January 2012 Question of the Month

January 25, 2012

“What important trends do you see emerging in the digital signage industry for 2012 and what is driving those trends?”

Answers:

Paul Flanigan, Saddle Ranch Digital

The biggest trend is that content is now the main point of discussion for both current and new networks.

Nevada Colwell, Thomas & Mack

Definitely see an evolution of modified messaging to customers, fans, etc.

Lyle Bunn, BUNN Co.

“Maximizing the investment” will be a primary theme.

Anne White, PRN

Dynamic and Data-Driven Content is hot, from weather triggers to hyper-local.

David Kahn, Wall Street Journal Office Network

The desire on behalf of advertisers, if not consumers, for digital signage to be interactive.  Driving this is the spread of technology the increas

Dan Alpern, Alpern Media

I believe the single most important trend for the digital signage industry in 2012 will be the proliferation of technology that integrates mobile/s

Gary Halpin, Agency 225

Personally, I'm not a big fan of making predictions, particularly because I'm not very good at it.  With that disclaimer, I'd like to think the US

Vernon West, Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

The convergence of digital signage (specifically interactive) with eCommerce and mobile platforms is something to keep an eye on.  Increasingly, cu

Daniel Wilkins, n2

I think one of the most important trends is the expanded integration of social media strategies, mobile technology and digital place-based media. 

Lawrence Chang, Calgary TELUS Convention Centre

One major trend I see includes the amalgamation and merging of mobile devices and digital signage via applications, integrating virtual reality too

Jack Sullivan, StarCom Worldwide

Of most importance is consumer interaction.  Not sure if it will happen in 2012 but the storm clouds are on the horizon.  It's imperative that cons

Jonathan Brawn, Brawn Consulting

We wrote an article on this very topic, which can be

Bob Stowe, Wendy's International

I’m not sure if this is an ‘important trend’ or a ‘disturbing trend’.  There is a wild desire to incorporate Social Marketing promotion vehicles wi

Amy Vollet, Integer Dallas

Engagement opportunities associated with digital signage will lead trends.

Mark Zwicker, DW+P | St. Joseph Content

As is typical, every January we find ourselves discussing what important trends we see emerging throughout the year.

Peter Vrettas, EDR Media, LLC

While interest and investment in digital signage systems might have paused somewhat during the past year, technology has continued its relentless i

Adrian Weidmann, StoreStream Metrics

During a recent conversation with a colleague we assessed this very question along with the corollary of which of those trends is being funded.

Ralph Schorbach, FAIRPLEX

The trend would be delivery methodology.  Drive custom tailored information to the customer, let’s get back to the basics.  With the onset of QR co

Jim Velco, The John Marshall Law School

My feeling is that digital signage will face increased pressure from mobile devices to deliver information and content.  The industry will have to

Jeremy Gavin, ScreenFeed

I believe there will be a trend towards smarter content. "Smarter" doesn't have to mean connectivity with mobile phone or a fancy algorithm.

Pat Hellberg, The Preset Group

In 2012, we will see a significant shift away from the technologies that, up to now, have defined the industry and a shift toward technologies that

Chet Patel, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

I see the emerging trends to be those associated with Video and advertisement directed at more bespoke levels.

Philip M. Cohen, Care Media Holdings Corp.

There is no doubt that 2012 is going to be what I would call an “impact” year.  With digital signage’s rapid growth, I believe that we are going to

Daniel Lindstrom, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority

In the Transit Industry the biggest trend for digital signage will be the continued expansion of LCD technology both stationary and mobile.  Drivin

Dave Matera, OOH Pitch, Inc.

We see (2) trends emerging in the advertising end of the industry in 2012: 1) Increased awareness of the DOOH/DPB medium, and 2) Technology built t

Bryan Meszaros, OpenEye

This will be year of the "connected experience," in which we finally begin to see the delivery of complementary experiences across all channels.

Randy Dearborn, MGM Resorts International

Social Media interaction with digital signage.

