Internal Communications: Modern Channels to Engage Employees

Multidirectional communication has become the norm for many organizations and has fostered the breakdown of barriers within organizations. While the barriers are dropping, the enterprise must not assume all traditional communication channels will remain effective. A modern channel, digital display networks, is essential to visually engaging your employees in the overloaded Information Age.

Think of a digital display network as your intranet on steroids. The editorial staff, designers, and communicators are in house assets already in place. Use these employees talents to drive consistent corporate, industry, and brand messaging across a real time digital display network.

While some traditional channels will and should remain for the time being, moving ahead with a hybrid approach must be under consideration to truly engage, entertain, and retain the workforce. The hybrid model must include social media integration and mobile interactivity. We are seeing some really unique uses of this platform from incorporating digital signage into wellness programs, mobile polling across the network, promotion of internal social networks and employee recognition programs to name a few.

A few questions that maybe relevant to today’s internal communications professionals:

Is your Internal Communications program struggling to gain traction on the internal blog? Are your email announcements falling into an endless sea of messages? Do you have people updating poster board daily? Do you have existing digital displays with PowerPoint presentations running or other looped programming?

If you have answered yes to any of the questions above it’s time to evaluate your communications strategy. If you are feeling these challenges and would like to share your experiences please do on our LinkedIN page. We would be happy to hear of your success or thoughts around modern communications channels.

Filtering Techniques for Twitter and Other Consumer-Generated Content

As more social media content is shown in various public medium like digital billboards, TV and corporate websites, there is an increasing pressure from brands and enterprises to be able to only show certain appropriate User‐Generated Content (UGC).

UGC Is Sticky But Get Ready for Moderation
While UGC can be very sticky and engaging content, brands or enterprises certainly don’t want to be associated with inappropriate content. So the natural question we get is “How is the content filtered?” Filtering or moderation of any UGC, including social media submissions, for appropriateness is an important aspect which must be taken seriously. Some systems have automated moderation for some texts and tweets, but even those must be carefully moderated by a human as second‐stage moderation. Images and videos should definitely be human‐moderated, to prevent any mishaps. Since this area is quite new, most companies do not have a moderation interface, while others have very sophisticated moderation for text, image and videos as well as web‐based, authenticated and measured for audit purposes. All serious brands, media buyers, networks and enterprises and perhaps even individuals will require moderation features.

Systems can Assist Where Practical
Computer systems are good at processing lots of text‐based UGC and can also use many rules, such as exclusion of UGC with “Expletive Dictionaries” or highlighting questionable words or phrases.

However, detecting questionable content in images or videos automatically is fraught with less‐than perfect results, which means for most projects that must allow zero leakage of inappropriate content, system‐assist does not work well. For texts, system‐assist with human override works best. And here at Aerva, we have used it successfully for many Twitter‐based campaigns or SMS campaigns. We typically recommend human moderation for images and videos.

Design for Scale
Where computer systems are used, one should design for scale, both on the back‐end and on the human‐moderation end. When back‐end systems are overloaded, fail-safe mechanisms are the best option to design for scale.

How to design human moderation aspect for scale? Having a multi‐moderator system such as a web-based system with many (or unlimited) moderators can solve some of the scale issues. However, the system can be used to highlight or flag questionable content or allow paging of material to be viewed (for images and videos). For URLs and videos, there may not be an easy way besides inspecting the content. Many campaigns reject content with URLs for this reason.

Post‐Moderation Recourse
A good moderation system must also have a way to recall moderated UGC, which means several levels of moderation is also possible. For instance, super admins can reconsider already filtered material from high speed or junior moderators. In addition, there are many quirks that may allow users to change portions of their content after the fact, such as change of Twitter Avatar from something acceptable to something offensive. Indeed when URLs are involved, the endpoint of the URL can be changed by the user at anytime.

The trend is towards more user‐generated content and more social media content. It adds a dimension of engagement that cannot be replicated by produced content. However, tread with your eyes wide open—a PR snafu or worse is never too far when you want to spice up with UGC. A well‐designed system in the hands of experts can produce all the benefits of social media and UGC without the headaches.

