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Dynamic Signs Move into the Print Shop


By Kim Crowley


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). Dynamic signs present movement, sound, and alluring customer experience. They possess a wow factor, convey multiple dynamic communications per viewer, are easily changed—even remotely, and eliminate print substrate use and waste.


With all of its benefits, digital is far from overtaking print. There are environments where each is especially effective, as well as in integrated applications.



Sign shops focused on printed output further assist 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.


Capon Design in Marysville, WA, provides print graphics and Web design, search engine optimization, and digital signage creative. Most of the agency’s dynamic signage creative services are for sign printing companies without the capacity to produce motion design content.


Eugene Capon, owner, Capon Design, expects an increase of up to 30 percent in digital signage creative sales over the next year, and projects a lower ten percent increase in creative for print. “This is in tribute to the growth of digital signage over printed mediums,” he suggests.


The technology is available and ripe. “There is a growing pool of expertise on hand for handling system installation, management, and content creation,” 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.


Geri Wolff, Digital Signage Certified Expert, president/CEO, Market Works International, Inc., speaks with signage users who are looking to gradually replace all static signage. “The capitalized investment in digital signage is, in the long run, much less expensive for the end user and more environmentally friendly than continuing to print paper and cardboard signs,” she notes.


Digital Hot Spots

Digital location-based video advertising exposures are experiencing marked growth, according to The Nielsen Company’s Fourth Screen Network Audience report. The quarterly study measures audience exposures by video networks in bars, restaurants, and retail stores at point of purchase (POP). In the last quarter of 2010, the average minute audience for adults 18 and older was up nearly 250 percent, compared to those measured in that same period a year prior.


Highly visible dynamic signage in retail situations is seen by many and covered in the press. The biggest users of digital signage systems, according to Gerba, are corporations who use them for employee safety, training, and general communications purposes. The hospitality and healthcare industries have also deployed thousands of units for both employee- and customer-facing applications.


In March 2011, the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) posed a question to its advisory board members, asking which industries digital signs would expand into. “Shopping malls and the transportation sector are prime examples of location-based digital out-of-home advertising opportunities,” 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.


“As more teams look to supplement revenue and venues are in need of replacing legacy static, analog, and backlit signage systems, the flexibility that digital brings to the table is incredible,” comments DSE advisory board member, Tod Caflisch, VP, IT, New Orleans Hornets.


Working Together

Reports from digital signage experts rate the segment as growing up to 25 percent per year, while the digital print market is growing at about six percent per year worldwide.


Dynamic and printed signage are individually appropriate in select places and situations. Digital signs are used to highlight important or frequently changing information, but the bulk of messaging is still done with static.


Digital signs serve a different purpose than print. They are not a replacement. “Digital signage is interactive and enables delivery of immediate, time-sensitive advertising. This technology fills a niche not normally associated with printed signage,” explains Bill Dundas, director, technical and regulatory affairs, International Sign Association.


“The pie is growing. I don’t see print going away,” says Sanjay Manandhar, founder/CEO, Aerva, Inc. The company provides a solution to create digital campaigns that span mobile, social media, Web, and interactive display networks as a hosted Web application, or as Software-as-a-Service.


Audience Participation

An explosion in social media and use of 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.


InfoTrends’ 2010 Interactive Signage: Perspectives on Enabling Interactivity with Print and Digital Signs survey of 202 Digital Output magazine subscribers concluded that up to ten percent of signage will feature interactivity by 2012.


Although only 30 percent report requests for interactive elements from their customers, 83 percent of the printers, graphic designers, and advertising agencies surveyed see value in making their print graphics more interactive.


More than 50 percent of the respondents that plan to use interactivity are or will do so by adding digital screens into printed signage. 23 percent plan to embed elements into signage such as quick response codes.


A unique marketing campaign designed by agency McCann Erickson for Italian baby product manufacturer Chicco included submission of user-generated videos and presenting them through both Chicco’s Web site and a giant LED board in Times Square in New York, NY. As part of the campaign, parents submitted videos of their babies saying the brand name Chicco.


The campaign utilized user-generated content managed through the Aerva content management system—AerWave. Closing the interactive signage loop, Aerva technology captured the photograph and sent it back to parents, allowing them to then share the photo on Twitter and Facebook.


Digital Dynamics

Acceptance of digital signage has transformed signs beyond static pieces. Electronic signage is beneficial in many environments, adding a dynamic viewer experience, delivery of multiple messages, and quick changeouts, with no print production. Digital and print signage are suited to an array of applications on their own and integrated. They continue to complement each other.


Jul2011, Digital Output

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