by Screach on October 28, 2013 | Leave your comment
So you’re advertising your menus, drinks offers and live events on the screen, showing live local news and sport updates, and even your Facebook page and Instagram photos. But how can you *really* maximise your use of ScreachTV to make an impact when you’re counting up the receipts at the end of the night?
1. Advertise those last minute offers
Got stock to shift, with a use by date? Make a professional-looking advert for your product, quickly, using the advert templates available in the Screach portal. You’ll be able to see your advert on the screen within minutes of creating it.
2. Show live football data
Not able to broadcast a particular sports match because you have the wrong television provider? Keep your customers in your bar for longer, by subscribing to the Screach Football channel. It’ll allow you to show all the latest stats, info and breaking news from live EPL matches. Radio commentary coming soon too!
3. Capitalise on Last Orders
The very end of the night is the last chance to make sales before your customers go home. With the clever scheduling system of ScreachTV, you can decide to show an advert only at a specific time. You could display a special advert to alert everyone when it’s last orders. You could even make an event out of it by adding a countdown timer!
At Screach we have a dedicated Product Team; designers and developers who create the on-screen animated, live and interactive content for ScreachTV.
Dave Potts heads up the team. Here’s some insight from him on Screach’s approach to designing for the big screen.
We spend a hell of a lot of time in pubs, and we can see that conventional broadcast solutions suck – when a pub isn’t showing live sport, it’s normally just the news with the sound off. We see that the current broadcast model is broken for venues, so many of our ideas come from trying to fix this. We’re also data junkies, so when we come across a cool data stream, we love to experiment with visualising it on the screen.
Television in a bar is not watched in the same way as conventional television in the home, but you’ll notice that the current broadcast in both settings is still exactly the same. This makes no sense to us; few people go to a bar to watch television, and the on-screen content just becomes background visual noise, often with illegible text; it’s designed to be watched up-close in the quiet of your living room, not in a noisy social surrounding. On top of all of that, bars usually have the sound off on their TVs, so not only can viewers not read the content on it, they can’t hear it either. Not exactly the best user experience, is it?
Our challenge is to change this media format into something useful for venues, and interesting to customers, making the television in a venue relevant again. Viewers are accustomed to looking at broadcast content, so our biggest challenge is creating something new and appealing which isn’t jarring to the viewer. It has to be visually stimulating to cut through everything else that’s going on in the venue. It must function without audio too, and text must be completely legible, even from the back of the bar.
The creation process starts with getting the team members together who will work on the project. We sit and thrash out possible solutions, and it’s a great feeling getting excited about the prospect of creating something new and game-changing. Our product team is a talented bunch of smarty-pants; they’re designers first and foremost, but they’re also code ninjas and are just as comfortable when developing software solutions. Most of our ScreachTV products have lots of moving parts, so we develop and design features in tandem. Before testing, we go over every aspect of the project with a fine-tooth comb to make sure the visuals for on-screen and in-phone are complementary, and that the software just works. At this point we do internal testing coupled with live trials in customer control groups, before rolling out to our nationwide customers.
The product team moves fast. We are working on a brand refresh across the whole platform that we hope everyone will love, it’s to keep the advert templates and interactive games feeling new. We also have some cool new television channels coming that we can’t wait to release. And in my work stream right now, I’m building some cool tech for smartphones that will change the way users play games in venue. I can’t say any more than that for the moment!
As our roll-out of ScreachTV continues to gather pace, our Support team play an ever increasingly critical role in ensuring venues are happy and able to make the most of our platform. Steven O’Neil manages support from ScreachHQ – we caught up with him to find out more about his endeavours…
Hi Steven! Tell us more about your role at Screach
I’m responsible for supporting all of our venues, making sure they have great content that appeals to their customers – I’m here to advise them on how they can make the most out of ScreachTV and really benefit from the fantastic features it offers. This involves lots of calls to make sure we regularly keep in touch with all of our sites, and I also produce the newsletter that is sent out every two weeks to share the latest updates on ScreachTV. I manage the ScreachTV Facebook page and that’s proving to be another great way for our venues to follow the latest announcements. I’m also on hand to offer training on how to navigate the on-screen content and how to use the ScreachTV web portal, so whether it’s a simple question or a more intricate guide to creating content, I’m here to help! I get lots of content requests from venues and so spend a significant proportion of my days creating new advertisements as well.
