Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Digital Signage Update Article on Clear Channel's 'Digital Street Network'

An article written by Apogee Partners was email blasted to a large opt-in email base today by broadcast engineering. The article discussed lessons learned from the 1 year anniversary of the largest LED network installed in the world - 80 street level LED displays located at Manhattan subway entrances.

A correction must be pointed out.

A bullet point in the article discussed the need to “Ensure content integrity and security.”. They then went on - for some reason - to discuss a digital signage provider called ADSN that can provide these measures.

Webpavement wanted to point out that ADSN has nothing to do with Clear Channel's Digital Street Network. The network is completely secure and the security measures implemented should be credited to UDN, Webpavement and Verizon Wifi / WiFi-Plus.

UDN is the network operator.
Webpavement is the underlying digital signage software.
Verizon is the wifi broadband provider using WiFi-Plus equipment.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Digital Signage Market Forecasts

Upstarts and other firms commonly ask Webpavement about the forecasted market size for Digital Signage when putting together their business plans. Here is the list that we have to date from various research firms. We will update this as new forecasts are published.

$2.4 Billion by 2009
allocation: 50% Displays / 50% Software & Services

Shenkan & Assoc:
$4.1 Billion by 2007
allocation: 50% Displays / 50% Software & Services

CAP Ventures:
$2 Billion by 2006
allocation: 50% Displays / 50% Software & Services

Weinstock Media Analysis
$2.23 Billion by 2008
allocation: not supplied

note: allocations are estimated.

Webpavement can assist your organization with your efforts in capitalizing on these opportunities.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

NYC - 600,000 Digital & Static Signage for 2012 Summer Games Already Booked

New York City Locks In Space for Ads in Preparation for 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The bookings are part of an unprecedented marketing plan that includes roving squads of "brand enforcement agents" to prevent others from profiting from unauthorized ads tied to the Olympics.

The 6,000 signs include static billboards and digital signs at subway entrances, billboards, times square LED advertising signs and more.

The steps are intended to convince the International Olympic Committee and its corporate sponsors that New York, which has played up its reputation as the world's media capital in its bid to hold the 2012 Games, can adequately police its sprawling and unruly advertising landscape.

Outdoor Digital Signage Does Make Money!

Advertising on billboards and electronic signs in Midtown Manhattan is the most expensive in the world, marketing executives say. Monthly rates for outdoor displays in Times Square range from $30,000 to $250,000, and a single panel on the side of a telephone kiosk runs from $1,000 to $2,000.

New York's bid documents say that organizers expect "a record $822 million in local and domestic sponsorships" for the 2012 Summer Games, and they assure the committee that the city will use "all of its resources to protect the value of Olympic sponsors and the rights of Olympic marketing partners."

The New York Times article is located here (free registration required). Webpavement is the underlying technology driving a large portion of Manhattan's digital signage.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

South Florida Job Opportunity - Comcast Spectacor

If you live in the beautiful West Palm Beach Florida (south Florida) area, there is a job at the brand new convention center for managing the convention center digital signage network. Familiarity with Webpavement software is a plus.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Moviegoers Say Pre-Movie Commercials May Keep Them From the Theater

Last week on CNBC, we heard the results of a survey that show more than half of moviegoers (53%) surveyed say cinemas should stop this practice.

The public simply does not want to see advertisements prior to watching a movie after they paid $10 / head for entertainment.

It is clear that a compromise is needed for cinema advertising products. Cinemas will lose a lot of advertising revenue if they completely abandon movie screen advertising. Further, advertisers believe advertising on the screens prior to a movie is very effective. We queried a media buyer for Outback Steakhouse and she mentioned that movie screen advertising is always budgeted for their media buys. Asked if she (Outback) would transition their media buys to lobby advertising - she wasn't educated enough about digital signage in the lobbies to say yes or no.

On the flip side, cinemas must listen to their customers where the majority believe cinema ads should be eliminated.

Is digital signage a solution for the stakeholders - cinemas, advertisers and the consumer?

Yes. We believe cinemas should offer a number of advertising products at the theater to satisfy the needs of the 3 stakeholders. Among these advertising products, a proper mix of pre-movie advertising and digital signage lobby advertising.

Movie screen advertising should include advertising related to the movies. Upcoming movies and fresh, never seen before on T.V. advertising will sooth the movie goers perception of being sold after paying for entertainment. Movie screen advertisements should - in general - be different than advertisements viewed on the televisions at home.

Digital signage can be more liberal and open to local restaurants and product advertising not related to movies/entertainment. The question is - will advertisers embrace the concept of lobby advertising rather than movie screen advertising? We think so if the screen placement / lobby design are implemented correctly and advertisers are properly educated about this advertising product.

Contact Webpavement to begin a discussion on designing a proper media mix for cinema advertising.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"Store and Forward" -vs- "Store and Pull" for Digital Signage

Many digital signage software providers (Webpavement competitors) will use the term 'store and forward' when describing their respective offerings. It's typically defined by competitors as such:

Competitive Solution Definition:
Store and forward means that all of the playlist files and schedules are assembled at the central location and delivered to the remote players.

Webpavement Solution Definition:
Store and Pull means that all of the playlist files and schedules are assembled at a central location using a web browser and the remote players retrieve (pull) the respective data and files.

Webpavement believes that our competitors statements are true, but are often a misleading statement to the purchasing authority and IT departments. What the store and forward really means is that the digital signage system will 'store and push'.

Store and forward (aka. push) systems are typically desktop grade software packages -- meaning the centralized system is installed on 1 operator's desktop and introduces a single point of failure. Not a data center enterprise grade solution by any means.

Further evidence that store and forward is the wrong approach is the fact that it poses a security threat. Ask the digital signage provider if special firewall ports will need to be opened in the store and forward model.

A system that is designed professionally will employ a store and player pull method that uses port 80 - a port that is already opened on all firewalls. It is a known fact that the more ports that are opened on a firewall - the greater the risk of a security breach.

The last thing you would want to occur on your digital signage network is a hacker posting obscene and inappropriate messages.