How to Increase Viewer Participation in Mobile Marketing

Digital signage and digital out-of-home media are finally becoming more pervasive, yet it is evident that content going one-way only towards the viewers is not enough. It was clear from attendees at Aerva’s booth at the recent Digital Signage Expo that people are starting to understand the value of information going in BOTH directions—not just coming at viewers from screens, but going from viewers to the screens themselves.

Granted, the amount of information going back from the viewers may be very little, but it is very important and relevant to those viewers. It also becomes one very valid basis of measurement for marketers and network operators of digital screens.

A good example of a viewer-engagement application is ‘Man-of-the-Match’ (or MVP of Tonight’s Game) – a mobile application that asks “Who is going to be the MVP of the game during halftime?” on the digital screen in a sports bar or on the Jumbotron in a stadium. The answers are sent in by viewers using their own mobile handset. The dynamic information can be seen filling up a pint jar, making it highly engaging to the viewers. For the marketers, it is highly measurable data.

Participation Rates

Aerva is frequently asked how to increase the take-up rates (or participation rates) of a mobile marketing campaign. Over the years we have come up with a very simple set of heuristics on how to make mobile campaigns successful. The goal is to get 100%+ take-up rates, or the mobile application is so successful that people participate more than once.

If there’s no promotion and no incentive, people will ignore it

If there are promotions and incentives, people will participate proportionately

The chart on the right is self-explanatory. It helps to be talking to mobile-centric audience, but a good promotion and some relevant prize or recognition goes a long way to make take-up rates go skyrocketing up.

Participation Rates as Proxies for Viewer Experience

There’s also an ‘emerging’ point of view that promotes the use of signage primarily as a way to enhance the viewer experience. If digital signage network operators and enue-owners enhance the viewer experience, then the viewers will also tolerate advertising and other messaging. It is critical, therefore, to engage the audience with not just one-way messaging as with typical digital signage systems, but augment viewer experience. Mobile interactivity is a great way to be doing this, in multiple ways. When it’s done well, it’s canny and makes everyone happy – so it’s truly a win-win. And the proof of the viewer experience pudding is in the concretely measurable participation rates.

Evolution of Digital Display Networks: Outdoor Displays

Digital display networks seem to appear everywhere. Every time you turn around there is a new series of video screens feeding a stream of information, whether they are in cafes, airports, office buildings, elevators and even in bathrooms. This sudden eruption of information is thanks, in part, to a perfect storm of technology and price that includes an ever decreasing price of hardware and network bandwidth, along with the omnipresence of personal devices and social media.

What we have today is more than just electronic billboards, but interactive networks that have the potential to truly interact with audiences. Today a café patron is not just a passive recipient of information, but an active participant in a public conversation.

Outdoor displays have many names, such as, place-based networks, digital out-of-home, narrowcasting, digital signage and many more. Most of these networks have a role in messaging, marketing, advertising or a combination. This blog series is meant to highlight the major milestones that lead to where the out-of-home marketing industry is today, as well as projecting where it may be heading.

While out-of-home advertising is a concept dating to the ancient Egyptians, the spark of the industry did not emerge until the invention of lithography in 1796. Lithography allowed the creation of reproducible, illustrated posters, similar to what we still see today. Originally, it was small businesses printing poster-sized advertisements targeted on a local-scale. It wasn’t until 1850 that larger, exterior advertisements started appearing on streets and railways around the U.S.

Due to the effectiveness of these techniques, the billboard industry erupted, with the first known lease taking place in 1867. By 1870, over 200 bill posting and painting companies existed nationwide leading towards the creation of the International Bill Posters’ Association of North America in 1872. More associations, such as the Associated Bill Posters’ Association of the US and Canada and other state-run bill posting associations started to be formed in order to create greater understanding of the possibilities of the medium.

Very soon, everyone realized that standardization was essential. In 1900, 8 years before Henry Ford used standardization to reduce the price of the Model T, a standard billboard structure was set, making possible the mass production of a single poster as that could be posted nationwide. When the Model-T was finally introduced in 1908, the increasing number of cars on the road, made large, roadside billboards even more desirable.

