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The CONTENT of Dynamic Place-based Media - The Rise of the 'Content is King' Monarchy, Part II: Content
By Lyle Bunn
Content and Opportunity
An estimated 1,080,000 unique advertising spots1 play on Digital Out-of-Home displays across North America during 2010, based on conservative estimates of playloop length and spot duration and refreshment used in the calculation. An estimated 90,000 unique ads are playing on North American displays at any one time.
The Digital Signage /Digital Out-of-Home (DS/DOOH) industry in North America has emerged rapidly (25-50% CAGR) over the past 8 years in particular and ad spending on DOOH continues to grow at or beyond double digit figures annually approaching $2 billion according to PQ Media. DOOH has found its place in the "communications continuum" with other credible advertising medium such as TV, radio, Internet, print, billboard, etc. and is positioned to motivate action and as a "triggering device" to motivate "audience of one" engagements through a handheld, mobile interactivity and website.
The Digital Out-of-Home area of the industry, which is based on third party advertising revenues is comprised of almost 300 networks, which allow advertisers to reach targeted audiences based on demographic profile, Designated Market Area (DMA), geography and even the activity in which they are involved (shopping, transit, café, workout, attending a game, etc.) in presenting messages at points of purchase, transit and gathering.
Providers: Current and Emerging
Current Sources of Content:
Content supplier listings can also be found online (or are emerging) at Digital Signage Universe, Digital Signage Forum, Digital Signage Today, www.DOOH.com as well as in the member listings of Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA) and the Digital Signage Federation (DSF). Content providers are increasingly exhibitors and presenters at industry events.
Some prominent content providers
Alchemy, A St. Joseph Company
Other dynamic media content producers, which offer significant supply capabilities include Blue Pony, Premier Retail Networks (PRN), Met Hodder and EDR Media among others.
Stock video footage or live information feeds
Specialty subject content
For example, Jim Kelly, widely known host and personality in professional golf can provide stock or custom footage of golf-related tips and celebrity interviews. This content is attractive to golfers and high net worth individuals in waiting, gathering and sports environments. Typically these spots do not reference any brands, which assure that no conflicts exist with potential or existing advertisers. Advertisers appreciate the use of short-form, attention-attracting informational content as it can be useful to attracting and holding attention on the display.
Public service announcements
Emerging Sources of Content:
This adaptation is a specialty of the producers of content for other communications devices, which enables an easy transition to dynamic signage content production by the producers of TV, website, billboard, static sign, magazine and newspaper ads.
Agencies have significant opportunity to provide their content production services in producing content that more effectively links the brand and audiences that can be targeted with dynamic media. For example, a Listerine breath strips ad might be presented on an elevator, lobby signage, corporate or campus network with different text messages over the product package graphic at different dayparts as follows:
Morning: "Make sure they want you to do the talking"
As managers and builders of brand positioning and success, and guardians of brand assets, agencies have, in dynamic place-based media, a powerful communications tools for targeted, tactical marketing. Agencies also have a new in-house market for their production capabilities with attractive new revenue potential.
Producers of Static Signs and Digital Graphics
Static sign and digital graphics providers have three options in providing content, including:
Cost of Content
"Free" content does not exist. While costs can be minimized or minimal, the cost of "time" to source, access and gain permission to use available materials to format or produce a spot is a real cost. Considerable caution must be applied in situations where minimal cost could result in poor or negative performance of the spot or the dynamic signage installation at large. Providing "resources" to achieve "priorities" is usually necessary, and this can co-exist with good resources stewardship.
Production costs range widely
Some creative ads display high concept and are justified by their expected impact, long run to large viewer numbers and spectacular presence. These are characterized by ads presented in Times Square.
Many dynamic signage network spots simply involve the reformatting of available media. This might include assigning a portion of a TV ad for playout or most often, recompiling graphic, text, animation and background elements. While authoring tools enable this process, the use of these tools can be like putting power tools in somebody's hands and expecting that these will deliver a piece of carpentry result that meets functional, aesthetic, durability and cost expectations. Talent and process matter. Tools plus talent plus process helps assure quality results.
