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Digital Signage: Apple's iPhone Touts Growing Touch Trend

Aug 17, 2007
Unless you live in a cave, you've probably noticed Apple has launched its much ballyhooed iPhone this week. AT&T, the phone's exclusive distributor for the first six months it's on the market, has already added thousands of employees nationwide to handle consumer demand at retail centers. It reports anticipating sidewalk campers waiting in line overnight for the new phone to go on sale.

Without a doubt, Apple's iPhone is shaping up to be the next, must-have for those who want to be a part of the hottest, latest, hippest trend. What makes the iPhone so sought-after? The answer is probably a little bit different for each customer, but many of those responses likely center on its cool, quick, easy touch-screen interface that will let users dial their way into the next generation of telephony -among other things.

Touch-screen technology is growing dramatically, according to market research firm iSuppli. The researcher forecasts that revenue generated by leading touch-screen technologies will grow to $4.4 billion by 2012, up from $2.4 billion in 2006. While the iPhones will play a part in this growth, touch-screen proliferation should also see a bump from the momentum building for hybrid, interactive digital signage.

Think of hybrid systems as part digital signage, part digital kiosk. When in digital signage mode, they playback video, sound, graphics, text and animation in a linear fashion. In other words, Segment A is followed by Segment B, etc. What sets them apart is when a viewer interacts with these screens. Immediately, they switch to an interactive mode, allowing the viewer to drill down to sought-after information. More often than not, the interface facilitating that interaction is a touch screen.

Touch-screen interactivity tied to digital signage is beginning to attract the attention of marketers nationwide because it not only draws digital signage viewers into their advertising messages and lets them communicate on a personal, customized level, but also because it gives them something other media can't: quantifiable response metrics.

Think about the last time you heard an ad on the radio. There's a good chance the announcer said something like, "Be sure to tell ABC Company that Joe Announcer from WXYZ Radio sent you." How about your last magazine? Was it filled with bound and blown-in response cards for special offers? What about newspaper coupons? They're the same thing -an effort in part to quantify the reaction of the public to a commercial offer.

The wonderful thing about hybrid, interactive digital signage -most often driven by touch-screen interaction-is it can deliver up-to-the-minute metrics about what viewers are interested in, and if set-up properly, who those consumers are.

Think about the value of gathering information from a network of hybrid, interactive digital signage systems installed at hundreds of fashion locations across the country. All day long, signs play back the retailer's linear marketing messages -building ambience, creating a mood and attracting interest. Periodically, customers approach the digital sign and touch it to access information about specific merchandise. The choices viewers make about what to touch can be saved and/or transmitted in real-time back to corporate headquarters.

Having that level of information about what's on the minds of customers is invaluable. Beyond simply letting the marketing department tweak its digital signage presentations, information like that can help merchandise buyers identify what's hot and what's not. Comparing it to cash register receipts can take analysis of marketing messages to a whole new level.

Members of the public are demonstrating they want to interact with technology to improve their lives. Why else would anyone consider camping out overnight on a sidewalk for a phone?

Desire like that among the public in the very least indicates people like having a tactile experience with technology. Best of all for marketers, those experiences can be tied directly to greater, quantifiable interaction with the public. That can mean nothing but good things for marketers wishing to influence buying decisions with their digital signage messaging.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage authority with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media . Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons.
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