Introducing ScreenScape 4.0

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ScreenScape 4.0 brings a new release of ScreenManager, our content management system. The latest release introduces:

  • Performance and scalability improvements
  • ‘Content Tags’ for Venues and Content members
  • A new, faster Map
  • A power user interface for Content Sharing
  • Improved layout – larger viewing areas and consistent screen design

What does this mean for ScreenScape users?

  • Drag and Drop publishing from playlists (new for Venues and Content members)
  • Easier to organize content
  • Snappier performance
  • Many small-but-mighty time saving UI improvements

A Revamped User Interface

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Create

The Create tab has a new Content Tags column, a larger item list and preview area, and contextual details about each item (‘Share to’ and ‘Published to’ info).

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Publish (for Venues)

Publish for Venues has a new Content Tags column and a new playlist area. Venues can now publish ordered playlists directly from tags.

 

Community

The Community has been completely revamped. Changes include:

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  • A new Map using a new technology for smoother performance and faster filter searches. The new Map also features a larger viewing area, a new member filtering tool and a new geo-search bar.
  • A new Share UI has been created following the design patterns established by Group Publish. It replaces the old 2-screen Content / Member lists.
  • Users can now drag and drop content to members for Sharing, in the same way they do for Publishing.
  • Content Tags have been introduced, so that users can employ a simple drag and drop action to share large collections of content items to large collections of members

 

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Track

The Track tab has been simplified, with the removal of the right hand panel. (It used to show user account info, which added screen clutter without a lot of value.)

 

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Control

The queries behind Control have been revamped for faster and more scalable performance. Member tags have been introduced to simplify monitoring of sub-groups and specific accounts, and a Search bar has been added for large groups. Actions have been renamed and re-organized for legibility.

 

Performance and scalability

Many of the improvements in this release are under the radar scalability improvements. (Scalability is a measure how well our internal systems can perform under high use and growth conditions.) Great performance is something we expect our users to take for granted – but it takes a lot of behind the scenes work to get there.

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Examples of scalability questions are:

  • How efficiently can the system process large scale requests from our users?
  • How long will it take to run a ‘normal’ search? How big is a query result set allowed to be?
  • What happens when 1000 users log on at the same time? What happens if they all request a lot of data at the same time?
  • How will shared parts of the application, like the Community, perform under the heaviest of loads?
  • How many items can be published or shared at one time? To how many users?

To prepare for future growth of the system, new capabilities have been added to ScreenManager such as:

  • A redesigned Search interface
  • Asynchronous publishing / sharing and queueing of requests
  • Efficient search queries and paging of search results

While scalability improvements often may not make headlines, they keep the system humming and our users productive, while ensuring ScreenScape’s customers are prepared for future growth.

What’s next?

Hot off the tail of ScreenScape 4.0 will be a new release of Smart Player for Windows. The new version will have new Setup UI and several network connectivity improvements. Stay tuned!

Customer Support

Be sure to check out our updated support articles. They will help guide you through the new software version and highlight some of the exciting updates that have been made to content creation, content tagging and content sharing. If you have any questions about the new software version don’t hesitate to contact support.

 

Introducing the ‘Infotainment’ collection

Today ScreenScape is happy to introduce a template collection called ‘Infotainment’. This collection will be shared with all ScreenScape members free of charge.

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This collection’s goal is to make ScreenScape displays more interesting to watch. Many of our members want to keep their audiences engaged with ever-changing playlists, but are challenged by time constraints and limited budgets. The weather and news won’t cut it: their playlists are in danger of becoming (!) boring. Over time, this trains audiences to stop watching. ScreenScape’s complimentary Infotainment option offers a no-cost, low-effort and high-return solution.

Famous Quotes Infotainment

In addition to the simple entertainment value, engaged audiences are more likely to retain higher value information. Infotainment items are usually mixed with other messages, such as ads and educational content. They catch the eye and help retain attention. This technique works especially well in venues with extended dwell times.


Infotainment trains the audience to keep coming back to the screens, looking for the next bit of entertainment. As a side effect, they are more likely catch and retain the ‘real’ messages delivered before and after. Display operators with even the simplest of content loops (a single ad, call to action, menu or logo) can achieve higher levels of audience engagement using Infotainment.

