Posts Tagged ‘Lyle Bunn’

When and How to Engage Digital Signage Suppliers

August 1, 2016

Supplier 1

Over an 18-month period, a large grocery chain had a standing time of 2PM on Thursday afternoon to hear from vendors about digital signage. A vendor calling to try to book a meeting was delighted to have a date offered by the secretary, who simply flipped forward to the next available Thursday at 2pm and added the vendor’s name to the calendar.

Whoever was able to attend from the grocer’s impacted departments such as marketing, IT, merchant relations, facilities and human resources would participate in the meeting. Hundreds of vendors presented, with some presentations including partner suppliers that might be part of a final solution. Many would request, and be given a second date to focus on key elements of the technologies in a possible solution.

Not very far into the information gathering process, the grocer came to believe they knew more about the medium than the vendors did. Whereas vendors were focused on the element of their particular expertise, the end user was seeing the big picture comprised of these individual elements and assessing what would be required for them to benefit most from digital signage. This chain had been an early adopter of looping video show on portable TV for product promotion, and their distance learning satellite system had been central to their staff training and internal communications strategies.

“Everyone believes their part is the most important” I was told by someone from the large grocery chain, “and very few had any idea of what it would take to truly do a cost/benefit or investment analysis, or create an overall project plan. Many did not appreciate the implications of implementation or the business challenges to be addressed”.

Despite this time consuming exercise, and the benefits that it could deliver, no investment was ever made. “Hearing about all the moving parts, system complexity and lacking the time or motivation to assess application possibilities and real ROI, we decided not to proceed,” said the grocer representative.

What are the lessons?

  • Digital signage needs to integrate into existing operations and do something better than existing approaches.
  • The property operator (in this case a retailer) is but one stakeholder in the decision process. In retail, merchants matter.
  • Technology follows intention. Presenting a solution when there is no appreciation for the business problem or opportunity is a waste of time.
  • Business value motivates investment.
  • Vendor selection was seen to be a complex undertaking, with the potential impact of the intricacies of specific solutions having to weighed in establishing the total cost of ownership.

The end user did the right and usual thing in investigating potential digital signage use, but became buried under the mountain of information and worthy considerations. Each department looked to every other one to identify themselves as the project champion, which points to the key learning.

The project champion along with lines of authority and responsibility must be clearly established as an initial step in the investigation and planning process.

Vendors found themselves laying their “pearls before swine” as the concept of operation that could be called “equal yoking” was never instituted.

Many suppliers presented their solutions while meeting the end user eye-to-eye. They were eloquent in presenting the “how” of digital signage that they would bring. They described the trunk, legs, tail, tusks and other parts of the elephant with which they are familiar in great depth, while overlooking the importance of establishing why an elephant is important to the enterprise.

A stronger positioning for the supplier would have been to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the end user to determine how the future could be different.

An “equal yoking” would result, as when beasts of burden are joined by a yoke placed around the neck of each to harness and direct their individual contributions.

Each of the end user and the supplier have a role to play. As each oxen or pulling horse in the yoke is entitled to expect the contribution of the other, lest they go in circles, so it is with end user and supply organizations.

Clarifying, refining and even validating the description of benefits that are to be derived is a mutually beneficial effort. The end user gets investment validation while the supplier is provided the opportunity to describe how their solution will maximize the benefit.

A wise procurement executive in a retail organization explained it simply as we were about to go into interviews of a short list of possible turnkey solution providers. He said “I just want to learn one thing… are they here for our benefit, or for their own”.

The best advice to end users is to define the business value and understand what “content” will be presented to achieve the greatest benefits. Then, technology selection can be made with the focus on fair and reasonable total cost of ownership over the operational life of the technology ecosystem.

End users should not become the swine toward which the best of suppliers will not cast their pearls. Those who bear little burden for describing their intentions will loose the benefits of being equally yoked with suppliers that are most capable of delivering highest value.

The best advise to suppliers is to appreciate that digital signage is a business tool that must serve the interests of multiple stakeholders, each of which must have comfort in the benefits that will be realized against a total cost of acquisition and operations. It is on this basis that the industry continues to grow, and the best of suppliers are rising to the top.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator related to digital place-based signage who has assisted hundreds of organizations, published over 350 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals.