Webpavement's Sign Server uses the store and player pull approach. You will be more secure with Webpavement solutions and you will not need to ask your firewall administrator to open additional/special ports.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Times Square Revolution in Digital Signage Good News for Landlords

Have a read on this very interesting article on the monthly fees collected by landlords renting space for digital signs on the sides of their buildings. Monthly checks are rolling into building landlords bank accounts from $40,000 to $250,000 (for times square).

Webpavement believes the times square success can be applied to other top DMA's in the United States and abroad.

Why? With (1) high office vacancies (2) high availability for sub-leasing opportunities and (3) the growth in newly constructed office buildings -- it's clear new revenue channels must be assessed for commercial real-estate developers and landlords. Some real estate analysts have indicated that commercial real-estate is in a bubble similar to Internet stocks in the mid to late 1990's.

An excerpt from the article that impressed us the most:

One Times Square in Manhattan has only one tenant, a Warner Bros. retail store filling the first three floors. The remaining 19 floors are vacant. It's not that Sherwood Outdoor--a partner in the famous building that drops the ball every New Year's Eve--can't fill the space. "Who needs pain-in-the-butt tenants," says Brian Turner, president of Sherwood, "when you've got the largest sign tower in the world?"

The landlords make more money by leasing the space on the outside of 1 Times Square for advertising, he says, than they would from the office space inside. The building's 26 signs bring in monthly rent checks ranging from $40,000 to $250,000.

Webpavement will assist you with your ideas applicable to this topic no matter your locale. Contact us to discuss your opportunities and building locations.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Hosting Client Call

I just got off the phone with one of our hosted clients. She wanted to schedule a avi animation every day except for Monday for the next 3 months to play between the hours of 4pm and 3am. I walked her through the reservation process in a few minutes and she made a joke about how she's going to be on vacation the next month and she ended up scheduling for many more months in advance noting that she could cancel the reservation if she needed to. She raved about the ease of use and flexibility of the system and said she wouldn't have a problem getting it done next time. I said no problem, it was fun.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

U.S. Political Advertising Spending Reaches $1.45 Billion

According to this article, political advertising budgets in the United States from political advertising was about $1.5 billion USD in just year 2004.

Webpavement believes this depicts an opportunity for digital signage and other alternative media forms.

If you look at the chart in the article, you will notice that Internet advertising was included. This is great news for alternative media outlets - it represents a fragmented advertising market and the need to narrowcast to consumers and citizens. What's more, it shows that alternative media runs through a cycle of advertiser adoption - then becomes mainstream.

Do you remember when advertisers were skeptical about Internet advertising? Google's recent quarterly revenue was close to $1 Billion USD.

Webpavement believes that the digital signage industry will follow similar trends and adoption cycles that internet advertising went through. Now, a large majority of all major corporations and media buys include internet advertising.

Alternative placed based media strategists, entrepreneurs and investors/venture capitalists should start considering Digital Signage as the next big investment or business.

Contact Webpavement to discuss your digital signage network business plans and ideas.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Digital Signage Scalability - Transaction Argument

Webpavement continues to receive questions on scalability. Here is further justification indicating Webpavement's solutions for digital signage networks are scalable.

Think of scalability and system architecture as follows. Our system architecture uses a 3 tier approach. It has the webserver, application server (middleware) and the database back end. For large networks, we recommend physically installing the system on 2 powerful data-center grade servers. Fortune 100 businesses use this same architecture for critical systems such as Siebel CRM and Peoplesoft supporting millions of transactions every day.

Apply this to a retail digital signage application. If there are 1000 displays in the field, this would translate into 2000 transactions an hour. Each hour, a media player will make 1 transaction call for the xml playlist and another for the filelist that should be downloaded. This is not a lot of transactions. If you don't require the ability to change playlists every hour and prefer a daily update, then this is 2000 transactions 1 time every evening. The only constraint to scalability is content. It is essential to have enough bandwidth in the data center where Sign Server resides and to create network friendly content that matches the bandwidth available at the retail locations.

Digital Retailing Expo - Clarity Presentation

More Digital Retailing Expo commentary.

After speaking with digital signage industry friends that attended the Clarity workshop, they all concurred that this session was an enlightening presentation and well worth the cost of admission.

Tim Spence's (Clarity) presentation was titled:

Successful Digital Merchandising

The presentation summarized digital signage, showcased some of their success stories and discussed some consumer and technology trends.

Here is an excerpt from his presentation that describes today's consumer and the state of mass marketing:

The “Disruptive” Consumer
–More diverse
–Works longer
–More pressed for time
–Less tolerant of delays or bad information
–Shorter attention span

State of Mass-Marketing
–Mass media increasingly ineffective
–More TV channels / publications than ever before
–No-call list / “Spam” blockers
–Tivo and XM radio

The meat of the presentation discussed Clarity’s Approach to Successful Digital Retailing. They recommend and employ a 3D methodology (not 3-dimensional in the technical sense). Clarity description of 3D is:
  1. Define - program objectives, ROI, existing processes etc.
  2. Design - content, network, SW/HW, screen placement etc.
  3. Deploy - install, poll/interview, track

note: this methodology employs a life cycle approach that continually improves the digital signage program and success factors over time. it's basically a model that continually re-visits the 3D steps - even post deployment. the end result is recurring revenue for the service provider and an end customer that is pleased with their decision in deploying a digital signage network.

Webpavement is partnered with Clarity for large digital signage networks and supports Clarity's 3D methodology to emphasize structured deployments. The 3D approach enables successful project management and includes all stakeholders in the process including the IT department, marketing and other stakeholders/3rd parties. For more information on 3D, contact Clarity Visual or Webpavement to begin a discussion on your digital signage planning.

Friday, October 15, 2004

iSuppli Digital Signage Industry Forecast

iSuppli, a digital signage industry analyst firm is holding a Flat Information Displays Conference 2004 November 17-19, 2004 in San Francisco, California. They will cover the flat panel industry and opportunities in digital signage. Webpavement will not be at this conference, but will update you if anything notable comes out of this show.

iSuppli's newest publication (pdf) called On Display includes a section by iSuppli digital signage analyst Sanju Khatri with updated digital signage market numbers.


