Digital Mannequin for Retail Clothing

Digital Mannequin for Retail Clothing
Use a "live" model, display more views and more product

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Prince and the Pauper

"Content is King!"

So says everyone.  Except the majority of business decision-makers, who tend to fasten on hardware and software and price.  They can't help it; they just gotta know "how much will this cost me?"

For any DOOH or other digital signage display, the content is critical.  With all the advances over the past 5 years or so, the issue of high-quality content is still a tough one, because, face it, true creative costs something.

Example: I just spoke with a major international brand that is installing a very large, multi-tile video wall in their corporate Headquarters lobby, where everyone will see it.  Great idea!

But they decided, for content, they will go with their in-house app-designer because they don't have a budget for content.  Now, keep in mind, this company manufactures key components for digital displays.  They are a major player.

Ya gotta be kidding me!!!  You have budget to install a very large multi-tile video wall, but you forgot to allocate ANY budget toward content???!!!

So much for "Content is King."  Truth is, for so many otherwise smart business decision-makers, content is an ugly step-child, neglected and unwanted.  Shoot, the content should just come with this great hardware, right?

So the King, the prince, is actually a pauper.  No one will give him a dime.

When was the last time you saw a truly engaging, stop-you-in-your tracks digital display?  Uhh, let me see.... you don't really see them very often, and the reason is, decision-makers focus on hardware and widgets.  Something they can negotiate hard.  Something they can commoditize.  But the all-important content, the message, the thing that actually makes people move, THAT is too expensive, don't have a budget for it, we'll do it in-house.

This is a major reason why this industry doesn't rocket forward.  The value (content) is a tough sell.

People, please: Set budget for this critical component of your display implementation.  If you're a systems seller, or a software seller, or an integrator, get the client to put some cold hard cash value towards their implementation's content!  It will make you look good, and they'll stand a better chance of getting the true value out of their purchase that they intended.  And you'll sell more.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Projected Digital Signage

Why not put a screen in your window?

Because everyone has that.  Well, not everyone, but even a big screen is just a big screen.

Window Video Systems (projected digital signage) allow for eye-popping effects, different size possibilities, customized visual formats, and most of all, a completely different effect than an installed screen.

Window Video Systems (WVS) use projection and rear projection films applied to window glass to literally turn the glass into a video screen---hence the name, Looknglas.

Businesses, especially retail, need and crave fresh, attention-grabbing content.  The key to effective implementation is not hardware!  (Everybody's so fixated on hardware and gadgetry---thanks Apple!)

The issue is, what do you have to say?  What is the value of that message?

Invest in the message, a really good, powerful message, that is strategic and measurable.  All the things I have been saying for years.  Don't invest in hardware, invest in messaging to your target audience effectively, and you'll never go wrong.

Feel free to ask any questions about this system or how it can work for your business.  Let's blow some minds!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Content is KIng - so Bow Down!

It has been oft repeated that "content is king!"

So, if that's the case, why do people consistently try to get their content for free or on the cheap?

So many in Digital Signage and DOOH are systems focused, and so very, very few focused on content production, production values, message, and message strategy.

I think it's often assumed this is the responsibility of advertising agencies, and marketing "people", but if you are installing or running a network, it needs to be your focus.

The message (content) is where the value is.  You can have the best hardware and software platform, the best integration, the best technical support, but if the messages suck, the whole thing sucks.

Think of a Limo without seats, steering wheel or brakes.

Content (message) truly is king, and strategy must be queen, and the DS system, can only ever be the coach and four.

So, qualified, strategic content producers are a critical part of your success equation.  That is, people who know more than just how to make a pretty picture.  People who can create great visual messaging designed to accomplish real business objectives.

We like Phase 3 Digital, because they're both artistic as well as digital and strategy savvy.

