Rules of Engagement: Key Digital Signage Trends in 2015

Rules of Engagement: Key Digital Signage Trends in 2015

Digital signage is nothing new; it has been in use in commercial markets for more than twenty years. What’s notable in 2015 is the increased adoption of the technology. Nobody knows that better than the person who, since 1994, has helped pave the path at the digital signage behemoth Scala. Jeff Porter, former executive vice president of Scala and founder of Porter Digital Signage, said, “We’re a year closer to people accepting digital signage in lots of different places.”

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) recently installed two, 84-inch Planar UltraRes Series display. The pixel density of 4K enables guests to read fine-point type at a close range. Given that 4K, is four-times the resolution of HD, OMSI is maximizing its investment and at times dividing the display into quadrants from up to eight different sources to four, HD content areas, each with its own message. When OMSI is ready with interactive content to engage visitors, the displays are enabled to deliver 32 touch points. The total cost of ownership of digital signage continues to decrease, making deployment more feasible within various markets. The availability of larger panels with near-zero bezels, higher resolution and lower power consumption, increased bandwidth, more advanced signal processing and distribution, as well as easier to use content management systems, are contributing to the adoption of digital signage. So, what’s next?


“The whole mobile engagement, based on proximity, is going to be huge,” Porter said. He sees companies as “eager to have digital signage be responsive to different conditions, and for the databases to be dynamic and interactive.” Retail and sports venues are among the markets already embracing mobile, Porter explained.

Adspace Digital Mall Network, the largest Nielsen-measured digital place-based video network in the U.S., is banking on it. In November 2014, the company introduced its partnership with Shazam, the mobile app company that pioneered audio recognition technology enabling smartphones to “listen” and identify music, delivering the meta information directly to users. “The marriage of mobile and location-based video just makes sense,” said Dominick Porco, CEO, Adspace Networks Inc. in the announcement. “Now, through our partnership with Shazam, we are able to offer our advertisers a seamless way to retarget their ads and extend their content to consumers’ smartphones.” The alliance extends the reach of both companies: Adspace Networks reaches 58 million unique shoppers each month through video advertising on 2,800 screens nationwide; Shazam has more than 100 million monthly active users.

“To have your mobile device figure out where you are, what you are standing in front of, to really triangulate all of that information and give you information that is relevant, pertinent, and timely,” Porter added. “It’s the holy grail of digital signage: the right information for the right people at the right time.”


With the help of content creators thinking outside the “wow factor” of 4K displays, real applications are emerging that take digital signage to the next level, and we will be seeing more in 2015. Reminiscent to the “lean-in” movement that ushered-in content on the Web, 4K displays and videowalls are providing the pixel density that enables close-up user interaction and engagement. While 1080p is adequate for Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) menu boards seen from a distance, the pixel density needs to be increased in order to read fine-point text and other detailed content.

Jennifer Davis, vice president, Marketing at Planar Systems, cites a 4K installation at The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) that has recently reimagined their retail space. “They put in a 4K display that switches from showing beautiful high-resolution video of what’s playing at the iMax theater down the hall to messaging about the space.”


Understanding the full capability and versatility of a 4K display can add significant value to a display and help deliver ROI. “What they use that resolution for is not only to create the most amazing 4K imagery and video on the [full] screen, but, because of the capabilities of the product, they can actually run four [HD] sources into each in a quadrant,” Davis said.

Given that 4K is four-times the resolution of HD, OMSI is maximizing its investment. At times, it is dividing the display into quadrants from up to eight different sources to four HD content areas, each with its own message. Taking any digital signage deployment one step at a time is a good idea, but looking towards future uses protects an investment. When OMSI is ready to engage visitors with interactive content, the displays are enabled to deliver 32 touch points.


In the higher education space, Sean Matthews, president and CEO of Visix said that providers have graduated from delivering just event data and messages on displays, to “interactive wayfinding being a component and integrating social media up on those displays.”

As Matthews opined, “It’s not just ‘Content that is King,’ but content that engages people, whether it be responding via social media or SMS, interacting with the display itself, or responding to surveys or polls and delivering that data back to the display.” Even though prices have come down, digital signage is still a significant investment.

About his clients, Matthews observed, “They want to be able to prove that this platform and these technologies are actually doing something.” Indeed, many start the discussion with wanting to know digital signage analytics. “It’s moving beyond that ‘me too’ kind of thing,” he added.


“There are a few guys like Samsung that have embraced the IP-addressable displays and have put the digital signage player in the screen so you don’t have to have a separate player,” said Porter, suggesting that this is a good idea for deployments that aren’t over complicated.

Samsung brings integrators, end-users, and software partners into their Executive Briefing Center in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, to gather feedback and future needs. “A common theme has been the need to simplified, but also want their digital signage products dynamic, and Samsung is addressing this by making the display smarter,” said Kevin Schroll, Senior Manager, Smart Signage for Samsung.

The idea that digital signage is a large panel or videowall is so 2014. Samsung sees that people have digital signage needs across multiple form-factors. As Schroll explained, “We’re going to launch a 10-inch and a 22-inch with all of the same digital signage attributes: the imbedded processor, the software, all of those capabilities that you’d typically see in a large screen will now be available in a small form-factor that a lot of end-customers couldn’t get with a tablet or a desktop monitor.”

On the other end of the size spectrum, Alan Robles, associate experience designer for Gensler, said, “I am looking a future where I can take an entire wall and make it a display versus it being a postage stamp on it, that’s where I want to get.”

Robles is also thinking about massive panels. “If I can turn an entire architectural surface into a display, that display can become a view into another room that doesn’t exist,” he said.

Cindy Davis has covered the AV industry since 2000, when she served as the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House magazine. In 2011, she was the founding editor and brand manager of the six TechDecisions Media B2B websites. She specializes in providing content and content marketing for audiences that need information and want to be inspired.



In late 2014, Turtle Beach Corporation’s Hyper- Sound virtual reality audio solution was implemented in Activision’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare retail displays. The displays were installed in 987 Best Buy locations in North America; the installation represents the largest implementation of virtual reality audio in a retail setting. “This marquee implementation of Hyper-Sound will change the way retailers think about retail audio,” said Rodney Schutt, SVP and General Manager of HyperSound. HyperSound audio emitters and a subwoofer are integrated into the base of the retail display, creating a zone of audio that encompasses anyone standing in front of the display. The resulting audio is a “three-dimensional” experience, the company said. Visit (opens in new tab) for details.



Cindy Davis
Brand and content director of AV Technology

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.