Part 2: Evolution of Digital Display Networks: From Print to Digital

Evolution of Digital Displays: From Print to Digital

In the 1970’s, a new form of out-of-home advertising medium started arising. Small Business owners started using pre-recorded videotapes that displayed their advertisements right in their store. While the using a VCR and display seemed like a simple concept, it was catching people’s attention and more businesses starting to implement it as a marketing strategy.

When the DVD came out in 1995, it revolutionized the way information could be displayed. As computer software became more intuitive, the video production process became more flexible, efficient and affordable. Video, images, graphics, text and music became easier to combine into a logical format. Burning multiple DVDs was much easier than recording on VHS which allowed mass production of the same display advertisements. This allowed a more efficient way to standardize display advertising.

This idea became more and more used throughout schools, restaurants, hotels, retail and many other industries. As the quality of layouts and design became better with time, there was more opportunity to capitalize on this medium.

Evolution of Digital Displays: Transition from DVD to Digital Signage

While DVD use for digital signage was an innovative step in the right direction, there were major flaws to the formula. If a company has made multiple DVDs to display the same information, they could not make any changes to the content without having to burn a fresh batch of disks. This was a very expensive and time consuming process. There needed to be a way to be able to update displays on the fly.

With the advent of the Internet browser, cheaper bandwidth and cheaper displays, and software able to control everything, it was possible to manage a network of displays remotely. Some call this collection of capabilities digital signage. These networks enabled a new opportunities for the way companies were able to manage their content.

Not only is this method more efficient and cost-effective than using DVDs, but it also allows the businesses to optimize the displays to please the customer. If a consumer dislikes any aspect of the content, it can be changed instantaneously.

Today, thanks to the explosion of social media and mobile handsets, there is a strong reason to have digital display networks also incorporate some user-generated content (with filtering capabilities). When the end-user is able to able to feel connected to the product in a social sense, the advertisement sticks with them. Not only do they feel like they are a part of the product, but valuable data can be gathered from the participation.

The trend is towards increasingly large participation of the users in the digital content on digital displays, thanks to the blazingly fast dispersion of mobile handsets and smartphones. Additionally, some consolidation (as happened in history with many static poster companies around 1900s) is inevitable in today’s digital display network landscape. Many dynamics are fluid, yet the digital display networks are here to stay and their reach and impact is growing everyday.

3 Ways Aerva can Revolutionize Your Marketing Strategy

In an age when digital platforms seem to be rapidly expanding, standard marketing techniques are gradually becoming less and less effective. This rings especially true for Out of Home (OOH) strategies.

Gone are the days when a simple print billboard was all it took to catch a consumer’s eye outside of his or her home. Smartphones, tablets, and a bevy of other mobile devices have all made people pay less attention to what’s around them, and pay more attention to what’s in their palm.

Here at Aerva, our award-winning AerWave technology allows us to level the playing field of OOH marketing by adding social, digital, and interactive dimensions to the mix. Below are only 3 examples of what our tech platform can do to revolutionize your marketing strategy.

1). Make Your Displays Interactive

Even an attractive digital display isn’t enough to maximize audience engagement; just because it looks pretty doesn’t mean people are paying attention to it!

AerWave solves that problem by making displays interactive, and thereby invites participation from viewers. Our interactive apps allow audience members to send pictures, texts, tweets, and a variety of other media directly to a digital display.

For example, our technology allowed GetSchooled and their corporate sponsors, Viacom and the Taco Bell Foundation, to team up and put together a “Times Square Yearbook” where high school students that made the promise to graduate (or that recently graduated) could send pictures of themselves to a Times Square billboard with a specialized message, promoting this year’s record-breaking graduation rate! A message becomes a lot easier to get across when you can take part in it.

2). Capitalize on Mobile

It’s no secret that mobile is the next up-and-coming sphere for marketers to capitalize on. Aerva makes mobile a huge piece of any OOH campaign via our interactive mobile app widgets. Like in the above example, these nifty tools allow users to interact directly with digital displays, but this time with the devices they’re most likely to have on hand.

It’s also easy to reward consumers for participation via mobile: our Keepsake Platform takes pictures of every user that ends up on a billboard, and sends them a photo of their moment in the limelight for them to share via social feeds!

