How digital signage can use 'Big Data' (Commentary)

Jan. 25, 2013

By Melina Politi

Marketing and Sales Manager, CyberStream

There is a huge wave of data rushing in from real-time social, location and mobile technologies that — if not handled properly — cannot provide the real value for which it is designed. Data can be used to narrate a story about customers' shopping experience or behavior. Numbers, though, must be put in context so that they give sufficient and accurate information about buying patterns and preferences.

Without analysis, insight and grouping, the different pieces of information are chaotic. Every single thing we do digitally, such as a post about our opinion on a subject, a "Like" or a check-in, produces intelligence that, when combined with a set of historical data, allows you to make predictions about future events. This is the added value of big data!

So how can we connect this big data business intelligence with digital signage?

There are a number of mechanisms that are continually evolving: Projections are part of the game, because through advanced reporting methods and the collection of historical data, it is quite easy to identify consumer purchasing habits.

From the data quality point of view, there are many cases when brands apply some type of monitoring in their digital signage campaign, they find a lot of discrepancies between the data collected through methods such as fidelity cards and the real buying patterns. For instance, a leading company in cosmetics found out that Italian men buy more cosmetics than Italian women and at a much faster pace!

Of course, it is common practice for companies to already have or to consider adopting mechanisms that enable the categorization of consumers' preferences according to age group, gender, ethnicity, financial status or education. Companies can even go deeper than this; it has become quite easy to evaluate the success of a digital signage campaign by knowing the total number of people that were looking directly or standing in the vicinity of the display and the length of time viewers spent looking at the screen.

This data collection when refined and clustered, contributes to the development of fictional profiles of people, called "personas," and it presents really accurate conclusions regarding purchasing habits and the impact of advertising. This is what companies get, process and quantify in order to assess, measure or plan future campaigns.

But there is value not only in the data professionals aggregate but also in the real-time information they provide to the audience. "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give," said Winston Churchill. If we slightly modify this quote and transform it to: "We make a living by the data we collect; we improve life by the data we offer," we can actually express the essence of big data.

As the digital signage market has grown considerably and shifts toward maturity, consumers start getting used to the concept of displays with appealing advertising messages. In that case, additional efforts in captivating their attention may be required.

It has become more demanding than ever to create inventive, practical and engaging content. The idea is to offer people updates about things they are interested in. For instance take a look at the image below:

It concerns a project implemented in a bank where the content combines weather, headline news via RSS feeds and video clips. The weather is served for different branch locations through a single playlist. The €/$ exchange rate is automatically retrieved, and the graph is produced in real time.

In other words, you can see relevant, real-time data provided at the right place to the right audience. In the sense of giving people pieces of information that they could actually find useful, clearly such a technique increases the possibility of making people stay a bit longer in front of the digital signage display.

In such event, of course, they will certainly notice the deployer's advertising message too.

Information and data such as news, currency exchange rates or RSS feeds can either be retrieved from databases or from external third-party providers.

Imagine another situation, let's say a large tennis club with many facilities. The members of such a place would expect to have the best treatment possible. Don't they deserve services such as interactive maps for everywhere they wish to go, phone directory for everyone they want to contact, etc?

How much value could be added to the lives of these customers if the club provided some real-time data in the form of services? I am talking about court reservation options, parking lots and tennis courts occupancy data or even updates on betting odds. How improved would be the quality of services for each customer would be if they were able to enjoy all these facilitations?

Among the very nice visualizations of these data along with some inevitable bells and whistles, an advertising message could thrive. It could provide an immediate answer to a certain need if it is engaging enough and relevant to the content.

And the best part is that while serving relevant facts and figures to the audience, deployers create the most suitable conditions for receiving valuable consumer data. Business intelligence takes a human form and causes a bigger impact. Examining and comprehending big data can help brands become more flexible in their promotional activities and stay ahead of competition.

The secret for supreme digital signage advertising campaigns can be summarized in these three words: create, provide and collect.

Politi is the marketing and sales manager at Athens, Greece-based CyberStream LTD, an IT company with a track record of 10 years in systems integration and application development. CyberStream provides solutions to business problems by combining leading products in terms of reliability and performance with innovative software applications.

Learn more about digital signage and customer experience.

Topics: Audience Measurement , Customer Experience , Digital Merchandising , Trends / Statistics

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