Laura Davis-Taylor, BBDO Shop Work

There are many trends that we will see in 2012, but I think the most important one from the retail perspective is the need to integrate the softwar

Oscar Gamez, SABEResPODER

As smartphone sales continue to increase, it is no surprise that networks will continue to include mobile integration into digital signage.  Apps,

Sean Whiffen, AutoNetTV

A big trend that I’ve seen isn’t just now emerging, but rather has been building over the last year and will become more poignant to all in the ind

Len Dudis, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

The biggest trend I see in digital signage at the moment is the desire to make signage more interactive with the consumer.  Somehow linking the inf

Thomas Kunka, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

In regards to digital signage in higher education; interest appears to rapidly growing across the board - student unions, residence halls, academic

David W. Saleme, Columbus Regional Airport Authority

Two important trends in the digital signage industry are the growth of multiple displays across "campus" wide environments, and how these displays

Margot Myers, Platt Retail Institute

There are five key trends that I see impacting the digital signage industry in the near future:

Patricia Mitrano, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

We’ve most likely heard that content is king and context is queen.

Matthew Brown, Servus Credit Union

The question about emerging trends is always a hard one to answer, especially in a dynamic and emerging industry that is going through rapid market

Paul Flanigan

Vice President, Content Strategy
Saddle Ranch Digital

The biggest trend is that content is now the main point of discussion for both current and new networks. What is driving this are a few critical factors. First, that technology is a commodity - it's simply not as expensive as it used to be, thanks to the influx of suppliers with cost-effective solutions that fit the strategy. Second, because content is the only place where a network can see a return - on revenue, engagement, etc. So content is now getting a seat at the head table. It's where the objectives are met and the strategy is created.

Nevada Colwell

Director of MultiMedia, Thomas & Mack

Definitely see an evolution of modified messaging to customers, fans, etc. via digital signage to offset the lack of exposure that advertisers are facing via the traditional marketing machine. For us in the arena business digital signage helps drive other revenue generating areas(F&B, Merch and Ticketing) that we offer to impact the bottom line... static singage does us know justice there. Mobile phone technology helps drive this force via apps and social media to enforce what the digital signage conveys.

Lyle Bunn

Strategy Architect, BUNN Co.

“Maximizing the investment” will be a primary theme. ROI and performance analytics will be used increasingly for investment decision-making and more important, to drive content, audience targeting and operational effectiveness as well as the integration of digital signage with other communications and engagement approaches such as mobile, internet, etc. More cost-effective approaches to analytics will emerge and best-practices related to analytics will advance significantly.

Anne White

Sr. Vice President, Content Strategy & Creative
PRN

Dynamic and Data-Driven Content is hot, from weather triggers to hyper-local. The Health and Wellness category is on fire, from digital menu boards to self-directedwellness kiosks. The development of Analytics is fueling the fire of the whole industry. Cutting edge Hardware adds the cool factor, from transparent screens to autostereoscopic 3D, holograms and more… and we all know Mobile integration has to be on this list!

David Kahn

Senior Vice President - Sales
Wall Street Journal Office Network

The desire on behalf of advertisers, if not consumers, for digital signage to be interactive.  Driving this is the spread of technology the increasing digitization of media and consequently, the expectation on behalf of consumers and advertisers to be able to control, click and measure their media/advertising.  Part and parcel of this is considering how the mobile consumer bearing a smart phone can engage even deeper with a given screen.

Dan Alpern

Marketing Director, Alpern Media
Marketing Director

I believe the single most important trend for the digital signage industry in 2012 will be the proliferation of technology that integrates mobile/smart-phone capabilities and truly engages the  end-user. We are seeing increased demand for cross-platform media campaigns in both consumer sales and informational networks. As mobile/smart-phones usage increases; the drive to make these devices more useful dominates the competitive marketplace. Demand for information through NFC capability, email forwarding, barcode/QR code scanning, and more traditional hyperlinks is growing as more users become comfortable with and want to realize the full potential of digital media.This trend continues to deliver on the digital promise of more information, more quickly. Integrating technology to create a positive end user experience is key to the success and future growth of digital signage!

Gary Halpin

President, Agency 225

Personally, I'm not a big fan of making predictions, particularly because I'm not very good at it.  With that disclaimer, I'd like to think the US will start to catch up with Europe and Australia in Digital Signage installations.  We just installed our first network in Australia (within one of our vertical niche industries), and see it everywhere.

