ADI's Herb Albinus and Gina deCesare demonstrate a pilot digital signage program at ADI's Las Vegas branch.

Two major security companies – ADI of Melville, N.Y., and Westec Interactive of West Des Moines, Iowa – are leveraging video technology in a unique way for sales promotions.

At ADI’s Las Vegas branch this spring, Herb Albinus, national merchandiser at ADI, and Gina deCesare, director of marketing communications, gaveSDMa first-hand look at the digital signage that ADI has installed as part of a merchandising pilot program.

Customers in the front of the store are exposed to “video billboards,” which provide product promotions, notices about educational and industry events, and other messages. The video displayed at ADI’s Las Vegas branch takes about 20 minutes to loop around, featuring 72 segments in total. Of the 72 segments, 26 are vendor ads, Albinus explained. “The focus is on in-store buying decisions,” he related, adding that the advertisements are timed so that the sales promotion will end when the sale is over.

ADI is testing the concept in 15 branches for about 12 weeks, then it probably will roll out the idea nationwide to all 105 branches.

Key to the investment is that both ADI and its participating vendors see an increase in sales of promoted products. “The biggest comment we get [from dealers] is that the customer is asking for more information on what they saw on the signage,” Albinus said. “This is a vehicle for the vendors to hit thousands and thousands in their market.”

“We’ve seen value and believe our customers see value, and we are looking to expand our distribution offering to include digital signage products and services,” said Randy Teague, ADI’s vice president of marketing.

Scala Inc., Exton, Pa., which provides ADI’s digital signage platform, recently nominated ADI for the 2006 Digital Retail Expo Award because of its unique implementation of digital signage in the distribution world, ADI reported. “The honor is that Scala, a major player in the digital signage world, is recognizing ADI as revolutionizing distribution centers on how they are run,” Albinus said.

With its remote management system, Westec Interactive has devised an additional use for a store’s existing digital video surveillance technology: Displaying in-store video advertising and other video messages and data to stores, simply by connecting monitors around the store to the existing video surveillance system.

“Most of our customers are typically regional or national chains involved in either quick-service or full-service restaurants, jewelry chains, convenience store chains and small footprint specialty retail – not the big-box guys,” noted Mike Upp, Westec’s vice president of business development.

“To do that traditionally, you’d have to buy a server to put in a network to do that kind of stuff you see at Best Buy and Wal-Mart,” Upp explained. “A lot of grocery stores and drug chains are doing it now. So literally for the investment in a screen, you can now do narrow-casting using the security platform to do that.”

For years, Westec felt pigeonholed into its customers’ high-risk locations only, Upp complained. He thinks this technology developed by DV Dallas, which Westec acquired recently, is the way to avoid that. The video and data provided can be used for security, marketing and operations in addition to advertising.

“We’ve always been trying to understand how we could break that barrier and become a pervasive technology across all their stores,” Upp related. “I think what this platform finally allows us to do is move into applications that are non-security-related.”

Upp calls the machines the technology uses intelligent video recorders (iVRs). “This really is a technology that instead of a DVR in the back room being an island that captures video, all our iVRs are connected together and report back to a central management system,” he explained.

“We create a new load of software we can push out to the iVR, much like a big company would push a new load of Windows updates to all the PCs on their network. The advantage to the customer is you don’t have to roll a truck to do that,” he noted.

Two-way communication between Westec’s central command centers and systems on the network can be constant with the remote management system platform, which works with static or dynamic IP addresses.

“Part of that cheerleading really was the loss prevention guy seeing this new multi-display kind of stuff to run advertising,” Upp asserted. “Their immediate thought was if they could get marketing involved in this, they could put a heck of a lot more of a system in. The marketing guys have much bigger budgets. That is part of what got them excited.”