What Big Data means to Digital Signage

August 1, 2016

Data Complexity


The cliché, catch all phrase “big data” has confounding marketers who ask, “where do I start” and “what do I do with it”. Everyone in the marketing supply chain should be aware of the value that they bring to this dilemma and opportunity.

For digital signage providers and end users, the digital-ness of digital place-based media offers some immediate and high value answers when systems are organized to capture and apply insights.

Insights are the result of using data in all its levels of abstraction from data to statistics to information to knowledge to wisdom.

As will be presented in a July webinar hosted by BUNN, each level of data can contribute to the communications goal supporting both capture and exploitation.

Data results from transactions. An inherent value of digital signage is that it is always working to be causal in transaction generation in the form of purchase requests and enquiries and in leading the consumer down the path to purchase.

The “muscles” of digital signage are flexed further toward intended outcomes when cause and effect are the basis of message presentation.

Think of a quick serve restaurant (QSR) drive-thru in which the digital order confirmation board is used to suggest menu options. Order data related to time of day, weather conditions, number in the drive-thru party or a revisiting patron provide data per transaction which when reflecting multiple transaction are statistics and provide information that can be used to predict probable future transactions.

In that same drive-thru, the suggestions of different menu items that can augment the patron order offer additional insights, which when applied in future can change the transaction pattern.

This allows the QSR to move from message presentation to applying a prescription of suggested items relative to the order, and then to a predictive model of menu suggestion. The result in each case is higher revenue and margin per transaction.

“I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts,” notes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author of Sherlock Holmes stories. Dr. Holmes knew about the application of data.

Facts have a transformative influence on business. Truth, as reflected and supported by fact, are the basis of modern commerce.

This transformation in business began in the “management by objectives (MBO)” movement of the 60’s, and computational power that began on the 70’s led rapidly to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) which sought to align resources with priorities. Operational efficiencies in back office functions such as improved inventory awareness, point of sale and supply chain management spawned automated management based on business rules with attention paid to exceptions.

Most enterprises now have adequate back office systems. The insights model of data levels of abstraction has transformed business operations.

Through this, marketing has shifted slowly from being primarily a creative exercise into the rule-base science of revenue and profit-delivering efficiency.

Marketers believe intrinsically that they are creating a new reality for their product, service or enterprise. This creativity is manifested in jingles, tag lines and icons drummed into consumers with huge advertising budgets. It was the age of Mad Men.

Every marketer, C-Suite and investor begged duplication of the past branding successes of “a little dab’ll do ya”, Kodak-moments and the Rice Crispie Kids. Madison avenue asks for, and get, the money.

As the internet of the 90’s began to transform marketing through increased access to information and the e-commerce and mobile commerce, and social media that have followed, agencies have simply added these arrows to their quiver of billable services.

Through this, brands and retailers have focused on gaining return on bricks and mortar investment, most recently adding “owned” media, such as place-based digital signage to “paid” media investment.

Now, digital signage has become essential to activating revenues. The traffic that is delivered to the premises by “paid” media is activated by the on-site digital signage that is “owned” by the enterprise.

Analytics associated with on-location digital signage use, are the transformative influence on the modern and growing business.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon.) is an independent analyst, advisor and educator in the place-based digital media industry. He has assisted hundreds of organizations in their planning, sourcing and optimization of the media and has helped to train over 10,000 marketing and supply professionals.  

The DNA of Award-Winning Signage Offers Lessons

August 1, 2016

Awards 1

Awards commend innovation and best practices. They recognize intelligent investment and allow everyone to celebrate in advancements. They make us wonder who contributed and who benefited. But what is in the NDA of an award-winning application of digital signage.

While the medium serves a rapidly growing number of firms across every sector of the economy for patron, shopper, traveller, staff and student communications, it is most fully embraced by the “needy and the greedy,” those whose survival is most dependent on cost-effective communications, and those at the other end of the scale that have a veracious appetite for greater productivity of place, processes and people.

