Retail digital signage coming of age: Hughes and SignStorey deliver high programming compliance and reliable solutions for grocers
When SignStorey and Hughes began working together in 2004, they set out to deliver a high-performance digital signage solution that would be built around the highest levels of compliance, ensuring continual, timely and accurate content delivery.
Under the terms of the agreement, SignStorey manages the end-to-end in-store media networks for grocery retailers, supporting four key operational services areas—operating the company’s broadcast infrastructure; managing the deployment of field equipment; managing and scheduling all content channels; and managing field equipment maintenance. Hughes provides SignStorey the complete satellite broadband solution that accurately and reliably delivers the content, utilizing its nationwide HughesNet service delivery platform. Hughes also provides a two-way communications link, allowing SignStorey to continuously monitor when and what programming has run, on every screen in the network to provide data for compliance reporting.
Two years later, SignStorey and Hughes aren’t just delivering industry-leading compliance. In fact, the in-store networks SignStorey has installed at more than 1,250 stores with six retail chains nationwide achieve over 99 percent compliance. Comparatively, Point-of-Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) found that only 50 percent of non-digital, in-store advertising is displayed in the manner, location, and period intended (“Effectiveness of Point of Purchase Displays as a Measured Medium with Selected SPAR UK Stores,” 2004).
As more grocers embrace the promotional and loyalty-building opportunities created by in-store digital networks, it is advances in technology that are making the investment worthwhile.
Why technology matters
Retail digital signage (RDS) is one of today’s fastest growing marketing strategies. In 2006, marketers will spend $1.2 billion to advertise on digital signage networks, and spending is forecast to grow at a rate of over 20% a year.
Retailers use RDS networks to push in-store promotions and their brands, as well as to increase revenue streams by selling ad space on their networks. These opportunities are now viable as the cost of high-definition display technologies has come down, and as marketers have become more aware of how shoppers best respond to promotional information.
Marketers increasingly see a dwindling of mass media’s influence over purchasing decisions due to the fragmentation of traditional customer communications channels, particularly at home. They also note consumers are making about 70 percent of buying decisions on impulse, in the purchasing environment.1
The value proposition for in-store networking has never been stronger, but it takes the right team to deliver the full promise of RDS.
“We’ve spoken with signage operators and retailers who were seeing compliance rates as low as 60 percent,” said Todd Becker, senior vice president, technology and product engineering at SignStorey. “That’s four out of ten times that advertisers were paying for an ad that was never delivered as promised. That’s simply unacceptable.”
Becker explains that some RDS providers rely upon third-party auditors to assess compliance. Auditors review programming over an extended period of time and report whether or not content was played after the fact. These auditors might discover that in-store employees change the channel, turn down the volume, or turn off the monitor completely—without anyone ever knowing. Auditors also might find stores are playing the wrong content at the wrong time, or that different stores are playing different content.
While the information auditors report is valuable, such a system creates a reactive response, where the opportunity to reach the target audience is lost and advertisers must reassess the value of the ad buy against what was actually delivered.
Conversely, utilizing the nationwide HughesNet service platform, SignStorey has the benefit of always-on, two-way broadband connectivity that enables identification of problems in real-time, not after the fact. “The HughesNet two-way satellite network lets us centrally monitor our customers’ networks. For example, we can tell if a screen is turned off, the audio is not working, or if nothing is playing at all. And we can address it in the moment,” says Becker.
Moreover, satellite’s unique multicasting capabilities allow SignStorey to simultaneously blast content across a network. If a grocer has 400 stores across the U.S. and an advertiser purchases time on all 400 screens, SignStorey can leverage the HughesNet service to reach all the stores at once and confirm that each and every store has the ad and that the ad has run as scheduled.
A penny saved…
The two-way and multicasting capabilities of satellite appealed to SignStorey as it sought to improve the value proposition of RDS networks by offering advertisers higher compliance. However, on a pragmatic level, Becker says the solution from Hughes also provides a ubiquitous network that allows SignStorey to install service at any location using just one network provider.
“Unlike other networking technology, satellite can go anywhere and is by its nature, a multicast medium,” says Ken Cohen, assistant vice president, Hughes. “If in the future SignStorey needs a terrestrial networking solution such as DSL for a particular customer, we can provide a fully integrated satellite and DSL network, maintaining all the advantages of a single-vendor solution for them.”
“You know when you move and have to switch from one cable or telecom provider to another because your service provider is different in a different county or city? It’s no different with business,” explains Becker. “Only, if you have
2,000 locations that need cable or DSL, that’s more than a few companies to manage. What’s more, businesses also have to deal with local providers’ installation schedules—that is, someone tells you to be there between 8 a.m. and noon, and then no one shows up. With Hughes as our partner, we have a single source for all our broadband networking needs, allowing us to focus on our shoppers’ media experience and management of our network.”
All these advantages are not only felt directly by the customer from a service perspective, but also from a cost benefit. “Our pricing is very competitive because we have such an efficient way to manage our network,” says Becker.
For customers seeking the right team with the right technology, Hughes and SignStorey are offering the complete package.
1 AMR Research, "The 21st Century Store Tech Trends Survey: Targeted Investments to Enhance Customer Interactions," August 2005, Garf, Robert and Scott, Fenella.