Digital-Signage Market Generates New Opportunities

Revenue expected to reach $2.4 billion in 2009, iSuppli predicts

Webpavement delivers the message of the moment

After watching the third Presidential debate I now believe I've had as much political rhetoric as one person can possibly digest. Thank God November is in sight. With all I've heard about flip-flopping and wrong war at the wrong time I am increasingly convinced that successful campaigns (political or otherwise) must deliver the message of the moment. Webpavement products were designed with scalability and ease of use in mind to deliver your message of the moment to the right place (or 2309 right places) at the right time (no pun intended). Contact Webpavement to learn how digital signage can be used in your application to deliver the message of the moment. We promise not to mention Ted Kennedy, John McCain, or the axis of evil.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Digital Retailing Expo Summary

The inaugural Digital Retailing Expo was held in San Francisco October 11-12 2004. There were an array of digital signage vendors and service providers showcasing their technology. Before we recap the show, let us provide a little history and give credit to some digital signage pioneers.

Digital Signage History:
We remember Infocomm 2001 very well. Digital signage was a word that was not common and in all truth - attendees were not interested. They were not interested because they didn't completely understand the digital signage value proposition and it's benefits to the audio visual industry. Webpavement, Fred Systems, Scala, Visual Circuits, Coolsign and Omnivex were the only exhibitors showcasing digital signage solutions back then and are still around today. Of course there were value added distributors (e.g. Activelight) and display manufacturers that were using our digital signage media players in their booths, but we were honestly the collective group of digital signage pioneers.

Fast forward to Infocomm and NSCA 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Attendees were now starting to understand that digital signage is an area of great opportunity. This was primarily due to the CAP Ventures digital signage forecast of a $2 Billion industry by 2006. However, attendees would look at a (a) flat panel display (b) look at the multimedia content and (c) make a judgement that one digital signage software vendor is the same as the other vendor and would probably meet their requirements.

Digital Retailing Expo 2004
There were many signs (not digital signs) from the questions and conversations we had in the Philips Business Solutions / Webpavement booth that indicate the digital signage industry is starting to mature. Integrators and end customers are now asking the correct questions. They understand that digital signage software and hardware providers have built systems that cannot be internally developed. Our industry offers professional systems to meet the demanding requirements associated with digital signage networks and have come to fruition that they should not re-invent the wheel and let us handle digital signage technology.

Integrators and end customers now want to know about the software interfaces, functions and the system architecture (plumbing) that makes a distributed digital signage network operate 24/7/365. The answers to these questions will lead to scalability and reliability answers, software differences amongst the vendors and their ability to adapt to new requirements that surface due to new technology on the horizon.

We had a good time and look forward to working with all of our current and new partners.

This blog is a high-level summary of the show. We will follow up with new blogs that offer more detail on announcements and other happenings at the show. Contact us if you have a specific topic you would like to hear about.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Very Interesting AKA Newsletter Story

AKA is a global industry news resource that publishes monthly publications and articles on digital signage. News stories from around the globe are submitted and made available for digital signage industry observers, ad agencies, media companies, digital signage vendors, service providers, VAR's, integrators and others interested or involved in the growing digital signage industry.

Approximately 23 new articles were released in the latest issue (Sept. 04).

One article that stood out to Webpavement was titled:

"Two Chinese Narrowcasting Firms Attract Foreign Investment, Prepare For NASDAQ IPOs During 2005".

These firms are planning aggressive moves into the United States and abroad. The two Chinese media companies are:

  1. Target Media Holdings, Ltd. - received $15 million in funding from Carlyle Group and is planning a 2005 $150 Million Nasdaq IPO
  2. Focus Media Holding Co., Ltd - received $40 Million in funding from Softbank and is planning a 2005 Nasdaq IPO


For media companies, signage companies, display manufacturers and entrepreneurs in the United States, Europe and other locations - aggressive digital signage plans and public announcements must be initiated to remain competitive.

For smaller businesses involved or considering digital signage networks, digital signs should be installed in attractive locations with technology that you can count on. Be prepared for digital signage network consolidation.

Webpavement can assist both small and large companies currently involved in or considering digital signage.

Contact us to begin a discussion to capatalize on the inevitable growth opportunities in the digital signage market space.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Webpavement and Clear Channel @ it Again..

Webpavement and Clear Channel Spectacolor partnered to install and operate a Times Square electronic billboard. Other parties involved were Barco Media and Lowe Worldwide.

See the press release.

Coolsign Obtains New CEO

Webpavement competitor - Adspace Coolsign - replaced outgoing CEO Karen Katz with Robert Cell according to their press release (pdf). Robert Cell is the former COO of Blue Martini software. See Blue Martini's financial information for the past 3 years here, which indicates they have a good amount of financial resources to achieve profitablity.

This news comes as no big surprise to digital signage industry insiders. CEO's of venture capital funded companies are often replaced when they don't perform according to benchmarks set when signing contracts with investors.

Coolsign is widely known as the digital signage media company that purchased then installed a number of plasma displays for movie theaters, malls and Nevada convenience stores after receiving $14 million in funding.

The life-cycle on their plasma display networks is nearing an end and new strategies must be employed to boost their sales numbers. We suspect Coolsign is seeking merger or acquisition.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Barco Solaris LD - Indoor LED Displays

Barco Media announced a new lineup of indoor LED displays at price-points that are not far out of reach. Read the press release.

Webpavement's digital signage products are the perfect solution for running these exciting new displays in your environment. We are partnered with Barco for total solutions offering the LED displays and a single point of contact for purchasing, leasing and installation/training.

Click here to see these exciting new displays. They come pre-built in 120”, 140” and 150” configurations.

Contact Webpavement to begin a dialogue.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Digital Signage >> Services Opportunity

Gary Kayye of Kayye consulting recently syndicated an article that discusses the need for developing a services side of audio visual solutions and sales.

A segment of his article notes the following:

It all started less than half-dozen years ago with the words "street price" being placed on projector press releases -- repositioning the list price. Then, within 14 months, the average dealer margin for selling projectors dropped for most dealers from about 28% to less than 15%. And, now it's well less than 10%.

Webpavement concurrs with Gary's assessment of pro a/v product sales. With the commoditization of many of the displays on the market today - including plasma and lcd - margins are decreasing and businesses must review their businesses and re-engineer their business models to support this trend.