Most nominees in digital media award programs such as DIGI, APEX, Customer Experience, POPAI or Infocomm follow a similar script. A problem or opportunity is addressed by the use of digital media. Since this describes virtually all digital signage initiatives, the real merit-worthy differentiation lies in the “how” of planning, investment and the application of the right tools to achieve results.

Award winners live in a digital signage “moneyball” world in which data drives decisions.

  • The magnitude of the problem or opportunity is articulated.
  • Possible outcome scenarios are described as benefits are to be realized.
  • The costs of the sourcing and operating options are quantified.
  • The merit of investment is validated and considered against other priorities.
  • The right people are engaged and actions are taken. (See a previous blog concerning the right digital signage team).

The data and information elements of the options are typically described as a comparison of the costs and benefits of different options. This is itself a challenge given the range of options available and the skills that vendors exhibit in presenting their “solution”.

The sourcing options are then viewed through various “lenses” that allow the end user to define the approach that best suits their culture, overall priorities and capabilities.

The DNA of award-wining signage initiatives clearly demonstrates how the problem was overcome or the opportunity was realized.

Digital signage is knowledge-based industry and projects cause an overlap of the priorities and expertise of different departments.

The best of the best digital media projects are a demonstration of consensus-building and collaboration under strong leadership. The initiative are exciting to the enterprise and express the will to be different and be better.

Awards 2

The solution solves the current need while enabling new approaches to experience, engagement and viewer targeting to be applied. In focusing on “the now,” immediate return on investment is realized, and the future-proofing concern assures that incremental improvements can be sustained, and will not fall prey to debilitating operating costs and “work-around”.

Award winners deliver quantifiable benefits that validate and far out-weigh the costs.

Every digital signage deployment should be undertaken to distinguish itself in the benefits that it will deliver. Plan that your project can be numbered among those that provide “wow” in terms of quantified benefits, extraordinary presence and efficiency in undertaking.

Past award-winners offer the shoulders that every new initiative should stand on and new award-winners define each new level at which the bar is set.

Awards offer recognition to a job well done, and they make it easier to gain funding and resources in future. When you undertake a new initiative or take a current one to new levels – go for the gold!

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator related to digital place-based signage. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published over 350 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals. He serves on the judging panels of several award programs.

Retail Stores in crisis.

August 1, 2016


Retail has not known its crisis of current proportion since the introduction of department stores, big box or discount retailing. While these brought big changes to the retail landscape, the perfect storm of online, mobile and the Millennials demographic are placing physical retail in a daily fight for survival.

Retailers have reacted to the onslaught of online with multi-channel strategies that quickly morphed into omni channel in order to harmonize the various consumer touch points. Most are now struggling to advance quickly into opti-channel and unified communications.

These macro-strategies are all in the name of flexibility of the consumer’s path to purchase while serving brand interests. The access options available to consumers are the melting pot of commerce that cause neatly linear path to purchase map into what looks more like a plate of spaghetti. The marketers’ arsenal of inventory visibility, product comparisons, cross-selling, ship to home or store, purchase fulfillment and loyalty achievement and being tested, while technology investment by North American retailers has surpassed $125 billion annually.

“Customer experience” (CX) is the battle cry of retail on the shifting sands of consumer preference as empowered consumers led by Millennials not only vote with their wallet, but amplify or denounce brands based on their perception of value. Boomers, zoomers and savvy seniors are echoing Millennials’ attitudes.

Retail foot traffic has declining sharply. The Wall Street Journal reported ShopperTrak data that the 33 billion store visits in November and December 2010 declined to just over 17 billion for the same 2 months in 2013. A 50% decline in store traffic in just 3 years.

Meanwhile, Statista reports that in August 2015 the top 10 online shopping sites had 667 million monthly visits including 188 million for Amazon and 98 million for second-ranked eBay. Amazon accounted for 24% of all retail revenue growth in 2015.

Retail stores must succeed. They offer discovery and the tactile experiences of product look, feel and fit. Stores offer a social experience and for some, even exercise as patrons fulfill their needs and aspire to a bettered life.

