The top 10 digital signage trends for 2012, Pt. II (Commentary)

Jan. 9, 2012

By Keith Kelsen

Author, digital signage consultant


(Last week, we posted Part I of Keith Kelsen's annual predictions for the top coming trends in digital signage. Here now is Part II. - ed.)

Ah, 2011 has come and gone ... but not without leaps and bounds and turmoil among the industry. But, why dwell in the past when in 2012 is going to be an amazing year in so many ways?

Welcome to 2012: This is the year of the converging consumer. The accelerated purchase. This is the year we can buy anything, anytime, anywhere, any screen in any reality, whether I am standing in line, watching TV, walking down the street, in the mall, carrying my tablet or dining. Converging technology is here.

Amalgamation is the mega trend for 2012.

So the question is how will this mega trend affect our industry and the very core of all media, the brand? Let's face it, the brand is back, the brand is the key, the brand is looking for cost efficient, measurable results when they put down their marketing dollar. Why? Technology has accelerated and the consumer with it. Now the brands and agencies are driving new initiatives based on economic trends that will change the traditional media landscape forever. The pebble has hit the water, and the reverberation will be felt for many years to come. We have arrived in 2012.

You can see my picks for 2011 trends to see how I did at prognostication last year, and at the end of this trends piece you can vote on the one you think will be the #1 trend in 2011.

Hold on to your seats, here are the "final five" 2012 predictions:

6. The merger of technology software companies

The year 2012 is the year for a shake out of software companies: Who will merge, who will be sold, and who will disappear? With 350 software companies in the world, only a few will survive the next wave. ISVs that are funded by investment have been stalling, and the smaller they are, unfortunately, will not be able to maintain. So consolidation based on customers not technology may be in order this year. Buy the customer base and eventually replace the technology with one system.

Look for purchases, consolidation and a failure of ISVs this year.

7. The fusion of media social

Digital Signage is part of the whole. The whole involves our social lives. How a consumer shares, adopts and promotes a brand is based on the experience each consumer has with that brand. Retailers in particular are still looking for ways to enhance the experience for their customers. What better way to drive more sales by providing a social platform that can help drive sales? And I am not talking about the "like me" button. Digital signage helps drive that experience and engagement. Fusing the DOOH with social aspects of brand promotion can be promoted through the use of natural social interactions in the marketplace. DOOH is one of those interactions, and companies that track the social integration of the consumer's life are going to bat 1,000. This might be sports, back to school, summer or a holiday. By integrating the reality of what's going on in the consumers' lives to the screen will help drive sales. The context of social can be seen as a new wave in creating value for the brand and for the consumer. But one must embrace social as part of a total big picture of the experience.

Look for social integration of one's life onto the DOOH screen with interactive and engaging solutions that are meaningful and helpful to the consumer and the brand alike.

8. The incorporation of virtuality

Yes, virtuality. This can be augmented reality, mirrored reality or warped reality. This is a new trend we saw begin to rise in the DOOH space in 2010. Clarified by Joseph Pine II in his new book "Infinite Possibility," he points out the different realities in our digital frontier. There are number of areas where this will improve the customer experience. InWindow OutDoor is doing quite a lot in this area successfully. Augmented Reality is the most popular method of improving the experience. This is where I can add virtual environment or virtual characters to a live scene that "augments" the experience. Agencies love this stuff, and it works.

Look for even more deployments that use this technology to drive the brand experience.

9. Infusion of more ad spend in the DOOH networks

Bookings for established ad networks are up in the beginning of this year. I expect to see this trend continue, and for established networks to take advantage of political ad money that will be pouring in the marketplace later this year. This will help sustain the uptick in the fourth quarter. One can also speculate that better built content will also be available to be placed on these networks. In addition, a big push will continue to be in healthcare, with some government and health agencies looking to capitalize on ad networks revenue to help contribute to the bottom line.

Look for higher returns and growth in the ad spend from brands on DOOH in 2012.

10. We will have integrated 2.5 million screens/players in North America, 4.8 million screens/players worldwide in 2012.

At the End of 2011, we are somewhere around 1.3 million screens in North America and 3.5 million globally. With the investment from companies and serious rollout plans on the way, I believe we will hit the 2.5 million screen/player mark this year in North America and 4.8 million worldwide. This does not include refresh of current networks. So here is to that one special installer, that will be somewhere in the world hanging up a screen mid-year and that will mark the historic 4 millionth screen/player for our industry. Will it be you? Congratulations to us all!

Look for that 4 millionth screen coming to a venue near you.

What will be the top digital signage trend in 2012?
The union of a medium/the golden triangle
Combination of investment will be at an all-time high
The merging of technology
The alliance of content
The pairing of analytics and measurement
The merger of technology software companies
The fusion of media social
The incorporation of virtuality
Infusion of more ad spend in the DOOH networks
Hitting the 4 million screen/player mark free polls 


Read more about digital signage trends.

Keith Kelsen is the author of "Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage – Content Strategies for the 5th Screen." More information about the book and the book's companion website can be found at Follow him on Twitter @KKelsen.

Are there other trends you think should be on the list? Continue the conversation in the comments below.

Topics: Trends / Statistics

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