LCD televisions are plastered everywhere – on the walls of restaurants, bars and gyms, for example – and every single one of these screens can now simply and easily be adapted to show digital signage content alongside the broadcast content that they were originally intended to deliver.
These screens potentially can drive massive growth. We will, I think, see explosive growth of HD content sources and the far-reaching deployment of HD-capable systems in virtually any setting.
Many (if not most) of these businesses that host such displays are missing out on a significant opportunity to have existing HD-capable screens double as promotional billboards. Until recently this wasn’t possible because most digital signage players weren’t capable of passing through live HD content. But the newest solid state digital signage players can handle multiple HD sources, including live HDTV.
Imagine the possibilities: gyms can cut between live broadcasts and customised content to notify members about upcoming events. Sports bars can display live sporting events while also promoting happy hour specials to help drive sales and extend customers’ stays. This presents a perfect opportunity to customise the patron’s experience, increase engagement and ultimately drive revenue.
What’s most compelling about this opportunity is that much of the necessary infrastructure for these deployments is already in place. This is low-hanging fruit like we’ve never seen before. When you consider the upside to integrating dynamic digital signage content into an existing setup that’s already capable of HD, this is an affordable solution that practically sells itself and pays dividends immediately.
I sat again on the judging panel for the Digital Screenmedia Association’s Industry Excellence Awards this year (winners announced next week), and when I glance back through my notes on a couple of dozen entries, one repeated theme emerges: the way that a seamless, complementary, looks-like-they’ve-always-been-there integration of screens with the built environment is at last becoming a norm.
That’s a very welcome development, even if it’s been celebrated with less fanfare than some more technological ones. After all, when digital out-of-home screens don’t sit well with the whole experience of a building, it does neither them nor the building users any favours.
We’ll be exploring this idea in some more detail in the Screenmedia Theatre at European Sign Expo next month, as part of a comprehensive learning programme on digital signage, digital out-of-home and converging new media channels.
Speakers specifically looking at the marriage of digital displays with spaces and structures (manmade or natural) will come from Wildstone, notable for its attention to the environmental setting of the digital billboards at London’s Chiswick Towers, and from Beaver Group, which has worked on digital signage with the likes of the Royal Institute of British Architects. See you there.
As the boundaries continue to blur among digital out-of-home, static outdoor, mobile, social, and other channels, the issue of audience measurement remains vexed.
In the days when DOOH – or at least some networks – could be seen as “just” a shinier version of printed posters, it was relatively straightforward to re-fashion their metrics for the new digital medium. Want to measure audiences for an ad campaign? It all comes down to how many walk by. How about sales uplift for POS? Simple enough – monitor a control store, count the cash.
Now, however, measurement is both harder and easier than ever. Easier because the increasing integration of DOOH with other digital media (and in particular personal devices) introduces a clickstream into the equation for the first time, providing a rich source of undeniable, detailed data.
Harder, though, because it’s no longer so clear what to measure (views? downloads? clicks? likes? purchases?) and also because it’s trickier to separate out cause and effect from interactive noise. If a consumer performs a dozen actions on the route between seeing a DOOH ad and buying a product online, which of those actions were the persuasive ones which led them to the purchase, and which were merely incidental?
Useful measurement models can still be built for individual campaigns, with a touch of smarts, and perhaps for specific technology applications too (public-screens-plus-Twitter, for example). But it seems less likely than ever that a one-size-fits-all DOOH metric could now reliably reflect the multifarious forms which the medium has taken, and the other media with which it is so intertwined.