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  • Exhibition stands designed & built for Nikon

    Posted on January 3, 2015

    Montage of 4 exhibition stands for Nikon

    Our first introduction to Nikon was to assist them in taking existing graphics and text for other markets and making them work more effectively in Europe and the UK at a huge industry trade event called Semicon. The top right image was the first event where posters were design and flags created a lot of the branding effect.  We spent the next 8 years working with the Marketing and Sales team at Nikon to develop powerful sales propositions and impactful exhibition stands, many at 9m x 9m square which is a significant area to fill with ample display space, a built in meeting room for privacy, a kitchen and a reception desk.  The whole point of attending these trade events was to encourage face to face meetings between Nikons staff and existing or potential customers, so we built in seating areas for less formal meetings and chats with views of the DVD monitors so that Clients could see displays at any time.  Many of the later stands had back lit lighting and images running across the full length of the stand for maximum visual impact.  We always spent time developing the message for each years show, luckily Nikon always had something exciting to say and show as innovation is at the heart of the company. Nikon’s competitors were out in force at these global events so they actually formed a part of the target audience as not all innovations were for fully public consumption.

    photo of Nikon stand design SemiconThe Semicon shows took place across Europe and we designed and built exhibition stand for use in some of the largest exhibition centres in several cities in Germany, Spain and once in Russia. Each event had its own logistical challenges and a team was sent out to built the stand before the event and take down the stand 4 days later, often involving working over a weekend in a foreign city.

    backlit tall tower with Nikon logoThese stand need the modular display stand, graphic panels for each wall space and public area, with furniture such as meeting room desks and seats, a reception desk, stools and table tops, sofas for more casual seating areas, DVD and monitors a working kitchen with water and a sink, fridges and coffee machines all hired nearby to use the local power supply rather than having convertors and any risk attached to that. We also provided a full lighting rig that also needed to use the local power supply, so you can imagine the check list for  that operation. Add shipping the stand flatpacked each way and you can see how much work was involved in each show. We started the planing with Nikon around 8 months before the next season started.

    Nikon also had the outside back cover of each years show catalogue. This was a prime position which we exploited with adverts created specifically for each years show then rolled out as their international trade advertising campaigns. This ensured that the audience for the show and those in the trade not attending would also be exposed to the message of what this years new innovation would be. We were careful to use these ads to create interest in visiting the stand to get the full story.

    Montage of adverts for trade showsWe also tried hard to link the product attributes and brand values of the hand held Nikon cameras with the larger Nikon machines with a $12.5 million price tag. So leveraging the power of the equity brand and playing on the strengths of technology and innovation built around world class lenses. All work created by us in now copyright of Nikon and used with thanks.

    To see a selection of smaller exhibition display stands and pop up systems click here >


  • Pop ups banners systems and graphic display systems for exhibitions

    Posted on December 23, 2014

    Pilgrim Systems Legal IT exhibition stand photoTrade or consumers exhibitions, business seminars, award ceremonies, product launches or even brand re-launches are all areas where display graphics have an important role, not just in branding the event but in quickly communicating key messages and setting the scene/tone from the outset.

    In fact room branding is at the most basic end of the display & exhibition spectrum, usually done with popular and versatile Pop Up Banners. The most that we have done for a single event was a group of 7 for the Scottish Archive Network who had a range of different online services to display and a few different events to attend where there was only space for a few of the banners (such as Tartans Day in New York) to be used so they needed to be truly versatile and have some stand alone banners. You can change the graphics on the better quality Pop Up systems but ensure that you specify the correct sizes as they come in different widths when re-ordering, the most popular being 0.8m, 1.0m and 1.2m so choose wisely for re-use.

    banner image for RCPEWith Pop Ups you really do get what you pay for, cheap imports have meant that prices have tumbled and they come in a various levels of quality accordingly. We do not use any that are permanently fixed, but understand that they can have a use. The better ones come with a cartridge built into the base where the graphics wind up to roll up into, this gives the banner far more stability when its in use and protects the graphics when not is use or in transit or storage (for 95% of its life). The base ought to have extendable feet for additional stability when in use. We have seen some stands positioned near open doorways where the draft has made unsecured Pop Ups sway a bit, it’s eye catching but not what you want for your brand.

    The material that the graphics are printed on also needs consideration. For most uses you want the thicker type that does not curl up at the edges and with a backing colour so that no light shows through from behind, sounds obvious but worth checking before buying. Unless you expect to make use of your banner outdoors then a mesh material can be specified so that your product advert does not turn into a windsurfing board.

    Does it come with a carry bag and what is the final weight, important if you need to ship them off in advance or take on board if flying to a show.

