Shopping Malls Special

Digital Signage in Malls - where Frequency meets Dwell Time

The coming days will be again one of the busiest times in Malls around the Gulf. The end of Ramadan is spent in celebration as Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking Fast) – one of the busiest shopping period of the year. An invidis report about digital signage in shopping malls around the UAE.

Various digital signage installation – way guiding, advertising (DooH) and in-store – are widely used throughout the region. invidis takes a look at various malls and report about signage installations. The first report covered The Beach Mall (invidis report). Today we look at Dubai Mall.

Not only during festive season like Eid al Fitr residents as well as visitors alike spend long times at malls. Flagship properties like Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates (both Dubai) or Villagio (Doha) record average dwell time of 2-3 hours. Dubai Mall – the world’s largest mall by frequency- counted 75 million visitors in 2013. A perfect place for Digital out of Home and other forms of digital signage.

Dubai Mall opened in November 2008 and offers currently more than 1.200 stores on half a million sqm leasable space. Two additional extensions are currently being build – the fashion entrance close to Burj Khalifa as well as part of the Fountain view complex across Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Blvd.

Dubai Mall - Photo Gallery
Dubai Mall – Photo Gallery

Emaar Malls built and operates the mall complex in downtown Dubai. The main digital signage systems features more than 400 LED boards and over 300 advertising panels. They are located along the mall’s main thoroughfares, public atrium spaces, link bridges, interactive store directories, lift lobbies and within themed areas. Some areas include Fashion Avenue, which has a fully retractable LED embedded-catwalk, the Gold Souk, which has a built-in planetarium-like projection system, and the Dubai Ice Rink, where the LED-board doubles up as a score board for sporting matches.

A key feature of the network is that a single image can be projected across the entire mall at the same time in the right resolution / aspect ratio. The system is driven by Canadian digital signage specialist X2O media, which was acquired by Barco in spring 2014. X2O is now part of the Barco Live Dots division. (X2O Case Study)

A must have feature of digital signage in the Gulf region is an automated call to prayer notification. Prayer times change daily and are dynamically fed by an external database. The content loop is interrupted for every prayer time and the digital signage and the mall’s PA-system are synchronized.

The main digital signage component for visitors are the way guiding / mall directory totems which are spread across the mall. The double sided totems comprise of four LCD displays – the bottoms are single touch enabled for directory and way guiding, the upper displays show advertising. The DooH-content on the totems is synchronized with the displays next to elevators and the LED-boards on the link bridges. Unfortunately the totems are reaching end of life. The single touch functionality is not state of the art anymore and they also lack regular calibration. The screen design and usability is also lightly outdated but still works fine. A technology and user interface fresh-up is supposedly already in the pipeline.

LED based advertising boards are mostly installed on the link bridges. The boards really show how LED technology has evolved in the past six years. Most of them show various forms of pixel defects, the pitch is not state of the art anymore and it seems brightness is not adapted to the surrounding light conditions. The outside LED boards at the main entrance have already been removed in the past months. Most likely a technology fresh up is planned.

In addition to the EMAAR operated digital signage hundreds of in-store installation are being operated by the tenants. A separate article will feature some of the highlights.