Robots are setting sail and the world is coming to an end, so you'd better go pick up a pizza.
Last month's five most-read feature articles on Digital Signage Today are a varied lot, with readers checking in on an article about robotic arms swaying to the beat on cruise ships while swinging giant digital signage screens; clicking on a story about yet another hilarious digital signage prank from LG Electronics; and reading up on the new digital signage-heavy store design for the Papa Murphy's pizza chain.
Of course, readers also wanted sound advice with their hijinks, clicking on advice pieces on picking the right media player and getting to the next level of value in digital signage.
Take a look at the most-read articles in terms of pageviews for the month of September:
1. "Robots 'armed' with digital signage set to storm the high seas" - This video-centric article features gigantic robotic arms wielding 100-inch digital signage screens that are set to take to the high seas next year aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
The robot arms will move the screens to match the shipboard evening show's music and choreography while still synchronizing each screen's display to form a cohesive image as part of the line's high-tech new entertainment venues.
2. "5 keys to picking the right media player" - This commentary from the CTO of Wireless Ronin Technologies looks at how digital signage is fast becoming a "price to play" marketing tool, with an expected 22 million digital signs and 10 million media players in use worldwide by 2015, according to Intel. Yet there are so many options and the technology is changing so quickly that it can be difficult to know which signage technologies are best for your company.
Because displays are the most visible component, they tend to get the most attention when considering a digital signage system. But media players are the heart and soul of every system; they determine the quality, speed and reliability of the content that deployers hope will attract and inspire loyal customers.
3. "4K Ultra and the end of the world" - LG Electronics has been up to no good yet again this year. After scaring the bejeezus out of elevator riders with monitors that made it appear the floor was falling out beneath them around Halloween last year, LG this year tricked job interviewers into believing their city had just been devastated by an apocalyptic meteor strike.
A new video, uploaded to YouTube by LG Electronics Chile, shows workers installing an LG Ultra HD TV in an office, making it look as though the display is a window overlooking the city outside. Then, as job seekers start their interviews, the "window" shows a meteor streaking through the sky and crashing into the city, sending a shockwave and debris straight for them. The idea, of course, is that the images on-screen are so lifelike and convincing, thanks to the 4K ultra-HD screen, that people literally believe their world is coming to an end.
4. "4 steps to achieving higher value from digital signage" - Digital signage consultant Lyle Bunn takes a closer look at taking a digital signage deployment to the next level and achieving maximum value, saying this is sometimes more of a challenge than expected. Incremental improvements, particularly in content strategy and composition, improve the return on investment, but often a whole new level of operability is needed, he writes.
The next plateau of value often eludes network operators and end-users — and delivering enterprise value, and benefiting those who use the medium for messaging and engagement, can mean that core changes and improvements are required, he says. Bunn offers a four-point prescription for achieving that highest value.
5. "Digital menu boards a 'key feature' in Papa Murphy's prototype" - The Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza chain currently is testing a new store prototype, one that specifically features digital menu boards. The new store prototype, called "CREATE," is first going into the Austin, Texas, market, with plans to add two more locations in October.
The design features an open layout, a grab-and-go "market" section and messaging such as "Always Fresh." It also includes digital menu boards, which Papa Murphy's Chief Development Officer Kevin King called a "key feature."
So what are the key takeaways from last month's top five most-read stories? Let's take a look:
1. Novelty and new uses for digital signage are still top of mind.
Digital signage isn't a baby technology anymore, but it's still young enough and new enough that people are still figuring out some pretty interesting ways to use it. Robots and screens and musical revues at sea is certainly a new take.
2. 4K Ultra is coming; get ready.
Sometimes something is popular just because it's cute or funny. But the smart bet is the 4K Ultra story is popular mostly because people are still figuring out the ramifications of the ridiculously high-resolution and -clarity displays. But also because it's just funny to watch people freak out because they think the world is ending.
3. Media players matter.
The digital signage media player is under assault, with some displays embedding media playback functionality, and changing, with pico players and Android players and HTML5 and on and on. The player is still an important component for most deployments, particularly the more complex ones, and people want to know how to pick the best one for them.
4. Money talks ...
Not surprisingly, Mr. Bunn takes his usual spot somewhere in the monthly top 5. And while the Bunn-factor doubtless has something to do with the article's popularity, the subject matter might have something to do with it as well. It's not rocket science: Companies are not deploying digital signage as a charity (well, except for, y'know, the charities); they're deploying it to help their business do more business or better business, which usually translates to more money in the bottom line. Anything that helps them wring every last bit of value out of an expensive outlay like a digital signage deployment is a good thing.
5. Menu boards are still heating up.
The digital signage industry has been pushing digital menu boards and gearing up for an expected onslaught of deployments in fast casual and quick-service restaurants for a while now. And there have been big deployments, but the sense is that the really big wave has yet to hit. It could be that these kinds of stories, and the popularity of digital menu boards stories in general, are the first rumblings of that anticipated tsunami.
Learn more about digital signage trends.