After Superstorm Sandy nearly derailed last year's Customer Engagement Technology World Show, this year's show was a welcome return to normalcy.
The two-day show at the Javits Center in New York City went off without a hitch, and show organizers and attendees alike expressed enthusiasm for the results. CETW is not a digital signage-specific show, but it does help place the medium into context alongside other consumer-engagement technologies.
While the digital signage presence at this year's show was somewhat attenuated from previous years, with Christie the only major display presence, stalwarts such as ComQi, Four Winds Interactive, Nanonation, Omnivex and X2O Media continued their runs at the show.
This year's show also was notable for its increased focus on mobile engagement, both on the show floor and in the session halls, and the kiosk and self-service sector also had a presence on the show floor.
Show manager Lawrence Dvorchik said the number of attendees and exhibitors was solid this year, and exhibitors themselves offered both praise and criticism. Some said the traffic they were getting in their booths was providing solid leads and sales prospects, while a few noted that they were mostly talking to other manufacturers or providers and fewer prospective clients.
The sessions focusing on digital signage provided a wealth of information (e.g., tips for "sticky" content and keys to avoiding digital signage "disasters," which was a valuable repeat of an InfoComm session by Black Box) and seemed to be among the better attended presentations during the show's two days.
Not surprisingly, digital menu boards continued to be a focus for most of the digital signage providers on hand, with Wireless Ronin Technologies, SageNet and Shuttle Computer Group all showcasing DMBs at their booths.
Show attendees and exhibitors also took to Twitter to talk about this year's CETW, and enthusiastically:
As digital signage expert Dave Haynes mentioned on his 16:9 blog write-up of the show's first day, CETW is not a digital signage-focused show, a sentiment with which Dvorchik would readily agree. But the show still has a strong digital signage flavor and fits in alongside other customer engagement technologies to provide a perhaps broader view of the medium's possibilities in tandem with other technologies such as kiosks, anonymous video analytics and mobile.
One of the more interesting panel sessions delved into the future of "big data" analytics and omnichannel marketing efforts. While it didn't much address digital signage specifically, the session clearly defined and stressed the importance of using big data to create one-to-one messaging and tailored marketing — and digital signage can play a significant role in that equation on both ends, both providing data from its own video analytics and filling the need for tailored narrowcast messaging.
Big data can help solve the "Wanamaker problem" ("I know that half of my advertising doesn't work. The problem is that I don't know which half.") once and for all, said Jennifer van der Meer, adviser at Luminary Labs and adjunct professor at both New York University and the School of Visual Arts.
"If you're a marketer you really have one option," she said during the panel, "and that's to start using it."
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