I'm also expecting technology to continue to drive that demand, with more ties to the 4th screen (mobile). And while I'm not necessarily expecting it to happen, I do hope that more wireless technologies make it easier and much less expensive to get new hookups (think wireless HD) and content to the screens.

But much too busy worrying about predictions, time to get back to building our networks out and continuing to increase sales in the industries we are in.

Vernon West

Project Manager, Transformational Customer Experiences
Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

The convergence of digital signage (specifically interactive) with eCommerce and mobile platforms is something to keep an eye on.  Increasingly, customers are looking for a seamless, integrated experience across all channels.  The most recent predictions for smartphone adoption is a key driver!

Also, watch for new technologies that will replace QR Codes and MS Tags!

Daniel Wilkins

President, n2

I think one of the most important trends is the expanded integration of social media strategies, mobile technology and digital place-based media.  We have seen this trend growing over the past couple of years, but I believe 2012 will be a big year for these types of integrated strategies.  Much of this is being driven by the fact that much more video content is being watched outside of the home on mobile devices and on digital place-based networks.  This fact coupled with the need to “pull” consumers to the advertising message in a compelling and beneficial way vs. “pushing” the message to them as we have in the past, makes the integration of social, mobile and digital place-based media an obvious strategy choice. 

Lawrence Chang

IT Manager
Calgary TELUS Convention Centre

One major trend I see includes the amalgamation and merging of mobile devices and digital signage via applications, integrating virtual reality tools and creating a much more interactive engagement with the targeted audience. Tying in social media tools alongside this merging of technology can generate more sales, create brand awareness, and promote engagement. 

Jack Sullivan

SVP, OOH Activation Director
StarCom Worldwide

Of most importance is consumer interaction.  Not sure if it will happen in 2012 but the storm clouds are on the horizon.  It's imperative that consumers have access to information to make better informed decisions.  Some of this collection of information will happen with their mobile devices but it'll be the digital signage that sparks the consumers interest to get more information and to formulate decisions and hopefully purchases.  An ad model that supports a "shouting out to consumers" a mass and untargeted message to all consumers will be quickly being bypassed for direct one-to-one advertising.  Look for more advertisers seeking out a consumers "my cloud" of interest, past purchases and needs/wants and helping to facilitate sales outside of brick and mortar stores.  It's all lining up and the technology is available who's going to put it together and get it going?

Jonathan Brawn

Principal
Brawn Consulting

We wrote an article on this very topic, which can be downloaded here.

Robert (Bob) Stowe

Director, Marketing Services
Wendy's International

I’m not sure if this is an ‘important trend’ or a ‘disturbing trend’.  There is a wild desire to incorporate Social Marketing promotion vehicles within all our Digital Merchandising efforts.  Everyone is tripping over themselves not to be left out of the “Social Proliferation Race”.  But there is evidence to suggest that the race is one of our own contrivance, and is the “cure to no known disease”. 

Take QR Codes, for example.  I daresay no one wants to have a system that cannot offer QR Codes, and they fully intend to sell that as a benefit.  The truth is, only 20% of consumers even have the capacity to access a QR Code, and only a small percentage of that number cares to do so. 

Rather than adding bells, whistles, mud-flaps and squirrel tails to our systems (did I just date myself?), let’s make sure they serve the functions for which they are intended.  Be prepared to honestly sell clients on systems that they REALLY NEED, not those they think they want. 

Amy Vollet

VP, Media Director
Integer Dallas

Engagement opportunities associated with digital signage will lead trends. Advances in mobile devices paired with price decreases are expediting the general market accessibility.  Providing consumers with relevant information, deals and entertainment will be crucial to continue the conversation from signage into the consumer’s virtual world.

Mark Zwicker

V.P. and General Manager
DW+P | St. Joseph Content

As is typical, every January we find ourselves discussing what important trends we see emerging throughout the year. As I reviewed my answer from last year, I realized there is very little I would change about my response. Probably the one exception would be that these are trends that I hope will emerge. As we have learned even when an idea makes perfectly good sense the industry can be slow to embrace it.

Towards the end of last year we saw Google release its book ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth). This book reminded us all that consumers are better prepared then ever when they enter a retail space. They usually know what they want and how much they are willing to pay for it. If they do have questions, they will often pull out their smart phone and search for the answer right in the store aisle.

