Electronic or dynamic signage is a growing advertising form that print service providers (PSPs) are adding to their repertoire to become digital service providers (DSPs). Digital signs add movement, sound, and alluring customer experience. They possess a wow factor, convey multiple dynamic communications per viewer, are easily changed even remotely, and eliminates print substrate use and waste.
There are environments where digital signage or print signage is especially effective, as well as in integrated applications. Digital signage is particularly appropriate in several consumer and event verticals, while printed signage remains a leader in most industries.
PSP to DSP
Sign shops that focus on printed output further service existing customers by offering digital signage. They expand services by adding screen sales and installation, motion design, sound, and software scenarios. To do so, they work with designers and technology providers to outsource or invest in bringing expertise in house.
“There is a play for PSPs as signage consultants, content creators, and signage system integrators working on both the digital print and digital display side,” comments Tim Greene, director wide format, wide format printing analyst, InfoTrends Inc.
The technology is available and ripe. “There is a growing pool of expertise available for handling system installation, management, and content creation. I think the industry has gone a long way toward proving the reliability of these systems,” says Bill Gerba, co-founder/CEO, WireSpring Technologies, Inc. WireSpring provides hardware, software, and expert advice for digital signage and self-service kiosk projects in multiple vertical markets.
Signage end users that Geri Wolff, Digital Signage Certified Expert, president/CEO, Market Works International, Inc., speaks with look to gradually replace all of their static signage. “The capitalized investment in digital signage is, in the long run, much less expensive for the end userand more environmentally friendly than continuing to print paper and cardboard signs,” she notes.
Digital Hot Spots
Highly visible digital signage in retail situations is seen by many and covered in the press. Other big adopters of digital signage systems include corporations who use them for employee safety, training, and general communications. The hospitality and healthcare industries also deploy units for employee- and customer-facing applications.
Digital signs have more room to expand into. “Shopping malls and the transportation sector are prime examples of location-based digital out-of-home advertising opportunities that should see continued expansion. Companies are starting to realize how cost effective it is to run digital signage and the advantages it holds over traditional print-based signage,” responds DSE member Matthew Brown, Web and interactive manager, marketing, Transit Servus Credit Union, Ltd.
Another hot spot for digital signage expansion is in sporting and entertainment arenas. These locations vie for attention among large crowds and heavy visual stimulation. They also require changeouts and rebranding with different events, which is costly and means waste if using printed signs.
“Looking at my own industry—pro sports and entertainment venues—I see enormous interest and potential in digital signage growth in the next year. As more teams look to supplement revenue and venues need to replace legacy static, analog, and backlit signage systems, the flexibility that digital signage brings to the table is incredible,” comments DSE advisory board member, Tod Caflisch, VP, IT, New Orleans Hornets.
An explosion in social media and use of mobile smartphones marks the past few years. This allows for new targeted interactions between consumers and marketers. There is desire to add interactivity to signs to reflect this trend. Savvy marketers add interaction to both printed and digital signs through cross-media communication, with customized imagery, variable data, and embedded codes. This provides a way for viewers to interact with a once static sign.
Sporting arenas are prime sites for adding interactive elements to draw event attendees into a full, entertaining experience. “With the integration of technologies involving social media, location-based smartphone applications, and barcoding, this only helps to hasten teams/venues decisions to deploy,” adds Caflisch.
InfoTrends’ 2010 Interactive Signage: Perspectives on Enabling Interactivity with Print and Digital Signs survey of 202 Digital Output magazine subscribers concludes that up to ten percent of signage will feature interactivity by 2012. Of the printers, graphic designers, and advertising agencies surveyed, 83 percent see value in making their printed graphics advertising more interactive.
Another study—the DSE Quarterly Business Barometer Survey for Q4 2010—shows the commitment to install for the first time, add to, replace, or upgrade digital signage systems during the next 12 months rose from the previous quarter. Ten percent of almost 500 respondents indicate they are installing digital signage for the first time and 76 percent are adding to, replacing, or upgrading systems.
Digital Complements Print
With all of its benefits, digital signage is far from overtaking printed signage. The second part of this series compares digital and print signage and reveals how the two complement each other.