Video Surveillance vs. People Counting Software in the Library

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  2. 2014
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Standing in the queue at the libraryLibraries have changed a lot since we were kids. Most kids will never experience a “card catalogue” with actual cards filed in little drawers, nor will they seek answers from an encyclopedia for a research project.

Today, there are more than 120,000 libraries in the United States and these buildings function as meeting spaces for different groups, a quiet place to study for students and a hub of programs and classes for every age.

It’s fair to say that there are so many comings and goings in your local library that there has to be some sort of tracking system. At the most basic level, anyone can be tracked by their library card, which contains your name, address and other identifiable information. When you swipe your library card to check out books, your card records a history of items you’ve checked out, overdue fines, classes you’ve registered for and other information.

The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom believes that people are entitled to privacy in a public library setting. This setting, according to the ALA, encompasses all library activities ranging from reading and borrowing history to activities inside the library itself.

Someone may be watching you

The US government is able to access your library records through the Library Provision of the Patriot Act. This provision says that if a librarian receives an investigative request regarding a patron, he or she is required to compile their library records, which includes computer usage information, circulation data, print records, internet histories and interlibrary loan requests. Librarians are required to comply with these requests. This provision has allowed the National Security Agency and the FBI to obtain and store large amounts of personal data about people.

Why does a library need a surveillance system?

Despite an expectation of privacy, some libraries have implemented a video surveillance system which conflicts with the right to privacy that library patrons expect and deserve.

There are several reasons a library may want to install a video surveillance system. The most common concerns are vandalism in or around the library, crime or suspicious youth activity.

So what’s the problem?

First and foremost, the library is a workplace. Research shows that library staff doesn’t, in general, have a favorable attitude towards monitoring, reported lower employee satisfaction rates and felt that it violated their right to privacy.  Many worry that a surveillance camera would be installed in the employee lounge or other private, staff-only areas, leading to a high-pressure, competitive work environment.

Some library documents and possibly video surveillance footage can be accessed by a Freedom of Information request, which could unknowingly capture private citizens engaged in their day-to-day activities in the library. A surveillance system should only be used in public areas like reading and meeting rooms, stacks and the circulation desks.

Having access to this type of footage puts the library in a precarious position. It’s clear that there needs to be some way of tracking how many people are coming to the library, but that it’s not necessarily beneficial to see the person’s every move once they are inside the library itself.

A traffic counting system is a far more reasonable solution to knowing how many people are in the library at any given time. It allows patrons to remain anonymous but still have their presence counted in the building. This allows the management to have enough staff scheduled during peak hours to ensure everyone is being monitored. It also gives building employees the ability to see where the most people are congregated at any point in time. If an incident does occur, librarians can quickly access reports instead of watching hours of video to pinpoint when an incident occurred.

People Counters: Casinos Employ Different Strategies to Lure High Rollers, Patrons

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  2. 2014
  3. June

3D closeup of casino table with roulette and chipsMacau’s gambling industry is the envy of many, earning this region of China the nickname the “Monte Carlo of the Orient.” In 2006, Macau became the gambling capital of the world, with VIPs and high rollers making up two-thirds of their revenue. These high-stakes players from China are attracted to Macau’s riches by junket operators that whisk deep pocketed players to Macau via private jets and limousines and put them up in large suites in lavish hotels.  A typical big spender needs to drop at least $1 million per trip to the region to maintain his or her VIP status, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that gambling is Macau’s largest source of revenue.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Macau’s gambling industry raked in $45 billion last year—more than seven times that of Las Vegas’ haul for 2013. Macau is home to 33 casinos, including the Venetian Macau, the largest casino in the world.

Where does the money come from?

This mind-boggling level of success doesn’t come cheaply, according to the Businessweek story. Last year, in Macau paid out $13 billion (29 percent of their total revenue for the year) to junket operators who are responsible for getting these high rollers to casino tables. Players are loyal to the junket operators who provide the comped stays, private jets, cars and around the clock concierge service. There are many companies to choose from–currently, there are about 200 licensed junket operators in Macau.

Although the model works successfully, casino operators in Macau are feeling the squeeze from the large sums the junket operators are owed each month.  While some casino operators rely 100% on junkets to bring customers to them, others are working on diversifying by building high-end malls and producing shows to attract new customers or even building new facilities in other areas.

US Casinos and Junkets

Here in the US, casinos—especially smaller ones– do not have the budgets to hire junket operators for billions of dollars, regardless of how many private jets and limousines they own. In February, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported that Nevada’s casinos took in $926 million for the month.  In Las Vegas, gambling revenue checked in at $556 million, down 20% from the previous month. It’s clear that as much as we love Las Vegas, Macau is in a class all of its own.

Drive foot traffic in other ways

In the absence of luxurious private cars and junkets willing to fulfill every whim in return for gambling dollars and repeat business, casinos here in the US, especially smaller ones, still have a fighting chance. These smaller gaming facilities can stay competitive with the help of traffic counting technology. A traffic counting system can help highlight the excitement of a casino floor. Casino owners and managers that employ this technology can more accurately measure how many players are coming and going into any single area and measure the level of interest in the different gaming stations. If activity is too low, the management team can change the position of gaming tables or equipment and adjust the traffic flow.

The ability to change the floor and measure the different variables helps the casino plan effective promotions and evaluate marketing and promotional campaigns based on hard data.  It also helps plan more effectively for scheduling needs. Casino operators will save money by not having too many employees on the floor at once and rest easy knowing they’ll have enough people to cover the busiest shifts.

