Tatts is rolling out an enormous digital signage deployment across 5000+ lottery outlets. And when it comes to getting it right, luck has nothing to do with it.
Story: Christopher Holder
The largest digital signage deployment in Australia is being rolled out as you read this. More than 5000 retail locations, over 15,000+ LG commercial displays in all states except WA. The integrator, Entwined, has crews installing the systems as fast as they can. With some 600+ outlets completed since February 2016, Entwined is averaging almost one install per day and they’ll be at it for years to come.
The network belongs to the Tatts Group, and in all likelihood you’ve probably already seen one of these new cookie-cutter retail installs in a newsagent near you.
LONG TIME COMING
Tatts has been dreaming of this digital signage network for 10+ years. And it’s easy to see why: a centrally controlled network such as this removes so many of the retail pain points. Mainly we’re talking about compliance. Lotteries are highly regulated and retailers are legally compelled to be super-careful in what they advertise and when they advertise it. Forget to remove a Powerball ‘Win $20m’ poster and someone relies on that out of date information, then you can be in trouble and hefty fines apply.
Centrally monitored and updated digital signage removes that compliance hassle and it’s only recently the technology is now priced right and capable enough to make the proposition for the retailers utterly compelling.
Still, the precise design of the package took considerable thought to ensure it worked just as well for the retailer (who, after all, is bankrolling the investment) and Tatts, which is maintaining and updating the content. As Anthony Morse puts it: “It was important we maximised the lottery’s offer and minimised the impact on the floorspace so the retailer could maximise their investment.”
Anthony Morse is Head of Retail for Tatts’ lotteries division. As you can imagine this deployment is a big deal for him and his team. From the get-go the focus is on engagement rather than direct sales conversion: “This is absolutely about driving a better experience for our players and retailers. It’s not about saving money or direct revenue-driving. We see the revenue benefits coming from increased engagement and repeat purchases rather than that instant ‘I’m gonna sell more tickets today’. Yes, we’ll be able to make assessments regarding what impact the signage network has on revenues, but this is primarily about making an emotional connection with the players.”
THE LOTTERY PROPOSITION
We’ve all done it. Whether you’re a lottery player or not, we’ve all given some thought to what life would be like if we were filthy rich. And, in effect, this is the business Tatts is in: selling the dream.
Anthony Morse: “On the face of it lotteries aren’t glamorous. You go in and pay for your entry and you walk away with a piece of paper with some numbers on it. There’s no instant gratification (except if you’re playing a Scratchy). Rather, you’re buying a period of time when you can dream about what you’d do if you won.
“For years, our network’s retail image has stayed fairly constant. We changed the colours here and there over the last 50 years but in the dynamic digital world we’re in, we were in danger of looking outdated and transactional. We needed to come up with a way to engage the customer; make it more than a transaction; start to make it more personal; more vibrant and engaging so you want to go into that newsagent or outlet.”
POST NO BILLS
Day 1 of the new network and creative content didn’t break any new ground. Initially, the screens displayed digital posters and rotated as per the weekly Tatts cycle (Pools, Powerball, Oz Lotto etc).
The level of sophistication has been raised significantly in subsequent months. The ‘what would you do if you won?’ advertising has become much more than a poster on a screen. There’s some excitement and animated story telling, albeit without audio.
Anthony Morse: “We’re also working on a level of retail personalisation. The aim is to have local notifications (school fêtes, local charity groups) rotating on the screens as a community billboard on the platform we use.
“We’ve also learnt a lot about customer dwell time. We need to make sure the right messaging cycles through in that 90-120 seconds period without it looking like a fast-paced slideshow.
“From there we’re looking at dayparting. We were doing two sets a day and now we’ve changed to four sets a day because what happens in the morning and the afternoon can differ depending on the jackpot.
“Audience measurement cameras will be next. Looking at how the messaging to a female customer in her 30s, would differ to a male in his 60s.”
Tatts quite deliberately didn’t engage the world’s biggest systems integrator to take care of the one of the world’s biggest digital signage deployments. Instead they selected a provider that understood its intentions.
Entwined has distinguished itself from other multi-disciplinary integration firms with its ability to consider its input as part of a broader digital strategy: how the digital signage complements the online presence, how it complements the social media… even how it complements traditional print marketing.
“The in-store digital normally starts life as a complementary product and often takes over as the primary product,” observed Entwined Director Cameron Hans. “But we try to deliver it how it fits in with the company with its overall digital investment.”
The extra degree of critical thinking has meant Entwined counts blue-chip organisations such as the Bank of Queensland, Super Retail Group and Lorna Jane as clients.
“One thing we know about retail is it’s constantly evolving. We have around 5000 Tatts retail sites to work on. We reckon we’ll have more than 600 done by the end of the year. By the time we hit 1000 we’re factoring in a redesign.
“From a content delivery perspective, Tatts was really impressed with the AppSpace CMS we use and where we thought we could take their solution,” recalled Cameron. “One of the big ideas was the integration and automation of the jackpot information. Early on, we gave Tatts the confidence that with the AppSpace API set we could do that.”
The AppSpace CMS, as the name suggests, has a very rich set of APIs, allowing deep customisation. The CMS can keep pace with the client’s vision and the changing landscape of retail POS priorities.
The next major piece was to select the display hardware.
HAMMERING THE HARDWARE
“We had to be very, very thorough in our selection of hardware,” noted Cameron Hans. “The media player we chose, the IP switch we chose and ultimately the panel — there was just so much riding on that decision. We selected LG, and its SM5 range, tapping the 55-inch (55SM5KB) as our go-to panel.
“The LG panels are built to a particular level, a particular set of smarts that allows us to then put some management software on them, which really enhances our support offering. Thanks to the LG webOS, we can remotely load default content onto the screens, we can remotely monitor the screens, and that ticked a lot of boxes for Tatts about what happens when you have a 5000-site deployment and you’re managing 15,000 screens in the field.”
With such a huge long-tail project, Entwined needed to be completely assured of the integrity of the supply channels and have an inside running on future product development.
“LG was fantastic in confiding in us regarding its product development roadmap,” enthused Cameron Hans. “Maintaining a consistency of bezel size was particularly important to us on this job. We had the opportunity to travel to Korea and work with the LG engineers on solutions. We couldn’t fault them as a partner.”
It’s been quite the hectic ride for Entwined: “Our success with the larger customers we work with is down to our team. We’ve got great people — passionate, committed people — and everybody from our helpdesk operators to our CIO, to our guys that hang the screens, spending weeks away on multiple deployments… our team is what allows us to deliver the product and I’m extremely proud of those guys.”