Guest Post: Sean Matthews, Visix
There’s really no escaping it – digital signage is here, and here to stay. It’s becoming so commonplace that people are starting to expect it when they enter a facility. Soon enough, places that don’t have digital signage will seem quaint and old-fashioned, or sadly out of touch with the times.
With so many companies and organizations adopting digital signage, and more big companies getting involved in hardware and software for it, we are reaching a critical mass. Innovation and change is coming to digital signage, with more capabilities and options becoming available every year.
Here’s what the numbers say:
The digital signage market is now estimated to be worth as much as $16 billion worldwide, with estimates for 2022 of between $27 and $33 billion, with an average CAGR of 5.3%. The US currently accounts for around $4 billion of current valuation. Corporate digital signage and campus digital signage are still big sectors, and continue to grow. We’re also seeing rapid growth in retail and outdoor digital signage, as well as hospitality. Use of interactive kiosks is also on the rise, with the highest concentration being in North America.
Current trends in digital signage
- More and more organizations are finding ways to offset set-up costs by integrating profitability initiatives into their digital signage plans. This also helps with ROI, which is always a challenge;
- While there are certainly improvements on the hardware side of things – better light angles on displays and less LED failure, heat dissipation through flip chips, more commercial-grade screens in all location types, etc. – the biggest growth is in software. More specifically, what that software can do;
- Wireless digital signage solutions are on the rise as well, as is cloud-based content and data storage. Traffic reporting is becoming more popular as well, with real-time data sent to in-house screens, as well as outdoor roadside digital signage that updates as changes in traffic patterns occur;
- We’re seeing much more of a focus on experiential interaction these days, driven by large increases in interactive screens and the software that drives them. These allow dense amounts of information to be accessible from a single screen. Directories and wayfinding are just part of what these technologies are capable of. One way some locations are using them is with menu boards, which have become increasingly sophisticated – offering detailed nutritional and allergy information, and even allowing customers to pre-order their food and drinks before arriving to the actual location. This sort of self-service interaction with digital signage will only increase over the next ten years. And with this sort of technology there on the front lines, organizations can save on staff – the screens and software do all the work;
- Expect to see more social media integration in digital signage in all types of organizations. We are also seeing more and more content being driven by big data and up-to-the-minute visualizations, with anything from energy usage to progress towards goals and targets. Content is still king, but now that content has expanded to include data-driven behavior change, conversations that evolve over time, and gamified solutions that drive engagement and participation while supplying accurate ROI at the same time.
The near future of digital signage…
- On the hardware front, there’s a lot of buzz about 3D screens, though it remains to be seen if this will really add significant value. What we are certainly seeing is camera and microphone integration as things move towards customer profiling;
- We are starting to see some digital signage deployments that include eye-tracking (the system notices where on the screen people look) as well as voice and face recognition. This is driving a trend towards tailored content specific to the individual currently looking at the screen. In a way, this is how the web works right now – software monitors a person’s web browsing, the content of their emails, etc. and tailors ads to what the software thinks they might be interested in. This same idea is coming to digital signage. Eventually, AI-like software, linked to cloud-based data storage, will recognize a person and then choose what content to show them;
- Near field communication is becoming more popular – this is technology that acts similarly to Bluetooth, creating a short-distance field of wireless connectivity. NFC integrated digital signage allows people to use apps on their mobile devices to interact with the content being displayed, or a mobile or electronic wallet to purchase items or make reservations right there at the screen;
- And speaking of mobile, it is the buzzword in digital signage right now. Companies are beginning to understand that web-based digital signage solutions can turn anything with an electronic display into a digital screen. This includes smartphones and tablets – the digital signage can actually go with people wherever they are.
One of the common challenges cited by experts for digital signage is the competition from alternate form of advertising. But digital signage is already much more than just ads – it’s a way to knit together a disparate group of people into a community, and allow access to an unprecedented amount of information quickly and easily. As digital signage gets smarter, the content will become more tailored to people as individuals, while allowing them access to the greater online community at the same time.
This might all seem like some sort of science fiction future to some people (Anyone thinking of Minority Report?), but all this is already happening. The future is now.