    How quickly will it go up and is it really a one-man job? Best if you get a demonstration before ordering.

    Plumbing Pensions UK banner 2011 with road ahead imageImages, do your images have sufficient resolution to be enlarged to 1.2 metres wide on a Pop Up, or even bigger on full stands? We can tell you in advance but it can be a huge percentage enlargement for items that are not vector based, often too far.  If you are buying library images try to think of the maximum usage size rather than finding the ideal image and then discovering that it cannot be used.

    If like most companies your company name and logo run to quite a few characters long then you may be tempted to run it vertically instead of the more familiar horizontal. This hardly ever works as people do not like to tilt their heads over and you are far more familiar with your company name than they are so why make it hard for them to even read your name.

    CLE 5 Panel Curved Compact stand design visualColours; your logo will have a Pantone colours references (PMS numbers) but the banners and graphics will be produced CMYK in full process colour.

    So PMS equivalents will be used, be prepared for that. The proofing tends to be PDF which is fine for content but not great for colours. The best production houses allow some dialogue and can colour match for you. The cheaper end will just process and deliver. CLE workman silhouette bannerThis can be fine but when you go back to order another banner or make changes (as we did for the CLE banner set) we also sent back a swatch of the original banner to colour match. A little precaution that might not be recognised until the system is brought out at the subsequent event without any nasty surprises. These are the extra value that an experienced design company can add to ensure that your special event is memorable for the right reasons.

    Here are examples where lights and furniture are used to create the right first impression and to be more welcoming. They also add precious wall space so display area can be maximised, within reason. Many events are in the UK and are generally walk in shell schemes to be decorated. Here are some visual examples for various clients.

    Design & production timing – do allow adequate time for the design, proofing and production of Pop Ups. We would say that 2 weeks for design and changes then after approval allow at least a week for production.

    And before you start here are some of the Golden Rules to be aware of:

    1. Create graphics that can work in isolation and preferably do not date
    2. Consider traffic flows before briefing your designer, which direction most people are likely to approach your stand from, cafes, entrances, even WC’s creates traffic flows which can increase stand visibility.
    3. Space is at a premium but ensure you give stand visitors space to read the message. Headlines that are too big to be read from 2 meters away are as bad as text that needs to be read from 50 cm away.
    4. Don’t just measure the width also consider the height, not just if it fits in but will anything obscure the message, and do remember that a small text might be less legible when its 2 meters off the ground.
    5. Some cheaper graphic prints can and will fade in direct sunlight, so be aware.
    6. How good is the rewind mechanism? Many cheap imports don’t work after several days use and you find your graphics either stick inside or outside of the cartridge.
    7. If it is custom made then the warranty will only apply to some of the modular elements. No graphics can be returned after use and any issues ought to be seen and reported before you travel.
    8. Visit the venue before you go, if you cannot consider looking for videos from previous show events, to ascertain the ambient lighting before purchasing your own lighting kit which may not be necessary.  Check the power supply if travelling aboard, and check how many power sockets you get in case you need more for coffee machines, DVD and monitors, lighting and anything else such as plugs for phone chargers.
    9. Practice putting your stand up, why wait till the morning of the big day for the works to see you stand? Putting it up before will give you practice and also highlight any issues.  We’ve seen other clients stands where two units put together in a different configuration actually spells out a different message altogether.
    10. Find out your stand number before you go and invite customers or potential customers to visit you. Make them feel valued by fixing up appointments to see them, get their contact details from the venue to maximise your time at the show and squeeze as much value for money as you can from your investment in attending.
    11.  Take plenty of photos of the stand from all angles as they can be used in blogs, e-mails, websites etc. Also try and get some people in some of the shots so that the event does not look deserted and for scale. These will be of great use when you start to plan next years event.
    12.  Take time to take your stand down carefully and store it properly as it will be needed again and refurbishment costs can be saved just by taking a few precautions.
    13.  Have a contingency in the budget for unknown items, it can happen.

    For larger displays and exhibitions read this blog post about the Nikon stands we have built with meeting rooms, DVD monitors, back lit walls and even full kitchens. The largest being 9m x 9m and its amazing how costly it can get to fill 81 square meters with graphic displays, furniture and carpets. And factor in the event venue in Germany, Italy or Russia and you can start to see the complexities.

  • How to stop Spam bots attacking your Google Analytics webstats

    Posted on December 21, 2014

    By Neale Gilhooley, (updated 17/03/16 with a solution!)