Your days must be incredibly busy! What do you enjoy the most about your role?
I really enjoy the variety of my job – whilst it can be very demanding, it’s brilliant to work with so many different people and apply myself to such a range of tasks. I particularly love the marketing aspect of my role and the opportunity I have to be creative – using Photoshop to design the adverts is a lot of fun and I am learning new skills and tricks from our Design team every day!
You mention working with a variety of people – who does that include?
My focus is understandably on working closely with all of our venues and maintaining regular contact with each one – that alone includes a real diversity of people! Having such a frontline role means that I truly get to work across all areas of the business too – from liaising with the Sales and Installation teams on the introduction of new sites, to working closely with our field Support team as they visit venues for regular updates in person. My relationship with the Design and Development teams is also fundamental, with testing of new features before they’re launched and also sharing feedback from our customers to shape how the product evolves. My CRM systems are invaluable to keeping on top of everything!
What kind of feedback on ScreachTV have you received from venues so far?
It’s been incredibly positive – venues love the flexibility of the system and enjoy so much value from being able to personalise their playlists. The advertising opportunities are a real favourite and there is a lot of excitement about the new Screach app functionality and the prospect of learning more about the demographics of their customers. The product and our processes have evolved significantly over the last nine months and venues really appreciate having a dedicated support service on hand to help at all times.
Have venues helped to influence any of the product development?
Definitely – we always seek feedback from our venues so that we can look to adapt the product to suit the reality of how ScreachTV is used; whilst there is focus on designing a cutting edge platform, we also need to be acutely aware of how the product is used in everyday life. Our train time experience emerged from one such request – the Sportsman Hotel in Eaglescliffe has a prime situation near the station and suggested that being able to keep their customers updated on train schedules would be helpful; we explored the idea and found that it would be a great offering for many of our other venues too, so we progressed into development and now have a live experience that gives our customers extremely relevant, real-time content for their screens.
What is your top tip for venues using ScreachTV?
First and foremost, keep it on! Realise its potential, keep playlists fresh and use as much content as possible. ScreachTV can add such value and it’s always going to continue evolving, with new features constantly in the pipeline.
We work with all manner of venues with screens across the hospitality sector – but at its core, Screach is a technology company. CEO and Co-Founder Paul Rawlings has been building and deploying great tech wizardry for a number of years, and ScreachTV is no different. When Screach as a company was focusing on creating phone-to-screen interactive games and campaigns (working with the likes of Cadbury, Swiftcover.com and Channel 4), the idea for ScreachTV came about as solution to a conundrum – how do we get the interactive content on to the screens in the first place? We need a device that connects to a television and handles our Screach content. When the answer came, we knew it was something worth pursuing, and what started as an idea early last year is now a fully-fledged income-generating entertainment system with over 150 venue customers in the UK, and growing fast. Here’s what it can do on a venue’s screens. And here’s some insight into the process of designing and building ScreachTV…
Hardware and Software
The ScreachTV software was written in-house by our team of talented developers based in the UK and Romania. The start-up mentality runs strong at Screach, and we practice Facebook’s The Hacker Way – the accelerated-growth method of failing fast, and failing often. This allowed us the freedom to try lots of different paths, quickly, to get to the right one. We looked at all kinds of existing hardware, from £5000 digital signage machines, to the DIY-lover’s Raspberry Pi. In the end we chose a device which balanced performance with price and one we could tailor to our needs.
The ScreachTV application sits on an Android TV box, an Apple TV-esque player which receives content from the cloud and displays it on television screens. The Android device was perfect for our needs – a device which was low-cost, versatile, and (most importantly) developer friendly. For the Android device to do what we wanted, we adapted the existing OS for our own purpose, and had the device firmware completely re-vamped too. We’ve seen some discussion about the perks and pitfalls of using these Android boxes as digital signage players and our recommendation, from our own experience, is to not settle for the software and firmware which comes with it. Make your product elegant and robust, by not only building a bespoke application on top, but by utilizing the dev-friendly features of the OS, making your player work the way you want it to.