Serious investment must be made in that expertise, that marketing message expertise and the appropriate production values that should accompany it.  If the message and strategy are great, but the visuals look like hell, the campaign will fail, and then Digital Signage and DOOH takes yet another black eye.  Don't do that to yourself, to your client, and to the industry; make sure that content and strategy are the best you can get.  Get the best expertise and production at the best price you can, but don't sacrifice mission-critical standards to a bean-counter's mentality.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Digital Signage and ROI

Phil Cohen cracks me up.

He does a video blog called "Cohen on Content" dishes on all things DS and DOOH.  Being a successful owner of a network himself for years, he knows a thing or two about the subject.

So I was watching his latest post, and though he takes a while to get going, he makes some great points.

Point 1:  Don't think you're going to create DS content with Powerpoint.  You don't want him coming after you speaking a language he knows you'll understand.  (He speaks fluent baseball bat.)

Points 2-10:  It's not about impressions.  It's not about eyeballs.  It's about making money.  You have to have engagement, and a way to prove that engagement, be it third party corroboration, sales, track-able promotions, or whatever, you need to show that you are accomplishing something, preferably making money.

DS and DOOH are not about putting up a screen where you think a bunch of people will see it.  It is about effectively accomplishing serious business objectives.  And you don't do that by being the next DIY digital signage failure.  You do it by knowing what you're doing; what hardware and software platforms are apropos to your purpose, and what content and strategy will accomplish that purpose.

"It's about making money!" he says.  And I say,

"Bravo, Phil!"

Friday, April 12, 2013

Engage, Interact, Then What?

Engagement is awesome.  Interacting with your audience, intriguing them, interesting them, entertaining them, and... and... then what?

Many of us have gotten good at engaging through Social Media by creating or pushing relevant or interesting content.  But once that's up and going, how good are you at moving beyond mere engagement to something more business related, like... wait for it... BUYING?!!!  Here's a good example of engagement with audience:

This is a pretty technical display, and not cheap by any means.  How much time would you see yourself spending interacting with this?  Can you see yourself buying as a result?

Personally, I can't see this moving me any closer to a purchase.

Meaningful business-related engagement must be for the purpose of transacting at some point, preferably sooner than later.  The average retailer couldn't dream of investing in this display long term or on a widespread basis.  When the path to purchasing becomes clearer, then this type of display and technology becomes much more valuable to the retailer.

Don't get me wrong; I love this technology and attraction value, but I think it's a little disconnected from the rest of the customer experience in the clothes-buying process.

How would you revise this display to become a "customer-ing" engagement display tool?  How could this be re-positioned to better encourage purchasing?

My philosophy is to use any display like this as a means to attract, engage, propose, incentivize, and motivate to purchase.  But I'm kind of a fuddy-dud that way.

Your thoughts?

Friday, April 5, 2013

What's inside a Digital Mannequin?

I get a lot of requests for info about the Digital Mannequin, and Window Video Systems, generally.

Now, if you asked that question about a standard mannequin, it would be a very different kind of answer.  Materials, structural joints, air, etc.

But a Digital Mannequin is a human representation.  It is not a likeness, it is a digital leveraging of an actual person.  This goes to the issue of content, concept, content creation, the interplay between tech and creative.

The question goes to the point of product (let's say, clothing) and strategically, the best way to sell that product.  What model(s)?  What makeup?  What lighting?  Background, resolution, luminosity, graphics, etc., etc.  Who shoots that model?  How much content do you shoot?  Who selects the shots, angles, location, directs the models, on and on, you get the idea.

And what is the strategic concept for the display?  Display only, or display and promo?  What is the offer and how is it offered?  What graphical style, font, size, color, other effects?

The photo at the top of this page shows an actual model, who was part of a shoot featuring 4 models, multiple costumes, wardrobe personnel, makeup artist, video camera man, director of photography, myself, and several others.  This is not a DIY type of project!

