have been running a series of sprint tests on digital signage’s impact in the store, and Laura shared some results with me last week when I saw her at the Digital Signage Federation’s latest board meeting.
The findings, based around a digital menu board at an in-store bar (would be my happy shopping place), are fascinating …
First, going to digital from an analog letterboard set-up – one of those things where you push plastic letters and numbers into a cloth surface – actually reduced sales. So removing the pain in the butt factor of making manual changes, while good, actually hurt sales when the visuals were simply replicated.
Adding what I’d call “cocktail porn” static visuals caused a significant sales bump. Adding subtle motion was even better.
But what was really interesting was how pairing real-time video analytics (NEC’s ALP platform) with a digital signage CMS (I think SignageLive) to trigger real-time content made a huge impact.
There was a sales bump when content triggered a visual for a glass of rose for women. But if a guy was in front of the display, sales for an old fashioned cocktail went up more than 800%.
Laura says she and Ed were blown away by that, as was I. The whole real-time content triggering thing has always struck me as interesting but somewhat unworkable in busy retail and OOH media environments. But in a very clean and simple application like a menu display, with modest customer numbers and not the swarms a fast food place might see, the numbers suggest there is something there …
Living Retail Lab is making more details available via its website …
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 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, on Canada’s east coast.