Digital Signage is a market segment that has tremendous services opportunity. See this chart that was used in a Sony presentation for the projected opportunity in the services side of the digital signage market. Note: Webpavement believes this chart lacks the business consulting associated with digital signage projects.

When selling Digital Signage solutions, your business must have or build capabilities in (1) Information Technology and Networking (2) Content Creation and Encoding and (3) Professional Audio Visual services. You will also need to be prepared to offer (4) business advice and consulting.

Your customer WILL ask questions in all of the above areas. This should translate into services opportunity from your stand-point.

Webpavement has been around the block and has competencies in all service areas related to digital signage. We invite you to partner with us for your digital signage projects and we'll assist you in addressing these in-evitable services requirements.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Webpavement @ Digital Retailing Expo

Just wanted to let our readers know that Webpavement will be present at the Digital Retailing Expo. We will be located in the Philips Business Displays booth showcasing and answering questions about our (1) digital signage products (2) your digital signage ideas and (3) your digital signage initiatives.

Contact Us to schedule a meeting at the Expo.

If you're not able to make the show, we will offer a post-show recap blog on

Friday, September 17, 2004

Webpavement sets the bar for enterprise grade digital signage solutions

We recently posted on Webpavement's scalable digital signage architecture. It is no coincidence that Webpavement is widely known for having the most robust and scalable digital signage platform. After all, we built Sign Server from the ground up with enterprise grade scalability in mind.

Webpavement's robust platform for digital signage is available to our customers as a hosted solution or it can easily be integrated into their existing datacenter. We recently received a call from one of our earliest clients that happens to be a Fortune 100 company. He was calling to let us know how pleased he is that the Webpavement Sign Server installed in his datacenter has been running successfully for nearly a year without ever being rebooted.

For rock solid enterprise grade digital signage solutions that meet the operating requirements of some of the largest companies in the world, look to Webpavement.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

New Paper Like displays from Magink, Gyricon, E Ink etc..

There are a number of well funded companies that are creating paper thin displays that can be remotely and instantaneously changed. They are primarily text based systems that are black and white only.

The providers offering these paper-like digital displays include (1) Magink by Mitsubishi (2) E Ink by Sony and Philips (3) Gyricon by Xerox and others including IBM and Siemens.

This new technology has great promise for the digital signage market.

Webpavement will stay on top of these developments to ensure our software is compatible with these new displays. The new paper like displays are a natural fit for Webpavement. We were founded in 1999 with the premise and best practice for 'display type independence'. Our solutions currently support CRT, LED, LCD, Plasma, Projectors, Holographic and other displays on the market today.

The new smart paper like displays are designed for numerous applications and devices including small electronic devices and large format billboards. They are much cheaper than large format LED displays.

LED manufacturers and LED integrators have not been too concerned about these new displays because they are only offered in black and white.


According to an article in Business Week. Magink's digital ink is the first to offer a full spectrum of colors.

Friday, September 10, 2004

What does Webpavement Mean?

We are frequently asked what the name Webpavement means? I'll start by saying: YES Webpavement is a digital signage company, not to be confused with a paving company.

One of our advertisements visually depicts our name and company vision the best - 'Paving the Roads of the World's Busiest, Most Profitable Intersections'.

History: in 1999 company naming trends were e-, web- and other naming conventions that were targeted towards network and business infrastructure. Companies such as V-Brick, BitPipe, Network Engines, Data Pipe, NetGear and others made company naming decisions to indicate infrastructure.

If you have a look at our logo, you'll notice that their is a W and a P on the yellow bars which turns out to be WP - short for Web Pavement.

The web portion of our name is easy to explain. From the beginning, we knew digital signage networks should be managed centrally through a web based system - hence the 'Web' portion of our name.

The 'pavement' is a play on rock solid and infrastructure. Our solutions are used by many as the underlying technology (i.e. plumbing) for distributed digital signage networks.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Cities starting to favor bright electronic advertisement billboards

Webpavement believes networked electronic advertising billboards (a.ka. spectaculars) in high traffic metropolitan areas is an under-developed market and will grow substantially over the coming years. Webpavement was specifically founded in 1999 to meet the needs of this market. Our mature 3rd generation software products to manage electronic billboard networks has been ahead of its time - until now.

An article by Sarah McBride of the Wall Street Journal recently validated our belief in a news story that proves the sign times are a changing.

It is a far cry from 40 years ago, when the landmark Highway Beautification Act made freeway billboards an endangered species. Since then, billboard companies have chipped away at the law, mostly citing their rights to commercial free speech. Many communities that outlawed billboards found their rules toppled in court as the companies stepped up their legal challenges.

Once the scourge of civic-minded urbanites, large-sign advertising is making a comeback -- and increasingly in electronic form. Developers are cutting deals with city governments that allow them to plaster their projects with razzle-dazzle advertising in exchange for investing in blighted or undeveloped areas, often close to sports arenas. Such projects helped boost spending on outdoor advertising to $5.5 billion in 2003, up 5.2 percent over 2002.

''We're going to see more and more cities identify areas ... that they want to promote as areas of entertainment,'' said Paul Meyer, president and chief executive officer of Clear Channel Communications' outdoor-advertising unit. ``One of the elements of creating that kind of area is spectacular signage.''

Developers and outdoor-advertising companies say they have become more aggressive about integrating ad space into projects at the planning stage, rather than slapping it on in a hodgepodge at the end. And many local governments are actually encouraging them.

Another reason city officials are warming up to these spectacular displays is because they are more attractive than the traditional vinyl billboards and often draw a better-caliber advertiser than the bail bondsmen and strip clubs that sometimes rely on billboards. The new genre of giant electronic advertising relies on digital-display boards, revolving screens and other high-tech gizmos, which planners say are more palatable today.

A Sampling of today's Electronic Billboard Projects:

1. In Los Angeles, AEG, a unit of Anschutz Group, is planning a four-million-square-foot entertainment, hotel, and office development around the Staples Center, complete with a giant wall of advertising.

2. Ellman Cos. plans for a residential and commercial complex near a new sports arena outside Phoenix, got the red-carpet treatment from city officials in Phoenix when they presented plans that showed giant Times Square-style ads snaking up towers higher than neighboring buildings and rows of electronic display screens that obscured the entire top floor of one structure. Phoenix city officials anticipated the tax dollars that would flow in from his 6.5 million square feet of offices, apartments, restaurants and shops. Community advocates focused their efforts on issues like traffic, not the development's appearance.

