Ask the Board – September 15, 2016 | LYLE BUNN


How are you planning to circumvent the lack of standards as one of the key threats to industry growth?

The standards that enable interoperability and quality of service do not appear to have thwarted industry growth or delayed installations. Once end users realize that integration of the specific vendor platform brings interoperability within the possible digital signage media supply chain and the capability of interface with other applications (such as point-of-sale, inventory, Customer Relationship Management, etc.), they realize that their platform selection is tacit acceptance of the vendor standard.

Efforts by large end users (such as transit advertiser Titan about five years ago) wishing to bridge platform silos or source lower cost infrastructure options did not receive software vendor support given the costs of developing and compliance with such standards. In the meantime, providers of flat panels, media players, connectivity and other technology elements have indeed moved toward components that can be easily integrated with many content management systems (CMS), so some degree of interoperability is indeed provided.

Given the wide range of application requirements, and the fact that many CMS options can address wide-ranging needs while many others best serve niche requirements in efficient and economical ways, the lack of standards is not a threat to industry growth.

In terms of content, standards of advertising banner size and resolution was a key point of online advertising development (which has supported the growth of online programmatic media ad buying). However, virtually all digital out-of-home networks now adhere to standards of display zone payout that enable ad placement. The 16:9 aspect ratio of the commercial flat panel establishes standards of media format for digital signage in the same way that page size does for magazines. Such an operating standard has enabled the ongoing double-digital compound annual growth of advertising investment in digital signage.

Looking toward the horizon, will the bridging of the silos of digital signage applications impair growth in the future? Where end users and agencies will of course want operational economies, the lack of these is overcome by the inherent impact of the media. In short, if the media is worth the investment, the cost of executing insert orders is minimal compared to the benefits.

A nearer-term industry problem can be foreseen as some CMS providers fail to thrive, resulting in the need for end users to select a different CMS and refresh the devices (such as the media player) in the configuration. Some end users are already too familiar with this investment challenge as they have realized the need to upgrade their digital signage capabilities. In this, as in all cases related to digital signage, the planning and sourcing requirement is for more rigor in future-proofing. 

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