Digital Signage Industry Trends in 2016

Digital Signage Industry Trends in 2016

“Productivity of place” is the highest business priority, supported by the productivity of people and processes. As has been the imperative of all technology-enabled approaches, digital signage must contribute with high return on investment as brands and businesses seek ever-increasing brand equity and corporate valuation.

Lyle Bunn is the principal and strategy architect of The BUNN Company. 2016 will see both incremental and breakthrough improvements in this productivity from the use of dynamic digital place-based media. This will come in four primary areas including integration into operations, increased visualization, interface with mobile, insights, and technology advances.

Integration into operations will include interface with other business applications such as point-of-sale, inventory, loyalty programs, staff training, info-tainment and security as digital signage installations increasingly do not stand alone as messaging or operating silos within the organization.

This integration means that digital signage serves as a platform for messaging, interaction and engagement using a broader range of screen types such as video walls, projections, smaller displays (on shelves and service counters for example), tablets, and mobile devices.

As “owned” media in the “Paid-Owned-Earned” media model, digital signage allows the brand to communicate in a compelling way to its existing patrons with attribution of results and return on investment (ROI). “Cause and effect” are the simple, core value proposition of place-based digital signage.

Integration into the location will see digital signage increasingly used as architectural media and “techorating” will be used to add ambiance and vitality by architects, designers and facilities operators. Trial use in store and branch of the future initiatives, which commonly provide an immersive digital experience will lead to broader deployment to other business locations.

Visualization of data is a natural outcome of increased integration as digital signage content moves beyond the display of pre-prepared messages to dynamic messaging based on external factors, context and audience targeting. “Visual” is our language. Millennials, digital natives and progressive adults expect modern, innovative communications that speak to their needs and wants and puts the message into the context of their life.

Art and creative expression will also increase in 2016 as digital display improves the experience at a location. While the presentation of social media comments have amplified the brand, pictures, selfies and artistic creations will increasingly enliven the visit experience and fuel earned media iniatives. Patrons, fans, staff and students will be invited to use touch, gestural or mobile interfaces to contribute to what is displayed.

The interface of mobile devices with flat panels has been gaining traction and included many possible approaches such as near field communications, QR code, beacon, SMS, sonic ping and fling among others. The transition from the “audience of many” that underpins digital signage value will move forward with refinements and new methods of interface that serve the “audience of one” through mobile interface.

As consumers see their mobile device as another limb that enables their quality of life, inter-connectedness and profile, digital signage is the trigger for mobile browsing and commerce. New patents related to detection and online mobile interaction through Wi-Fi, Li-Fi or cellular data plans will add to digital media ROI starting in early 2016.

Data may be big, but context is king. Insights that inform messaging strategy and tactics are an essential element of the communications improvement cycle. As advances in detection leap forward related to presence, notice, dwell, sentiment and actions while respecting the privacy of individuals, patterns emerge from data as actionable insights.

As “voice of the customer” programs increasingly offer patterns of sentiment and inform digital place-based messaging, data usability is increased. At the same time, digital signage offers a platform to gather viewer insights even as new messages are tested for improved day parting and audience targeting.

Technology providers will have much to say about their improvements in areas of operability, reliability, energy efficiency and ease of use, each of which reduces total cost of ownership, the cornerstone of technology investment decisioning.

The value for the end user of digital media is in its improving price/performance proposition. The line between consumer and commercial grade hardware such as flat panels and media players has been blurring. Lower cost usually relates to lower performance, which can be adequate for the simplest of applications. These low cost elements are advertised as plug and play, because little or no support will be provided given the lower profit margins. The technologies along with the supply and operating approaches needed for the technology to deliver value are in place, however competencies must be continuously improved as technologies change and processes advance.

Digital signage is a knowledge-based industry that focuses on the three key areas of “application” and “technology” with “content” sitting in between.

The greatest change in 2016 will be in the level of capability related to digital signage application. End users have learned to benefit from suppliers’ quest for market share and revenues and many have an over-arching understanding of the medium that exceeds that of suppliers in their deeper knowledge of their element.

The greatest change in the upward growth of the application of digital signage is in the way that suppliers and end users interact. Watch for more informed and demanding end users, along with increasing competence in the supply chain.

As the opportunity cost of not using digital place-based media now exceeds the cost of using it, and the experimentation, trial and application by end users increases and they become justifiably more demanding, suppliers will have to work smarter, and through this, the economy will enjoy improved productivity of place, processes and people toward improved brand equity and corporate valuation.

Author Lyle Bunn will present “Capitalizing on Your Opportunities: Dynamic Signage for Integrators,” at DSE 2016 on Wednesday, March 16 from 4-5pm at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information on this or any educational program offered at DSE 2016 or to learn more about digital signage go to

Lyle Bunn is an analyst, advisor and educator providing digital place-based media expertise to end user in the planning, design, sourcing and optimization of their initiatives. He has published more than 300 articles, whitepapers and “how to” guides and helped to trained over 10,000 professionals. See Lyle serves on the Digital Signage Expo Advisory Board.