“Infotainment trains the audience to keep coming back”


To create an Infotainment item, just select it, save it and forget it. There is no user data to enter and nothing to refresh over time. The item will automatically rotate through a random selection of items designed to keep audiences engaged. Several items can be combined together, either back to back or by setting daily and weekly schedules (e.g. Music trivia Mondays, Film trivia Fridays).

Infotainment categories include:

Trivia infotainment is presented in an animated 30 second format. Categories include Film, Food and Drink, Literature, Science, Geography, General and Music. Questions are geared to a universal audience with general knowledge and span a range of difficulty levels and demographic interest. The presentation is simple, colourful and iconic, designed to work with the maximum number of screen designs.

Famous Quotes range across a variety of wise, silly or insightful quotes from luminaries throughout history. The 20 second animated text format is backed by moving images that grab the eye.

Pop Quiz Infotainment

Pop Quiz (originally introduced earlier this year) provides a question and answer format with a longer duration [1:20]. 5 questions are presented in sequence, supported by glossy animation and high resolution imagery.





If you like what you see, let us know your ideas for new Infotainment categories: “Did you know?”, “Travelogue”,, “Fun Facts”, “Brain Teasers”, “Sports Trivia” … the sky’s the limit!



Select an Infotainment option

Select an Infotainment option


Top 5 ways to boost revenue with ScreenScape digital signage

One of the most common questions we field from people new to ScreenScape and digital signage in general is simply this: how can I use it to boost revenue?

03wtiStatsYunusArakoniStockphoto-1360686342954Digital signage is a powerful, multi-faceted communications tool and it can be used for a whole range of applications that aren’t directly related to boosting sales or selling advertising.

That said, the common sense nature of digital signage as a sales tool is indeed what separates it from other less targeted forms of marketing.  The physical presence of a digital sign on location acting as a silent salesman in a retail store, or in every retail store across the country, means that your marketing efforts are, by definition, going be well aligned with your real world sales activity. Your customers are making important buying decisions in retail stores, right this moment, where your products or services are already on sale. Obviously this is an important moment, one where you’d like to be in a position to own some mindshare inside the venue, to engage your customer and position your brand.

And so, without further ado, to help, in part, to answer the basic question, how can I use digital signage to make money, we offer our top five ways to boost revenue with ScreenScape.  We hope this list inspires you to come up with your own!

5. “Flip the funnel” and turn loyal customers into raving fans

The customers that are making buying decisions in your store at this moment represent more than a singular revenue opportunity. To the extent that they like your product, they might also become your vocal advocates. The question is, if they like your product, do they know how to share a positive review with their friends? Do they have any incentive to promote your brand? Are they aware of the big event you have planned for next week? This is where digital signage comes in. A key reminder while on location in your store might be all they need to tell a friend, or even make a post on social media.

Flip the funnel - Boost revenue with digital signage

4. The timely, hyper-relevant promotion

If you owned a grocery store and you had some produce, maybe a head of lettuce, or some tomatoes, that were getting a little old and coming up to their best-before-dates, what do you do? Naturally, you post a sign that announces a sale on those items. Even if you sell them at a deep discount, at least you’ve got something them….after all in a couple of days you’d likely have to dispose of them entirely. This is an example of a timely promotion…..one of many different kinds you can use to optimize sales at retail. Where does digital signage come in? Well that sign that announces that your produce is on sale can be even more powerful if it’s a rich digital promotion. If it’s done well a digital ad can be more engaging, more professional, and better for the environment.

Timely promotion - Boost revenue Digital Signage

3. Educate, educate, educate

We know that the retail environment is becoming more experiential. Increasingly, the goals of running an effective retail establishment extend beyond simply selling stuff. Today’s savvy retailers try to create a purchase destination that offers a range of value added services, or experiences that make for a more satisfactory feeling before, during and after the transaction. This is where an informative and educational digital sign comes in. A printed flyer or a well placed printed sign advertising mosquito repellent is ok…but it pales in comparison to a two minute video showing how mosquitos spread the Zika virus.

Now, If you were the manager of a pharmacy offering travel health services, which medium would you say is more effective? In educating the public on the risks to pregnant women while traveling in Central and South America? In selling mosquito repellant? The digital sign wins hands down as a selling tool, and oh, by the way, it’s more hygienic and less wasteful than that printed flyer.