Keeping costs low
As the box is low-cost, it means there was less resource and focus spent on worrying about a big shiny piece of hardware like most traditional digital signage solutions. Instead we could focus on the backend admin system, the player performance, and the ScreachTV content. It meant we were able to roll our product out quickly, and we were able to lower the barrier to market, by not having to pass expensive set up costs on to our venue customers. That instantly set ScreachTV apart from most other digital signage companies in the hospitality industry.
ScreachTV is undergoing continual tweaks and modifications, and with the system we have built, every device can be upgraded to the latest version remotely – once we have approved a new version of the application, we can roll it out across the network at the touch of a button. Not only that, we have buried a lot of clever features into the software, such as the ability to view and control a device from anywhere in the world in real-time, live data on plays of content, and logs which allow us to monitor the performance of a device. We pass a lot of these features on to our customers, to make sure they get the most out of our service.
Testing across the whole team
We have large test groups – every Screach employee has a device at home which is running adverts, live content and games 24 hours per day. At any one time, there are 13 boxes hooked up to 13 monitors in the Screach office to test content and software against – this has the added benefit that every person in the office, from sales to design, can understand the system and feed back ideas on the product. Even when some of our developers work remotely, we work as a unified team on testing and improving ScreachTV.
If you build software and deploy it on existing hardware, we’d love to hear what problems you’ve encountered and what solutions you’ve come up with on your journey to market.
by Screach on September 3, 2013 | Leave your comment
Wayne Rambo Groves is our ScreachTV Content Producer – working alongside our brilliant Design and Support teams, he makes sure the content across our network stays fresh and entertaining. Not a mean feat when we have over 15 million plays of content chalked up across our venues!
With so many new sites joining ScreachTV by the day, we recognised the need for a dedicated producer to focus on finding new and interesting content – with a background in magazine publishing, Wayne has proved to be a perfect fit. His current project outside of Screach is NE Online Magazine, shining a spotlight on local people, places and events. He also DJs at venues across the north east and has worked with icons such as Judge Jules, Alistair Whitehead and Phats & Small. And when he’s not writing or mixing, he can generally be found MCing at MMA fight nights. Being such a socialite, Wayne knows a lot of people – something that has really helped him in his new role at Screach – the more people to share content with and source content from, the better!
When it comes to content for the ScreachTV playlists and channels, Wayne is always on the lookout for new videos, whether they be epic fails, awesome stunts or daft animals – cheap laughs are surprisingly effective! The past few weeks have all been about sourcing content to complement the launch of the new football season, with fresh media pulled together for every individual Premiership team, allowing venues to choose specific content that is directly relevant to their customers. From goals to gaffs to general footballing genius, the content has already received a great reaction from landlords and customers alike. There are oodles of ideas in the pipeline too, designed to work around upcoming events and festivities.
Wayne is relishing his new role and still “waiting for someone to tell me off for watching videos all day!” The variety and creativity of the job is something he really enjoys and whilst the technology behind the platform is pretty overwhelming, Wayne is concentrating on putting himself in the mindset of venues’ customers to pick the right content that people will love.
So, the final burning question I’m sure you all have is “is his name really Rambo?” Happily, the answer is yes! Wayne has always been a keen campaigner for charity – to name just a few of his mad crusades, he’s spent a week dressed as Superman to raise money for the children’s charity ‘Variety’, he regularly organises a whole host of fundraising Race Nights and Quizzes at local venues for Cain’s Dream to Walk, and – spectacularly – he changed his name by deed poll to ‘Rambo’, all for a good cause! So there you have it – our Screach philanthropist bringing new content to a venue near you! If you have cool content you’d like to publish on the ScreachTV network, get in touch with Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re building a whole suite of games for ScreachTV, coming to a bar near you very soon. They allow the existing screens in the venue to do the work, while the bar staff can get on with serving customers.
The staple of many pubs is the traditional Pub Quiz. We’ve built our own hosted Quiz Night which will allow venues to hit ‘play’ and let the host on screen run the quiz for them. The quiz will refresh every week, always with brand new questions covering a whole range of categories, with picture rounds, video clips and audio.
Expect to see Race Night games, Bingo, Happy Hour games, and a whole load more coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled.