In a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review appeared an article by Darrell Rigby, entitled The Future of Shopping. On the opening page Mr. Rigby, referring to traditional retailers, states “To survive, they must pursue a strategy of omnichannel retailing – an integrated sales experience that melds the advantages of physical stores with the information-rich experience of online shopping”. I completely agree with the author’s sentiments.

So with no further ado and only a few slight tweaks, here is my response from 12 months ago:

The important trends I see emerging in 2012 are; greater integration with overall marketing campaigns, increased use of touch display and, more two-way communication.

Greater integration with overall marketing campaigns: As digital signage becomes more prevalent we can expect to see marketers commonly include it as one of the tactics in their overall marketing campaigns. As we are all aware, in the early days of digital signage, its use was sporadic and somewhat experimental, with content being created almost as an afterthought and in isolation. Thankfully this type of practice is disappearing. In our business we often are briefed on a campaign at the same time as the AOR. As the general agency develops content for broadcast, magazine and newspaper, our team develops content for digital signage, all in perfect sync. This is a trend that we will hopefully see continue in 2012.

Increased use of touch display: This is a fairly obvious prediction, considering the meteoric sales of personal touch devices. Increasingly, consumers will expect displays to be touch enabled. In 2011, a big part of the content we created was for interactive deployments. Recently, we have been recommending to our customers that they consider installing touch displays, even when not initially required, as it is a way to future-proof the deployment.

More two-way communication. Customers want to be heard and have a more personalized retail experience, actually dialoging with a retailer or CPG. With the increased us of touch display, and the proliferation of smart phones, we can expect to see much more two-way communication. Deployments can range from simply providing personalized coupons based on previous shopping habits, to more sophisticated solutions like  “fashion expert recommended” wardrobe suggestions based on a customer’s body type and style preferences. We can also expect to see more live, two-way communication, either through a “chat” feature, or as in the case of The Human Kiosk, actual video conversations with a centrally located help desk expert.

Peter Vrettas

CEO, EDR Media, LLC

While interest and investment in digital signage systems might have paused somewhat during the past year, technology has continued its relentless innovative pace.  As the economy begins to grow in 2012, investment, merchandising, and advertising dollars will flow more rapidly into the digital signage marketplace from a variety of sources. But successful network owners and operators won’t be able to simply dust off their established content strategies and proceed. They will need to rethink their content offerings based on new technological realities. Tactics will evolve from the creation of a single message to multiple versions of that message, retooled for tablets, mobile phones, and interactive devices. And improved analytics will gauge the impact of creative messaging more accurately than ever, so that content can continuously improve as a meaningful contributor to ROI.

Adrian Weidmann

Founder and Cross Channel Architect
StoreStream Metrics

During a recent conversation with a colleague we assessed this very question along with the corollary of which of those trends is being funded. We concluded that in the current economic landscape no one is proactively funding projects that are perceived as ‘nice to have’ or ‘should have’. The only projects that are being funded are those that are deemed ‘must have’ and perceived as vital to the success of the business. In this light, I believe that the design, development and activation of holistic, intelligent and experiential ‘cross-channel’ digital shopper marketing, merchandising and communication solution is absolutely critical for brands, companies and businesses to remain viable and relevant in this environment of digitally empowered consumers. Digital signage, in its various shapes and forms, can be a critical application in this ecosystem. I have been monitoring, designing and developing solutions to meet this trend for the past three years and I believe we will see significant commitment made by innovative B2C and B2B organizations that realize their future success and viability rests on moving this concept forward in a meaningful way in 2012.

Ralph Schorbach

Technology Manager, FAIRPLEX

The trend would be delivery methodology.  Drive custom tailored information to the customer, let’s get back to the basics.  With the onset of QR codes, this delivery method allows the customer to receive information through an interactive digital signage process.  Either through touch screen or directly via direct “screen” marketing.  The customer can create a specific QR code, take a picture of it on a smart phone and take it with them.  This allows for wayfinding, pricing details, or items customized to the customer’s specific need or requested information.  Cellular QR is being used more and more just for this reason; the benefits of portability, higher 4G speeds and without requiring the customer to give up much personal information.  I can even see “true” digital signage working its way into cell phone applications.