Educate = Boost revenue with digital signage

2. Upsell

One of the easier ways to boost sales using digital signage is to focus on increasing and expanding basket size. For instance, you may visit a car dealership with the simple intent of getting your car’s oil changed. If a digital sign reminds you that you should rotate your tires every 10,000 miles, or that it’s time to start thinking of putting on your winter tires, there’s a better chance you’re leaving that store having acquired more services and having spent more money than you had planned for originally.

The upsell is stock-in-trade of the retail industry. You know all those convenience items they like to place up by the checkout? They’re there to try to convince you to buy on impulse, just one more thing before you go. Well digital signs do that too and they do it very well, not just at the check-out counter….but everywhere you place them in the store. If you’re buying a stainless steel frying pan, don’t forget the stainless steel cleaner, if you’re buying new skates, don’t forget the fancy laces, if you’re buying some new electronics equipment did you know you can also buy the extended warranty? I think you get the picture.

Upsell - Boost revenue with Digital Signage

1. Monetize

As retailing becomes more technology-enriched and more globally accessible through Internet technologies, a whole new marketing landscape is starting to emerge.  Progressive retailers who understand their role in the value chain stand to gain through this process.

Digital signage networks have gatekeepers, played by the party that is paying the bills, that owns title to the underlying technology platform that governs the flow of information across the network. The power of any given digital sigange network to influence purchase behaviour can be used as a currency by those who control it using the golden rule: (s)he who owns the network, makes the rules. This means the gatekeeper of a digital signage network is also in a position to monetize their screens by requiring some form of consideration from their partners in exchange for the privilege of gaining access to the audiences inside their store.

Monetize - Boost Revenue with Digital Signage

If it is your goal to maximize the revenue potential of participating in a digital signage network it pays to understand the supply and demand dynamics involved between and among the various kinds of participants.  Firstly, it usually does pay to grow your network.   The more screens you control the bigger the potential audience and this is what most marketers understand.  Size and scale matters.  Secondly, as more participants vie for a limited supply of advertising placement opportunities on hand, you will eventually see increases in the utilization and value of any network. Growing your roster of 3rd-party advertisers, convincing an advertiser to buy incrementally more placements, and to deepen their investment in the network by using it to promote an ever broader set of product categories, will naturally lead to higher network utilization rates. This will generate more ad dollars per venue and, as more of the available ad space is consumed, in turn it will lead to a scarcity of supply. If you have more demand for your limited supply of ad placement opportunities then you can satisfy, you may eventually be able to increase the price of those ad spots while maintaining full utilization. This is a straightforward supply and demand equation. The game is to build out your network, drive up demand for your ad spots, so much so that your ad partners will compete with one another and, over the long run, bid up the price of each new ad spot.   In summary, increasing demand among 3rd-party advertisers leads to higher network utilization, and higher prices both of which translate directly to boost revenue.

Where the business opportunities inherent in building out an Internet of Screens are finite and scale up in a more or less linear fashion in proportion with the size of the physical network, the business opportunities involved in utilizing the network, governing the flow of advertising and content services, are virtually limitless.   You only have to look at the evolution of the World Wide Web, by comparison, to see that even while the pace of growth of the physical network might eventually slow down, the pace of innovation within that network and the growth opportunities in content and communication services will continue to grow exponentially long after we’ll have said the Internet of Screens has arrived.

Share the video!

If reading a long blog entry is NOT your thing….here’s a succinct video that says it all.

WiFi router recommendation for my digital signage?

I was recently asked to share a WiFi router recommendation for digital signage, so I thought I’d pass along the response to our blog.

My first thought was that the request like recommending a car to a new acquaintance. So many questions! (target price? driving style? climate? business or pleasure? urban/rural? passengers? gear? kids? pets? … ). There’s no end of room for debate, and no single right answer.

That said, most of our customers aren’t strangers and their needs are pretty simple. They’re small or medium sized businesses, not international airports or NFL stadiums. And although they’re businesses, they usually don’t have complex commercial demands like high scalability or VPN. They just need something reliable and fast for the digital signage in their lobby. A quality consumer router will likely do the job. If you’re that type of user, read on. (If you need higher security or scalability, take a look at business routers.)

