Will real-time digital wayfinding and smart mobility signage help Digital Out of home Networks engage at street level?
The convergence between the built environment, smart mobility and the Internet will fundamentally reshape how we interact with our towns and cities. Our urban centres are flowering as Smart Cities, sparked by the reduced cost of screens and the ubiquitous availability of high speed, low-cost internet connectivity.
With circa 55% of the world’s population living in cities, it’s judicious that governments and technology companies collaborate when delivering smart initiatives that improve our urban experience. For example, when walking around major UK cities you’ll be aware of the increasing number of digital totems from commercial operations such as InLinkUK (a joint venture between Intersection, Primesight and BT). The InLinkUK network demonstrates a merger between commercial nous and public-service, with the totems providing free wifi, emergency calling, access to maps and phone charging alongside broadsheet, data-driven digital ad display. Other networks include Kapow, who provide community-led screens, currently across Streatham but with plans to launch across London and the soon-to-launch Maximus Network which will be deploying digital totems across London and the Executive Channel Network that works with offices to supply relevant content.
Digital Out Of Home Networks (DOOH) looking for a successful model, can take inspiration from an early example of government and tech-Biz alliance within the public space; that of JCDeceaux. Established in 1964, JCDeceaux realised municipalities could offer stationary city-centre locations, such as bus stops, where people tended to wait a few minutes and hence had time to read and be influenced by advertisements. JCDecaux reasoned that if it could secure these locations to use for outdoor advertising, it could reach beyond existing demand and convert non-customers into customers. This gave it the idea to provide street furniture, including maintenance and upkeep, free to municipalities. As long as the revenue generated from selling ad space exceeded the costs of providing and maintaining the furniture at an attractive profit margin, the company would be on a trajectory of strong, profitable growth. Accordingly, street furniture was created that would integrate advertising panels.
In short, JCDeceaux’s strategy was a win-win for both parties, the municipal authorities got free street furniture (including maintenance) whilst JCDecaux gained the exclusive right to display ads. By making ads available in locations where there was a natural longer dwell time, it meant more complex ads could be displayed along with an associated increase in recall.
For today’s commercially oriented DOOH networks; maximising ad recognition through dwell time is critical. For JCDeceaux, the magic was utilising locations where people naturally wait, leveraging existing behaviour.
As DOOH networks and ad spends proliferate (estimated growth is circa 15% PA) and screens populate our towns and cities, the risk is that people simply ignore the ads. Bradley Cooper, the Technical Editor of Digital Signage Today identifies three key reasons why people ignore digital signage: lack of relevance, uninspiring content and lack of engagement. Combating this threat, DOOH networks are integrating into the developing digital infrastructure of our towns and cities to support ads with content and services that are genuinely useful.
PassageWay provides a supportive solution to DOOH networks to increase dwell time, reflective of the JCDeceaux strategy. PassageWay achieves this by enabling digital totems to display real-time, really local smarter transit and wayfinding information, curated for the specific location. Through the provision of useful, real-time, contextual content, pedestrians linger longer at the totems. PassageWay signs can also be tailored to include sponsor messages and custom styling, increasing the commercial opportunities for advertisers who wish to promote themselves to a hyper-local audience.
Currently available across London (prior to UK and International roll-out), PassageWay draws real-time information from across the entire Transport for London network, including bus, bike, tube, train, tram and boat and also displays any travel alerts applicable to a precise location. The team are also integrating with commercial operators to provide a 360 view of all mass transit options.
Suitable for virtually any sized screen with a broadband Internet connection, PassageWay real-time digital wayfinding and transport signs automatically update 24/7 with no human intervention. With free sign set-up, hosting and support, and a low-cost monthly licence with no long-term tie-in Passageway provides a simple, robust, low-cost solution to encourage dwell time around digital totems, whilst at the same time promoting the positive values of sustainability, congestion and pollution reduction.