When people say "content is king" these issues are part of what they mean.  The hardware portion of a Digital Mannequin display is only a small part of the effectiveness of DM.  The screen or projection is an important but only small part of the DM display.  If you don't have the expertise in those areas, you need to find that expertise.  Contact me for more info about how we can provide you the best integration, effect and result from your DM display.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Driving Retail

Digital Mannequin, screens in the window, digital signage a point of purchase, all should do more than display if you want return on your investment.

This video illustrates how the window display attracts attention, while larger in-store screens demonstrate specific sales promos.  This method creates the excitement of dynamic motion-display, attracting customers' eyes and attention, motivating them to initial action (coming in the store,) then to buying action (promotional offer at point of purchase.)  At this point, a "customering" offer can be made, text or QR coupon redeemable with the next purchase, or other reward-based promotion.

The important thing is to always include a trackable, measurable call to action.  This is where creating that engaging, dynamic customer experience is possible, where the opportunity to create and strengthen a bond in one single line of messaging and action.

Powerful!  And profitable.  Get your systems, images and messages coordinated and keep them moving in a business-oriented direction.  That's where the money is.  That's where the provable power and life-pulse of Digital Signage is.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sound and Fury

I am not a huge fan of sound with Digital Signage generally.

But being an audio guy (20 years in radio) I appreciate the value of audio communication.  And I want to make one thing crystal clear:  AUDIO ROCKS!!!

Who doesn't like audio?  What am I, nuts?!!!  Of course audio can be very effective.

My position is simply that audio is not always required, or even desirable.  Billboards neither utilize nor need audio to be effective.

At the same time, in place-based DOOH messaging, many times there is already ambient audio playing.  You can hardly go anywhere retail-oriented without being blasted with someone else's idea of a "good" soundtrack or radio channel.  This is not only annoying, it is extremely distracting for many people, me being one.

Audio clutter can be every bit as destructive to effective messaging as visual clutter.  I have always been a proponent of focused, directed messaging, without clutter.

That being said, there are definitely times when audio is not only helpful, it's critical.  When you really want to grab someone's attention, use audio unexpectedly, and with a clear focused point and benefit.  For example: Let's say you have a digital sign hanging in a salon window with an attractive woman modeling a hair style.  If the model were to all of a sudden, look you straight in the eye, and address you, digital though she may be, it would get your attention, big time.  If she then proceeded to call your attention to the fact that if you bring your wife in for a cut, you can get one for free, you'd probably strongly consider the offer!

That entire chain of events began with the disruptive and unexpected use of audio.  A definite advantage.  Like all strategies, when overused, it reaches a point of diminishing returns.  But in small, selective, strategic doses, I like audio for DOOH.  What do you think?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

What They're Not Telling You

When it comes to Visual Messages, particularly in DS and DOOH, people don't tell you when you suck.

Nobody calls you up and says, "Hey, that screen in the airport?  You know the graphic with the -------, that one?  It really blows.  I was so uninterested, I didn't even pay attention!"

You get no feedback on ineffective messaging.

This allows for a great deal of ineffective content to flow right on our there into the space, giving your display, the location where it's deployed, anyone who works there that's close by, and of course you and your company, and the Digital Signage industry generally, A BAD NAME!

Poor visual content and method are responsible for a lot of the fails in this industry.  DON'T CONTRIBUTE TO IT!

This display is a good example of bad.  You'll notice that not one person even looks.  The image doesn't grab you.  It's very faint.  When you finally do notice (which in this case, could be never,) the images don't convey anything specific or relevant.  That is a bad thing for DS or DOOH.  Don't blame the hardware, or the software, or the location.  Blame the execution and complete lack of relevant content.

Develop campaigns that are trackable, and then work on the message.  Tweak it.  Don't settle for the status quo.  Don't assume that it's good enough, or that the results you get are the limit of effectiveness for that campaign.  With visual messaging, it's not always the proposition (or lack of one.)  Sometimes it's the method or style of the visuals surrounding the message.