Archer-C7 WiFi router

The TP-LINK Archer-C7 is a good all-round WiFi router for about US$100.

In general, you’re looking for:

  • a WiFi router that supports the /a /b /g or /n WiFi standards. If you find a new router that has support for /ac – that’s fine. It just means it supports the latest and greatest standard – the router will still be compatible with the ScreenScape Connect.
  • reasonably high speeds (>100Mbps). A higher speed is important if you’re planning to stream video like YouTube, and less important if you’re not.
  • a WiFi router that’s equipped with dual band (2.4GHz and 5Ghz). The ScreenScape Connect supports both of those bands. You want this so you can get a strong signal to your device, even if your location is crowded with interference. The dual band option will help to find a quiet(er) frequency. Having a 5GHz option is like moving a conversation to a side room in a crowded bar – it’s much easier to communicate.

Recommendation: the Archer C7 WiFi router

With these points in mind, the TP-LINK Archer C7 is a good all-round router that sells for about US$100 at the time of this post. It’s what I use for my own network, and it’s good value for money. To continue the car analogy, the Archer C7 is like a Honda Accord V6 – reliable, decent power, good mileage at a great price.

You may also consider a simple range extender like the TP-LINK RE200, depending on the proximity of your router to your digital signage device. They’re inexpensive and it can’t hurt.

For more options, the New York Times recently offered a good article on consumer grade routers that you can read about here.

ScreenScape Connect Digital Signage Easy Setup Video

Plug and Play Digital Signage just got easier!

If you’re looking for resources to help you install and setup your ScreenScape Connect digital signage device then check out our brand new ScreenScape Connect Digital Signage Easy Setup Video.

In this video you will get a detailed tutorial on how to attach the included accessories to the digital signage device, install the device into your television, and then connect it to your local WiFi network.

You can find our full setup guide at setup.screenscape.com

 

Join us at the 2016 Synnex Canada Sales Conference

synnex digital signage logoScreenScape has signed a distribution agreement with Synnex Canada to begin distributing its popular plug and play digital signage solution, ScreenScape Connect, to resellers across Canada, through Synnex’s VisualSolv program.

That means Synnex Canada resellers now have the opportunity to earn substantial gross margins by selling ScreenScape digital signage.  

Reseller may, optionally, choose to also offer their own value-added services, such as content management or network management, which support our customers’ efforts to optimize every screen in their network.   

2016 Synnex Canada Sales Conference

synnex digital signageWe invite you to visit us at the 2016 Synnex Canada Sales Conference Friday February 19, 2016 at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle.

If you are new to ScreenScape you can learn more about our solution by visiting ScreenScape.com or by watching this video tour.

 

If you are interested in setting up an appointment to meet with us, at the conference, or otherwise you can request one here.

How Big is the Digital Signage Market?

As no-BS digital signage blogger Dave Haynes pointed out again recently, there are a lot of bad statistics out there that proclaim to describe the size and scope of the digital signage market.

“I don’t know how many meetings and conference presentations I’ve been at that sees one or more presenters, early on in their sessions, pop up a slide that shows a chart that climbs up and a big, honking number at the end – signifying the market size for digital signage. It’s almost always a number followed by 000,000,000, attributed to some obscure research firm. Somebody will then ask me if I buy into that number, and I suggest it probably reflects the same level of science and accuracy as a rousing game of Pin The Tail On The Donkey … after a few vodka and red bull shots.” – Dave Haynes

Well put Dave! A lot of the statistics we’ve seen out there seem meaningless to us as well. That said, we get asked the question a lot. How big is the digital signage market? Here’s one simple way to approach that question. Although it too is not perfect we feel as though it builds up towards an answer, or an analysis, that is more satisfactory than pie-in-the-sky forecasts.

Digital Signage is about Place, so let’s use Places to Guide us

Digital signage, at its roots, is inextricably linked to, and can be grounded in, real world business networks.  A more practical way to look at the market opportunity is by looking first at the retail bricks and mortar landscape itself – the businesses which one day might use digital signage technology.

