Q&A: How Ping HD Creates Content, Delivers Digital Signage Media Via Cloud

We catch up with Ping HD chief technology officer Kevin Goldsmith, who updates us on the firm’s innovative digital signage services with Beacon support.

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When we featured Kevin Goldsmith and Ping HD on the cover of our February 2013 issue, he had a different title (director of media operations) and the company had a narrower focus (delivering digital signage and menu boards primarily to sports arenas).

At the time, Ping HD was among the first integrators to also create their own content. These days, Goldsmith is Ping HD’s chief technology officer and the company has moved into several new markets with some innovative new offerings.

Ping HD recently announced Beacon support for its cloud-based EngagePHD digital signage platform, which company officials tout as “a low-cost, robust and scalable digital signage platform that is an easy-to-use, cloud-delivered, content management and network monitoring application.”

The partnership is part of a growth pattern that is expected to see Ping HD grow to a $6 million or $7 million company this year with 20 employees. The company is proud of its internal content creation team, and Goldsmith says it offers turnkey solutions in about 95 percent of its installations.

Beacon is a device that transmits small amounts of data via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) up to 150 feet. LG recently integrated Beacons into its SM5B range of webOS displays and Radius Networks have USB-powered Beacons.

EngagePHD “has been built using the latest web technologies that work seamlessly with the intelligent SoC (System on a Chip) displays manufactured by Samsung and LG Electronics in addition to Windows-, Chromebox- and Android-based media players,” according to a recent press release.

Typically, the selected smartphone mobile application will be looking for Beacons in the background, and once detected, it will look for the data transmitted by that Beacon. From here, EngagePHD and the mobile application will perform a search in the EngagePHD Cloud (using cellular data/Wi-Fi) to see what content is associated with that Beacon ID.

Once this connection is made, the user or customer can receive customized content to his or her smartphone. Examples may be a coupon, call to action or product information or interrupting digital signage content running on a nearby display and showing customized personal messaging to that user or customer.

As part of support for Beacons, Ping HD has an Android and iOS app that can be used for demonstration. An API is also available so the code can be incorporated into any existing mobile application of a specific organization. Let’s learn more about how this partnership will help Ping HD continue to transform and grow.

Craig MacCormack: What does Beacon tech mean for Ping HD going forward?

KEVIN GOLDSMITH: “Adding support for Beacon technology strengthens the EngagePHD platform by expanding marketing, branding and loyalty options for retailers, restaurants, sports teams, hoteliers, airlines, pretty much any organization that has or is developing a mobile application for their patrons, guests and customers. From a marketing perspective, the possibilities are endless for our clients.

“As adoption of EngagePHD continues to accelerate, adding support for the latest technologies will remain our primary objective to ensure that new and existing customers have all the tools they need for effective digital communication. We’ve been prioritizing what’s great, what’s useful and what’s going to allow us to close more business.”

Also See: How This Company Is Making Digital Signage Smarter in the Out-of-Home Space

“We’ve had this in the pipeline for a while and we decided to try to get ahead of the curve. We have a software development partnership with LG, and web 2.0 includes Beacon. The caveat to the technology is no matter if it’s on Android or iOS, they can build code into their app.”

CM: What are some of the new capabilities Ping HD has as a result of this Beacon support?

KG: “We can push content to mobile phones and personalize messages to consumers based on the information they enter. I think it’s going to really help us. We’re growing nicely and providing more options to our customers. We see this as a real game-changer for our business.”

“We launched EngagePHD in February 2015 with three Major League Baseball teams and we’ve continued to roll from there. We’re doing more in QSR. The platform doesn’t restrict us to the U.S. either and we’ve done work in Latin America, Europe, Australia and Malaysia.”

The technology will be useful in places such as retail and grocery stores, but can also help at hotel concierge desks, quick-serve restaurants (QSR) and sports and live concert arenas or “anywhere customer service is available,” says Goldsmith.

Customers can opt in or out to any features they choose, he says, and it’s available in English, German, French, Portuguese and Spanish, with additions coming in Mandarin, Italian and Korean.

CM: Have you been able to shake the reputation as a company that only installs menu boards in sports stadiums?

KG: “We’ve been fighting an uphill battle of losing that stereotype. The key difference between sports and other verticals is the content. With menu boards, that moved us into QSR pretty easily and with IPTV, that’s opening up opportunities in hotels, health care and automotive retail.

Having this system on a chip from Samsung and LG has certainly changed our business and allowed us to provide more robust solutions.”

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