Google vs. Cisco?

Is a new competitive battle brewing?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
In “Google targets $7 billion outdoor ad market” I discuss Google’s designs on outdoor advertising.


The outdoor advertising market is comprised of four broad categories of media:


1) Billboards
2) Street Furniture
3) Transit
4) Alternative


Billboards: Highway and in-city billboard signs, Wall murals…
Street Furniture: Bus shelters, Convenience stores, Shopping malls, Kiosks…

Transit: Buses, Airports, Subway & Rail, Trucksides, Taxi displays, Wrapped vehicles…

Alternative: Arena & Stadiums, Interior place-based, Airborne, Marine, Resorts & Leisure, Exterior place-based, Digital media…


Cisco announced today a digital media signage initiative, Cisco Digital Signage:


A solution for management, publishing and playback of digital media on networked digital signage displays...to redefine how organizations connect with their employees and customers. Cisco's entry into the quickly-growing digital signage market shows that digital signage is a dynamic and easy-to-use communication tool that can enable businesses to optimize their marketing, advertising and training and drive a compelling and high-quality customer experience. Using the power of the internet protocol (IP) network, businesses can easily manage and communicate through a scalable digital signage network from a simple Web interface.


What are the advertising applications for Cisco Digital Signage?:


A retailer might use digital signage to increase revenue by promoting new products, or a bank might use digital signage to inform customers waiting in line about new services. Other vertical applications include communications or training information in government offices, informational content in hotels, airports or other public places, or even news and information in hospital waiting rooms. 

The Cisco Digital Signage solution comprises two products:

1) Cisco Digital Media Manager: a Web-based software application that controls the creation, management and publishing of digital media to digital signage displays.

2) Cisco Digital Media Player: a small form-factor device that controls playback of the video, graphics and text on digital signage displays.

Fantasia Coffee and Tea retail chain is using the Cisco digital signage solution to: "Promote new products and entertain and educate customers in line with the ability to change content on the fly or to customize content by location or time of day."

Google is interested in exploiting similar digital signage technologies and applications.

In ““Google targets $7 billion outdoor ad market” I discuss a Google patent application contemplating “Electronic billboard-based distributed advertising network for performing intelligent allocation of advertising space; a plurality of displays geographically distributed throughout an area, such as, a shopping area, a city, a region, a state.”

The patent application also envisages advertising systems within “kiosk-type billboards typically located in retail outlets, such as shopping malls, airports, hotel lobbies, etc.,” (similar to the Cisco Digital Signage applications):

In their simplest form these devices loop through a series of poster-type advertisements promoting, movies, products and/or retail outlets in proximity to the sign to induce specific customer behavior. Usually these billboards execute a predetermined cycle whereby each advertisement is displayed for predetermined time period before the device automatically cycles to the next advertisement in the loop.

Possible Google configuration:

Displays may comprise a display screen, such as, for example, an LCD display screen, a plasma display screen, a CRT display screen, a projection display screen or a holographic-type display. Displays may also include speakers or other audio output devices. Displays may also include one or more interactive features which allow viewers to interact with the display to obtain more information about products promoted in an advertisement message output by the display, to download incentives related to products, to supply information about themselves, or perform other interactive operations.

Google believes it is destined to sell every type of advertising, including digital signage.

Cisco Digital Signage on the market opportunity:

Digital signage is often referred to as narrowcasting, retail TV, captive audience networks, out-of-home television, or electronic billboards. Whatever the terminology, digital signage dynamically delivers high-quality information-including live and on-demand video, graphics, text, and other Web content-to a targeted audience, at a targeted time, through on-premise digital signage displays.
With this shift to digital signage, marketing and advertising budgets are being directed to this new electronic medium. Retail is one of the first industries to take advantage of digital signage to create richer, more interactive shopping experiences. Other industries, including financial, government, education, healthcare, and transportation, are also implementing digital signage as a tool to enhance customers' and end users' experiences.
How will Cisco fare in its new digital signage intitiatives? Will Google realize its patent objectives? Cisco - Google: Competitors, partners... STAY TUNED!
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