Proven in-store strategies are neutralizing “show-rooming”, born of online options, and can reduce product returns. “Returns” has become the largest “supplier” for many retailers, imposing extraordinary costs on the business and challenging customer satisfaction.

Digital signage is part of the solution. It offers the simultaneously achieved benefits of branding and merchandising while bringing improved ambiance and vitality and reducing perceived dwell times at a location. Digital signage can inspire, focus and support sales associate success and express the business partnership of the retailer and its merchants.

So what is a retailer to do? This 5-point plan will be useful.Look around. See the digital signage applications in retail, food services, hospitality, transportation, entertainment and other locations that your target customers see and your competitors use.

  1. Look around. See the digital signage applications in retail, food services, hospitality, transportation, entertainment and other locations that your target customers see and your competitors use.
  2. Ask for input. Often a short telephone call can get you heading in the right direction and focused on elements of high return on time and investment.
  3. Designate a project leader to coordinate actions while creating consensus among departments.
  4. Go for the quick wins while planning for broader benefits.
  5. Allocate resources to your priorities in making store locations a more attractive destination, that attracts, holds and converts consumers to maximize your margin per visit and business value overall.

During the National Retail Federation conference in January 2016, it was declared that “bricks are the new black”. As the bricks welcome the clicks to the customer experience family, the bricks are called to mature yet again in serving consumer needs and wants.

More on Customer Experience and digital media in retail here and here.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator related to digital place-based signage. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published over 325 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals.

Museums offer Good Customer Experience Lessons

August 1, 2016

Museum - worlds

“Our location is all about the experience, the learning and the inspiration” said David Humphries, Chief Information Officer of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX in hosting a tour of the facility for delegates of the ICX Customer Experience Summit.

Since museums must deliver an experience worthy of it being a destination and re-visit, a museum offers insights to retailers and other customer-facing organizations that seek to earn a consumer visit.

“We intend to inspire minds through an encyclopedic space that tries to address a wide range of disciplines in nature and science” said Mike Spiewak, Perot Museum Senior Director of Exhibits.

Consumers are willing to pay for the privilege and pleasure of a museum visit, typically many times annually, while retailers are losing sleep on how to earn a consumer visit, through which visitor needs, wants and aspirations can be met.

Retailers can take note of how digital place-based media can add vitality, discovery, information exchange and improved visit experience.

Many of the Perot Museum exhibits either included or were centered around a digital media experience. These ranged from sensor-triggered musical notes as patrons go up or down stairs to a panoramic view of the planet Mars presented on synchronized LED flat panels. Common approaches included gestural interactivity, touch screens, video walls and information display. One of the most engaging exhibits launches Ping Pong balls based on brain wave activity detected through forehead and earlobe sensors.

The museum visit experience offers the following lessons and guiding principles on digitally-enabled customer engagement:

  • It has to work. Digital experiences that are not operational (one exhibit display was closed for upgrade at the Museum) easily disappoint and de-brand unless an adequate explanation is provided.
  • “Cause and Effect” defines one of the most powerful paradigms of patron digital engagement, and it can be the basis of the gestural, touch screen and other interactivity.
  • “Learning styles must be considered to achieve impactful engagement” notes Humphries, adding that “people can learn through text, photographs, video or animated images that are published or interactive”.
  • Macro motor movement such as running, walking, climbing, stepping and other movement of body, leg, arm, head, etc. are the most engaging. These physically immersive experiences can be augmented with digital media to support the cause and effect, or augment the experience with a scoring or visualization.

Patrons experiences can include building it, playing with it or operating it.

Some commercial examples of applying these principles are available.

  • The Royal Bank of Canada invites patrons to place the coins from their pocket or purse on a table, which when detected illustrates how saving the amount of the coins could result in savings growth over time.
  • McDonalds invites guests to build their burger or place and pay for their order through a touch screen kiosk. By “gamifying” the order process they are also able reduce order counter staff requirements.
  • Retailers sometimes pose multiple choice questions as a way to provide information about product features and benefits. A suitable winter coat is more easily sold when customers are asked the actual temperature based on the combination of thermometer reading, wind chill and humidity.
  • A patron photo can be placed into a magazine cover template or morphed into a movie character that can then be emailed to the patron to help amplify a brand.

