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.