Our ScreachTV sales team has expanded significantly in recent months and so we thought we’d check in and see how they’re all doing. Martin, Clair, Simone and Jo are based across the north of the UK, visiting sites from Durham to Carlisle, Liverpool to Oldham, Harrogate to Rotherham and Chesterfield to Leicester to name but a few – if there’s a pub to visit, these guys are on it! Life on the road is a busy way to spend the days, so we wanted to see how they all cope with the perpetual pub crawl…
What types of venues do you visit on your travels?
Martin: Pubs, clubs, Student Unions and those generally within the leisure industry.
Clair: Exactly – nightclubs and hotels too, though I’ve also visited hospitals, car dealerships and tyre companies!
So a real variety of places! What are the major benefits of ScreachTV for the venue owners you meet?
Martin: It’s about making their TV screens relevant and interactive, driving customers back into their venue time and time again.
Simone: Absolutely – many customers I speak to love the opportunity for advertising and the ability to generate extra revenue, as well as being able to interact with the customer.
Clair: The advertising can create real community spirit and helps to bring venues into the 21st century. The real-time social media experiences using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, also help people to understand more about what’s going on in their local and are entertaining to all different age groups.
What are the key challenges of your role?
Simone: The licensed trade is a really interesting industry to work in – it’s about presenting the complementary balance between traditional practices and the real accessibility of something as modern as ScreachTV.
Jo: That’s it – we demo the product live on site and, whilst that can have its challenges, it’s a brilliant product to present; it’s so visual and our customers can immediately see the value in what we’re offering.
What are your favourite features of ScreachTV to showcase to venue owners?
Martin: I love the flexibility to select different channels for different times of week – venues can always ensure their screens are fresh and showing new content.
Jo: The Fail Army video feeds are great and always go down well in venues! The interactive experiences are fantastic too – they give venues the chance to offer their customers something really different.
Simone: Definitely – I always find people love the Quiz and On Screen Messages experiences.
Lots to enjoy then when you’re out meeting so many new venues! So finally, what are your top tips for surviving a perpetual pub crawl?
Jo: Comfortable shoes!
Clair: Well, on my off duty pub crawls! Jaeger bombs, glass of water with every drink, don’t fall over and give yourself a curfew!
Martin: Agreed – a pint of water before you go out and before you go to bed is key!
Simone: Never drink Sambuca and always remember your milk thistle before and after nights out!
When you have an hour to wait until your next journey, the bar across the road from the train station is often the only place with a comfy seat to kill time in. So we created a really simple piece of on-screen content to make those pubs and bars even more relevant to train commuters.
ScreachTV venues can now display the latest arrivals and departures for their local train station on their TV screens, alongside their own adverts for drinks and food, local weather, local news, and social media.
The data is in real-time, so the customers in the pub can stay nice and warm for longer, without dashing back over the road to the station to find out if their train has arrived.
With some free Wi-Fi and a good coffee machine, this can turn a pub from an empty daytime boozer, into a destination venue for commuters.
What other on-screen data would keep your customers in for longer?
Nestled on the banks of the River Danube and twinned with Coventry (who knew!) Galati is a city in south east Romania and home to part of our core development team – let us introduce you…
Heading up the team is Sorin Decianu – with over ten years of experience in software development and engineering, Sorin’s expertise stretch over a broad range of languages, from .NET to Java and PHP, as well as expanding into a variety of databases including MongoDB and SQL. Software development is his passion – he loves creating products that can be used every day and even better when they’re fun too.
Next up is Paul Salaru – on graduating from Dunarea de Jos University, Paul has specialised in becoming an expert in Java and Java based frameworks and APIs, including J2EE, GWT, JSP and Junit. Having grown in experience in a number of Senior Developer roles, Paul joined Screach earlier this year and enjoys being able to transform all of the ideas from our team into a working reality.
We asked the guys to tell us a bit more about their experience of working at Screach…
Why did you join Screach?
Sorin: I was very impressed with the product and could see it having a great future – from the first time I used the Screach app, I could see its potential and knew that it would a success!
Viorel: I like the idea of using the ScreachTV android box for advertising and fun.
Paul: It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Android and I get to work on projects that are interactive.
What is it like to work at Screach?
