By Aimee Chanthadavong

Consultants, technologists, retailers and brand owners filled the room at the recent n.gage Digital Signage Forum in Sydney with 25 per cent voting that they already use some form of digital signage.

But the question was how many of them were being used efficiently.

Chris Heap, Imperative Group managing director, predicts that Australia’s spend in digital signage is due to increase by 230 per cent to $301 million by 2013.

Heap witnessed the success of a working digital signage network when he worked with UK grocery retailer Tesco. He said the network delivered consistently on consumer expectations as it received 90 per cent satisfaction and approval rating from customers.

Also, Michael Hiatt, Dynamic Retailing president, who worked with Walmart on the design of the Walmart Smart Network, saw similar results. For instance the installation of endcap screens lifted sales by 64 per cent for the company.

Hiatt also described the retail environment as being the survival of the fittest and in order to remain competitive, retailers needed to be engaged with what content is running on their digital signage network and where they are placed in-store.

“They need to do this otherwise they’d become irrelevant. Retailers need to create an engaging environment and if they don’t evolve to that then they will fall behind because that is where the future of retail is going,” he said.

“Digital signage is going to turn retail into a dynamic aggregator of information like just like how Google works on the web.”

But in order for retailers to understand what content would be relevant, Shopwork Science principal consultant Mark Fletcher said not one message fits all because each customer has a different purpose as to why they are in a store, therefore it’s necessary to have different content tailored to fit each customer journey.

Similarly Nigel Roberts, phdcreative strategy and brand director, said the three key elements of achieving an effective digital network involves setting a clear objective, optimising the position of the screen and having targeted content.

“Consider it as a holistic strategy. We strongly believe that creating specific content is key. Digital signage is different from static content because it’s a new medium and the biggest issue for marketers is providing content that is suitable,” he said.

Moving beyond the basics of a working digital signage network is using place-based social media, Stephen Randall, Locamoda CEO, said.

Currently prominently used in the US, social media is being used to connect the screens in-store, screens used online and the screens in pockets.

“Our future is not about being mobile; it’s about being connected which can mean a more effective experience. It means your screens usually have a view range of 50 feet and beyond that viewing angle there’s nothing else so you need to feed that information through other screens.”

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