There aren’t any “miracle” solutions for 2012, but tailoring the digital signage to the customer not by just pushing text but by giving “content”.

Content is still KING.

Jim Velco

Chief Technology Officer. Information Technology Services
The John Marshall Law School

My feeling is that digital signage will face increased pressure from mobile devices to deliver information and content.  The industry will have to provide ways to make DS a viable platform for unique content delivery, because, for many people their mobile device is the go-to place for information consumption.  The DS industry needs to create platforms which deliver unique content in ways that are not available anywhere else. 

Jeremy Gavin

Head Content Chief, ScreenFeed

I believe there will be a trend towards smarter content. "Smarter" doesn't have to mean connectivity with mobile phone or a fancy algorithm. It starts with answering questions like "what would I like to see as a viewer" and a commitment to elevating what you are offering your audience.

Good old-fashioned 'good judgement' towards the goal of providing value to the viewer will help make the screen relevant. 

I believe networks will be forced to do this based on requirements from stakeholders to show that messsages in fact are being delivered. Investing in content that attracts an audience and brings them value is what all of this is built upon, its what is needed for networks to survive.

Pat Hellberg

Brand Consultant, The Preset Group

In 2012, we will see a significant shift away from the technologies that, up to now, have defined the industry and a shift toward technologies that will represent the future.  Low-cost devices, that are not PC-based, are now capable of rock-solid video playback.  These devices can also be controlled over networks.   HTML5 remains a work-in-progress,  but it will start to supplant Flash due to cost, capabilities and the absence of licensing issues that have been associated with the use of Adobe’s software. 
  
This year will also bring with it more attention and unwarranted excitement to gimmicks such as 3D and gesture, neither of which will ever play a significant role in the industry.
  
And of course, mobile will be on the forefront as seemingly the entire industry will continue to grapple with how to get mobile “right”.  Most won’t, but they’ll keep trying nonetheless.

Chet Patel

Director of Information Technology
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

I see the emerging trends to be those associated with Video and advertisement directed at more bespoke levels. As part of a convention hotel, we will start to research more into the RFID cards and Be able to then personalize  information to their needs and provide bespoke service. Be able to provide meeting room information and schedules to attendees specific to their company.

I believe the increase in sales of tablets can also affect how we put forth information and interaction. Location based services.

Philip M. Cohen

President/CEO
Care Media Holdings Corp.

There is no doubt that 2012 is going to be what I would call an “impact” year.  With digital signage’s rapid growth, I believe that we are going to witness the emergence of these influential trends:  what Keith Kelsen describes as the “golden triangle” (the right technology, the right content, and the right audience driving solutions into the marketplace) and advances in performance analytics and measurement. Why? It’s a ripple effect; big brands and their agencies are open to innovative solutions to connect with consumers - but not without proof of performance. With proper data providing evidence that this non-traditional advertising is a game changer, we can also expect to see more growth in advertising dollars from brands for DOOH networks in 2012.

Daniel Lindstrom

Wayside Systems Manager, Communications
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority

In the Transit Industry the biggest trend for digital signage will be the continued expansion of LCD technology both stationary and mobile.  Driving the trend is the decreased cost of the technology.

Dave Matera

President
OOH Pitch, Inc.

We see (2) trends emerging in the advertising end of the industry in 2012: 1) Increased awareness of the DOOH/DPB medium, and 2) Technology built to scale.

1. Increased awareness of the medium.  From our agency partners we are receiving more inquiries about DOOH/DPB, and new brands continue to “dip their toes” into the medium by considering adding it to their advertising portfolio.  Many agencies are becoming much more informed and savvy about the progression of DOOH/DPB, so our presentation and information to them must be at a higher educational level.

