EFI's 'smart' sign tool could be a 'licence to print money'

Simon Nias
Friday, April 12, 2013

EFI's SmartSign Analytics (SSA) tool for monitoring and analysing the consumer response to individual signs could be "a licence to print money" for early adopters from the signange sector.

The system, which was launched last week, can detect people within viewing range of a particular sign and identify via eye-tracking tools which of them are actually viewing the sign and for how long. It then assigns a gender and age range to each viewer.

SSA is the brainchild of Online Print Solutions (OPS), which EFI acquired late last year, and according to its founder and director Mark McGowan, it could have a huge impact for EFI’s signage and commercial print customers.

"If a brand, prior to launching a national campaign, is trying to understand which signage targets its audience best then that is worth an enormous amount of money," he said.

"Your taking this to your clients who buy signage and asking them: do you want to know which signage is most effective? I don’t think there’s too many who are going to say, no, I’d rather stay in the dark.

"We think there’s a huge opportunity to be honest – certainly to the early adopters of this technology. It could be a licence to print money."

McGowan said companies could use the technology to test different designs prior to launching a campaign or to analyse the ROI on high cost events like trade shows.

He also envisaged "physical space owners", such as airports using the technology to identify which signage locations attract which demographics and then matching those locations to advertisers willing to pay a premium to reach the right audience.

"Our client base is signage manufacturers and commercial printers and the only focus we have is selling to those directly," added McGowan. "We see the opportunity for a printer to go to someone like Heathrow and say we can be your signage manufacturer and provide the analytics tools for you to be able to offer to your customers."

Although pricing is yet to be confirmed, McGowan said that it would be based on a one-off licence payment that will include hardware for five signs and a monthly subscription fee. "We would suggert that our clients do exactly the same," said McGowan. "Charge an initial fee and then a daily fee would probably be more appropriate."

SSA is scheduled to enter beta testing with four to five signage printers in the next few weeks and will be commercially available by Fespa 2013 in London next month. "We’re not testing the technology – the beta is actually just making sure that our messaging is correct in helping our partners to sell the value to their customers," said McGowan.

"If you look at things like the web, TV, direct mail – they all have their own analytics; signage was really the only place where advertisers spend money where there was no way to track ROI. Unless we solve that problem then more money will just migrate from that."


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