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Digital signage does not have to be complicated or costly

Brian Storey
Brian Storey
Kapownetwork digital sign displaying school lessons
Most of the larger media owners’ screens tend to be where the audience is passing by.

Until recently digital signage was something that the majority of sign and display printers considered a costly and complicated solution that detracted from the business of selling print. Brian Storey, managing partner at Kapow Network explains why combining print with digital signage makes sound business sense.

Digital signage is fast gaining ground with many of our industry’s leading display printing companies. It’s no surprise really given that an attractive digital display can be supported by a wealth of decorative printed display materials. The reason it’s become so popular is that it engages with the audience in a much more effective way than with static signage.

There has been a massive up take from the retail sector where it can be used in store to promote brand awareness and special offers. However, education facilities, local councils, hospitals, GPs and other businesses are increasingly using digital signage to deliver internal messaging and information.

In addition, digital signage can be set up as a network which can be as complex or as simple as you like, scaling from control of one, two or three screens up to however many you can handle. Screens can be divided into ‘zones’ which means you can send the same content to multiple screens or just a few. Rather than approaching the market from the perspective of a display printing company adding digital signage to complement its service offering, Kapow Network is connecting shoppers and businesses on the high street via a series of digital screens located inside local, independent retail premises where customers spend at least 30 minutes.

Digital posters

The screens, or digital posters, run advertising both for the retailer and from external sources. These digital posters are becoming the accepted method to deliver dynamic content to consumers. Screens are engaging, bright and unlike print can be refreshed easily, keeping shoppers better informed of local events, special offers and deals. I met Chris Rushton at an aspiring London marketing services provider as creative director and sales director respectively. The business idea was formed after chatting about some of the earlier deployments of digital signage that we thought were poor. Whether it was the look and feel of the screens themselves or the quality and strategy of the content, we felt strongly that there was a gap in the market and because there are already plenty of bigger players in digital screen advertising, we had to ensure that we had a different proposition.

This is made clear in both the location of their screens and the type of network they have built. Most of the larger media owners’ screens tend to be where the audience is passing by. This is known as point of transit (POT) where the screens almost always play 100% advertising. This makes sense as they have little time to capture the viewers’ attention.

With POT, each ad is generally shown for about six seconds, so not much time to capture someone’s attention. Kapow Network’s sites are known as point of wait (POW) where the audience is likely to spend at least half an hour in the vicinity of its screens. POW advertising means the company can run each slide for longer and thereby making its ads more than twice as long as those used in a POT environment. Unlike TV, our audience is not expecting entertainment so the goals of our advertisers and our audience are matched from the outset.

Although from a content strategy point of view, this adds complexity. You need a minimum fifteen-minute loop of content that the audience will find interesting in order to catch their attention and have to ensure that it’s kept refreshed.

A broad breadth of skills are required in order to make a business like Kapow Network succeed. We soon discovered that we needed to know a lot more about stuff outside our comfort zone such as writing code, understanding the hardware and even installation skills such as site surveying.

Kapow Network quickly realised that in order to create, maintain and run a successful digital screen network it was necessary to form strong relationships with the supply chain. This came in the form of their technology partner Assured Systems, which has been operating in the digital signage world since 2011 so when it came to advice on hardware such as the screens and signage players, as well as potential software suppliers, they’ve been invaluable, giving help and advice to this unique tech start-up.In addition to its own network, Kapow works with other end user brands, helping to maximise their ROI in digital signage. We can bring creative agency thinking but with the added knowledge and understanding of the power of a good content management system. The flexibility of digital screens compared to print is actually very difficult to get your head around to begin with so we help companies take small steps until we are in a position to hand over the keys and let them drive.

Digitally enabled high street

Since its launch last year Kapow Network has completed over 20 installations, with our latest network going in to London’s only Olympic-sized ice skating rink which has over 1 million visitors a year.

We believe that what we are doing is helping to level the playing field by accelerating the high street’s transition to a better connected, digitally enabled, more sustainable high street of the future.

Until recently digital signage was something that the majority of sign and display printers had been ignoring, putting it down as a costly and complicated solution that detracted from the business of selling print. In fact, many have been guilty of ignoring digital signage in the hope it will simply go away but the situation is now very different as Kapow Network has clearly demonstrated. Now just might be the time to take a closer look at how digital signage/posters can add further revenue streams to your display printing business.


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