Every business on the planet that has a physical venue, or that has a retail partner with a venue, can be seen as part of the total addressable market for digital signage solutions.  The key questions that get us closer to the total value of that market are as follows:

  1. How many venues are there in any given market that might, in theory, one day use digital signage?
  2. What is a reasonable estimate of the average revenue per year that one of these venues can generate for its preferred digital signage vendor?

The Digital Signage Market in Canada and the United States

Let’s put this model to work using the Canadian and US markets. Government census data is relatively easy to find and can be used to help answer the first question.  Click on the graph (and wait) for a sense of where this data comes from.

image of census data to measure the size and scope of the digital signage market

Retail Establishments

The US census of 2012 counted 1,062,083 retail establishments1 in the United States. In 2011, using Statistics Canada data, the Retail Council of Canada counted 190,1002 retail stores in Canada.

USA stores 1,062,083
Canada stores 190,100
Total number of retail stores 1,252,183

Next we need an estimate for the average revenue one of these average venues might represent to their preferred supplier. For the sake of argument we’ll use $40 USD, ScreenScape’s monthly subscriber fee.

Avg revenue per customer per month (USD) $40
Revenue opportunity, Retail, North America (monthly) $50,087,320

Additional Place-based media Venues

In addition to retail venues there are many public places that make for ideal locations for digital signage. These range from hospitals to health clinics, universities to fitness centres, and hotels to golf courses. The US census of 2011 counted 6,588,336 public establishments in total. For the sake of simplicity we can say, as a rule of thumb, that for every retail store there are five non-retail establishments.

Number of venues, total (6x retail) 7,513,098
Avg revenue per customer per month (USD) $40
Revenue opp, All Venues, North America (monthly) $300,523,920

Using our subscriber fee as a stand in for the average revenue opportunity associated with each average customer, that comes to $3.6B USD annually. Is this a bulletproof number? No.  Is there plenty to quibble with here? Yes.  Naturally, it’s hard to imagine the presence of digital signage in every single public-facing venue, certainly not for some time.  On the other hand, there are and will be plenty of venues that, rather than having one screen, will actually have several dozen.

Furthermore, the average revenue per customer that any given vendor might generate through one customer relationship naturally depends on a host of factors. $40 per month might seem rather low when you consider some of the more sophisticated requirements of a high-end digital signage project. It really depends on the nature of any given vendor’s product line, whether they are a full service provider or prefer to focus on one part of the total solution. It also depends on pricing, on the nature of a vendor’s particular target market, and so on.

There is no perfect model that accounts for every angle and every instance. That’s why they call it a model.  However, we humbly submit that this sketch, grounded in real world venues, does well to help us visualize the total market for digital signage solutions, over time – at least as well as any forecast we’ve seen to date.

The best method for estimating the market opportunity for digital signage is likely this method PLUS a thorough analysis, triangulation, and normalization of all similar, credible approaches.  It’s looking at various approaches together that helps us to circle the problem and arrive at the best conclusions.  How do the different approaches compare? What do the results say? Do they offer up a market value range that is consistent with the others? If it’s possible to accurately measure the size of the market, the value range that is common to a variety of approaches is likely your best bet.

From Digital Signage Systems Towards an Internet of Screens

We should stress that the broader, longer term market opportunity of place-based media & marketing, is actually much bigger than we’ve suggested here. The first phase of the market opportunity is in building out the infrastructure, the plumbing if you like, of digital signage systems. This is the market that us vendors are competing for in 2016, the sale of new software and hardware solutions, and that’s why we’ve focused on it here. For ScreenScape it refers directly to the revenues we generate through software subscriptions as we build out our network.

However, a true Internet of Screens is certainly coming. The traffic that travels over and through the combined global digital signage infrastructure will evolve. Just like the World Wide Web it will become more interconnected, more sophisticated and begin to offer new and exciting marketing opportunities. Therefore a secondary longer-term market opportunity exists, beyond the sourcing of the software and hardware infrastructure, in the metered flow of content and in the growth of advertising services that have been enabled by digital signage systems. The leading providers of digital signage technology solutions, who today charge for usage fees or licenses, will find themselves in a strong position to become the leading providers of place-based marketing services leading to new business streams that are based on transaction or brokerage fees.  Ad-based digital signage networks, the world of outdoor digital media and what, today, we commonly refer to as Digital-Out-of-Home (DOOH) marketing, together is but a very early incarnation of that bigger opportunity we like to call the Internet of Screens.