2. Technology built to scale.  Cutting edge technologies have been invented and continue to be invented at a rate beyond our ability to predict, but what is important to our business is that these new technologies are beginning to be implemented at scale.  This development is an enormous step forward for our industry.  We travel the country speaking to our advertising clients, who are often intrigued by what DOOH/DPB has to offer but are concerned about its lack of scale in certain markets and areas.  Now, not only pre-existing networks and technologies are expanding, but so are new networks implementing new technologies.  Some examples of this trend are:

• NFC implementation for advertising purposes
• 3D and Holographic imagery in DOOH/DPB
• Face-recognition technology in advertising networks
• Cameras and augmented reality tools/implementation across networks and screens
• Interactive mirror technology in multiple environments
• Technology that reads cell phone demographics— adjusting ads in real-time

We believe what is driving this trend is:

1) The invention and testing of such new technologies
2) The increased affordability of such new technologies
3) The pressure from marketers, brands and consumers accustomed to a digital environment: Each of the above examples drive increased consumer interaction and allow the brand to continue the conversation with the consumer—who now remains in control.

*Lucas Peltonen, Digital OOH Director, OOH Pitch, Inc., contributed to this response

Bryan Meszaros

Director, Strategy & Development
OpenEye

This will be year of the "connected experience," in which we finally begin to see the delivery of complementary experiences across all channels. Consumers will be exposed to and be able to obtain consistent information not only on the go but at the POP. As we continue to acknowledge the significant role digital signage plays in the path to purchase, more retailers will adopt the use of digital signage within their space. As marketers we are beginning to understand the need to consistently inform the consumer from the point of influence up to the point of purchase and the only way to successful do that is to consistently engage them on each channel.

Randy Dearborn

VP Multimedia @Guest Technology
MGM Resorts International

Social Media interaction with digital signage.

We recently unveiled a twitter wall at MGM Grand Las Vegas that has instantly become a huge hit in the lobby. Guest can post comments or respond to questions being asked on the video wall.

Laura Davis-Taylor

SVP Managing Director
BBDO Shop Work

There are many trends that we will see in 2012, but I think the most important one from the retail perspective is the need to integrate the software into larger store ecosystems. The driver? The shopper's desire for more helpful, personalized information...and the retailer's need to both deliver this and measure it's effect.

It's not enough to just shoot out messages anymore. Smart shoppers are getting smarter and they want better experiences, not better messages. They are used to signing onto websites and being acknowledged and supported with information curated to their personal needs and desires. They are are already doing their own self service via mobile, and they want the technology inside of stores--including digital signs--to work harder to help them or add a happy element into their shop that day. All digital screens should be seen as opportunities to do ultimately one day support this, and they can not operate in a silo. Digital signage vendors should all be trying to operate integrated infrastructures and work together to evolve stores as we know it.

Oscar Gamez

Director of Network Management
SABEResPODER

As smartphone sales continue to increase, it is no surprise that networks will continue to include mobile integration into digital signage.  Apps, SMS, social media, and payment solutions via mobile, all offer opportunities for networks to interact with a viewer.  This year, we will see smarter and clever ways in which digital signage will be utilized to create an impact on the viewer and continue that connection off-screen via a mobile experience. 

Mobile integration will also play part of a bigger trend in digital signage, which is fully integrated campaign solutions.  Although content will forever be king, long gone are the days where a brand or agency could simply add a video or commercial to a network and rely on viewership analytics to measure its impact.  Brands and agencies will be looking for fully integrated campaigns in which content will be supported by mobile, social media, and events integration.  As a whole, campaign integration will give life to a product an offer amazing experiences to viewers and greater ROI to brands.

Sean Whiffen

Co-founder, AutoNetTV

A big trend that I’ve seen isn’t just now emerging, but rather has been building over the last year and will become more poignant to all in the industry; it’s the issue of enough money to support networks and the vendors who depend on them.  The big driver of this is the reduction of advertising revenues, due to the economy and the increase of web/mobile as the next hottest thing, and the lack of networks generating non-advertising revenues.  Personally, I think we’ll see DOOH advertising aggregators struggle or go by the wayside, networks continue to go out of business or be acquired, and technology vendors close their doors or actually compete with their current and prospective customers by creating their own offering for locations.  The young folks making buys on Madison Avenue tend to drift towards the latest Groupon, Twitter or Pinterest generating press clippings – regardless of their efficacy.  Hopefully, as budgets begin to expand from rising confidence, retailers and others who benefit from having DOOH offerings in their business, will be more apt to actually pay for the benefits they can derive from those services.  Sustaining perceived value of a product that is readily offered for free is a losing battle that will damage our industry as a whole, from networks down to their suppliers.  Requiring appropriate compensation for products and services offered will help establish greater credibility and fund the growth we all perceive as possible.

