We can connect behavior to outcomes with "Linking Elephants"
Adaptive Path, one of the premier user experience companies out there, feel that this "Linking Elephants" illustration is vital for helping clients determine ROI. In fact, they kept it hidden from the public for years, only making it available in pricey research papers and reports. Recently, they decided to share their findings in the context of how organizations approach the user experience. This worked out nicely, since that pesky block #4 -- the Value Metric -- is exactly what I've been trying to identify and work out for the digital signage industry. It's essentially the measured component that attaches a hard value to the original customer behavior being measured. That's a mouthful, so let's start by investigating how the concept of Linking Elephants applies to traditional media.
Traditional media focuses on audience size
For television, newspapers and magazines, the whole chain is pretty easy to visualize:
- Business Problem: How much do you sell your (limited) ad inventory for?
- User Behavior: Reading/viewing your medium
- Behavior Metric: Number of viewers/readers, based on subscription rates or data from Nielsen, etc.
- Value Metric: Demographic makeup of viewers combined with historical pricing and total inventory availability
- Financial Metric: CPM, the cost per thousand viewers
Online media looks at measurable actions
Internet advertisers tried to adopt CPM for their own use in the mid 1990s, but quickly discovered a more accurate -- and valuable -- way to monetize their space. Because they could measure not just who had an ad served to them, but also who responded to that ad by clicking on it, they decided to price their inventory on a per-click basis. It doesn't matter if 10,000 people view your ad: if only 1,000 click on it (indicating engagement), you get billed only for that 1,000. Thus, their chain of metrics might look like this:
- Business Problem: How much do you sell your (unlimited) ad inventory for?
- User Behavior: Clicking ads on your web pages
- Behavior Metric: Ad clickthroughs
- Value Metric: Auction-based determination of the value of a contextually relevant "warm lead"
- Financial Metric: Cost per click
Emerging media is stuck in the middle
Simple enough so far, right? The problem with out-of-home ads is that in terms of engagement and measurement, we're somewhere in between the old stalwarts -- TV, print and radio -- and the new heavyweight, Internet. Consequently, the best way to link measurement and return together is still a topic of much debate. (This is one of the reasons why the value of measuring digital signage remains uncertain, even in the context of behavioral analysis.) The main question is this: Are our customers viewing, engaging, or acting?
So far, I've pinned down what steps #1 and #5 should be in the diagram. Our Business Problem is just like TV and print: "How much do you sell your (limited) inventory for?" Our Financial Metric is ultimately going to be the cost per spot. On most digital signage networks, this would be the price for an individual playback on an individual screen in the network. But the User Behavior, Behavior Metric and Value Metric are all up for grabs. For example, the user behavior might be "glancing at the screen" (whatever a glance is). Or maybe it's "engaging the screen via mobile phone." Or it could be something totally unrelated to the screen, such as picking up a coupon or moving in a different direction inside the store. Because there are so many possibilities, the Behavior Metric is equally difficult to lock down. If a glance is the desired User Behavior, then tracking cameras and software might be the best way to generate a "number of glances", "glances/spot" or "glances/hour" metric. Of course, that information is less useful if the preferred behavior is interacting with the screen some other way.
Many questions remain
We're still left scratching our heads about the Value Metric. Should it have some demographic component? What about the kinds of purchases typically made at the venue? Can it account for "soft value" things like customer experience or trip history and other measures of loyalty?
From my analysis, there is no one single User Behavior nor one Behavior Metric nor one Value Metric. Thus, we probably won't be able to create a single chain of behaviors and metrics like Adaptive Path uses. But we can have a flowchart! In an upcoming article, I plan to chart out all of the common user behaviors that a digital signage network operator might pay attention to. Then, I'll try to create a map of available Behavior Metrics and Value Metrics for each one. To make the list as comprehensive as possible, I'm asking for your help with the following questions:
- What's the most common goal for digital signage at-retail??
- What kind of "interaction" is the best to measure?
- What would that measurement be worth to you?