3. In Washington, D.C., developers of the once-rundown area next to the MCI Center lobbied the city for an exemption to the rules banning most large spectaculars and electronic billboards; it was given city council approval last month.

4. In Toronto's Dundas Square area, the latest strategy to swell pedestrian traffic involves a new steel advertising tower that is 232 feet high. The city hopes the tower will contribute to the renewal of the square, which is home to Toronto Eaton Centre, Canada's top retail center, and the 1.1 million sq. ft. Atrium on Bay retail and office complex, atop which the tower sits. The wow factor is accomplished not only through the tower's size, but also the structure's ability to dazzle viewers with 20,000 sq. ft. of multimedia signage in neon, LED, 3-D, and motion.

The point is clear that multitasking Americans now accept an electronic bombardment of advertising that might have seemed out of line 20 or 30 years ago.

Contact Webpavement to speak with our engineering and business experts to help you capitalize on the electronic billboard trend.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

MCSi News - If you really care..

For those of you that want to catch up on MCSi, here is a link to the messageboard where people STILL post their grievances.

The company headquarters in Atlanta is now occupied by Technical Innovation.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Firms' emphasis on visibility a sign of the times

Opportunities for outdoor LED advertising signage is a growth market waiting to happen. Outdoor electronic billboards are not just applicable for Times Square anymore.

Location, Location, Location in commercial real estate will soon include digital Signage, digital Signage, digital Signage.

Today, businesses negotiate leases on high rise buildings with a high emphasis on outdoor building signage. The branding opportunity for building signage is particularly attractive in areas with traffic problems, such as Atlanta's downtown connector. Commuters spend hours every day in bumper to bumper traffic with nothing to do except talk on the phone and look around at billboards.

The Atlanta Jounal Constitution had an article (9-6-2004-author Maria Saporta) about revenues generated from high rise building signage. It discussed a trend in Atlanta that we believe is present in all major cities in the United States and abroad.

Firms are paying large sums of money for company logo space on buildings for branding purposes. With many interstates converging in downtown Atlanta, building logo's can capture 500,000 eyeballs a day. Downtown logo signage contracts are being signed for $50,000+ annually according to the article.

The building signage deals in metro Atlanta have largely been static back lit signage. Our question is -- if the demand for signage is high-- doesn't this indicate the need for building's management companies to look into LED signage. More logo space is available with an electronic billboard.

As a matter of fact, LED's in today's environment can do more than display logo's - they can now display targeted full motion video advertisements. Now, let's think of the big picture. Advertising LED signs can be installed in vacant lots and other downtown areas specifically for advertising revenue. LED display prices from manufacturers such as Barco are not as far out of reach as one might think.

Webpavement believes LED advertising billboards will become more prevalent in metropolitan areas by forward thinking media companies, such as Clear Channel Outdoor. The opportunity has arrived and the business opportunity is real.

Contact a Webpavement representative to discuss opportunities and ideas for outdoor networked LED advertising screens in your area.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Limelight Media Group Mishap

Thought the Webpavement blog readers would enjoy this story. Webpavement enjoys keeping an eye on the few public digital signage companies that exist today. For those of you that would like to have our public digital signage company watch list, we will post it in a future blog.

Here is some interesting information from David Lott's (CEO) Limelight media group.

Limelight media group (otc: lmmg.ob) is a Nevada based company with operations in Memphis, Tennessee. Limelight is partnered with Impart Technologies of Seattle - a company that has managed services contracts with financial institutions. See the details of their partnership from a June 30, 2004 press release.

Limelight is in the digital signage industry and offers "in-theater," "in-lobby," and interactive promotional advertising mediums for the cinema advertising industry.

The mishap occurred on August 18th. Based on news reports from Investors Business Daily (IBD story) and CNET (CNET story), an un-named source (not sure if it's from LMMG or another 3rd party) reportedly paid $50,000 to purchase then tout the Limelight stock. Emails and faxes were blasted to potential investor lists. Have a look at the chart and pay attention to August 18th's traded shares volume.

The story ends with a retraction by Limelight and an internal investigation. As a result of a Limelight internal investigation, changes to Limelight's structure, policies, and procedures are in process and will be implemented and reported at the earliest possible point.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Scalable Digital Signage Networks

Many callers often ask if Webpavement software is scalable. Scalable digital signage from the customer perspective is typically stated as such - "if we start with 50 digital signs, will your system have the capacity to grow to 100, 500, 1000 etc." The answer is YES. Why? Because Webpavement engineers designed and implemented a system architecture for ultimate scalability.

Webpavement's system architecture is built for scalability. Our Sign Server product is a datacenter grade product designed to support unlimited number of distributed media players (a.k.a. hosts, clients, digital signs etc.).

Sign Server employs a web server, application server and back-end database. The 3 components are considered the brains of a digital signage network. Sign Server can be installed on a single server or physically separated on two servers for ultimate scalability. Rest assured that when you use Webpavement's hosting or managed service - the system architecture that is powering your network employs the 2 server approach.

To further enhance our viewpoint, it is a known fact that enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems used by Fortune 100 companies to run their businesses employ this system architecture. These systems include SAP, Oracle, Peoplesoft, Lawson, Siebel and many more. Webpavement is a digital signage company that uses the same enterprise system architectures as these proven software leaders.

This is the first of what we believe will amount to numerous blogs on scalable, reliable and secure digital signage.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Digital Signage Return On Investment

Digital Signage ROI - in general - is not an easy mathematical equation. This is due to the cross vertical nature of Digital Signage applications and the intangibles that are hard to measure and often misunderstood. Digital Signage is typically sold into various applications such as:

  1. large venues (e.g. sports arena's, entertainment hubs)
  2. retail stores
  3. government/corporate campuses
  4. transportation hubs (e.g. subways, airports)
A great article in Signs of the Times magazine (subscription only) by Steven Keith Platt discusses the ROI for digital signage in Retail. ROI can be determined using R/I where R is the "return" and I is the net "investment".

