There are numerous things that make me crazy about this space, but two of the biggest are people STILL using the circa 1996 Content Is King thing like it was new and profound, and people STILL trying to force new names on an industry that totally settled on one years ago.
So when I see a “thought leadership” piece that does both, I start using what I’ll call salty language. I saw one of those pieces yesterday.
Here’s the thing. The Content Is King statement is like a zombie. It’s 17 years old and as hard as people try, it can’t be killed. But we must keep trying.
We can, however, stop the madness that has been going on for something like 10 years now, of people trying to give this space a new handle.
It’s not narrowcasting. It’s not captive audience networks. It’s not digital screenmedia. It’s not dynamic digital signage. It’s not electronic digital signage (saw that for the first time yesterday … eeesh). IT’S DIGITAL SIGNAGE. Period. Full stop. And on that last bit, STOP. Really.
This is not just me being Mr. Cranky-pants. This is the Internet talking and acting, and spitting out incontrovertible data.
There is a powerful, highly instructive thing called Google Trends that anyone can use to very easily, in a matter of seconds and keystrokes, see how the great unwashed search for things. A user can key in a search term, and see how much activity that term generates. It’s all based on the vast data set crunched by Google, which handles the great majority of day to day web searches.
Type in digital signage, and a busy set of searches gets returned in a graph that can be traced back eight years. Type in any of those other terms, and you get … nothing. NOTHING. Zero. Google’s response in a trending request: “Not enough search volume to show results.”
None of these other phrases get any action in search requests. I see the same on the analytics for this blog.
So, you can try to ramrod new names into pavilions at trade shows or sessions at conferences, or marketing pitches disguised as editorial in trade pubs. But the people floating these new terms are pushing a tractor up a steep hill, for reasons that defy logic.
The confusion problem among new buyers is not with what to call this thing. That ship has sailed, and the data wholly backs that up. Going back eight years. Don’t tell me people in the sign industry can’t distinguish between digital printing and digital signage technology. They may not be the cool kids, but they’re not stupid.
The confusion is with all the different technology options that all pretty much sound, look and feel the same, and all the tired, recycled and wholly uninspiring arguments new buyers too often get for why they should give a crap. I just saw a notice for a webinar boldly declaring this session was going to explore getting the right message to the right place at the right time. Never heard that one before.
And by the way, search on digital place-based or digital place-based media, or the shiny new one, location-based video, and you also get crickets on Google Trends. Look up Digital OOH or Digital Out Of Home, and there’s actually some action.
Let’s spend the time building the industry, and its ad-based offspring, and give up contriving new names for them, when there are existing ones totally baked in. The data has spoken. So actually heed it.
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.