It looks at the state of the industry and references some of the business failures starting to bubble up here and there – something I think we will be seeing more and more.
The first thing that kicks in after working in the Digital Signage industry is that you begin to notice screens everywhere; however, as you look around to see who else is looking at the screen, a feeling of being singled out sets in. As one network operator candidly said “the only captive audience we have is people who work in the industry, the rest we have to attract.”
Yup. As a confessed digital signage nerd I also look around when I am near screens, trying to sense who else is looking. Usually, a face or two, but certainly not the mob touted as having the “opportunity to view.”
The commentary takes a look at the numbers, and some of the stories out there. It also notes a lot of the information that is getting out about the success (or lackthereof) of networks is understandably “spin-doctored” to do the old puttin’ lipstick on a pig thing.
Research into the impact of Digital Signage continues to be funded by operators who in their own best interest, would refrain from publishing any figure that lessens the impact touted by the media sales pitch. Independent industry research brings not just the good but, at the risk of an overdone cliche, the “bad” and the “ugly” of the Digital Signage industry to the fore.
Despite these negative issues, there are networks deployed that are doing it “right”. Advertisers buy in, the content is effective and relevant, and the viewer benefits from the information provided, thus everybody wins. Though success stories only find places on network operator websites, the products advertised sell and the renewal ad revenues grow year-on-year. IBM’s study in November of last year predicted that 30% of traditional media spending will move to new media over the next five years. Though one may argue what part of this goes to the Digital Signage networks, there is no doubt that budget allocations are being modified.
However (and this is the bad and the ugly) what hurts even those that do their jobs well are the networks that lay the screens without the right strategy for what will be displayed on those screens. Content continues to play for seconds (read days) and minutes (read years) longer than the average attention span commanded by the location. This is the kind of content that makes network operators file for bankruptcy in an industry that was being touted as the next big thing in advertising and IT convergence. This is also the kind of content that makes even those working in the field, who are well aware of the screen, stop watching after a second or two.
This is an industry where despite growth numbers, no one can afford to take their eyes off of the screens, not the business owners, not market analysts and most definitely not the consuming audience.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.