Sixteen:Nine’s Santa wish list for the digital signage industry

December 21, 2010 by Dave Haynes


Dear Santa

I know I have been a bad boy once again, but you must be resigned to that after all these years. And you keep coming through. So … here’s what I want for Christmas this year … for the digital signage and DOOH industries.

1 – More Jobs

Despite some pretty solid growth this year, there are lots and lots of smart people drifting around the sector as “consultants” or in roles they’re only filling because they need to make a buck. 2011 will see a lot of consolidation, and as a result, redundancies and lay-offs. I’m hoping overall growth at least compensates for that, and new opportunities get some people doing what they’re really good at.

2 – More Clarity

I’m hoping, Santa, you can sort out this thing between the two associations that BOTH represent the sector in the US. We clearly don’t need two. While you’re at it, there’s some other related associations whose reasons for being are also pretty foggy …

3 – Word from Adobe

The guys behind Flash promised a full year ago the company would be releasing an unambiguous position on end user licensing for its web player, which piles and piles of digital signage software companies use to play out rich media. I hear from people dealing with Adobe that those guys want that player licensed (meaning $$$), but from others who say that’s not going to be necessary. Sheesh. Maybe HTML5 matures as a technology in 2011 and makes Flash irrelevant. But maybe not. A yes or no would beat the hell out of all this ambiguity.

4 – A new Twitter hashtag for the sector

I use the #DOOH tag to follow news and commentary on the Digital Out Of Home sector on Twitter. That tag (and if you don’t know what I am going on about, you should …) seems to be shared with people from Indonesia, who write: behahahaha ya itulah tai kucing.. #dooh RT @Hurted_Demon: @Ayatane dari tadi g kelar2 ya soal taik kucingnya? Huh? I think it’s a Homer Simpson thing. Please get this sorted, Santa.

5 – Better Ops

One look at the staggering number of  educational options at the upcoming DSE show (it just goes on and on) should put an end to any excuse by a network operator that they didn’t know any better. Ten or even five years ago, new networks could be excused for making some bad initial choices that led to chronic blue and black screens. Between all the education options at shows, the webinars, the blogs, there’s no excuse for all the dead or hurting screens still out there. It’s a problem that hurts the credibility of the overall industry, and for DOOH, has a direct, negative impact on ad buys. Media planners have countless options, and it’s way easier for them to say No than Yes. Lumps of coal for these bad network operators, Santa.

6 – Less talk, more tangible action on content

There seems to be way more talk than tangible action on upping the quality of content across the sector, and almost all the chatter is being led by people who don’t actually produce creative for a living. Good on the CEOs and consultants who are at least getting the discussion out there, but they’re mostly the wrong people to be leading this. The list of people with genuine creative street cred, who are either asked or volunteer to share their insight and knowledge, is very short. The Digital Content Circle think tank  is ramping up in the new year, and that will be a start.

7 – Reduce the techno-blabber

If you could just whisper in some ears, Santa, that end-users (ie people who buy this stuff) don’t care all that much about the propeller-head stuff, but are really interested in what this technology will do for their business, we might see   more deals closed.

8 – Open some eyes

A lot of the best and most interesting work in the DS and DOOH sectors is being done by companies who are not part of this sector. They take a fresh perspective and don’t try to just work with the tools at hand. These sectors are evolving at warp speed and those companies – gear, software, content or ads – that don’t also adjust are in for a rough ride next year. There is a handful of people loudly trying to get these sectors thinking more about how social media, mobile, open source and new retail technologies are effecting big changes, and too many companies are responding with feeble announcements about supporting this or that. Having a bell or whistle is not a strategy. Santa, wake them up.

9 – DOOH needs women

This sector is crazily male-dominated, at every job function except maybe marketing. Enough said.

10 – More great work

It would be easy to rattle off examples of great one-off jobs where the content, technology, venue and strategy all came together. Much harder to describe that in terms of a network. I’m hoping by this time next year I can run down a list and bore people with all the examples of retail and DOOH networks.

11 – Better programming

Now I assume all those letters you get from kids gives you a sense of what people want, and that translates down to what gets made by the elves. Maybe you could pass on some of that basic logic to network operators who don’t seem to spend a second thinking about what people want to watch, and just use what’s automated and readily available.

12 – Prosperity

As in any business, there are winners and losers. Santa, if you could get the many, many knuckleheads in this space to move on to some other industry and find better replacement gigs for their long-suffering staffers. Less marketplace noise should actually accelerate the sales cycle. If you could, Santa, make this a great year for a lot of people whose hard work deserves to be rewarded, that would be great.

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