Thursday, January 10, 2008

Digital signage

Digital Signage in the Warner Village Cinemas in Taipei
Digital Signage in the Warner Village Cinemas in Taipei

Digital signage is a form of out-of-home advertising in which content and messages displayed on an electronic screen, or digital sign, can be changed without modification to the physical sign, typically with the goal of delivering targeted messages to specific locations at specific times. Digital signage offers superior return on investment compared to traditional printed signs[1]. Digital signs may be scrolling message boards, LCD or plasma display panels, electronic billboards, projection screens, or other emerging display types like living surfaces or Organic LED screens (OLEDs) that can be controlled electronically using a computer or other devices, allowing individuals or groups to remotely change and control their content (usually via the Internet).

The content displayed on digital signage screens can range from simple text and still images to full-motion video, with or without audio. Some operators of digital signage networks, particularly in the retail industry, regard their networks as comparable to television channels, displaying entertaining and informational content interspersed with advertisements (see also Retail Media).

Digital signage is used for many different purposes:

  1. Information – examples include flight information in airports and wait-times for the next train
  2. Advertising Related to the Location to Uplift Sales – examples include in-store promotions in a retail establishment
  3. Advertising by Third Parties – "Digital Advertising Companies" that sell advertising space to local merchants/service providers, media resellers and national advertisers.
  4. Enhanced Customer Experience – examples include digital signage in restaurant waiting areas to reduce perceived wait-time and recipe demonstrations in food stores
  5. Influencing Customer Behavior – examples include post office digital signage that directs patrons waiting in line to automated stamp machines and retail digital signage designed to direct customers to different areas of the store, increasing the time spent on the store premises (dwell time)
  6. Brand Building – examples include Niketown stores where digital signage in video form is used as a part of the store d├ęcor to build a story around the brand
  7. Follow through campaign information to store manager - examples within chain establishment
  8. Environment enhancing - such as using digital signage to increase the customer experience with the building itself, examples of this are where digital signage panels are used on the floor and react to how and when an individual moves over them.
Digital Signage in a pharmacy store.
Digital Signage in a pharmacy store.

Content scheduling and playback can be controlled by a number of technologies ranging from simple, non-networked media players that can output basic loops of MPEG-2 video to complex, N-tier player networks that offer control over many displays in many venues from a single location. The former is ideal for small groups of displays that can be updated via sneaker net (the practice of physically transporting data to each location on a disc or CD-Rom, usually by walking), while the latter allows Digital Signage Network Operators to either push content to many players at once or have each player pull content from a server as needed.

Rapidly-dropping prices for large plasma and LCD screens and wide availability of Internet connectivity have caused digital signage deployments to gain in popularity, and displays can now be found in such diverse locations as retail outlets, transit hubs (like airports or bus stations), doctor's offices, fast food restaurants and even gas stations.

The recent introduction of free digital signage software will further expand the "pool" of potential users of this technology. It will now be attractive to smaller businesses (that may have otherwise found this technology too expensive), as well as to "non-profits" such as schools, universities and churches.

While the term "digital signage" has taken hold throughout North America and most of Europe the same technology in the Netherlands (only)is often referred to as Narrowcasting or Narrowcast networks. There are some companies who prefer ScreenMedia, Place Based Media, digital merchandising or "Digital Media Networks" or in some cases "Captive Audience Networks", or "CANs". The large number of terms that have emerged to describe the nascent industry led Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) to form a digital signage standards group in 2005. This group is currently tasked with assembling a list of standard terminology for describing digital signage technology and business models. It is expected to release a final list of its recommendations in 2006.

A Norwegian company, RightOnMedia AS [1], has from Oct 06 to June 2007 conducted a $3 mill study within the Retail industry to identify ROI based on optimal number of screens, wether screen size matters and which zones wthin the store giving the best results measured by sales uplift. By combining these findings and advertising for the products and categories showing highest sales uplift, RightOnMedia find ROI by sales increase alone.


Digital signage in the broad sense has been in use for decades in the past in the form of LED ticker signs and LED video walls. However, it has yet to become a major public medium, mainly due to the following factors:

  1. Uncertain ROI – the costs of deploying digital signage can be high. Not only are large outdoor screens expensive - for example, the LED sign in front of the Las Vegas Wynn Resort cost $15 million - but the much more common, and much cheaper, digital signs based on LCD and plasma screens can still represent a significant investment when a large network is planned: the cost of installing one screen in, say, each restaurant in a large fast-food chain could run to millions of dollars. Any investment of this magnitude has to be justified by a clear ROI plan before receiving approval.
  2. Unproven advertising effectiveness – like the Internet in the early 1990s, the digital signage medium has not yet been widely accepted as an effective advertising medium when compared with traditional means (TV, radio, flyers, etc.).
  3. Lack of proven technology – much of the technology used today originated in consumer-grade personal computer and DVD technology, which has not been designed to stand up to 24x7x365 usage demanded by professional digital signage. Often under stress these systems can break, resulting in damage to brand image and liability disputes between advertisers and network operators.

The issues are being addressed today in the following ways:

  1. ROI – studies have shown digital signage to be effective in aiding customer recall and retention of displayed information[2] in large-scale merchandising applications, especially taking into account the downward trend in LCD panel and playback device prices. Today a small-scale retail or restaurant digital signage installation can be implemented for just $4-6,000, whose ROI may be realized immediately.
  2. Outdoor advertising picking up momentum – advertising dollars have been consistently shifting from traditional media such as TV and radio into outdoor advertising, creating a double-digit-growth new advertising segment which includes digital signage. However, ad agencies are still slow to explore the potential of out-of-home TV.
  3. Development of dedicated platform solutions – new technology has been developed that features reliability magnitudes greater than consumer-grade technology. Like professional TV broadcasting systems, the new technology enables worldwide content distribution and playback to stand up to the test of time.


Katie said...

I've seen more and more digital signs around, even the maps inside malls are digital with the map on one side and an ad on the other. The largest digital sign I have seen so far was like a billboard, but digital. It is an LED video wall and it's a lot nicer to look at than the traditional billboard.

Angelica Pestrano said...

Digital signage
generate interest for the right clients to come to visit or sellers to provide information to make purchasing decisions more quickly.

free digital signage software

Restaurant menu board said...

It is really very useful information. I enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for sharing complete information on digital signage.