How Digital Advertisers are Uniquely Leveraging Cloud Technology
Discussions on cloud computing often leave the technology looking pigeonholed. We so often think of the cloud as the tool for enhancing collaboration, business intelligence and even data processing. While this is certainly true, there are aspects of server farm growth that go well beyond our current narrow myopic view of the industry. Rapid cloud growth has assisted in demystifying things like the human genome at a fraction of the cost such an endeavor would have required just a decade previous. For the advertising industry, the cloud has helped to improve cost and speed in everything from analytics to content delivery. This is particularly true in the realm of digital signage for out-of-home advertising.
Digital signage software has been a major beneficiary of the proliferation of cloud computing, especially in recent years. Like CCTV or IPTV, digital signage allows private, tailored messaging to be displayed on public LCD, projector of flat screen monitors to a particular–usually public–audience. Unlike IPTV and CCTV, true enterprise digital signage provides greater control over content, content scheduling, audience targeting and user access. In addition, the cloud helps obliterate previously-held cost barriers for the SMB.
Pushed client streaming is one area IPTV has greatly advanced in recent vintage. This is where enterprise signage software breaks from the mold a bit. Unlike Netflix or other streaming services, most digital signage operators do not require “on-demand” content distribution. On the contrary, the content for most enterprise sign networks is cached locally on each client device with playback occurring on a prearranged schedule. Most are familiar with or may have seen such a system in their local quick-serve restaurant as a digital menu board, promoting breakfast lunch and dinner at specific times of the day. For the truly efficiency-minded, content and schedule changes can be pushed to client devices during non-peak hours like when businesses are closed and the network can easily handle high def file transfer without interrupting things like credit card processing or other necessary functions.
Additionally, most enterprise clients require cached playback as a necessary feature for the simple reason that some sign client players may not be privy to the “always-on” connectivity required for player streaming. That’s not to say that content streaming isn’t a contributing or enhancing feature of cloud computing. Most digital sign network operators also require push notifications during times of emergency or alarm. Accessibility and control of a wide network of displays, from a smartphone or tablet has enhanced control and may one day be credited for saving lives.
Today’s cloud tools have expanded and enhanced the roles each of us play in our respective organizations. Project managers, for instance, can compartmentalize tasks based on roles within the parameters of a given project. Such tasks are assigned and tracked by other levels of management so as to increase efficiency and maximize ROI. Keeping individual roles within an organization siloed further helps to control the valuable resource of time, but can also be a critical component for maintaining security.
Such is the case with digital signage. Role-based tools allow various levels of access for content creators, content managers, content asset schedulers and even emergency personnel. Restrictions can be placed by geography and can even be as granular as access restrictions to a particular player group, individual player, or screen section on a specific display. Super administrators can view and control changes based on project needs and goals. Server-side software provides the tools, but the cloud brings such capabilities affordably to the mainstream.
Facial Recognition & Audience Targeting
The latest growth niche within this form of digital media is the ability to target an audience by reading faces for gender, age and ethnicity. If consumers ever get around the sci-fi creepiness of such technology, the images, animations and audio from any given digital sign could either be cached on the client for immediate playback or streamed from the server on-demand based on the facial characteristics (and physical demographics) of a particular passerby of the digital display.
This certainly requires a bit more computing power and, in the case of streamed content, some rapid load speeds. “Buffering” isn’t an option when you’ve only several seconds to draw in the crowd to hear your message.
While cloud-powered advertising has typically been reserved for internet-related ad services, the market for digital out-of-home remains a growing area where cloud computing has and will continue to play a key role in its development and maturation.
Photo source: https://www.sxc.hu/photo/544231