Get the long form analysis

If you found this approach to sizing up the current digital signage market valuable you should know that it is just one excerpt of a more indepth analysis we’ve completed that takes more than just a quantitative look at the nature of the digital signage market.  It takes a qualitative approach as well looking at various contours within and beneath the umbrella term digital signage. It’s a more thorough analysis that helps to answer questions like:

  • What is the difference between the digital signage market and digital-out-of-home (DOOH)
  • How will the market opportunity for digital signage evolve over time?
  • How can you break down the opportunity into distinct sub-categories? Who’s buying?
  • What are the use cases for digital signage? for digital out-of-home marketing?

If you are interested in receiving a copy of the long form analysis, you can request one here.



1http://thedataweb.rm.census.gov/TheDataWeb_HotReport2/econsnapshot/2012/snapshot.hrml?NAICS=44-45. An establishment is a single physical location at which business is conducted and/or services are provided.

2The Structure of Retail in Canada – Statistical Appendix

 

Connecting your Instagram account to your ScreenScape digital signage

This article will guide you through connecting your Instagram account to your ScreenScape digital signage service.  Once complete your Instagram posts will automatically appear in your ScreenScape display.

Instagram and Digital Signage

Update: Instagram API changes and what it means for you 

Expect the setup process to take approximately 15 minutes for a user with intermediate computer skills.

Step 1: Make a Zap

  • Create free accounts on Zapier and Instagram.
  • Go to https://zapier.com and click on the “MAKE A ZAP!” hyperlink.
  • Choose “Instagram” as the Trigger App and “RSS by Zapier” as the Action app.

Instagram to RSS by Zapier

  • Connect your Instagram account.
  • Complete the set up RSS by Zapier section.
  • Enter any value in the “URL” section (e.g. “Instagram”).  Once entered, be sure to click the “Copy to clipboard” button, this is the URL you’ll use when creating your ScreenScape content:

Instagram URL

  • Enter any value in the “Title” section (e.g. “Instagram RSS”):

Instagram Title

  • Enter any value in the “Source URL” section (e.g. “https://zapier.com”):

Instagram Source URL

  • Add the following fields in “Content” section in this EXACT ORDER and ADD A SEMICOLON after each field:
    • User Profile Picture
    • User Username
    • Images Standard Resolution URL
    • Caption Text

Instagram Content

  • Add the “Created Time” field in the “Pubdate” section:

Instagram Pubdate

Step 2: Publish ScreenScape Content

  • Once the set up RSS by Zapier section is complete, create new content in ScreenScape using the “Instagram” template.
  • Paste the URL copied to your clipboard in the earlier step to your ScreenScape content:

Instagram Editor

  • Publish this new content to your display.

That’s it, you’re done! New Instagram posts after this setup is complete will now automatically appear in your ScreenScape display.

Here’s a sample:

Instagram Sample

 

Update July 2016

Read about important changes to the Instagram API: Instagram API changes and what it means for you 

Digital Signage content made easy with Pop Quiz trivia

Is your digital signage content getting a little stale?  Last week ScreenScape introduced a new type of trivia template called ‘Pop Quiz’.

Pop Quiz is an automated template, meaning it works with little or no user input required. When added to a playlist it will randomly select a 5 question ‘pop quiz’, presented in a question and answer format. The audience is presented with a question (“Which bird has the fastest wingbeat?”), and they have 10 seconds to formulate an answer. The answer is presented in the form of an eye-catching image which is slowly revealed to the audience. Each video is 1m20s in duration. The next time the playlist rotates around to the Pop Quiz, a different randomly selected quiz will be presented.

Pop Quiz gif

The Pop Quiz subject matter is light and playful, and is intended for all audiences. It includes topics like geography, food and animals.

A Pop Quiz presented in your regular playlist rotation is a simple way to keep your audience engaged. The template is free for use for all ScreenScape members, including our free Content member accounts. You’ll find the Pop Quiz template in your Get Started collection, under the name ‘Pop Quiz’.

Screenshot_212

We hope you and your audiences enjoy.

Note: Special thanks goes to Flickr and its membership, who contributed the beautiful images used in the Pop Quiz under the Creative Commons license. Details on contribution are recorded here.