Webpavement's interest in the article is the fact that digital signage - no matter the vertical or application - has intangibles that must be accounted for when selling or considering digital signage. Digital Signage ROI analysis must consider how intangibles impact consumer buying behavior and perceptions.

Traditional advertising intangibles are mature and accepted by advertisers.
Proof of this theory can be depicted using a toothbrush coupon example. A customer clips a toothbrush coupon from the newspaper and goes to the store to purchase the toothbrush. Hopefully the customer also purchases toothpaste, toilet paper, allergy medicince etc. The return on advertising the toothbrush coupon is very hard to measure because of these cross sell intangibles. However, advertisers understand the intangibles because newspaper advertising has been around for a long time.

Digital Signage Intangibles include Customer Experience, Hi-Tech Feel, Branding and Sales Transactions.
Digital Signage has many intangibles that many of you readers can probably cite for numerous applications. Whether it's product / company branding or customer experience - Webpavement believes that digital signage will eventually catch up with traditional advertising programs.

The digital signage industry (VAR's, End User Organizations, Integrators etc.) must become more effective in communicating and understanding the intangibles received from implementing digital signage systems. Get in touch with one of our representatives to discuss the intangibles of your business initiatives.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Digital Signage Restroom Concept

From time to time I have digital signage concepts that I feel are good concepts for digital signage businesses. For now I'll just talk about one. It's called RESTROOM.TV. Let's face it, restrooms are everywhere. Casinos, bars, hotels, public facilities, retail, churches, and everywhere else you can possibly think of.

One particular application that peaks my interest is office buildings. Buildings have tons of restrooms where business people use them multiple times a day. These people are in the middle of doing business and in a position to act on your promotion. Let's walk through a potential sales scenario. You have RESTROOM.TV installed in a office building where 500 business people work. You approach the nearby deli to advertise on your network. Your value proposition is that you can deliver lunch promotions to hungry people that will be going out to lunch soon. These same people go out to lunch several times a week. This is just one example of a good sales prospect for your network.

This application puts a neat twist on b2b advertising. Say your network is in a building where the people that work there make health insurance purchasing decisions for fortune 500 companies. Health insurance providers would pay premium prices to advertise their services in a place where the audience is made up of people that are making the big buys.

This concept on a larger scale has even more characteristics of a powerhouse application.

Webpavement makes RESTROOM.TV and applications like it come to life.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Subliminal Advertising and Digital Signage

This topic entered our thoughts recently as a result of the political advertising controversy between the presidential candidates. Subliminal advertising has been used for a long time according to experts.

Historically, subliminal advertising was used at movie theatres to include a frame of video that flashed, for example an attractive and desirable bucket of popcorn. This resulted in increased sales of popcorn while consumers didn't realize the frame had impacted their decision to buy popcorn.

In the presidential campaign of 2000, the republicans slid the word democrats across a television advertisement. When it slid across the screen, the word "RATS" was subliminally inserted into viewers mindsets. The objective - arguably - was to associate democrats with rodents.

More recently, John Kerry aired a commercial that included the word "GOD" in the background. Republicans argue that Kerry was attempting to subliminally appeal to the religous demographic. The goal would be to depict Kerry as a man of faith.

Can subliminal advertising effect consumers? We believe it can.

Is this an ethical advertising strategy? This is questionable.

Can Webpavement digital signage solutions display subliminal advertising? Absolutely.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Blog Requests?

Have a digital signage or related topic you would like Webpavement employees to blog?

Contact us regarding your topic. If it's interesting - we'll get started!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

NGN E*billboards - What went wrong?

The following is a story that is not meant to bash a pioneer in our industry, but to offer a lesson on what organizations go through when implementing a digital signage network. Webpavement prides itself in learning and gaining knowledge from now defunct networks such as NGN.

Next Generation Networks (a.k.a. ebillboards or NGN) was a company that was the most hyped digital signage company around the years 1999 through late 2001. NGN was a well-funded company. NGN had raised and burned through $96 million – all this by the time they were poised to trigger the IPO. NGN also received about $30 million cash in exchange for a 30% equity position in the company. With plans to go public and UTX as a partner - who happens to own Otis elevators - the future looked bright. NGN also had excellent content partner relationships that captured the main requirements for digital signage for displaying news, weather, sports and entertainment. NGN even capitalized on coveted political advertising budgets.

We are not sure exactly how many screens they had in the field, but the number was realistically between 7,000 - 8,000 flat screen LCD's and CRT's. Many VAR's, Digital Signage Vendors and Analysts in our industry ponder and reference NGN when talking about the importance of being careful and diligent when rolling out digital signage in convenience stores (c-stores) and other retail locations.

So what went wrong? The root of the problem was (1) the high capital expenditures and operational costs and (2) the 7-Eleven digital signage network deal. We'll comment on each of these items briefly so you can get a high-level overview of the importance to work with a knowledgeable digital signage vendor with products that can save you money on operations and total cost of ownership.

High capital expenditures and operational costs: you can run the math yourself, but let us give you an idea on a couple of the components. NGN utilized various sized LCD and CRT displays. Assuming there were 5000 displays @ $500/display = $2.5 million. Assume 5000 computers @ $1000/computer = $5 million. Assume 5000 phone lines - yes they utilized phone lines with direct dialing because VPN technology was not mature and DSL and cable broadband was not available. The telephone expenditures varied from location to location, but they basically dialed out from the Minneapolis datacenter to each location to deliver new content in a push model. Some phone bills were in the thousands per month (no joke) as a result of phone line abuse. We'll assume 5000 phone lines @ 100/month = $6 million/year. NGN had approximately 150 employees. Assume 100 employees @ $4000/month = $4.8 million a year. As you can see, the expense for running a network of this nature was an expensive proposition from 1999 - 2001.

7-Eleven Deal: NGN was desperate to get into the convenience store business and rushed into a contract with 7-Eleven. 7-Eleven is a leader in the c-store space and NGN wanted a big client to attract advertisers with a broad reach that 7-Eleven encompassed. The deal was for NGN to install displays in every store within 3-4 years. A penalty clause was included in the contract where NGN would pay 7-Eleven millions if it didn’t meet the rollout schedule. An un-named source tells Webpavement that NGN was behind schedule and DID pay millions in penalties to 7-Eleven.

