SignExpo Impressions: Print Crowd Is Starting To “Get” Digital Signage

Guest Post: Jim Nista, Insteo

Just back from another few days in Vegas, this time for the printed signs show ISA, aka SignExpo. The exhibit floor is filled with giant plotters, laser-cutters, vehicle wrapping demonstrations, 3D printers and more – everything related to traditional sign printing, manufacturing and installation.

Jim Nista

From a digital signage perspective, things have changed, as well. First off, the show no longer calls what we do “Dynamic Digital Signage” – for some reason in the past they had to clarify things with the word “dynamic” in front.

I don’t think these attendees were ever getting confused between screen based Digital Signage and digital printing technology.

A few years back, several brave screen manufacturers, Content Management Systems and hardware distribution companies exhibited at ISA, showing digital signage to perplexed print-signage attendees. Those companies have stopped coming and the “Digital Park” is almost exclusively direct view LED manufacturers, such as Daktronics, Vantage, ATDI and a large contingent of Chinese LED manufacturers.

There was nothing really groundbreaking or different than what was at DSE a few weeks ago.

The biggest change was the educational seminars – which were packed. Alan Brawn kicked off a full day of digital signage sessions to a crowd of over 100, who were all genuinely looking to learn and expand their businesses. Sessions were hosted by myself, Ryan Cahoy of Rise Vision, Spencer Graham from West Virginia University, Tom Fanger from MGM Resorts, and Tom Jones from Ingram Micro.

I delivered the same presentation I gave at Digital Signage Expo – a “101 Level” session on in-house content creation. My crowd at ISA seemed to be about double what I had at DSE. I’ve presented for a few years at ISA, and this was the largest crowd I’ve had.

Audience questions for each of the sessions showed a lot more understanding of the digital signage industry, and it seemed that many attendees to these classes have already been involved with digital signage in some capacity. Having attended this show for five years now, I’m seeing an arc towards acceptance of delivering content on a screen, versus a printed piece of vinyl.

The confused looks from attendees have been replaced with valid questions and concerns about adapting their current business model to a digital content delivery approach.

As larger format LED continues to improve on resolution and brightness, and costs keep coming down – it’s obvious those giant 20-foot wide plotters are on their way to extinction. I just wouldn’t bet it’s going to change any time soon.  

From quick conversations with a few attendees from smaller sign shops, they’re already getting requests from their clients for smaller format digital signage. These attendees would do well with some of the continuing education options and certifications available for learning more about digital signage, so their businesses start off on the right foot.

Jim Nista

Jim Nista

Jim Nista is the CEO of Insteo, which markets cloud-based/template-driven Digital Signage solutions, along with award-winning custom creative when you need unique solutions. Choose from off-the-shelf templates with easy-to-update cloud software, or have Insteo create data-driven, interactive or animated custom content. The company is based in Long Beach. CA.


  • Hershel Barg says:

    From printed materials to digital signs. That’s been my thrust for some time. Can you list some of the educational seminars and certification programs you suggested. Thank you.

    • Dave Haynes says:

      Hershel, Alan Brawn and his son are your guys on training. They have trained 1,000s and 1,000s of people, and certified them through their own program as well as via InfoComm, which is in June in Orlando. Look up Brawn Consulting, based in San Diego-area.

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