Digital signs certainly are nothing new; not in China, nor in Times Square NYC. But the rest of the country is starting to see what big-city New Yorkers have grown accustomed to: bright lights, seen live and in person (not on television). Electronic signage can be found on more and more. They are inside hotel lobbies, flashing menu choices at fast-food restaurants, and atop pumps at gas stations. (See a video of the70-inch HD screens at JFK Airport: www.myprintresource.com/video/10653667.) They’re even in fancy restaurants: “Would you like to see our wine list?” asked a waiter, handing me an iPad to peruse.
In the motion-picture space, Screenvision boasts some 15,000 screens in US movie theaters. A smaller player is Cinema Scene Marketing, which uses Popstar Networks software to power its more than 500 TrailerVision displays in some 250 theater locations nationwide. (For hardware, Popstar employs AOpen Digital Engine series ultra-small form factor media players.) The complete digital marketing solution comprises of up to five different digital formats at a single location, including passive, 3D, semi-holographic projection, touchscreens, and digital menu boards for concessions. Cinema Scene distributes more than eight terabytes of media-rich data annually from a single, Cloud-hosted environment.
Nielsen has reported that digital signage in the US generates more than 237 million monthly exposures to people 18 years of age or older. Its benefits are numerous. For one thing, like its variable-data print cousin, digital signage can display content relevant to a specific site or region. Message content also can be changed and delivered quickly, pointed out Four Winds Interactive. Plus, complete network control of displays is available from one central location. Digital retail signs indeed are an up and coming trend, as contributing editor Joann Whitcher has reported on MyPrintResource, citing projections from market research firm iSuppi Corp. that show global shipments of retail digital signs set to rise to 2.5 million units by 2013, a 26.8 percent CAGR over 2008.
Printed signage is not going away, of course, but what if your customers want to explore a more integrated approach and offer the best of both worlds? You’ll need to know some basics, the very least of which is with whom to possibly partner. It’s either that, or watch potential profit fly out your window as someone else proactively takes the reigns on the project. In March, my “Bright Lights, Dynamic Content” story delved into the e-billboard marketplace. (link: www.myprintresource.com/article/10653592) As MPR’s Jeffrey Steele also pointed out a few months ago, “Positioning your company in the emerging digital signage market is about much more than buying some screens and plugging them in.” (www.myprintresource.com/article/10620346)
This article, however, is broader in scope and more about the pitfalls (see sidebar) that printers should beware of and sidestep. So, your customer wants to add a new digital signage network. Here’s what to watch out for …
Supplement, Not Substitute
Not necessarily replacing its ink-on-paper cousins, digital signage can be the ideal complement to more static mediums, said Matt Schmitt, founder, president and chief experience officer at Reflect Systems, which has launched and supported some of the largest in-store digital media networks in North America, including BestBuy and GameStop. In an exclusive interview with Wide Format Imaging, Schmitt pointed out that while more can be done with digital in terms of offering media-rich experiences, one key is to choose display technology that does what it needs to do – no more and no less. “What’s the purpose?” he asked. “What’s it being used for?”