Next we move into the content strategy. The network basis was completely 3rd party advertiser funded and all advertising revenue would go to NGN. 7-Eleven was entitled to 2 insertions in the ad loop and advertised slurpies and other items on the screens, but NGN received no compensation for this. In hindsite, NGN realized they needed to include 7-Eleven in the revenue model. 7-Eleven was not interested in simply re-directing co-op advertising dollars. This is still a current issue in today's in-store digital media network environment, but we believe there are strategies that can be employed to bypass this issue.

Securing displays from vandalism and theft is important in the c-store environment. NGN experienced theft and vandalism. It is unknown the number of displays that were stolen or vandalized, but the number was significant. An example of this resulted in NGN displays taking gunfire from robbers because they thought the displays were watching them. We could plug a Minority report metaphor here, but think it's over used.

NGN ran into other issues with their ad sales model. You see, NGN sold advertisements themselves and didn't succeed in developing other channels for 3rd party commissioned media buying agencies. The main source for interested advertisers were local mom and pop shops that were in a nearby location of the 7-Eleven. NGN sold to these advertisers in the beginning from their 12 regional sales offices, but were losing money on these tiny media buys. Hungry for greater revenue for the sales labor expended, it was determined by executives at NGN that they would just go after the big advertisers. NGN decided they would not support mom and pop advertisers and the sales team was chartered to secure a few contracts with national advertisers (i.e. Coke, Pepsi etc) at a fee that would build the ROI needed to maintain NGN. We believe you can have a mix of local and national advertisers with the proper planning and partnerships.

Fast forward to November 2000. The roaring 90's were over and the IPO was withdrawn due to incredibly bad stock market timing and the poor overall health of the technology sector. The much hoped for $115 million IPO was nothing more than a fast fading dream. Without the IPO dollars, NGN was forced to seek out other sources of funding. Eventually, an additional $30 million in private financing was promised from Caisse du Depot (CDP). If CDP had followed through with all the promised installments, the total funding committed to NGN would have hit $126 million. Instead, CDP pulled the plug in October 2001, rather than following through with the full amount.

NGN could not maintain their business model and the company liquidated. Regal Cinemedia purchased all of the assets and the proprietary technology from NGN. This is the end of the story. FYI - NGN had proprietary technology that was ahead of its time for the late 90's. The technology met the requirements back then, but probably couldn't compete with the likes of Webpavement and other digital signage vendors that survived the market and are still around today.

We are interested in receiving a copy of Jeff Porter of Scala's workshop on the Top 10 Best (and Worst) Digital Signage Deployments. Jeff will be talking about these at the digital retailing expo.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Sony & Activelight Webex Conference Call

Just got off the Networked Display Webex presentation conference call from Sony Business Solutions. They discussed their new plasma displays (no LCD's yet), Digital Signage players and display control cards in conjuction with Activelight. Activelight is a great value added distributor who is supporting and help develop the digital signage industry. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

The biggest news - from our point of view - was the second slide. The slide stated that Sony's new strategy for digital signage is to not be a BOX seller. Sony's business solutions group desires to offer total solutions including products (hardware,software), services and network management. This is a move that differentiates themselves from the likes of their display manufacturer competition. We believe this is a wise move, but can argue their ability to offer total solutions in the ever changing landscape of digital signage. What's more curious here is that they have a partnership with Convergent. What will become of this partnership? If Convergent is a part of this new strategy, we're sorry for the above comments. However, Convergent was not mentioned on the conference call when they explained Sony is a total solutions provider.

Sony also introduced networking cards for controlling displays. Sony's new networking cards seem very familiar to what Philips Business Solutions Group have had for a couple of years. Webpavement partnered with Philips to create NetLink - which is basically what Sony is launching. Here you will see a Sony technician examining and taking notes at the Philips booth (networking cards section) at Infocomm 2003. We have to hand it to Sony - they can really bring products to market quickly.

Back to the WebEx conference call notes. Sony's digital signage products include the NSP-100 and the NSP-1. The NSP-1 is expected to be available in September. What we found interesting is the fact that the NSP-1 cannot be remotely operated. See for yourself here from Sony's presentation slide. This means that the NSP-1 can only be locally operated - not a good idea for distributed digital signage.

Don't get us wrong, Sony makes quality plasma's and great consumer electronic products. However, if you would want to partner with a company that is purely focused on Digital Signage - we urge you to get in touch with Webpavement to discuss your needs.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Digital Signage and Homeland Security

Webpavement is receiving a lot of telephone inquiries asking if digital signage can display terrorism status alerts in support of the Department of Homeland Security. The answer is YES. What's more, Webpavement can send alerts to thousands of screens within 1 hour.

To most callers this appears to be magic and great news. We have had this functionality for years for retailers, but knew these features could be leveraged for outdoor LED threat alert information displays and indoor LCD threat alert information displays.

It's only logical we are receiving these inquiries. With a $40 Billion budget in place, first movers that aggressively target homeland security digital signage systems will reap the most benefits. Companies can profit off the back of this budget.

We encourage companies to let Webpavement technology and your ideas target department of homeland security by pitching threat alert information displays.

Webpavement software is ready for Homeland Security alerts. Webpavement supports:
  1. Real Time Emergency Alerting Functionality
  2. Scheduled Threat Advisory Level Graphics can be sent to thousands of screens within 1 hour
  3. Department of Homeland Security news and current threat advisory levels can be dynamically displayed in a crawling ticker

Friday, August 06, 2004

Looking for a Digital Signage Single Solution Provider?

Why are companies considering deploying digital signage networks looking for a single solution provider for all their digital signage needs? There are some benefits to contracting with a single source provider to meet your digital signage project needs. For instance, you typically will have a single point of contact for consulting/engineering, product acquisition, installation, operations, support and billing. Resource strapped companies are increasingly looking for a 'one stop' shop to meet all their small digital signage project needs. This approach works well for simple digital signage projects with clear requirements; and this is why we launched DSN Direct. DSN Direct is an online digital signage superstore where potential digital signage customers can learn about various components from many different manufacturers in a digital signage implementation and order the right products for their needs.

