Coca Cola bursts into digital signage

| by Bradley Cooper
Coca Cola bursts into digital signage

The Coca Cola Company is working to bring digital signage to its many suppliers through a mobile app known as Neko, developed with Google. Greg Chambers, global director of digital innovations, Coca Cola, gave a talk at the Digital Signage Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center about how the beverage giant delivered this app, which focuses on a more holistic picture of digital signage and customer experiences. Chambers emphasized that companies looking at digital signage and experience should not look at digital as just a collection of parts, but rather as an entity.

"We need to stop looking at these systems, we need to look at it overall," Chambers said. "Your physical space is your platform."

Coca Cola's splash into digital signage

When Coca Cola entered the digital signage space, they began to splash content on all types of displays, both large and small, such as menu boards, kiosks and even a one-time truck display prototype. Chamber said, "It's fun to put things on the back of a truck."

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods, Chambers said he was getting terrified calls from grocery operators who were concerned that Amazon would crush them. He believes, however, that display technology is the way these retailers can take on the Amazon giant by offering digital experiences.

In order to meet this need, Coca Cola created Neko as a "pace car" to help companies implement advanced digital signage features quickly.

The Voltron digital signage package

Chambers described the four parts of the system as being a bit like Voltron, a cartoon featuring five robot lions that combine into one robot, or Office in that they work well separately, but they work better together. They are Display, Talk, Recon and Quest.

Display allows customers to craft and control their digital signage content for a variety of displays, whether they be TVs or menu boards. For example, a restaurant owner could take some photos of their product and use that for the content for their menu boards.

Chambers emphasized that this essentially allows customers to put HTML content on the display, and, "it's not the most advanced tool out there." But, it is not meant to be the one-stop digital signage solution. For example, customers are allowed to bring in other vendors to use different apps if they choose.

The next component is Talk. This essentially allows customers to change content remotely by simply talking to their app. This is especially useful for Coca Cola employees out in the field analyzing product quality.

Chambers told a story of how Coca Cola employees in the past would often travel throughout the country, tasting Coke to see if the formula was right or making sure the cans looked in pristine condition. With this Talk feature, these employees can update content on displays on the fly.

Recon acts as Neko's analytics package to help customers continue to stay on top of ROI. Chambers describes it as a way to avoid allowing stale content to set in and erode your ROI. For a local mom-and-pop store, it would send PDF files with key analytics information on how a display was performing.

Quest allows customers to bring augmented reality games to their displays. Chambers described how Coca Cola created an AR, "catch the can" game at a basketball game, where customers downloaded an app and got to catch virtual Coke cans. By using Quest, customers can gain access to Coca Cola games and integrate it into their displays, whether it be a gas station POS display or a simple retail display.

The fizz of innovation

The overall goal of this project is not to be the ultimate digital signage solution, according to Chambers, but rather to push various industries to catch up with a more in-depth digital strategy, to act as a "pace car."

He also points out that this product is part of a greater trend of delivering more affordable digital signage to companies. It's no fun when, "you have this new toy but you can't play with it without paying $500,000 and going through a 6-month application."

The key to all of this innovation, as Chambers puts it, is to remember to look at your entire retail ecosystem and see how you can drive value digitally. That will, in turn, help deliver innovative solutions.

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Topics: Content, Content Management, Menu Boards, Restaurants, Retail, Software

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for and His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.

wwwView Bradley Cooper's profile on LinkedIn

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