Integrating Digital Signage into Your Arsenal of Services
Digital signage is no longer the new service on the block. In fact, according to a recent market research study published by MarketsandMarkets, the digital signage sector is expected to grow from $20.8 billion in 2019 to $29.6 billion by 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3%. The study cites growing technological advancements in display products, increasing adoption of digital signage products in commercial vertical markets, rising demand for 4K and 8K displays, and increasing infrastructural developments in emerging countries as the major driving factors for the market’s growth during the forecast period.
“We see digital signage in outdoor advertising, retail, corporate communications, entertainment venues, food service, hospitality, education, government, transportation, and experiential locations,” explains Digital Signage Federation (DSF) Executive Director Brian Gorg. “If I had to pick two areas that are developing with the most imagination it would be corporate communications and retail. Each of those sectors is having strong growth in terms of acceptance and a rapid evolution in the way that digital signage design is being used as a part of overall experience creation for the end user.”
With sign companies offering more products and services than ever before, there is no reason why wide-format providers shouldn’t consider adopting digital signage into their arsenal of services.
For one, digital signage has many advantages over printed communications — it’s faster, easier, and less expensive to change. And second, it’s scalable. Much of the process can be automated. It offers many benefits to the companies that want to communicate — and it’s clear that end-users like it too.
A 2015 study published by Nielsen showed that 75% of respondents reported seeing a digital billboard in the past month and 60% in the last week. And 55% of those were highly engaged, recalling the message on the display. In corporate communications, digital signage displays capture 400% more views than printed displays, according to MVIX.
Complement to Traditional Printed Signage
With a little innovation, digital signage technology can be a unique brand builder for your clients to utilize alongside their printed materials. Consider Disney, which recently combined its vision for creativity and innovation with digital signage, providing a pop-up experience for adults and kids alike to interact with Captain Marvel characters in the Disney retail location in Times Square. The display featured both printed and digital signage and was created to coincide with the launch of the movie. The interactive experience attracted large crowds during a limited display time.
Not only are interactive digital displays effective for large companies like Disney, but small to mid-sized retailers have equal opportunity to find innovative ways to utilize digital signage technology alongside their printed signage.
According to Jay Soule, Digital Signage Certified Expert (DSCE) and the manager of digital signage at Euless, Texas-based Federal Heath, digital technology and printed signage are used to complement each other in most locations Federal Heath has outfitted. Federal Heath has been in the visual communications industry for more than 118 years and started integrating digital services several years ago. They are heavily involved in the convenience store sector of the retail market; with a current client rolling out 600 stores with 10 to 12 digital displays in each location.
“Wherever there is a digital display, there is usually traditional signage right next to it,” Soule says. “If you are in a retail environment, the two go hand-in-hand. Your printed communication offers a global message that doesn’t change very often. Digital signage creates a better environment and has the capacity to modify your behavior with a direct call to action.”
And while digital and print displays do complement each other in most cases, DSF’s Gorg notes that the biggest differences between printed and digital is how they work within the context they are used in, and the objective they are trying to meet; especially with indoor and outdoor locations.
Indoor environments offer more flexibility than outdoor environments for digital signage, as the weather, temperature and vandalism concerns are mitigated. Indoor environments vary greatly, and present opportunities to use a wide array of display types, sizes, and shapes to meet particular use cases. This is why one of the most important considerations for digital displays is context, according to the recently released Digital Out of Home (DOOH) Primer* developed by THE rAVe Agency, in partnership with the Digital Place-Based Advertising Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Geopath, Out of Home Advertising Association of America, and DSF.
“Location context is important, with aspects such as environment, cost, ambient light, and access to supporting technology,” Gorg explains. “If the context of a location is conducive to the benefits of dynamic content, then digital will absolutely work well with printed signage.”
Research & Partnerships
Before making the decision to adopt digital signage technology, you’ll want to establish your level of commitment and do research on the industry as a whole, along with predominant customer segments.
“You need to determine if the trends and services you are seeing in the digital signage industry cross over into your customer base,” Soule says. “In essence, are you serving industries that are using digital signage?”
In addition to research, both Soule and Gorg recommend joining DSF and utilizing the programs and networking opportunities they provide, especially deriving knowledge through professional relationships. DSF is a large community of professionals and companies involved in all aspects of digital signage. By getting to know potential partners and developing relationships with distributors, you can begin piloting small projects with partners to see if a larger business can be developed.
Soule suggests focusing on building relationships with several key types of service-specific companies, including audio-visual, IT for system and site evaluations, content creation, and after-installation maintenance. Brokering these services is win-win for both parties, as there are benefits that traditional wide-format providers bring to the table when with digital signage suppliers and vendors.
“Often times, businesses that specialize in different aspects of digital signage, especially the audio-visual component, don’t have key relationships developed with retail clients like wide-format providers do,” Soule explains. “That’s why it’s important for businesses to identify their clients’ needs and begin to integrate digital signage by building successful partnerships.”
Training & Skills
For wide-format providers, training with new technology is really not the fundamental issue when launching digital signage services. Gorg explains that potential providers need to realize that digital signage changes the capital dynamic and flips it on its axis.
“Instead of buying and financing large equipment purchases, which are paid for through print sales, digital signage is a service business,” he says. “Often the customer pays for the physical technology and the sign integrator brings services and software to the table. I think, in terms of IT and skills, sign business owners need a baseline of technology knowledge. They also need to think about being a technology integrator versus being a service provider. Service providers and value-added services are much more important to the success of digital signage.”
DSF offers members access to an online set of micro-courses in specific subjects, as well as access to the Digital Signage Experts Group (DSEG) online certifications. These two organizations, along with numerous manufacturers, distributors, re-sellers, and end users, have partnered to bring a comprehensive set of certification programs to the digital signage industry. These courses are designed to bring an individual the education they need, from a fundamental level to in-depth technical training in critical areas of digital signage. In addition, the programs are administered by an independent industry organization and advisory board, to bring a clear educational message and recognition for professional achievement.
“To try to build a business model without having staff leadership go through these courses is not something we suggest,” Gorg explains. “In fact, the DSF’s mission is to grow our industry through networking and training.”
Gorg points out that other considerations for training include understanding content creation, content management systems (CMS), and objective development. Once content management plans are in place, key staff will need to know how to use the software, create relative content, manage distribution, and analyze effectiveness of their programs. But most CMS companies do provide training and advisement services.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not wide-format providers should adopt digital signage directly relates to their business goals. And according to Gorg, offering these solutions doesn’t mean you have to hire an in-house team.
“At DSF we talk about the concepts of partnering, sub-contracting, and acquisition as other options available to sign companies,” he explains. “This is where we see significant success.”
Investing your time into new service offerings in order to keep up with industry demands can seem challenging; however, if you review the industry growth and the benefits to you and your customers, a commitment to selling digital signage becomes difficult to argue against.
*Source: Digital Out of Home (DOOH) Primer developed by THE rAVe Agency — theraveagency.com/files/DOOHPrimerMarch2019.pdf