Flat panels bring a new level of engagement wherever they contribute to a memorable visit experience. Where a museum or science center can charge an admission or annual membership fee based on their thoughtful application of digital place-based media, retailers and brands can be rewarded by customer purchases, visits and loyalty.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator related to digital place-based signage who has assisted hundreds of organizations, published over 350 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals.

Municipal Use of Digital Signage – Part 1

July 5, 2016

Municipalities serve the residents and businesses that make up their community.

Safety, recreation, public transit, roads, social services, parking, water service and drainage are top of the list of ratepayer services. Many of these apply digital signage within departmental budgets to provide public information, while others such as transit, recreation, art and parking infrastructure use the medium to generate non-tax revenues.

Municipalities also want to attract visitors, new residents and businesses that contribute to growth and broaden the tax base.

Digital street infrastructure is high on the priority list of municipalities, as several capabilities have converged. Wi-Fi, mobile charging, proximity information caching, wayfinding, alerts, transit information, message and advertisement display and links to mobile phones can draw on the same infrastructure to bring streets, pedestrian areas, as well as shopping, entertainment and tourist districts to life.

New York City has been leading the way but many other cities are moving forward with similar plans. “District Detroit” is a 50-block area being rejuvenated as an area of shopping, sports, live entertainment, hospitality, business and living. The CityScapes of Dallas, anchored by the massive Nebraska Furniture Mart retail outlet is a similar undertaking.

The vitality and service to patrons of annual events such as South by Southwest SXSW in Austin mean that such events can bring significant financial benefit to the community. SXSW contributes over $300 million in economic benefit annually to Austin. Most municipalities have festivals or special events that attract visitors and increase their profile.

Special events that host large numbers of visitors and local participants can offer the focus and funding to enable media infrastructure. The potential for advertisers to align their branding with the spirit of the event is attractive to their branding. Economies are built into message delivery to a large, highly concentrated audience that self-identifies as sharing an interest. Advertising can be highly contextual and very effective at establishing brand awareness and alignment.

Trade show and exhibit producers learned the lesson of digital display revenues years ago. Temporary or trailer-mounted, mobile, large-format LED signs provide a way to assess the impact of digital media during an event while at the same time kick-starting a funding campaign for permanent multi-purpose signs.

Local business operators all have marketing budgets and seek to get the most for their communications investment. The modern appeal of digital signage operating in high traffic areas and engaging consumers with addition service elements allows the advertiser to gain exceptionally good exposure.

The action plan for municipalities related to digital signage should be:

  • Have individual departments assess how their service quality, community outreach and goals could be better met by using digital signage.
  • Determine locations of high viewership as candidates for installing ad-based digital out-of-home networks.
  • Use digital media to bring modern-ness and vitality to areas where more pedestrian traffic and commerce is desired.
  • Use festivals and special events to fund digital media infrastructure.

The knowledge gained by one department can be offered to others and the buying power of a broader application can benefit each budget area. The key is to start.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator providing digital place based media subject matter expertise. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published more than 350 articles, whitepapers and guides and helped to train more than 10,000 professionals.

Learning from Lyle Bunn at DSE16

August 27, 2015


Lyle will present to AV, IT and security Integrators in how to benefit from digital signage opportunities.

He will also moderate 2 roundtables on each of “dynamic media in banking” and digital signage for staff communications. He is well qualified to open and moderate the discussion in these application areas.

Link to these sessions from

Recorded webinars and presentations on digital signage now available

August 27, 2015

The relaunch of the website includes improved navigation for information-rich guides, articles an white papers.

Now the site also offers links to recorded webinars and presentations by digital signage subject matter expert Lyle Bunn.

A 4-chapter report on Digital Signage Trends & Directions, including audio presentation and powerpoint slides (of graphics, charts, etc.) has been posted to celebrate the relaunch of the site.

1-minute videos that describe services by Lyle Bunn can be seen at the SERVICES tab of for end users, suppliers and ad-based network operators.

The Digital Signage Planning Guide in its 6th edition is now available for online purchase