Digital Signage

Sign Age: Who Do You Know?

New directions in digital signage are emerging rapidly. In retail, social media sites are leveraging user engagement for advertising dollars. In the digital out-of-home (DOOH) space, there appears to be a shift in bargaining clout among stakeholders. If you are involved in digital signage or plan to be, take a closer look at consumer usage of new media and the technologies that drive them—social, mobile, kiosk, touch, gesture, 3D, 4K, Beacon, RFID, NFC, Web, Cloud, and others—as they emerge and converge. You might want to take note of collaborations between tech companies, content/media publishers, ad agencies, networks and new offerings from distribution service providers. To stay competitive, integrators will need to develop both specialized competencies and strategic partnerships.

Social media sites are now competing for signage advertising dollars, especially in retail. Many have integrated “buy” buttons that allow marketers to post special offers and enable users to more easily make purchases. For instance, with “Twitter Offers,” brands can link promotional offers to Tweets, and users can connect directly to make purchases, bypassing the need for a coupon or code for in-store redemption. Marketers and ad agencies can also directly measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Some social media and e-commerce platforms (the boundaries are blurring) have made concrete forays into the brick-and-mortar world. For example, eBay is working with designer Rebecca Minkoff to transcend eShakti and others by connecting digital signage, mobile and the physical world for shoppers. At Rebecca Minkoff NYC and SFO flagship stores, new technologies, including RFID, interactive videowalls and mirror displays, have been deployed recently to enhance the customer experience. In the NYC location, Duggal Visual Solutions fabricated the fitting room units and assisted with the installation.

Retail trends are cascading so rapidly that one of the ways a solutions provider can keep up is to get to know the right, like-minded people, and collaborate with them to form dynamic communities of interest.

Capturing viewer demographics of signage content is also now a critical component of advertising-driven networks. At the recent Customer Engagement World (CEW) in New York, X2O Media introduced v5.5 of its CMS platform. Among other tweaks, the updated “Campaign Manager” helps advertisers or brand marketers see the current status of their campaigns, and update tactics by location, available time slots and other factors.

The integration of data analysis with CMS software is not new. YCD Multimedia’s RAMP enables retailers to capture and analyze data, and through its smart templates, makes it easy for retailers to provide real-time responses to market conditions. Several other CMS providers offer data-set integration with signage software. Compare the capabilities, ease of use and costs involved to determine the one that best meets your client’s needs.

The DOOH marketplace is also changing, and more aspects of each deal are up for grabs. In the past, network operators, such as Clear Channel and JCDecaux, successfully negotiated on-bezel naming rights. More recently, LED display manufacturer Daktronics secured similar visibility on highway digital billboards. A couple of major display manufactures have been working directly with customers for more than a decade. At CEW, it was apparent that even smaller companies, especially kiosk manufacturers, were looking for more control of the solutions delivery process.

Anchor tenants in commercial real estate are also playing a decisive role in billboard signage. Although business consolidation continues to shrink the total number of DOOH networks in the US, new signage projects are on the rise due to an increase in new construction. Many of the new mega-scale digital signage projects are structured in a way similar to those in mass transit: moving from “zero-cost” to an “ad revenue sharing” model.

Industry awareness of the critical role integrators will play in the future of signage is also on the rise. For the first time at Digital Signage Expo, an entire educational track has been designed specifically for systems integrators and installers. The two-day seminar, scheduled March 11-12 in Las Vegas, will cover four major areas: advanced display technologies, total cost of ownership, getting past the pilot and troubleshooting. (Go to for details.)

To secure a place in such diverse and complex environments, it will be necessary to have expertise of value to multiple stakeholders, to push your expertise into the limelight and also develop relationships with a wide range of potential business partners.

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