Breaking Down Video Analytics Software


Designing content for digital signage is an art, just like designing print ads, brochures, TV and radio spots. Effective messages for digital signage are important to the success of your signage network, just like any other advertising media. But how do you know if the messages are working; who is viewing them, what’s their reaction and for how long they watched? These are some of the questions you can get answers to by using video analytics software.

Video analytics software is a tool for retailers to analyze the consumer behavior of the people watching their digital signage. The software anonymously measures the number of consumers, and their attention span when standing/sitting in front of a digital sign. Some software offers advanced features such as facial-form detection.

Anonymous Video Analytics

You can determine the effectiveness of people viewing your messages through the use of software called “Anonymous Video Analytics” (AVA). It is anonymous because the software does not actually record any video of people. It analyzes the live data from a video camera, and converts it into statistical information, which can be imported into a spreadsheet to evaluate. It is used in conjunction with digital signage to get viewers’ reactions to watching messages.

Some analytics software can also target the appropriate message to the right people at the right time. The software senses a customer approaching a display, determines the gender and approximate age, and plays an appropriate and targeted message. Triggering of content is based on inputs such as the viewer’s proximity, examination of a product and anonymous viewer measurement. Demographics can assure the most suitable medium is played to achieve the maximum results. This is a powerful marketing tool for retailers. And the software continues to advance.

Analytics software works with a web camera pointed at the audience watching the messages. The camera is usually mounted on top of the display. Most cameras are very small and not intrusive. Some cameras are also built into the display’s bezel. The software generates reports and visualization of statistical information based on the viewers in front of your displays to help you determine if your messages are effective.

For example, if you are displaying a message that runs for 20 seconds and your analytic report shows that 81 percent of the people watched for an average of 7 seconds, it means your message isn’t galvanizing. On the other hand, if 74 percent watched it for an average of 18 seconds, your message is pretty effective. Of course, this is referring to people reacting to your message, and is not actually tracking the quantifiable results of the message, which generally relates to a call to action.

For example, if you’re selling products in your messages, you need to track the sales results by analyzing your actual product sales and comparing them to past sales. This is the most effective way to judge if your message is working. But analytics software is a tool that allows you to drill down into more specifics about the consumers’ viewing patterns, and whether your messages are attracting their attention.

Facial-form Detection

Another feature on some analytics software is facial-form detection and tracking, which distinguishes the form of a face. No videos are taken, and no recordings are saved. Therefore, no infringement of privacy occurs. This type of software provides metrics such as the number of viewers, the amount of time someone watches and the message(s) they watched. Facial-form detection software can also detect the emotions of the viewer such as happiness, surprise, anger, contempt, etc. Data of the sentiment of the viewers is a very powerful tool to get feedback on the quality of the content being viewed.

Certain Intel Core i5 and i7 processors can run an advanced Intel AVA application while simultaneously playing HD content on your display. Such multitasking capability significantly minimizes infrastructure cost. It can also dim or turn off the display automatically if no viewers are detected for an extended period of time. The application is being used in retail to adapt digital signage advertising content in real-time, based on the demographics of the viewer.

Counting Shoppers

Analytics software can also be used to count the number of shoppers who are walking into your establishment, or into any given area. Some of the features of using software for counting people are:

  • Human-traffic counting through the area,
  • Finding out your facilities’ actual number of visitors to compare with the number of buyers,
  • Monitoring attendance peaks and falls through the day, and
  • Using demographics for selling ad time on your network

A good way to count shoppers is to place a free-standing digital sign with a web cam pointed at your front entrance. The display can show daily specials and announcements while it counts shoppers.

Analytics for Advertisers

If you plan on offering ad space on your signage network, analytics software is a great tool to have for your advertisers. As I’ve said before, some CMS signage software and third-party programs provide a report featured called “proof-of-play.” This report shows the advertiser how many times their message spot(s) were shown on your network, and on what days and times. This backup support is important to prove to the advertiser that the messages they are paying you to run actually ran and when.

Most national advertisers now require proof-of-play reports. So if you intend on selling ad space, make sure your signage software has the proof-of-play report. Providing additional analytical reports to your advertiser, along with proof-of-play, offers a competitive advantage over other signage operators who are offering ad space within your local area. Using these reports, the advertisers can fine-tune their messages based on the anonymous video analytics report.

About Author

David Bawarsky, DSCE, is the author of Digital Signage Made Simple for Retailers. He has more than 35 years of experience in helping thousands of companies use technology to effectively communicate their unique marketing messages. He is currently the CEO of mySignageNow, a leading provider of digital signage solutions. He has been a technology entrepreneur throughout his career, creating and managing successful media companies. His companies have won many awards, including an “OBIE” (outdoor advertising’s Oscar) and has been featured in more than 1,900 newspapers, magazines and TV shows worldwide, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, CNN, BBC, NBC’s “Today Show,” and ABC’s “World News Tonight.” For more information, visit

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