3). Maximize User-Generated Content

The best part about Aerva’s apps is that they allow every individual member of an audience to participate in the display process by showcasing their homegrown content. Rather than targeting a large group of people, marketers can encourage participation from individuals, adding a dimension of personalization to any holistic strategy.

This Mother’s Day, Aerva and Clear Channel Spectacolor partnered up to allow people from across the country to tweet or email sentimental pictures to a digital billboard in Times Square.

Aerva’s technology can be tailored to any innovative marketing strategy. Get in touch with us to find out what Aerva can do for you today!

Three of our Favorite Digital Out of Home Campaings


It’s no secret that we’re big fans of digital signage, and all of the fun things marketers can do with it. Below, we’ve picked out some of our favorite digital OOH campaigns that we’ve worked on throughout the years. Take a look and see if they get the creative juices stirring for your next big OOH idea!

1). Beats by Dre Times Square Takeover

Doing work for one of the coolest sets of headphones around was pretty much guaranteed to be a memorable experience. For a full day, people in Times Square could get their photo taken at one of 6 photo booths wearing the Beats headphones. Our Pic2Screen app scheduled all of the photos to be displayed across 3 billboards—two displayed individual pictures in real-time, while the third projected an impressive collage of recent photos.

We love this campaign because it shows just how important having interactive elements is when planning DOOH campaigns for effective branding. Rather than display ads of the headphones in our space, we let consumers display themselves using them, and were thereby able to communicate the brand’s urban and entertaining elements much more effectively. By going beyond static mass-advertising, we were able to pull off something that was unique and unforgettable.

2). Taco Bell- Doritos Locos Tacos Wall of Fame

What’s more exciting than a taco shell made out of Doritos? Being asked to get the word out about said delicious taco. Taco Bell and their agency Draft FCB tapped us to help with the launch of Doritos Locos Tacos, and we were happy to oblige.

Taco Bell asked consumers to tweet their excitement about their latest menu addition with the hashtags #Contest and #DoritosLocosTacos for a chance to have a truck full of tacos visit their house (the tweet with the most retweets won). Via AerWave’s moderation software, the most appropriate tweets were displayed on two billboards—one in Times Square, and the other on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. Tweeters were automatically sent a keepsake photo commemorating their time on the billboard.

This campaign was awesome because it allowed us to show how effective integrating social media and DOOH marketing can be. Incorporating Twitter allowed consumers who were nowhere near the billboards to take part in the fun and catch onto the trend. Rather than just reaching the population that passed by the two signs, we were able to engage a global audience!

3). Ogilvy-Media Lab Launch

Ogilvy, one of the world’s largest media agencies, got to experience the perks of AerWave firsthand during an internal event it had at its New York Office back in 2009. A day-long corporate event may not be most people’s idea of entertainment, but our software definitely helped employees stay engaged! Attendees were able to send pictures and texts to digital displays throughout, and when asked questions, they were able to answer via our Poll2Screen mobile app.

The Ogilvy event is one of our favorites because it goes to show that AerWave can be effective in smaller, intimate settings in addition to larger ones. Rather than use our software to manage a campaign for a client, Ogilvy used us to manage an internal gathering for fewer people and in an indoor venue. Location and amount of attendees aside though, the results were still the same—more attentive viewers and innovative ways to display information!

Easy Ways for Higher Education to Utilize Digital Signage

Higher education institutions of all sizes are turning to digital displays to create centralized information centers for their employees and students. Below, we’ve listed a few ideas for ways universities and colleges can use digital signage alongside our software, based on work our actual clients have done. Check them out!

1) Turn your campus center into an info center

Nearly every higher education institute is going to have something akin to a campus center—a shared space where students and faculty can socialize, work, or even grab a quick bite to eat. A campus center, as the hub of your college, provides an outlet to potentially reach nearly all members of your community. Why not leverage its popularity with digital information displays?

Placing digital screens throughout your campus will allow you to create an information display network. You can display campus announcements, weather, class timetables, and other information relevant to your students, all in the place they’re likely to visit at least once a day. A web-based software, such as AerWave, will allow you to manage an entire network from anywhere and easily share relevant content to individual departments across campus.

