Expanding digital signage capabilities drive growth for outdoor interactive kiosks

| by Elliot Maras
Expanding digital signage capabilities drive growth for outdoor interactive kiosks

Interactive outdoor kiosks promote amenities for CityPlace Doral. Photo courtesy of Liquid Outdoor.

The expanding capabilities of digital signage, coupled with more economical software and equipment, are creating more opportunities for companies and organizations looking to engage consumers interactively in outdoor environments.

The best known examples are outdoor wayfinding kiosks that municipalities are deploying to guide residents and tourists to local amenities, including businesses, museums, attractions and events.

Less known to the public at large are the lifestyle centers that are using interactive, outdoor kiosks to promote their amenities and information about local activities to both residents and potential residents.

In all cases, interactive kiosks are providing outdoor environments with new ways to promote their offerings as well as new revenue opportunities in the form of paid digital advertising. Advertisers, for their part, welcome the opportunity to reach consumers where they live and shop.

Real estate planners and developers are learning about interactive kiosks at various conferences and conventions, including architectural shows, developer shows and government tech shows, said Chris Gilder, CEO and founder of Meridian Kiosks, an integrated manufacturer of kiosks and digital signage.

Lifestyle center installs interactive kiosks

Liquid Outdoor, an outdoor advertising services provider, recently installed its first interactive kiosks. Paul Ducharme, managing partner, said the interactive kiosks installed at CityPlace Doral, a lifestyle center in Doral, Florida, mark an upgrade over the static displays the company has previously installed in the Miami, Florida area. CityPlace Doral offers apartments, restaurants, live music, fitness activities, comedy, a water show and more.

The developer initially wanted wayfinding kiosks for the lifestyle center. When Ducharme explained that it was possible to have paid advertising cover the cost of the kiosks, the client was sold.

When the consumer is not interacting with the kiosk to view maps and search business directories, the digital screen displays a carousel that runs six ads per minute. Advertisers include Boost, Sprint, Olay, Smartwater and a local bank.

"We supply all the capabilities they are looking for, which is wayfinding, directories, Wi-Fi, security cameras," Ducharme told Kiosk Marketplace. His company teamed with Meridian Kiosks to install six 8-foot, 6-inch high kiosks with 55-inch interactive screens.

"They've been really well received, both by the people visiting Doral, and by our clients who are the advertisers," Ducharme said.

New advertising inventory

Liquid Outdoor sells advertising on the kiosks to ad agencies in New York City and Los Angeles that represent large advertisers.

"If Chevy is looking for inventory in Southern Florida, and they know where our inventory is, they call us up and say, ‘what's available?'" Ducharme said.

One reason Ducharme is upbeat about digital signage advertising is that it is faster and easier for advertisers to provide the creative content.

"The beautiful thing about digital is there is no extreme lag time with the creative," he said. "As soon as it's ready, it gets posted. With a static billboard, you've got to print it on vinyl, you've got to ship it, you've got to hang it; that's a three-week process. With digital, they just email us a file and it's up within five seconds."

Another reason Ducharme is upbeat is that the costs are coming down.

"The technology is such that everything is now cheaper," Ducharme said. "Everything in the outdoor space is turning digital. Everybody in this lifestyle mall arena is rushing to convert everything to digital."

Meridian Kiosks' Gilder agreed that advertisers are beginning to discover the capabilities of interactive kiosks, which go beyond rotating an image.

"They typically top out at about 30 advertisers," Gilder said for static displays. More than 30 rotations result in very limited viewing time for each ad.

"When you add interactive capability to that, that number becomes an infinite number," Gilder said. "They (the consumer) can drive to that content as opposed to just a random rotation content on a screen."

Municipal wayfinding expands

Municipalities, meanwhile, will continue to embrace outdoor wayfinding kiosks in the interest of becoming "smart cities." In addition to allowing a city to better provide citizens and visitors access to information about public activities, entertainment and services, the kiosks collect data on what people are looking for.

"As more and more municipalities become 'smart cities,' they will jump on the bandwagon," Ducharme said. "Now it's a beautiful piece of hardware that will not only provide wayfinding, but will provide Wi-Fi and security," he said.

Wayfinding kiosks also allow for much wider use of the interactive device, said Gilder.

"It not only displays advertisers' content, local area information, wayfinding content; there are a lot of other things you can do on that device, whether it interacts with your mobile device, whether it sends an SMS message," he said.

"People now are expecting to interact with almost any screen they see," Gilder said.

Content is king

Rich Ventura, vice president of business development at NEC Display, said new capabilities are driving much of the interest in digital signage, such as integration with mobile devices, beacons and near-field communication.

"The key is making sure you have the right content," he said. Beacons that push information about local businesses and resources – such as maps – to patrons are helpful.

"The best kiosks are kiosks that communicate to you not only in front of your face, but through your mobile devices and other forms such as social media," he said.

"It can be displaying information when you're in a queue line," Ventura said. "It can be capturing analytics and data about people that are walking through there. It can help with triggering content."

Real estate planners and developers are only in the early stages of learning about the capabilities of interactive outdoor digital signage. Kiosk providers need to seize the initiative to make sure the developers and planners are up to date on digital signage capabilities and advertising revenue opportunities.

This Story sponsored by...

Outdoor Kiosks Provide Access to More Consumers
Outdoor kiosks provide access to more consumers with interactive information. Meridian's outdoor kiosks are designed and built for all-weather usage, enhancing the power and capabilities of our robust self-service solutions. Learn More

Topics: Advertising, Customer Experience, Digital Signage, Government, Hardware, Interactive / Touchscreen, Manufacturers, Outdoor Kiosks, Retail, Retail - Digital Signage, Successful Kiosk Projects, Tourism & Travel, Wayfinding / Information

Companies: NEC Display Solutions, Meridian, Liquid Outdoor

Elliot Maras

Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.

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