Len Dudis

Director, IT
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

The biggest trend I see in digital signage at the moment is the desire to make signage more interactive with the consumer.  Somehow linking the information on the sign to a consumer’s personal device allows the message to become portable and allows the consumer to become an active participant in the message.  Links through a QR code, web site address, or reference to a game or sweepstakes compel the consumer to want to find out more, take the information with them, and dramatically increases the time spent on the message.  Clearly driving this trend is the ever increasing number of consumers that are carrying their own devices, particularly smartphones that are keeping them constantly connected to an endless source of information.  And this isn’t just applicable to advertisements, but should soon be the case with menus, information and wayfinding. 

Thomas Kunka

Coordinator Network Systems & Operations
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

In regards to digital signage in higher education; interest appears to rapidly growing across the board - student unions, residence halls, academic buildings, museums, research institutes, athletic facilities and many others – each with their own unique needs, requirements and business cases.  It could be said that the increasing interest combined with general industry trends such as the decreasing prices in display and computing technologies; the growing pervasiveness of data networks; the evolution and maturation of software applications; and the pervasiveness of digital media assets are helping to build the case for broader adoption of digital signage on college campuses.

We will likely see an increase in the number of campuses looking to deploy digital signage but as a campus-level IT service rather than within individual campus units. There are many reasons for adoption of an enterprise-level approach. Among them cost savings and added value.

Like most industries, higher-education is faced with unprecedented financial challenges and constraints on resources but yet at the same time must continue to push forward. Cost savings are realized through the reduction in duplicate efforts; through volume purchasing and licensing; and through the leveraging of existing campus IT and network infrastructures.

Opportunities to add value include integration with other campus-level services such as emergency messaging, campus authentication, facilities scheduling and IPTV as well as provide the means to share content, templates, training, support and best practices across all campus units, including those who may not own or be responsible for any signs themselves but actively involved in other aspects of campus signage networks.

While digital signage installations in higher education have traditionally been of relatively small scale and localized to individual units we may see institutions quickly adding digital signage to their IT service catalogs. Digital signage, until recently not even a blip on the radar of most campus IT leaders now presents itself as a weighty challenge. The potential for explosive growth combined with significant technical, financial, political, and logistical challenges almost necessitates the need for enterprise-level planning, support, funding and governance – but will it get the proverbial seat at what is already a crowded table. If nothing else, the next few years will likely prove to be a roller-coaster ride for us all – hold on!

David W. Saleme

Concessions Manager
Columbus Regional Airport Authority

Two important trends in the digital signage industry are the growth of multiple displays across "campus" wide environments, and how these displays are controlled by quality content management software.  The drive towards multiple locations provides a significant benefit to the end user because it increases the frequency of the message delivery, exposes to our customers to our message at every stage in their journey through our facility, and provides a consistency of look across our entire passenger environment.  Of course, this helps the bottom line, but just as importantly it increases the level of information available to our passenger and as a result improves the quality of their experience.  This growth is helped by the capabilities of cutting edge software to manage multiple displays from a single location, or even from a mobile device.  This new software also goes beyond controlling the message from a remote location, it also serves as a tool to locate and incorporate information from multiple data sources, it actually helps to create content.  This integration pushes the limits of the displays by providing more than a simple video stream.  These trends redefine the limits of what digital signage can do, and how we realize the benefits of our investments.

Margot Myers

Director, Education & Training
Platt Retail Institute

There are five key trends that I see impacting the digital signage industry in the near future:

1. Cross-Platform Integration is a trend that is being driven by broad media adoption. The influence of mass media, such as TV, radio, and newspapers, has declined, while digital media – such as the Internet, social media, and digital signage – have become more influential. The influence of maturing media means people are more willing to accept technology across a wide range of uses, from touch-screen way-finding displays in shopping malls to checking in for a flight at a self-service kiosk. At the same time, the maturation of these media pushes retailers to develop integrated solutions across multiple platforms. Consumers will increasingly come to expect a seamless experience online and in-store.