Affiliate Marketing and Digital Signage are Powerful Revenue Drivers

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  2. 2014
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Multimedia Background. Composed Of Many ImagesAffiliate marketing allows a business to reward one or more affiliated brands or vendors for each visitor or customer drawn in by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. This type of marketing is often used on digital mediums – websites, blogs and in stores that employ digital signage.

Have a question? The Internet has the answer

Everywhere you look, electronic messages are giving you advice. The Internet has taken over as the primary opinion leader that people turn to when considering a new purchase, deciding whether or not to try a new restaurant or searching for the best deal. We look on Yelp for restaurant reviews, Trip Advisor for hotel and vacation advice and product reviews when we are looking to make a purchase.

Digital endorsements play a large role in where we choose to shop, what to buy and where to eat, so smart business owners should take the time to consider the most effective ways to communicate with their customers.

Technology changes the way we communicate

Shopping habits have certainly changed as consumers are more technology-oriented and sophisticated than ever. Stores that utilize digital signage are a prime opportunity for affiliate marketing. Rather than spending advertising dollars on campaigns that people are likely to avoid or not even see, communicate with shoppers in their preferred medium – electronically.

Affiliate marketing + digital signage = more revenue

Given all that we know, then, affiliate marketing and digital signage seems like the ideal pairing. These media virtually guarantee that customers will see important messages about new products or information about current or future promotions in-store by conveying them at the most important point: while the customer is in the store browsing or waiting on line.

An affiliate marketing campaign may showcase a product or brand on a store’s digital signage to help boost sales for both parties. In fact, some stores can generate enough additional sales to pay for their entire digital signage set up and then some!

Digital signage is one of the most customizable forms of publicity, so these ads can be changed often to complement the business by elevating the status of certain brands, services or suppliers that want to raise brand awareness and generate additional revenue.

How do you track it?

We can tell you how effective digital signage and affiliate marketing is, but you don’t need to just take our word for it. Although our eyeballs don’t talk, our actions provide the data you need to measure the effectiveness of a digital affiliate marketing effort.

Businesses can set up a people counting system around their digital signage to see how many people are reading the sign and viewing the marketing messaging. These sensors recognize when a customer has entered the digital signage zone and provide retailers with valuable information about how many people entered these zones and their traffic patterns within the store.

Combined with sales information, these numbers serve as powerful indicators of marketing success. Counts can be correlated with your retail POS software to see if specific messaging led to an uptick in sales for the product or brand at the center of the campaign.

For example, if the shopper walked over to the product or brand of products being showcased after viewing the signage, you can see the campaign is working. Keeping track of the information obtained from your people counting system and POS software will help you put together a data set that could help improve your affiliate marketing efforts in the future. The data set can provide hard evidence that X amount of people who read the sign were engaged and X percentage of those people who were prompted to action actually followed through. The higher the percentage, the more effective your space and/or message are.

Have you considered affiliate marketing in your digital signage space?

A/B Testing: How Traffic Counting Can Increase Sales

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  2. 2014
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A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: an experiment with two variables, A and B. In a retail or online scenario, two versions of a display, advertisement or website are compared to see which one is the most effective in prompting an observer into a desired behavior: clicking a link, making a purchase, completing a survey or another action. When you’re running an A/B test online it’s easy to measure the efficacy with clicks or purchases.

In both trials, A and B are the same except the variant that’s being tested—for example, colors, text, layout or sorting.

What do I need to do to run an A/B test?

If you’re interested in running an A/B test, you’ve got a few things to consider. According to the National Retail Federation, you should ask yourself a few things:

  • What do I want to test?
  • What am I trying to improve?
  • How will I evaluate the winner?
  • How will I implement the winning design/message/strategy?

Rise to the challenge

Considering the questions above, it’s no small task to run an A/B test. You’re going to need time, resources and an open line of communication with your test groups. And then you’re going to need to evaluate the results and, if necessary, run another test.

Clear documentation of what’s being tested and when is extremely important. Some companies may run several tests, so concise notes about tests, methods and results are key. Members of your team may come and go, but having a good log of tests and results will ensure you aren’t spinning your wheels or wasting time on scenarios that have already been tested if your personnel changes during the test period(s).

How does this work in a retail setting?

A/B testing is frequently used for websites or online marketing campaigns, but these tests, when coupled with the right tracking, are an invaluable tool for retail stores…even in their most basic form.

Let’s say you want to test a new display of merchandise at the front of the store. There are two possible ways to design it (Design A and Design B). So immediately we see what you want to test (the display) and what you want to improve (foot traffic/sales). You can evaluate the winning display by the number of people drawn to it and the number of sales each design generates.

A traffic counting system will help you evaluate how many people are drawn to each different display. If your traffic counting system is attached to your point-of-sale system, it’s even better because your POS will do all of the work for you.

Choose a set number of days and set up each design for those days. Make them the same days of the week so it’s a fair result—if one display is up Saturday-Wednesday, put up the second display on the following Saturday so the results aren’t skewed.

After you’ve had both displays out for the set time period, take a look at the data sets provided by your traffic counting system and evaluate the results. Which display drew in more shoppers? Which one generated more sales? The winning display is the one you should use at the front of the store.

A/B testing is also useful when evaluating marketing messaging that will draw people into your store. Let’s say you want to test the promotional text in a mailing.  You can do it using the same technique as you used for the display. Prepare two mailings to test. For example, mailing A says “Sale ends on Saturday, use code G2 for a 20% discount.” Mailing B says “Sale ends soon, use code F3 for a 20% discount.”  After the mailing is sent, use your traffic count and POS data to evaluate which message drew more people into the store to make a purchase. Once you have the result, the more effective message is the one you should use in the larger mailing to your customer base.