Can ad-funded digital signage survive the mobile onslaught?

Nov. 15, 2013 | by Steven Gurley

In 2010, I wrote a white paper entitled "Ad Funded Digital Signage: Is There A Future In It?" That paper discussed how Apple's 2008 launch of the iPhone 3G and the iTunes App Store was a catalytic event that spawned a new era in mobile communications. The paper went on to describe how this new era in mobile would, over time, severely limit, or perhaps even decimate, the long-term growth prospects of ad-funded digital signage, which is also known as digital place-based signage.

The gist of the 2010 white paper was that the Apple-inspired mobile revolution was going to be profoundly different from any technology-inspired movement that had come before it. The subtext of the paper was that mobile would ultimately offer marketers/brands/agencies/ad-buyers a new level of consumer engagement and analytic insight that digital signage could never hope to match. The paper suggested that the purveyors of ad-funded digital signage learn how to leverage this new mobile revolution or get run over by it.

Well, here we are just three short years later. For those of you who don't follow the "state-of-mobile" regularly, you may be surprised to learn that the embrace of mobile — particularly by marketers/brands/agencies/ad-buyers — has been unprecedented. You may also be surprised to learn that mobile has been sucking billions of ad dollars away from other ad media at a faster and faster pace.

As a result of this rapid change, I have written a short follow-up to my 2010 white paper, entitled "Ad Funded Digital Signage: Is There A Future In It? Circa 2013." In this new paper, I question whether those who advocate a bright future for ad-funded digital signage really possess the necessary credentials to authoritatively do so. I also briefly discuss the current state of mobile advertising, which I follow with a more detailed discussion of the future prospects for the medium.

During my discussion of the future, the paper briefly outlines five trends that will ensure mobile advertising's rapid growth as well as solidify marketer's/brand's/agencies'/ad-buyer's growing interest. These trends illustrate the increasing...

  1. Pace of mobile innovation
  2. Depth and breadth of mobile metrics
  3. Sophistication of engagement analytic tools
  4. Sophistication of content management systems
  5. Sophistication of marketers/brands/agencies/ad-buyers to tap into mobile.

This new paper also discusses the future of mobile-enabled consumer engagement and illustrates how the world of mobile engagement could realistically look around the turn of the decade — which, of course, will have a huge impact on marketers'/brands'/agencies'/ad-buyers' interest in mobile.

The 2013 paper closes much like the 2010 paper by encouraging those who have an interest in consumer engagement — particularly ad-funded digital signage or digital place-based signage — learn how to capitalize on this (still early stage) mobile revolution.

One last point: Some of you have asked me if I think that the mobile revolution will affect traditional digital signage in the same way as it is affecting ad-funded digital signage. The short answer is no, but I'll discuss this in more detail in a subsequent post.

Topics: Advertising , Mobile Interactivity

Steven Gurley / Steve Gurley is broadly recognized as an industry expert and thought-leader in mobile and mobile content management solutions. He is a widely published author of numerous papers, articles and blogs on mobility and serves on numerous mobile advisory boards and committees, including serving as the current chairman of the Digital Screenmedia Association's committee on mobile. Steve is currently the President and CEO of Pyrim Technologies, a mobile business and new market development company.
View Steven Gurley's profile on LinkedIn

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