By displaying spots that better achieve objectives, greater investment in content development may be warranted, which continues the cycle toward better content.
Cost per Spot (CPS)
Content production costs are typically charged on an hourly basis or quoted as a project cost based on hourly inputs. Rates of $80 to $200 per hour per contributor depending on the skill level provided are common. While a typical 15 second spot which re-uses media assets may be composed in 2 to 5 hours, the time required is dependent on the time required for creative input, sourcing of stock images, development, version refinements and approval processes.
Costs of $200 to $600 for simple spots are not uncommon, nor are charges of several thousand dollars for unique and creatively compelling spots.
Technical formatting is the configuring of a prepared spot to meet the sizing, resolution, run duration and media format requirements so that the spot can be integrated into the playlist of a specific network. Each network describes its media file options and requirements in the "mechanical specifications" for spots.
It is common for ads and media primarily developed for TV, print ads or websites to be re-formatted for dynamic signage display. Since many digital signage software products enable this simple reformatting, it is common for a formatting service to be provided by a network operator and included in an advertising rate. The cost of technical formatting typically ranges from $30 to 300.
Adapting available media typically includes isolating parts of existing materials, adding text, animations, transitions and coloration, and composing the new spot by compiling different elements. Depending on the time required, adapting available media typically costs $100-600 per 10-second spot, with longer or more complex spots costing $400-2000.
New content elements such as photography, video, animation and the use of licensed materials add to the cost per spot.
Cost per spot is minimized primarily by adapting available spots and elements from their highest resolution native format, and using style guides and creative processes aimed at achieving high production throughput.
For the network operator, cost per spot is minimized when ads are received in required formats "ready to play."
Cost per Period (CPP)
In a simple example, a playlist of six, 10-second spots, with half the spots changing each week, would have a total of 15 spots per month (6+3+3+3). The addition of play out "zones" on the display, more frequent refreshing of playlisted spots and presenting different spots to target different audiences, would increase the number of spots, and the overall Cost per Period of content. Cost per Period costs can be minimized by simply presenting fewer spots, reducing the refresh rate and shifting spot production costs to advertisers or sponsors, or leveraging the desire of suppliers of content to showcase content they might provide (i.e. public services organization, creative houses, broadcasters, etc.).
The critical balance in assessing Cost per Period is to compare this investment to viewer satisfaction and the achievement of objectives. Often a small investment aimed at improving visually weak spots or in providing several very good spots in an otherwise less-inspired play loop of content can improve the awareness and opinion of the entire play loop, while improving an overall standard of spots for the future.
Economies are realized when a content provider is engaged to provide numerous spots over a period of time.
Cost per Opportunity (CPO)
For example, to reformat an available print ad may cost $100, with the reformatted ad having limited impact in generating brand awareness, sales lift or engagement. It could actually have a negative impact on the brand. Alternatively, a small investment in composing a spot better suited to digital signage could result in better branding, increased sales or service enquiries, and a much better visit or brand experience.
Since Content is critical to the success of dynamic digital signage and the achievement of communications objectives using this medium, resources and skills must be intelligently applied to producing a suitable quality and quantity of content spots. Failure to do so, is to waste the investment in technology, and very likely, to de-brand the products and services promoted on the display, and the locations in which the displays exist.
Value is realized by sourcing Content from a supplier, which has the infrastructure and talents in the use of dynamic digital signage to maximize benefits while minimizing costs.
You won't want to miss Part III of this series as we dive into standards of practice including key elements of design, some guidelines for content creation, and how to achieve that all-important call to action. Stay tuned!
Dr. Lyle Bunn (Hon.), Principal and Strategy Architect, BUNN Co. - Lyle Bunn has been recognized with an Honorary Doctorate for his significant contributions to education and the development of the Dynamic Place-based Media industry. He is one of North America’s most highly regarded independent consultant, advisor, commentator and educator to investors, operators, suppliers and users of Digital Signage and Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) Media. For more information visit www.lylebunn.com
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