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Shifting Gears in Digital Signage

  • By David Keene

Wrapping up my visit to NAB this week, I headed not to the airport, but across town to Mandalay Bay, to check out the Kioskcom/Digital Signage Show. NAB and Kioskcom could not be more different. NAB this year did see a good deal of digital signage activity–albeit more of the content routing/workflow side than on the hardware or purely content management software side. NAB is still mainly about broadcast TV, and radio–even as digital signage and DOOH rises on its radar. But over at Mandalay Bay this week, the much smaller show, a more focused show, brought good attendance.

Despite the fact that show organizers like to equally emphasize the “Digital Signage Show” aspect of the event, most attendees and even show staff still referred to the show as “Kioskcom”– which is why I suppose the show’s name has been changed, starting with the show in New York this coming November, to “Customer Engagement Technology World.” This according to JD Events, the show organizer, is to “focus on the expanding role of customer engagement in business success and improved ROI, addressing topics that are more reflective of what the industry has become and where it is going.”

At Kioskcom/Digital Signage Show, I could see on this show floor, this shift. In previous years, the show, starting out as really a Kiosk show, year by year brought more purely digital signage exhibitors. Last year’s show, it seemed like about half and half, kiosk and digital signage. But also last year, everyone exhibitor at the show was calling themselves a digital signage provider.

What I see this year, is that as digital signage moves more to a customer engagement model, and away from the model of just pushing out static content, digital signage–the better digital signage– is starting to act more kiosk-like.

Of course, any trade show, is as much about the conference and educational sessions as it is about the show floor. And JD Events has done a good job of producing some very relevant conference sessions and presentations by top industry players. The “Cooking Up Content” demos were good, and the best part of those: it’s not a one-off at one trade event… It’s a series that goes on, through several cycle of shows (nice concept).

Also good was the opening Keynote by Bill Ratcliffe, SVP North America at BrainJuicer. In the Keynote, "Creating Outstanding Experiences and Content: Engage Customers by Winning Their Hearts," Ratcliffe addressed the idea of appealing to customers’ emotions as much as their rational shopping decision-making. “Win the hearts of people, not their minds,” said Ratcliffe. This may sound vague and touchy-feely, but what’s important about what Brainjuicer is doing is the fact that they are conducting research in this method. They are not just preachy vague feel-good content. They are out in the field conducting real research into how consumers react to different kinds of messaging. More research, and less automatic carry-over of content from other media, is that this industry needs.