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As a connected society, we are constantly barraged with information. E-mails, texts, calls, pop-ups, advertisements and conversations all vie for our limited attention most of the day. Our brains have a limited capacity for the consumption of information flooding in from our senses, so they're adapting to filter out the irrelevant.

Ray Carlin, vice president, Retail Solutions Global Business Unit, HP, asserts that "to remain competitive and profitable in today's connected society, retailers must be able to engage with consumers at all points of service throughout the shopping experience with real-time, personalized information." The bar has been raised for what shoppers are willing to let pass through the filter, and the only way to remain top of mind at POP is to maximize the relevance of our messaging.

Relevant and timely content creates engagement

We must first pass the relevance test in order to reach the next gate of the in-store relationship: engagement. Technology allows brands and retailers to personalize messaging using shopper insights for better targeted communication, focusing on shopper-specific criteria such as demographic intelligence. This intelligence is driven by time of day or environmental conditions including daily weather or seasonal sales windows. The ability to market products or features such as tire chains in a snowstorm or windshield wiper blades during a rainstorm is not just conceptually possible, but a reality based on current technology.

One of the major benefits of dynamic digital messaging is that it is able to receive various sources of information and tailor appropriate content, embodying hyper-relevance. It is then able to go a step further and truly demonstrate feature and benefit claims using images, animation and full-motion video. Because we are still in the central, primitive area of the brain in our attempt to prove relevance, anything we can do to inspire trust is valuable.

In a June 2010 Internet Retailer survey, nearly 64 percent of respondents reported watching a user-generated video review, and more than 75 percent of that group said it helped them make a purchase decision — either for or against a product or brand. The integration of dynamic messaging with other third-party applications such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube promotes relationship building by allowing (moderated) locally-generated content. When technology is enabled with two-way communication it can multiply the relevance on screen by merging video demonstration and user reviews, offering the shopper a powerful marketing message with a near-zero production cost.

Relevance is more than just a way station on the road to influence — it allows for engagement. Engagement is sustained when shoppers feel "heard," and relevance must be sustained in order to maintain engagement and enable influence. The longer and deeper the relevance, the longer and deeper the engagement can be held.

Digital in-store technology allows shoppers to personalize messaging and offers a closer version of a one-to-one conversation. Utilizing current technology such as day-parting and camera-based real-time audience measurement, brands and retailers are capable of delivering extremely targeted, demographically-relevant content to shoppers nearly automatically. An example could be personally-targeted messaging conveyed by an interactive kiosk application which ties to a login, loyalty program, e-mail address, phone number or even just your face!

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Ben Stagg
Digital Signage Certified Expert Ben Stagg, director of R&D for Vital Media Inc., is responsible for the technology solutions and deployment infrastructure for Vital Media’s digital signage solutions. Stagg started his own digital signage company in 2004, before selling it in 2007 and joining Vital Media.
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