In more complex digital signage implementations, this approach doesn't work so well. The truth is - execution of a larger digital signage implementation requires diligent requirements definition, planning, and research in compiling best of breed technologies that ensure a scalable, robust, open and reliable platform. Selecting a single source provider to meet all your digital signage needs will likely not bring success as 'digital signage' firms must have core competencies in the digital signage value proposition. Otherwise they dilute their value by trying to be all things to all people. For instance, should display manufacturers be condiered a viable source for content management and distribution solutions? Should content management solutions include content creation tools? Careful, don't box yourself into a proprietary and unopen solution.

Instead, let Webpavement consultants work for you to fully define your requirements and look for best of breed solutions to meet those needs. Webpavement has experience and competencies in information technology, networking, systems integration, pro av, media creation and other skills needed to offer a total solution for digital signage.

Contact us to schedule a callback from one of our knowledgeable personnel.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Sony Digital Signage Flip Floppers

Sony surprised many in the digital signage space when they announced at Infocomm 2004 Atlanta they would be stopping R&D on the NSP-100 player and going with a new player called the NSP-1.

Sony marketed the NSP-100 as a non-pc appliance and spent a lot of money claiming that a PC is not the way to go for digital signage networks. Do any of you readers remember the Marketing Glossies they distributed at Infocomm last year? The handout was titled "A play by play comparison" and it attempted to show their player was superior to the PC. Then Sony flip-flopped and introduced the NSP-1 at this year's Infocomm, which is a PC and is based on Linux.

By the way - they don't even make this product. Here is the true manufacturer for their new invention:

Good thing Sony's digital signage marketers aren't running a political campaign or they'd be labeled a flip flopper. Webpavement is a refreshing alternative to Sony's undecisive products in the digital signage market.

New Companies will Cash in on Linux Deployments

Webpavement was founded in 1999 and internally debated whether to design our digital signage player software for the Linux OS or Windows OS. We talked about our future plans and the risk for our customers and investors. Linux came up as a discussion point because it's free and would lower the end user cost. Many industry analysts can argue that the total cost of ownership for Linux may be higher than Microsoft operating systems.

We chose to develop on the Microsoft platform using Microsoft development tools for the following reason. We believe it is risky for software manufacturers to utilize Open Source Software (OSS). SCO Group (NASD: SCOX) is litigating against Software/Hardware manufacturers and end-user customers that utilize Linux. Webpavement does not utilize any OSS operating systems or components. Further, should an organization want to acquire Webpavement - they would surely go through our intellectual property and source code to identify open source components. In other words, acquirers see OSS components as a risky investment.

Today's news regarding Linux is further evidence that we made the right decision. Linux may appear to be free, but is it really? Today's news story indicates a trend for Linux that companies will try to cash in on Linux end customers. The Forbes article - in our opinion - depicts the trend has started.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Open Source vs Microsoft

I have had many conversations regarding Linux vs Microsoft and Mozilla vs IE for Digital Signage Software. Webpavement as you know is based on Microsoft technology. Here are some thoughts to ponder:

Since well before the current Mozilla vs IE debate, open-source folks have been loudly proclaiming that their way is better and more secure than closed-source vendors like Microsoft. Typically, there is not much dissention from this position, but I think there should be. There are several contentions that open-source supporters make that are taken as fact when they are really lacking objective evidence in support of theclaims. Here are 3 bigs ones that bear more discussion.

1.      "Open-source developers are inherently superior because they doit from a 'love' for their subject rather than for money." --- HonestlyI have no idea why people even make this claim. It cannot truly be proven and is pretty prejudiced to boot. I know plenty of people who LOVE what they do and happen to get paid for it. In fact, I'd bet most people who work on open-source applications would leap at the chance to give up whatever job they have to get paid to work on the applications they love. No, simply because one group of developers is paid and one is does not logically lead to the conclusion that the free code is better, or more secure than the code that is paid for.

2.      "Open-source code is more secure because so many more "eyes"look at it and study it for flaws." --- Really? Does every person who looks at the code study it for flaws? Aren't some of the folks looking for ways to add things to it? Is EVERY piece of the code studied? I once spoke to an open-source supporter who admitted to me that some code is more interesting than other code and that there are definitely pieces ofthe applications that get much less scrutiny than the rest. The assumption of the argument is that all these "eyes" are looking at everything equally and that is just not the case. One could argue that it is more likely that EVERY piece of an MS application is more likely to be looked at than every piece of open-source code because someone at Microsoft is paid to look at it. More eyes does not necessarily mean more secure if those eyes are ignoring some of the code.

3.      "The fact that so many more security problems arise with IE versus Mozilla proves open-source is more secure." --- Maybe yes and maybe no. Microsoft is a victim of its own success to a point here. Every time there is a problem with IE, the entire world hears about it. There are entire organizations and mechanisms to report such flaws to the community. Worse, Microsoft has to be careful when they "fix"problems because of the potential that they could cause a customer great harm by breaking something else that is not even their software. MS has to report when they issue a patch and test it for some period of timebefore releasing it. The open-source software is under no such constraints. How many security flaws are fixed silently by the open-source community? Don't the folks at places like Mozilla have a vested interest in fixing these things without publicity? Is anyone trying to scrutinize every change they make? In addition, does Mozilla really need to worry about compatibility issues when they fix something? Since you don't buy Mozilla, they have no "customers" as such and are not legally at risk if they "fix"something and break someone's mission critical application. In short, there are more reported flaws with things like IE, but that does not mean Mozilla does not have just as many. There are unquestionably some advantages to open-source software versus closed-source software, but I remain unconvinced that the advantages areas great as claimed. At least with regard to Digital Signage.

src: ntbugtrak

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Inaugural Digital Signage Post

Welcome to Webpavement's Blog Spot for digital signage. Webpavement employees will post messages here to (1) address topics that we find interesting or are frequently asked and (2) promote awareness of Webpavement and the digital signage industry.

There are many other terms for this industry according to Bill Collins AKA website including captive audience networks  ·  narrowcasting  ·  digital media networks  ·  datacasting  ·  electronic billboards digital signage · electronic display networks · out-of-home media networks · digital in-store merchandising · retail media networks intelligent visual information systems  ·  place-based media  ·  captive audience networks  ·  datacasting  ·  ·digital media networks

Webpavement has settled in on Digital Signage as the industry term.