When over 200 digital display operators, suppliers and ad agencies met at the Digital Signage Summit, produced by the Strategy Institute in New York April 26-27, the focus was on "achieving organizational goals with proof of success or a budget cut, in creating customer preference and actions."
The need to establish the naming of "digital signage" prefaced almost every presentation. While it is reasonable to have things that are different be called different names, the concern and frustration is that this could reduce access to various ad budgets or impair the media planners' awareness of the communications option that is digital, rich, persuasive media presented at a consumer's point of purchase.
"In-store Television" is the term used by PRN in describing its Wal-Mart displays "which reach 200 million viewers in over 5,000 stores where shoppers spend $300 billion annually." The terminology and the viewer information help budget allocation for both media planners and media buyers for PRN media placement.
The terminology to describe "digital signage" may emerge to reflect less upon the technology, and more to reflect ad campaign strategy, media planning, ad placement and "flight" selection processes.
Traffic and turnstile counts suggest sales and branding potential in well-developed marketing models. While these are a mainstay of ad campaign planning, and will continue to drive media placement, measurement of the power of point-of-purchase dynamic digital display to influence product/service selection is anxiously sought. While spectacular LED and networked LCD/plasma have viewer appeal in common, LCD/plasma will distinguish itself through product lift. Watch for small, shelf-level displays to follow the emerging standard of 40-inch displays as pricing declines.
Maria Mandel, partner/director of digital innovation, Ogilvy Interactive, part of the WPP family of agencies that are using the term "ambient display," made a key point of the conference in her brief presentation. It could be summed up with-"Call it what you want, but tell me specifically about your viewers." Viewer demographics drive ad placement. Successful signage projects (outdoor or indoor) use traffic or turnstile counts in communication with media planners and media buyers. Beth Corbett, VP new media services, Neilson Media Research, said, "A media without measurement is inherently an undervalued media." She hit the nail on the head for digital signage owners.
The importance placed on the quality and relevance of content displayed was a barrage of loud cannon shot. Whether busy Times Square or an option-rich cereal aisle, "delivering compelling content to the right customer is king" echoed several speakers, adding that "connecting with the potential customer in a personal way is critical." Corbett reflected the audit view of retail forensics and data hungry ad agencies saying, "if content is king, then distinguishing its performance levels is queen."
The discussion about the supply of digital signage systems reflects a maturing industry. The technology elements needed for digital display are seen as suitable and serviceable, but many of these suppliers exhibit a lower level of certainty and capability in the pricing, integration, deployment and operations of networks. Chief among the competencies required for a digital signage deployment is the integration, installation and operation of hardware, software and communications elements. Experience will prove itself to be of high value for both providers and buyers of digital signage networks.
Suppliers of digital signage technologies reflect their drive to find the most cost-suitable tools to meet the communications needs best met by location-based dynamic digital display. The true indicator of this passion is the focus on price, quality, adaptability and ease of integration in a system deployment. Innovation abounds.
Keeping costs low while increasing the number of locations in a digital signage network, or inexpensively refreshing playlist elements on remote/outdoor display, has emerged as a job for satellite bandwidth. While pilot projects are proving viewer impact and ROI, the business of deploying and operating digital signage networks is measured in reliability, scalability and cost containment.
In summary, digital signage as a technology has identified its place. When married with content, it will find its value. During this process, improvements in scalability and cost structures are the marching orders for suppliers and owners of this new communications medium. Whatever name it goes by, its language is "business" and the business of value.
Digital signage events such as those organized by the Strategy Institute offer an important forum to exchange perspectives, while organizations such as the Digital Signage Group of Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) can marshal these perspectives to promote the adoption of dynamic digital signage, technologies and applications.
Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI)...