2) Show your faculty’s work off in engaging ways

Did one of your science departments recently make an amazing discovery? Or did a humanities professor give a celebrated speech at a conference? These are things that you’ll want to show off around campus, but not many people will read through an entire press release on the subject. Instead, take advantage of digital media and display these accolades in an engaging and innovative way with a streaming feed like our Twitter app.

Having a digital display in the entrance of a department’s building is a great way to highlight recent awards and honors to anybody who enters. Content can be anything from faculty achievements, to a live feed of current work happening in a campus laboratory. One of our clients got really creative and had a camera feed of an aquarium they were working in!

3) Interact with your students like never before

BLAST emails tend to be the main method of communication between a university and it’s entire student population. While this is efficient, as is always the case with email marketing, it’s not always effective. Many messages just get deleted or ignored, and this can be a big issue with time-sensitive material like safety alerts. With the right technology however, digital displays can be leveraged as an interactive and immediate communication channel between administration and students.

Looking to ask students their opinion on a new project you university might take? There’s a widget for that: specifically, our Poll2Screen application. Or if your Advancement Communications office is looking for new content, why not set up Pic2Screen and gather some great user-generated content (UGC) from your own students? The possibilities are endless as a long as the tech is good: digital displays can allow administrators to engage with students through the medium they already use everyday.

5 Ways Retailers Use Social Media

Move over traditional marketing, ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’.  In a time where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of brands competing for our attention how do retailers stand out? Social media and customer-generated content are playing a major role in the way today’s retailers engage and maintain their loyal customer base and attract new customers.  Here are 5 simple ways to use social media to your advantage:

1. Simple and relevant messages:  Today’s customer’s live in a fast paced world and are constantly receiving information, you must compete with all the other information and grab your customer’s attention.  Keep your posts or tweets simple and to the point, too much information will only deter people.

2. Photos, photos, and more photos:  Photos are a simple way of captivating your targeted audience and creating interaction between your products and your customers.  Many retailers have used pictures to promote and build up anticipation of a new gadget or product that has yet to hit the market.  Using pictures allows retailers to showcase the products they offer in a simple way.  HTC, the smartphone retailer, used this concept to create their “Beautiful” Campaign, where they allowed participants to have their photo posted on a Times Square billboard. Each market’s submissions were entered into regional drawings, where each week one lucky winner was selected to receive and HTC One, with a special drawing around Christmas and New Year’s for those winners to receive a 24K gold-plated HTC One phone worth over $2,500. Costco, one of the largest retailers also uses this approach on their Facebook page, by showing/reminding customers of the products that are returning for the spring season or showcasing customer favorites.

3. User-generated content: Retailers like TJMaxx and Marshalls have taken to their customers to generate content and build attention to their brands.  Both of these retailers ask customer’s to tweet or Instagram their pictures with #maxxinista and #fabfound of products that they have found at their stores, everyday they award a winner with a gift card. Creating ways in which customers feel like they are contributing to your brand is a great way to continually engage your customers and maintain a relationship that truly connects and communicates.  Content moderation is incredibly important when it comes to the UGC that is received via social media. Taco Bell used Aertweet, from Aerva, for their ‘Doritos Locos Tacos’ Campaign allowing them to moderate tweets, detect fraud, rank retweets, report metrics and display tweets through a number of custom parameters allowing for many animation and style options.

 4. Community engagement and outreach: Customer’s take note and appreciate retailers who are engaged in their communities. whether it is by supporting the local sports teams or by donating time, money or products to local organizations. Last year, after the Boston Marathon, many Boston based retailers sold their marathon gear and donated all proceeds to the One Fund, for those who were affected by the bombings.

 5. Real time responses:  Use your social media platforms to respond to customers in real time.  Many customers take to their retailers’ Facebook or Twitter page to ask questions, comment about a new product, or post concerns instead of the calling or emailing your customer support center. Through your social media platforms you have the opportunity to stay engaged with those customers in real time and appropriately answercontinually engage your customers and maintain a relationship that truly connects and communicates.