A lot of smart people are saying that Digital Signage will grow more than 20 percent in the next four years. A recent report by ABI Research reinforces this, by estimating that the industry netted $1.3B in 2010 and will grow to $4.5B by 2016. Jose Avalos from Intel just wrote on this site that we'll see 22 million digital signs in the next three years.
So where will we see this boom? My guess is it will come mostly (but not all) from the early adopters who have been validated. Why? Large organizations that have successfully deployed digital signage systems and embraced the full ecosystem will start to get more bang for their buck. Technologies and services are getting cheaper as they get better, as it usually goes. And so companies that have been devoting large budgets to digital signage in the past will not only be able to do more within those budgets, they'll be able to justify a greater spend. If I were a betting man, I'd put my marketing attention first on companies that have already shown their love for digital signage campaigns and are ready to see the latest and greatest.
But large companies won't take all of that growth. There are many underserved industries that may be ready to dabble in digital signage that are worth watching. DS is becoming more ubiquitous and, quite frankly, obvious. Industries that have been sitting on the sidelines, such as education and BtoB, are starting to want to play, which is going to increase its spread. We see it in the form of numerous established technology resellers who serve niche markets and who now want to figure out how to sell digital signage as part of their offering. These are industries that are starting to embrace a more rounded approach to digital marketing, including online and mobile strategies.
In many ways, the spread is due to CMOs and digital agencies that are dedicating a slice of the marketing pie to digital signage — which has been left out of the game in years past. These industries newer to DS probably won't purchase massive systems right off the bat. But they will explore "starter" systems for the purposes of integrating messages they are already delivering through other digital mediums. For instance, if a new retail outlet is deploying a campaign based on specific product promotions, they may want to integrate screens in-store that reinforce the deals being promoted online. Or, concurrently, get consumers who are in the store to engage with the screens in a way that allows the store to continue marketing to them after they leave. For businesses like this, the signage system is more of an end cap that starts or closes a sale.
Of course, the growth could very well be even across the board, as I'm just making a prediction here. New companies, large companies, all industries could embrace digital signage the way they embraced social media and pay-per-click. It's not just for those in the know anymore, it's a standard part of marketing campaigns that are meant to reach the largest masses. Everything today is integrated as marketers want online promotions to reinforce email campaigns, to reinforce PR, which all ties in to a mobile ad. Now that digital signs have the capability to engage more than inform they become part of that mix as well. And does it really matter? $4.5B is $4.5B, no matter how you slice it.
Don Pierson is founder and president at Flypaper Studio Inc., a subsidiary of Trivantis Corp. He has two decades experience in interactive communications and founded Interactive Alchemy before developing what is now Flypaper digital signage software.