NEC Fires Another Salvo

By David Keene

NEC announced Tuesday this week, that it was making its VUKUNET digital signage software management platform available, free of charge, to any network operator (including those not using NEC hardware). The move has set off discussion about SaaS software models and SaaS market share wars, but that issue is not what this news is really about.

The real question, is whether NEC– or anyone– will be able to create a truly aggregated national ��network buy” platform for DOOH.

As NEC’s Ashley Flaska wrote in the pages of the Digital Signage Best Practices Guide earlier this year, “ advertisers… won’t jump into digital signage aggressively if they have to catch each network on a hook instead of being able to cast a wide net across many networks at once. In other words, in order for advertisers to invest more of their budgets on digital signage networks, the networks should combine more screens and they should interact with ad agencies in the same way as traditional media.”
You can read the Digital Signage Best Practices Guid at:

Dilemma: to date, large advertisers just have not had the time or resources to contract with so many individual networks with various locations in hotels, universities, convention centers, airports, retail stores and other public spaces.

But what does this have to do with Vukunet? Isn’t Vukunet a SaaS digital signage content management software platform? What does that have to do with Advertisers?

Vukunet can not be separated, in terms of NEC’s strategy, from Advuku–NEC’s platform for allowing Ad agencies to do a national or regional, multi-network Ad buy.

Vukunet is coming along pretty well, in terms of getting small and medium size networks to sign up. This was the plan: get them first.

Bu why should larger networks sign up? Don’t the large national networks, who have spent years building their proprietary networks, be reluctant to share their clients and locations with all? The answer is same answer you’d get when analyzing any media: it’s all about inventory. Even the big networks already in place today, have lots of unused inventory. And eventually, they are going to want to broker that.

If Vukunet takes off in a big way, next step: taking Advuku to the next level, so that agencies can start placing the buys…..

This is the News release from NEC on Tuesday:

NEC Display Solutions has taken a step to accelerate the growth and success of the digital signage industry by making its full VUKUNET digital signage software management platform available, free of charge, to any network operator.

The VUKUNET Content Management System is a robust Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that is fully hosted, managed, and supported by NEC. Developed by NEC, the VUKUNET CMS meets or exceeds the capabilities of dozens of commercial SaaS digital signage solutions, but has none of the start-up or substantial monthly subscription fees that keep many networks from profitability.

”NEC is making it easier for companies to run digital signage networks by empowering them with tools that take out costs and help grow their businesses,” said Pierre Richer, president and COO of NEC Display. “We are trying to simplify the complexities of the signage market and drive this industry forward with a free CMS solution. The fragmentation of this industry is the biggest obstacle to growth, and those days are finally over.”

Launched in November 2009, the CMS solution is part of a suite of software products that comprise the VUKUNET platform. VUKUNET also includes a universal ad-serving solution with modules that enable network operators to make money through advertising, with no sales effort and minimal technical effort. The VUKUNET solution creates a sophisticated advertising marketplace that bridges ad buyers with networks, and largely automates the ad scheduling, playback and report process across hundreds or thousands of screens and networks.

When VUKUNET was first launched, the CMS solution was made available to networks that registered for ad-serving and to clients buying NEC Display products. Those restrictions have now been removed and any network, regardless of what display panels they use or whether or not they will make programming time available for VUKUNET-served ads, can take advantage of the free CMS.

“We strongly believe VUKUNET helps networks and the industry as a whole to succeed by offering a reliable, free solution that lets networks put their operating expenses instead into critical areas like content development,” explained Richer. “And then we offer a very simple way to generate new ad revenues, with NEC doing all the selling, execution and admin work for them.”

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