By Keith Kelsen
Author of "Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage" and CVO, 5th Screen Digital
My title of this trends piece has changed this year to reflect the industry morphing into something new, something connected to the digital consumer ... for all screens are now part of the continuity of marketing messages including the increasingly powerful pocket screen.
As I reflect on last year's predictions (which you can see here and here), it struck me how this industry is shaping up, and what forces are driving new innovation, and how each and every one of us in the industry is one of the forces that count — no matter if it is one big screen or 500 small screens all connected to the mobile digital consumer. I believe that 2013 marked a few changes in the industry; some that were subtle but important and others more obvious and game changing.
And now ... on to 2014.
6. From digital Signage/DOOH to digital screen media
2014 marks the year of significant steps of transformation from an industry that calls itself digital signage/DOOH to an industry of digital screen media. As we look at the trends over the last four years, digital signage/DOOH has been fighting to keep its place ahead of mobile and tablets ... and as it turns out tablets are being used for marketing messages at the shelf, a.k.a. digital signage. I contend that in this colossal wave of change in the way that we implement marketing messages on screens in the marketplace, one can no longer separate out one screen from another. Clearly, the definition of what the industry was just four years ago is not the same and is a branding challenge for most companies in the industry.
This year will see fundamental steps in the transformation from a digital signage/DOOH industry to a digital screen media industry.
Innovation has continued to awe us at every turn, and 2014, I believe, is headed for unprecedented technological innovation. I say this not because I have the next big thing, I say this because we are coming out of a down economic cycle. And when there is a down turn in the economy, there is cycle of innovation; people create and they innovate something better than what we had before. The rate at which we are seeing new products and innovations even in 2013 eclipsed all prior years, with more than 200 new products in our sector alone — from a hand crank-powered kiosk to the introduction of 4K screens — and 2014 promises to make that look like a walk in the park.
Look for a number of useful products, new experiences and new connections.
8. Solutions not pieces
A major change in who is making the decisions for the brands and retailers has taken place. The marketing department is now in charge. After years of IT making the decisions for our industry, the paradigm has shifted. This is in part and parcel due to the omnichannel marketing push and who is driving this. Screens, CMS, cables, media players are not a solution; they are the pieces. Marketing wants solutions not pieces. Marketing gets it. Do the suppliers?
We see software companies and screen manufactures partnering up to supply a "solution." I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a screen with a CMS is not a solution. Marketing wants great concepts to drive its vision. Marketing will need total solutions to accomplish this. And because the concepts are now experiences, the concept will be given priority and the pieces that make up the solution will follow. Not the other way around.
Marketing is now in charge, and they want solutions for experiences.
This has been a significant trend in the industry for the last three years. Some say it's a sign of industry maturity ... I say the industry will morph into something completely different. Among the feverish 22 M&As in 2013, some were significant changes: RMG bought Symon; CBS Outdoor was bought by private-equity firm Platinum and became ExterionMedia; Cineplex buys EK3; Bell buys Astral Media; Stratacache buys Carmanah Signs; and PE firm Generation Partners funds Captivate.
Some of these trends are consolidation to buy market share, and some are other industries buying into the marketplace, and a few are PE firms expanding the current business. The other news came when Intel introduced RCM, and this will have significant impact on CMS pricing. Pricing has gotten so aggressive that there are only a few SaaS platforms that will survive the next phase of the industry. I have another thought on the industry consolidation: Remember when AOL bought Time Warner? Who would have thunk? With mobile growing at a rate of 146 percent, I believe we will see some cros- platform investments and acquisitions that may surprise us.
Look for cross platform M&As as the industry morphs.
As I look in to the crystal ball in this No. 10 trend I see growth in certain areas of the market within our industry. They include corporate lobbies where the experience is now amped up. Just take a look at what Arsenal Media did with Christie Digital, or Array Interactive did with Adobe's lobby. This new lobby-inspired experience trend will see growth in the marketplace. QSR will continue to grow with new innovative experiences based on menu boards and queue line promotions; just take a look at Dee Da Restaurant. Retail is changing and requiring less space, and virtual aisles and engaging the digital consumer will have tremendous impact this year with brands. Health care will continue to expand for obvious reasons, but the model to capture more purposes of these screens will also change.
Look for growth — corporate lobbies, QSR, retail and health care, with experiences that engage the digital consumer out of sheer necessity.
Check back tomorrow here at Digital Signage Today for more predictions from digital signage experts.
Author and speaker Keith Kelsen, chief visionary at 5th Screen, is an expert on digital media. More information about his book, "Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage – Content Strategies for the 5th Screen," published by Focal Press, can be found on the book's companion website at www.5thscreen.info. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kkelsen.
©2013 Keith Kelsen
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