SAN FRANCISCO -- Ecast is adding a variety of new products to its digital downloading jukebox system. These include the latest version of Ecast's jukebox management and control software, Juke 4, and a social networking bundle, along with enhancements to the Ecast EQ jukebox.
Juke 4 is designed to impart a brand-new look and feel to the Ecast jukebox patron interface, while retaining all the hallmark features that have built customer engagement with the system.
Among its features is an improved search function that is said to return better, more relevant results from a more intuitive interface. The search button is more prominent, and the keyboard is backed by predictive algorithms that anticipate users' keystrokes. The search structure is based on artists, not on albums. Ecast reported that it enables music discovery by introducing patrons to popular songs from similar artists and bands – a feature immediately recognizable to users of online music services.
The San Francisco-based company also has drawn on proprietary data from millions of song plays to develop a feature that recommends the selections most often made by other patrons at the specific location, or across the entire Ecast network. The combination of enhanced search and music discovery is expected to have a substantial impact on revenue, the company said.
A new "most popular" feature allows users to browse lists of popular songs, artists and albums. It is dynamic, and updated regularly on the basis of Ecast play data. The popularity function shows the material most prevalent at a particular location or across the whole network. And, when a patron starts to type an artist name on the virtual keyboard, the most popular artist's listing appears as soon as the first few letters have been entered.
Also new is a social media bundle, which Ecast describes as a "location-based marketing toolkit." The integrated applications suite offers operators and their locations the engagement power of the most popular social media apps, including Foursquare; Facebook Photos and Flickr; Twitter and Facebook wall posts; Facebook Events (which enables broadcasts of local events); and Posters/Billboards, a location promotional tool. In aggregate, the social media bundle provides a comprehensive promotional platform to engage high-value consumers with fresh, dynamic content to increase "dwell time" and drive transactions, the company explained. And its tight integration creates a consistent, fluid process for broadcasting social networking information to consumers at locations, while at the same time streamlining the process for those locations.
On the hardware side, Ecast unveiled a new version of its EQ jukebox. The EQ V2 designers applied feedback from operators to enhance reliability, primarily by developing an integrated COIM (coin-op interface modular) board and preamplifier. A hardware upgrade kit can extend the earnings life of legacy jukeboxes in B and C locations by enabling operators to keep them online with the most current hardware, thereby maximizing revenue.
Ecast formally launched the new products at the recent Amusement Expo in Las Vegas. Company network operations vice-president Scott Walker introduced the upgrades by observing, "This is a really exciting time for the Ecast music network. In many ways, it's like the market has come to us, with the explosion of location-based services, social media and mobile marketing.
"Our platform was engineered to accommodate those services from the beginning, with GPS an integral part of our solution offering," he continued. "Now we can fast track a number of innovative products and applications that take advantage of those technologies. Delivering integrated, popular social media apps in a marketing bundle will allow locations to grow and derive huge value from their customer base."
Walker added that Ecast plans to expand its footprint in the hospitality market beyond its 10,000 bars and networks to other high-dwell-time venues.
Established more than a decade ago, Ecast provides in-location interactive media solutions. Its pioneering 100% broadband hospitality network distributes digital music, games, entertainment, information and advertising.