We're seeing this echoed throughout the global community. I presented at the Shanghai International Digital Signage and Touch Technology Show in September, where I discussed the rapid growth and significant opportunity in China. During Golden Week in 2012, China's overall retail sales revenue grew 15 percent to hit 800.6 billion yuan, according to Reuters. There is significant opportunity for retailers in the region to make smart investments around tailored marketing efforts.
As the industry grows, the quality of the digital signage solutions are improving as well. We're already witnessing the evolution from digital signage to intelligent multifunctional signage.
Along with improved quality in hardware, we'll see improvements in how retailers are able to leverage hardware to better reach and engage their customers. After all, intelligent digital marketing efforts shouldn't be delivered based on who you think your audience is; they should be based on who you know your audience is at that exact moment and place.
This is the real key to gaining even more momentum throughout the industry. We need to continue our process of understanding what your customers want and how they want it presented, so we can intelligently optimize your digital signage efforts.
Understanding your customers
In collaboration with one of our System Integrator ecosystem co-travelers, we were working with a brand that operates a network of intelligent vending machines. The brand was allocating almost 100 percent of its marketing dollars to target a specific gender of potential customers between the ages of 25 and 35. This was based on who they thought their target audience was as a result of marketing demographic research.
But after incorporating anonymous viewer analytics software into their intelligent vending deployments to collect and analyze key demographic data in real time, the brand realized that their actual customers were completely different than who they were developing their marketing around. Their actual customers were the opposite gender and were between the ages of 50 and 60 rather than 25 and 35. Essentially, the brand discovered it was spending almost 100 percent of its marketing budget catering to the wrong demographic.
Shifts in perceived and actual audiences is becoming more common as retailers deploy intelligent systems and utilize the data and analytics. Fortunately, just as you receive real-time insights and analytics around how customers engage with your intelligent deployments, then you can optimize based on those insights just as fast.
Historically, digital has been a linear process. Retailers select the order of the advertisements and deploy them via playlists to the signage. The ads play on a loop regardless of who is actually viewing it. The entire playlist is designed around audience research from three to six months ago.
We have the technology and the tools available to enable retailers to dynamically position their content through digital signage so that it reaches the most relevant and engaged audiences. New levels of computing power have enabled on-the-fly data analysis at the point of consumer engagement (a.k.a. the edge). Not only does this provide valuable real-time analytics, but by leveraging modern connectivity the intelligent systems and software can automatically communicate to determine the most relevant and engaging content to display based on the analysis.
In addition to improved hardware, there is new software that fully utilizes hardware capabilities to significantly enhance engagement with consumers. Viewer analytics software is able to exploit the new computational power of modern chipsets to provide real-time data gathering and analysis of valuable consumer demographics. The integrated software detects valuable demographic data such as gender and age range without recording video or taking pictures to ensure customer privacy. That data is then analyzed to help determine how audiences respond and engage with the retailer's content.
Dynamic reactions to customer activity
Once that data is analyzed and the business insights are delivered, retailers can program digital signage networks accordingly using their CMS. They can dynamically adjust digital signage content in real time at the consumer point of sale using demographic data collected via analytics. This is a specific example of the overarching concept of the Internet of things and the omnichannel approach.
The end result? A more relevant and engaging user experience for the consumer. This experience impacts the customer's perception of the individual store and the overall brand. In addition, valuable metrics such as dwell time are continuously collected so that the retailer can further fine-tune the experience and continue building a deeper engagement between the customer, the product and the brand overall.
Avalos is retail sector general manager for Intel Corp. in the Intelligent Systems Group, leading Intel's worldwide retail & digital signage businesses. His group is responsible for delivering Intel's Intelligent Retail & Digital Signage platforms, software and services, and initiatives fueling industry growth.