2. The push to Leverage Technology is driven by consumer media control.  Early thoughts about mobile integration aren’t far-reaching enough as smartphones change the way people act in retail environments.  According to a Performics study done in September, three in five shoppers used their phones for competitive price searches or to look for deals and coupons.  A more recent study by Prosper Mobile Insights revealed that smartphone and tablet users who use their devices to compare prices while shopping in a store are 33 percent more likely to purchase from another retailer than from the store in which they’re standing.

We’re past the point of in-store technology being effective just because it’s new and cool.  Now, retailers are finding ways to leverage this technology and actually do something with the data available – changing messaging and perhaps prices because of events, like weather, or analytics that might reveal something like an inventory overstock situation.

3. Always considered critical to the success of digital signage deployments, the public’s expectation for engaging digital content is driving new approaches to Content Production and Delivery.

Consumers expect more interesting, captivating content, which makes digital signage more relevant than static signs, such as posters and banners.  Interacting with a digital sign – using a QR code to download a coupon or a recipe in a supermarket, for example – will become more commonplace.

A limiting factor in the early days of digital signage, content production options have changed significantly and will continue to evolve.  That means network owners will be able to afford more frequent content updates and more advanced media formats. Automated content production and delivery is a trend to watch.

4. Many in the industry believe a Consolidation of companies offering digital signage content management software is inevitable.  For that matter, there will be further consolidation across the industry, with fewer companies offering a broader range of bundled services.

5. Last, but certainly not least, the drive for credible measurement is a major issue for both captive and ad-supported networks.  End users need Metrics that indicate the success of their networks – against whatever measures have value for their business – in order to substantiate the cost to deploy, maintain, and operate a network.  Agencies need justification to support shifting a portion of their media budgets to digital communications networks.

Patricia Mitrano

Director of Visual Communications
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

We’ve most likely heard that content is king and context is queen. Each one of us is now exposed to thousands of messages a day, and as more screens are deployed, I am hopeful that the emerging trend will be to spend more time on developing meaningful content, especially on small budget digital signage projects.

Content curators and designers will be the heroes we will need to help us sort through information and provide succinct, useful signage projects.

Matthew Brown

Manager, Digital Experience, Marketing, Transit
Servus Credit Union

The question about emerging trends is always a hard one to answer, especially in a dynamic and emerging industry that is going through rapid market changes and is still defining itself along the way.  That also makes it very exciting because there are so many trends and changes year to year that we could see!

For me I think some of the areas that are most exciting and that I see continuing to grow is around anything to do with integration.  There are so many different options available for integrating digital signage into other delivery systems, that to me we have only begun to see the possibilities of this trend start to emerge.  Whether it is social media integration and the expansion on utilizing customer content in digital signage, or mobile integration and the exciting opportunities of being able to have viewers extend the experience beyond the screen to their own devices, there are a lot of exciting opportunities available and the greatest part is that End Users, Network Operators, and Agencies, among others, can all take advantage of these integration opportunities.

The next step that I have started to see is extending the current movements online into the digital signage industry.  There have been quite a few movements over the past 7-9 years around standards, best practices, and methodologies.  This has developed from previous industries that have gone through similar growth patterns – moving from disorganized and developing to standardized and strategic.  One of the growing trends or movements online right now is responsive design and development – the idea of developing websites once with the flexibility built into it to change the layout based on the screen it is being viewed on.  The idea is tied to the growth in mobile devices and the fact that many websites today do not display well on smaller screens.  Responsive design adjusts the display to better fit smaller screens by adjusting elements on the screen.  While we may not see responsive design come to digital signage, the concept – the movement to create a system that adapts to the user instead of making the user adapt to us – is a great thing to strive for, especially as integration continues to move forward.

Comments

Simplification seams to be a theme going into the new year. Many folks think that a lot of the new social networking gadgets are cool, and interaction is cool, and 3D is cool...etc, but cannot afford it in a couple of ways. 1. There is no money 2. There is no time to keep a system with the above features and other unessential features running 2012 is going to be a great year! Businesses are digging themselves out of the recession and to do that they need to save money and save time. Digital signage, if done right will be a tool to accomplish that goal.

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