Report From ISA: Little Sign Of Digital Signage At Sign Industry’s Big Show, But Hints Of An Uptick

March 23, 2018 by guest author, Jim Nista

Guest Post: Jim Nista, Insteo

Sign Expo, the International Sign Association’s (ISA) big annual trade show, is underway in Orlando. The ISA show focuses on the print and outdoor sign industry, with large format printers, CNC machines, light pole flags, architectural signage, and large outdoor LED. There’s even a section for bucket trucks for outdoor signage install.

Jim Nista

I’ve watched the ISA show’s embrace of digital signage evolve since I first attended in 2012. A few years back, Alan & Jonathan Brawn of Brawn Consulting put together a full-day digital signage education session, and I’ve been doing presentations here ever since.

This year, digital signage wasn’t represented beyond the typical outdoor LED companies like Daktronics and Watchfire. Digital signage education sessions were a bit more limited, with Ryan Cahoy of Rise Vision and myself doing sessions. We both had large crowds in our rooms. Questions from my audience were on topic, and a show of hands in my room pointed that many attendees are already dabbling in digital signage.

Although digital signage has a small presence at this show, I’m optimistic for the traditional sign industry. It’s been a long road, but projects coming into Insteo from sign-shops have increased dramatically over the past six months. Their clients are asking for menu boards, directories, wayfinders and corporate break room signage. Typically, these are smaller end-clients looking to a trusted vendor for assistance, and savvy sign-shops are keeping their business instead of letting an AV integrator snatch up the account. If this uptick we’re seeing continues, future ISA shows will be worthwhile for digital signage companies to find new business.

On a technology side of things, it was the same large-format printers and such from year to year – with one exception. Panasonic had an LED pick and place machine, building tight dot pitch LED panels on the fly from spools of LEDs and circuits. I’d always thought the machinery to build these required clean rooms and tons of space, but a machine in a 5 x 10 foot floor space was printing panels right on the show floor. Makes for a nice “Made in the USA” option for companies selling LED.

Me – Ideally that machinery is, indeed, in a dust-free environment, though in China I saw everything from these machines running in super-clean rooms to factories with open windows, farm animals out back, and zero clean room procedures. This is demo stuff and would imagine these are not modules Panasonic would be turning around to sell (unless they have a trade show special).


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