A great deal more attention needs to be paid to testing the effectiveness, and then understanding why certain visual messages are effective.  In my view, this is an area where DOOH needs to focus a lot more attention.  It's not just about the hardware, placement, software, or management.  It's how that message content is put together and knowing, to the greatest degree possible why a message works or doesn't work.  For that you need measurement and analysis.

You want to make money in DS?  Understanding your content and why it produces the result it does is key to ensuring profitability.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Casio Digital Signage - Failing its way to Success

Casio just announced its new counter-top digital signage products, which, interestingly, use projection.  Being a projected digital signage fan (Looknglas, Window Video Systems) I am intrigued by their product intro, and the concept.

While these little boxes may not come across that exciting, they are an interesting step in what I believe is a very good direction.  Sure, the execution is not super exciting; frankly, kind of cheesy if you really want to know my opinion.  But, exciting at the same time!  Why?  Because they represent an ongoing effort to innovate digital signage at Point of Sale, in an easy to use solution.

I do agree with Dave Haynes' (Sixteen Nine) feelings about the product from a strictly unbiased point of view.  But my problem is that I am not unbiased!  I am all about projection as a digital signage solution, and I am aware of the obstacles the method needs to overcome.  But this is an honest effort.  The solution may not be super effective, but it is a good try.  I think Casio can do a lot better.  The method has a very big upside.

The images and even the packaging are not there yet.  But the thing to remember with any device like this is that the content and ease of use are the most important things.  The design of the device itself can easily be improved.

So, while I am not enamored of this device in its current iteration, I applaud Casio for the effort, and urge them to keep at it.  This is a good step in a good direction for POS merchandising, messaging and display.  What do you think?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Projection-based Digital Signage

I thought it time to revisit this topic from a previous post ("Projected Digital Signage"), to check on the progress of the method.

It would appear that progress is there from a potential standpoint, but not in terms of actual use.  Let me break it down:

Progress:  Components and system software/management continue to improve with prices coming down.  More companies appear to be showing interest in Digital Signage, especially for retail Point-of-sale (POS), and coming out with newer, more versatile components.
A lot of interest has been paid to touch screen technology as it relates to engagement.
The projector industry continues to advance; they have all the capabilities, but they don't seem to be focusing on their product so much as a primary element of digital signage, though more and more seem to be factoring that possibility into their design and features.
We have come up with a solution for the issues of direct sunlight and refracted glare, especially from multiple sources.  Since glare can play havoc with any projection or other screen behind glass, (such as a store window,) this is a significant step.
More and more people continue to express and demonstrate interest in the method, trying it out, but not a lot of long term installs yet.  This should change as we demonstrate lower cost of ownership, and higher value of use.

Needs Improvement:  Pricing needs to come more into line with a level more accessible on a widespread basis.
Most implementations are temporary, and isolated.  To date, I am not aware of any chain which has adopted projected signage across their brand.
Although the method has been used to create "engagement", that engagement has been mostly on a gimmicky, "look what we can do" basis, but not in a functional, ROI-based way to engage the viewing audience for the purpose of directly doing business.  This is a key change that needs to occur.  So far most installs have been strictly for display.  The method needs to be adapted to more transaction-based purposes, for promotion, and especially sales.
More attention needs to be paid to content production specific to the method, and specific to ROI-based objectives.
Below is an example of a WVS implementation with some of the problems I point out:

Although the method has undeniable coolness, its viability for business will not come to fruition until these issues are resolved.
Overall, projection systems for retail have not made the jump to serious, affordable, long-term business solution.  I believe that chasm can be crossed, but the issues mentioned above need to be addressed.

At Looknglas, we have addressed these issues.  When the marketplace comes to grips with the reality that these systems are not widgets, but rather, serious communications and POS marketing solutions, the Window Video System will have arrived.

The Window of Opportunity is here: the problems have been solved by Looknglas.  Let us help you develop your POS window display and promo system for true, measurable ROI.