By Lyle Bunn
Digital signage is an instrument of the location in which it presents messages and engagement — presenting stories and reflecting values through information, messages and media. While the infrastructure and even the intended types of outcome are similar, each usage reflects the character and intentions of the organization in which the display is located, using a visual language.
The medium has proven that it is viewer accepted, fit for task, stable and predictable. In reflecting the culture, dynamic displays are now regular fixtures in news and situation rooms; video walls appear in stores, stadiums and airports; and millions of LCD/LED flat panels from 7 to 70 inches are operational in places where people shop, browse, travel, gather, play, work and study.
Corporate networks are "owned" by establishments while ad-based networks serve the need for "paid" messaging, each making valuable contributions to business and communications goals in the powerful "paid-owned-earned" media model. Early adopters, current users and network operators know that dynamic place-based media provides high return on investment when applied properly.
Technologies have become more cost-effective by reducing the human factor inputs of integration, installation and network operations. Technology suppliers continuously sell new adoption of the medium.
The way in which the medium is used is moving through continuous improvement driven by communicators, network operators and services providers (e.g., content providers, etc.) to maximize the type of location and viewing context served by more than 400 ad-based and hundreds of corporate networks.
Content strategy and creation expertise continues to be critical to the growth of the medium, as it is "content" that ultimately delivers the value of the medium. Content advisors and developers within the industry are part of the estimated 25,000-plus people employed as internal or contract personnel who create the millions of individual content spots presented on dynamic signage to support branding, merchandising, information and ambiance goals.
The "next level" is now. As the sector has enjoyed more than 10 years of ongoing investment during its high-growth period following 9/11, changes are inevitable.
In presenting during a webinar for ad-based digital place-based network operators on Jan 23, PQ Media CEO Pat Quinn noted that the industry is entering the "shakeout" phase following its "gold rush" stage, toward "breakout" and "mature growth." The current phase will see failures, consolidation and re-positioning.
Megatrends driving the Dynamic Signage industry to its next level in corporate and advertising-based network are based on:
a) Awareness that the medium "works," resulting in greater use of the medium.
b) Failure of some networks to achieve expected revenues, funding and anticipated results, through which projects gets isolated or "orphaned" generally due to under-resourcing or misuse.
c) The need for economies and efficiencies.
d) Network operators becoming a new supply option for outsourced, turnkey capabilities, in particular as ad-based network operators can meet corporate "owned" network needs.
e) Better integration with other communications devices in the "paid-owned-earned" media model.
f) Addition of advertising (third-party revenues) to corporate networks that enable cost offset and support for partner goals.
g) Shifts in supply and network operations business models.
h) Insights through use.
i) The changing capabilities of suppliers.
Operating at "the next level" is implied by these megatrends at the level of individual end-users, network operators and suppliers. In every case, network effectiveness includes:
- More visual engagement of targeted audiences
- More integration into the "paid-owned-earned" media model
- Improved utility, impact and value from CONTENT
- Network optimization and better outsourcing approaches
- Third-party revenue achievement
- Better content and links to analytics
- More cost-effective technology infrastructure
As industry stakeholders move to the next level, they are entering a domain where information on best practices is not readily shared or widely available.
Getting to that next level will result from greater use of application and usage expertise as provided by advisors; award programs and case studies better reflecting the business case; events (i.e., information sharing) and education offering more advanced levels of training to illuminate the path to greater success.
Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon) is an analyst, advisor and educator in North America's dynamic media sector. For more info on elements of this commentary contact Lyle@LyleBunn.com.
(Image courtesy of Lyle Bunn.)