In your opinion, what is the most lucrative aspect of outdoor digital signage?
Infusion, the company where I lead digital strategy and design thinking, might be a little different from some other companies in this space, so therefore the answer might be a bit oblique compared to others.
Certainly, one way to make money on digital signage is to see it as an extension of any media network, where it is a reach and frequency platform to drive eyeballs and impressions. Some flat fee or pay-per-view-type system would be the approach here (yet without proper tracking, this model seems a bit of a leap in the short term in terms of ROI). Our company does not focus on that aspect of digital installations or signage, and I leave it to other DSE experts to weigh in on that revenue-driving approach.
For us, the way to make money on digital signage engagements is less about the signage itself and more about the services around the signage. It isn’t markup on the hardware or installation, but rather the services we provide around the core idea of the signage. Our clients are often seeing digital signage as one component of a broader innovation strategy and, therefore, the consulting and services we provide to help them solidify a vision for how digital can elevate their business, what that content and interactive experience should be and the custom integrations or developments to get there is what drives the business. Rarely are the experiences we deploy plug and play. Over the specific implementations we have done—for mall food courts, retail installations and financial services, the real financial benefit for us has been revenue from the strategy, design and development of programs where the signage may be certainly the most highly visible part of the deployment, but the invisible infrastructure behind the scenes, and the content experiences upon the screens, is the driver of profit.
After deployment, the maintenance and managed services around the experiences keeps our work a consistent revenue stream. Experiences need “watering” to stay alive: new features, new content, new systems of tracking; so the idea is to think of a given installation as a program of work and not a one-shot so that future revenue can be anticipated and projected.
I would imagine that many digital signage companies are playing more an installation volume approach with relatively set and scalable systems, whereas, in our case, we are developing more bespoke technical and experiential solutions where the consulting fees are the majority of our upside.