The Growth of Localized Advertising on Digital Signage Screens


Digital signage has long been used for advertising. When we think of advertising screens, we tend to think of large billboards and expensive video walls. We think of urban cities, retail hubs or bus shelters. Advertisers are household names and adverts often star celebrities.

In recent years, however, digital signage has become more and more accessible to the average user as a platform. For instance, in the educational space, the smallest of primary schools have displays for pupil communication whereas screens might have been reserved for wayfinding at the largest universities in the past. This development is partly due to a fall in the cost of screens and partly down to the competitive nature of the signage industry. This is starting to have repercussions for digital signage advertising too. What we are seeing is a drive towards more localized advertising networks.

What does this look like? Independent retailers around the country are investing in digital screens in their window with the aim to sell ad space to other local businesses wanting access to footfall on the High Street. This is leading to mutually beneficial collaborations between local businesses. A local restaurant, barber or gym might advertise their services in the post office or at a travel agent’s office. Sports venues of all sizes from small bowling clubs to stadiums are also getting involved. Exeter Rugby Club is one such example, with two large screens used to display sponsorship messages to up to 12,500 fans every match-day.

The great thing about digital signage advertising is that sponsored content need only take up a small proportion of screen time. This allows signage managers to display their own promotional content most of the time, interspersed with external content at their own discretion. For some businesses, covering the cost of the platform will be the goal through sponsorship, with signage primarily serving a marketing purpose. For others, signage is an investment with revenue generation in mind. One of our clients, a national builders’ merchant, was initially researching digital signage as a communication channel to link their various branches. In addition to this, they ended up securing 10 different suppliers as paid sponsors, securing a steady income stream.

Localized signage advertising isn’t just being used by innovative businesses as a side venture. Entrepreneurial individuals are starting to set up their own advertising agencies centered on this very model. Anyone with a good local network can invest in screens, loan or rent them out to businesses and operate an ad revenue-sharing scheme. One of the strengths of digital signage advertising is there is no need to invest in displays until advertisers have committed to paying sponsorship. If executed correctly, this can reduce or negate risk.

Localized digital signage networks are even becoming official intuitives directed by local councils and governing bodies. Where councils manage an array of buildings or facilities such as car parks, screens are being deployed to distribute official messaging and/or local announcements. This is proving a great platform to support tourism through advertisements. ‘Big Screen Portsmouth’ is a partnership between Portsmouth City Council and The University of Portsmouth. Its large screen in Guildhall Square broadcasts to 125,000 visitors each week, funded by advertising and streaming other media such as live TV and local programs.

Localized advertising is one of the hottest trends in digital signage right now. Localization is one of many ways to endear a network to a community by providing targeted information and specificity. For more information, please get in touch.

About Author

Lee Gannon manages marketing strategy for TrouDigital, a U.K. digital signage company based at the University of Southampton Science Park. TrouDigital is part of SETsquared, the world’s leading university business incubator. In the past, they have developed a bespoke wayfinding application. More recently, they have focused on advertising deployments, reacting to increased demand at a local level.

1 Comment

  1. Great article. I’ve corresponded with a few digital signage and content companies as I try to navigate ways to monetize my business with ad signage. It s now clear that in most instances the business has to go out into the community to seek out other businesses who want to advertisers.

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