Sorin: I’ve worked at Screach for two and a half years now and it’s been a great challenge to take on! I’m able to learn something new and increase my knowledge every day, whether it be a new technology, exploring and debating ideas, or developing strategy – it’s a very positive role and leads to great communication between the whole team.
Paul: I have only one word – AWESOME
Viorel: Quite simply, it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
A happy team! So how do you manage being based remotely from the Head Office in Newcastle upon Tyne?
Sorin: We have established great ways to communicate and overcome the distance, primarily using tools like Skype and having lots of calls and keeping in touch regularly.
Viorel: We have no issues – we work well together in the Galati office and have plenty of live meetings with the team in Newcastle – being remote doesn’t affect our development at all.
What are your top tips for working from a satellite office?
Sorin: Everyone in the team is very responsible and takes ownership of their role – having that level of confidence and independence in a team is key so that you can rely on everyone to stay in touch and communicate with the rest of the group at all times.
Paul: Like Sorin says, communicate properly – let everyone know what you’re working on, what your goals and timescales are and don’t assume anything – scope projects fully and just ask if you are unsure of anything.
What are you working on at the moment?
Sorin: Lots of cool, top secret stuff, as always!
Viorel: I’m looking at offering remote access to ScreachTV to help with our debugging and support process.
Paul: I’m working with our design team on the Jukebox integration for ScreachTV.
What is it like to work in the Galati office?
Sorin: It’s a lot of fun! We work really well together and share knowledge to find the best solutions on our individual projects – whether we’re really enjoying them or have a frustrating bug to fix, it’s great to have a team around you.
Viorel: It’s cool to work in a small core group from the Galati office – it means we get to know each other really well and we enjoy going out for a beer too!
Paul: We spend a lot of time working, so socialising after work can be difficult with family responsibilities, but having ice cream breaks is pretty good!
Tell us more about Galati as a city
Viorel: Galati has lots of great architecture and is relatively close to the seaside and mountains. The pubs are good and we have fantastic views provided by the Danube River.
Sorin: It’s hot (really hot!) in summer and can get extremely cold and windy in winter. It’s a great city with lots to do, but if you come here with a car, please be aware that we drive on the right side!
Paul: Galati was once a flourishing industrial city but today things are different and the economy is driven by different factors. We have a fine botanical garden, but the nicest place by far is the Danube cliff.
Sightseeing tour sorted then for our next team outing in Galati! What do you love outside of Screach?
Sorin: My true passion is for software development, though I also enjoy writing my technical and personal blogs. I like sightseeing and mountaineering with my family too, though not when the weather is too hot!
Viorel: I’m married and have a 2 year old daughter – my family is very important to me. I also love cars, travelling, smart gadgets, photography and wildlife.
Paul: I live with my girlfriend and my hobbies include gaming, reading books and articles about the latest technologies, jogging and playing soccer.
Sorin, Viorel and Paul are a key part of the Screach team and despite being based over 2000 miles away, they feel as much a part of our crew as everyone else – the future is bright in Galati and we’re looking forward to expanding our team there.
We’re busy rolling out ScreachTV to bars and pubs around the UK, but the more we talk to people, the more uses we find for ScreachTV in other sectors – especially in corporate and private events. Yes, that’s right, even weddings!
These days, a bit of audience interaction is critical for a successful event – it engages the crowd in between or during the action, and is great for driving traffic and conversation online.
Here’s some cool ways Screach has been used to add a heap of ‘wow factor’ to two very different events…
ScreachTV rocked up at Licensed Trade International Show at The Sage Gateshead earlier this year, giving the whole event a ‘live and interactive’ feel. We took over the screens around the venue, including a massive 12 foot screen, to show the conference schedule, and display live tweets and photos throughout the event. At the awards dinner on the last evening, the photos and tweets went flying on to the screen, capturing the reactions of the award winners at their tables, and entertaining the crowd during the dinner. The reaction was awesome.
Some friends of ours borrowed ScreachTV for their wedding. They made up their own Instagram hashtag, and got their loved ones to share photos from the day to Instagram, and on to the big screen at the reception! Friends and family loved it, it gave them a way to share their thoughts and feelings with the happy couple on a ‘living scrapbook’ of the special day.
If you think ScreachTV would work at your event, get in touch with us!