    Recently when poring over our own and clients Google Analytics data we have come across some very unwanted results, in the referrals column. At first you think someone is giving your site a huge traffic boost then under closer inspection you realise that your site data (not the website itself) is being spammed. Its called Referrer/Referral spam aka Ghost spam. You only find out when you see some of the referring sites such as:, Google Inc,, GaurdIan (not Guardian!) and various pages that look like forums. These are not sending traffic to your site they are auto bots and leave a trail to fool you into follow. Once you search for them you may hit a spam links page forwarded to some promo site or another, but most likely you will see numerous warning results on Google. Below you can see how 7 out of the top 10 results on our stats are ghost referrals (aka fake/spam).

    Google analytics referrals

    What enormous lengths to go to too spam people but what they do know if that real people read their analytics report and check on where traffic apparently comes from. And for these spammers it is automated.  They are not visiting your site only sending out a fake ping with a fake or promo URL to give that impression. This not only messes up stats and makes a mockery of the authenticity of results but cuts across so much of your data. It is already quite hard to explain to Clients exactly what a Referral site is, or how a Network is actually the name of a server, then these spammers come along and really digitally defecate across your webstats. Plus worryingly your bounce rate goes through the roof, a bad sign as far as Google is concerned (is this still the case?) as it can indicate a lack of engagement by your visitors due to your content.

    What is Google doing to resolve this issue with their data? Good question, as yet we cannot find an answer for Google Analytics however they are more convened about scaring off advertiser dollars so see below for the TAG update, which may help.  For Analytics But here is what Google Webmaster Matt Coutts said “there is no authentication with referrals” in this YouTube video explaining in details how the spam occurs but not how to eradicate it.  So what’s the cure? (Updated section) This guy has solved this issue by showing you how to set up and apply a filter that will removed the referral spammers then apply it to your historic Google Analytics data > Scott Henderson, Search Commander 

    You can block their IP addresses via your Google Analytics account but these spamming companies will perpetually mutate their attacks using different domain names and various IP addresses or IP deceivers to continue their practices and warp your webstats.

    GA View settingsExcludeFor most Analytics users the easiest way is to block bots from your stats, log in and go to your Admin tab (top right on navigation), select Admin and then you will see three columns,select the right had side termed View Settings, then on the next screen scroll down to check the box for Bot Filtering Exclude all hits from all known bots and spiders, then don’t forget to click the blue Save button at the foot and you are done.

    We will update this post as time rolls on, hopefully Google will implement a more permanent solution.

    posted by Neale Gilhooley

    See Matt Coutts explanation video here > Google Webmasters

    If you are capable of adding coding to your site you can one-by-one block the most prolific referring spammer but for most people that is just too much effort, pity Google’s block button does not seem to hit the ones we want. Try this .htaccess Solution
    If you are receiving spam within Google Analytics which is caused by spam bots actually visiting your website and triggering the Google Analytics JavaScript, then this solution is for you.

    RewriteEngine on
    # Options +FollowSymlinks
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} otherdomain\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} anotherdomain\.com
    RewriteRule .* – [F]

    Simply add this into your .htaccess file and add as many ‘RewriteCond’ lines as required for the bots you would like to block. There are a few pieces of terminology to explain in the above.
    RewriteEngine on: This is always at the start of your .htaccess file
    # Options +FollowSymlinks: This line is commented out as it often isn’t needed. Depending on how your web server is configured, you may need to uncomment this if you start to receive an error message of ‘500 Internal Server Error’. This means your server isn’t configured with FollowSymLinks in the ” section of the ‘httpd.conf’.
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER}: Each of these lines will run the ‘RewriteRule’ if one of the conditions is met. For example in this case, if the referrer is from one of the spam domains that you want to bloc.
    [NC,OR]: These flags at the end of the RewriteCond line should be present on all RewriteCond lines, except the final one. The NC flag stands for Non-Case-sensitive. The OR, stands for… or. So if this condition is met, or, the next condition is met, or the next one, etc.
    RewriteRule .* – [F]: This rule will trigger if one of the rewrite conditions has been met. This rule is basically saying that anything that comes in will be shown the Forbidden message so that the page will never be loaded and the Google Analytics JavaScript will never be triggered.

    UPDATE: Now Facebook, Google Bing and Yahoo are uniting to fight the bots.  However don’t get too excited as they are doing it along with many others to ensure that faith in the PPC and Banner Adverts is maintained as rather belatedly many global and national advertisers, ad agencies and media agencies are unhappy that so many ads are triggered or seen only by bots. And bots don’t have any spending power but they do cost the advertiser money from their budgets, pure wastage. So that is the reason that they’ve all joined TAG (the Trustworthy Accountability Group – as an “advertising industry initiative to improve the digital ecosystem”, wow that sounds so selfless and noble. Hopefully as a bi-product they can reduce spam, spambots, malware etc.

    TAG aims press release:

    The Drum article with industry quotes >