Ask the Board – August 29, 2016 | ROBERT KILLMEIER


What is the most controversial issue in the digital signage industry right now and why?

In my humble opinion, the most potentially rewarding is the also the most controversial. “Viewer Identification,” in all of its forms, is that issue. The rewards for VI are bi-directional, first for the content provider playlists that are chosen based on the viewer’s interests, and second, this same feature provides focus on things of interest to the viewer. Sounds like it should be a win-win, but…

Just as we experience web ads cluttering up our search pages, the technologies behind the page can be applied to digital signage content. Big Data, coupled with the proliferation of digital signage displays and married to VI, represents the controversial issue. How controversial depends upon the amount of control permitted to the viewer. Technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication) permit almost total control to the viewer. Typically, the viewer must place their device within less than two inches away from a product or poster that is of interest. Other methods utilize a high frequency tone, which requires the viewer’s device to have an application that can hear the tone and initiate some action. Similarly, Bluetooth broadcasts can reach enabled devices depending on the radio class of around 33 feet to initiate connectivity. The IoT (Internet of Things) are items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data. This method is primarily distributed to provide hands-off automated exchange of the information with little if any input from the viewer.

The amount of viewer control represents a certain creepiness factor (which in and of itself is not troubling when the viewer initiates the connectivity and/or has opt-out controls). Today, simply signing up for a consumer retail rewards program at your favorite grocery store will provide you with discount coupons and will increasingly recognize you when you’re near one of the digital signage displays showing content designed to your tastes – but maybe not your diet…. Yum yum!

During most of the past decade, I’ve had both the honor and the pleasure of being a contributing member of Digital Signage Federation and Digital Signage Expo. Three years ago, I retired from Wells Fargo after establishing their Digital Signage department and began a DS consulting business. This past April, I celebrated my 70th birthday and was elected to the executive committee of an international business training organization teaching business men and women in Eastern Europe.  I’m now retiring from the consulting business to focus my time and energy on evangelism and spreading the Gospel.

About Author

Founder & President
Computer Controlled Designs, LLC

Industry Consultants Council

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