Electronic Signage Hits High Gear at Digital Retailing Expo
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Supply 55 - Guardian Laminators, BannerPRO Hemming System, Eco-Solvent Ink, ReelPRO take-up system


Electronic Signage Hits High Gear at Digital Retailing Expo

The future and direction of electronic signage was clear at the Digital Retailing Expo held in San Francisco Oct 11-12, 2004.

By Lyle Bunn

It is a bright future for savvy advertisers and the growing number of firms providing hardware, software and services for digital signage. Several important forward strides have been made as event organizers had hoped to launch a regular forum with a focus on digital signage in consumer retailing. Mark you calendar now for May 18-19, 2005 in Chicago and bookmark www.digitalretailingexpo.com. The inaugural Digital Retailing Expo delivered extremely high value and the event is positioned to be the primary forum for digital signage in North America.

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  • Brad Gleeson, CEO of ActiveLight, (www.activelight.com) which provided support to the event and previous efforts to consolidate signage industry efforts toward sustainable growth, said in the opening keynote “the 'dynamic' element of content is justification itself for dynamic digital and electronic signage. When signage is intended to generate revenue, it makes all the sense in the world to place it where the buying decision is made”. ActiveLight has been central to advancing digital signage over its six-year history and used the event as the occasion to release its third annual Dynamic Digital Signage Resource Directory.

    By any name, “electronic signage”, is on a very fast track. 2004 will mark the end of technology application pilot projects by major names across the retail spectrum in banking, grocery, electronics, entertainment, apparel, hardware, health, video, books, delivery services and others. “Technology is no longer an issue,” says Antoniette Zarcone, VP of Automated Digital Signage Networks, Inc. (www.adsn.ca),. adding “Media buying practices need to catch up”.


    Several firms profiled technologies that are advancing the boundaries of digital signage. DynaScan Technologies, Inc. presented its revolutionary, patented 360 degree LED video displays. DynaScan (www.dynascanusa.com), generates excitement for new, non-conventional opportunities in commercial and public information display.

    Other innovations in signage, such as those triggered by proximity indicators or radio frequency, and very small format display in a device to be worn by retail staff around their neck, demonstrated the promise of options for advertisers through interactive digital signage.

    Rebecca Walt, Managing Director Digital Signage Strategy, Convergent Media Systems, Inc. (www.convergent.com) delivered an informed and valuable presentations on electronic signage pilot projects. Her presentation signaled a new maturity and competence on the part of digital signage supply. “To educate, entertain and influence using Dynamic digital signage is different than adding new images to kiosk and self-service systems” she said, while presenting some outcomes and key findings of recent pilot projects.

    Full deployments could be expected based on key performance indicators being realized including revenue lift, prospect self-identification and low CPM. Revenue increases of 30% are being realized on products profiled, ranging to 109% for a new soft drink and 319% for a new calling card. Digital signage in a bank teller line resulted in customers approaching the Branch Manager to ask about new services. CPM rates for digital signage are in the $2-6 range versus newspaper at $20 and TV at $25, newspapers at $20, magazines at $9-20, outdoor at $8 and Internet at $10. In a world were where 75% of buying decisions are made at the shelf edge, electronic signage as a revenue generator could well eclipse the importance now placed on point-of-sale marketing planning tool.

    Retailers advancing significant digital signage programs include Apple, McDonald’s, Bank of America, Circuit City, Safeway, Sears, Virgin Music, US Postal Service, Nike and others. At the same time, some of the firms shifting ad spending to digital signage are a wide range from Bayer, Black & Decker, Colgate-Palmolive, Disney, DirectTV, Frito-Lay, General Mills, Heinz, Kodak, L’Oreal, Minute Maid and Nestle, to Sara Lee and Starter.

    Digital signage can be expected to become a part of the $149 billion advertising tool chest of retailers and product producers. In December 2003, Zenith Optimedia reports $149 billion in advertising expenditures as follows. TV $53b, newspaper $46b, radio $20b, magazine $17b, Internet $8b, and outdoors $5b.

    Record declines in TV viewership are being experienced with “commercial-skipping” devices on the rise. The additional challenge of reaching potential buyers at a myriad of contact points grows increasingly irrelevant when digital signage can communicate at the point of product selection.

    “Finding the right content partner is key” noted Gleeson of Activelight in his opening remarks to event delegates and suppliers. The further consensus emerging form the inaugural Digital Retailing Expo is that a) the technology is ready, success will be founded in integration with promotional plans and that “scalability” is a growing consideration.

    The arguments for using digital signage are strong. Supply capability is strengthening, in particular the ability to integrate individual technology elements such as LED and other displays, connectivity and media storage hardware and display management software, being called Dynamic Image Provisioning Applications (DIPA). The challenge of electronic signage will be in the ability of DIPA to accommodate huge volumes of media. Split screen content and large numbers of displays with needed security and the power to communicate ALERT information at street level. Dual-Use (ESN) networks increase public approval and add a level of real-time response for safer cities.

    “There are so many competencies that must combine for a signage project to succeed, it is critical that supply elements get together and partner” said Steve Ogle, Regional Sales Manger of Enseo.

    The inaugural Digital Retailing Expo provided an excellent forum for interaction between all elements in the electronic signage supply chain. While many firms participated only as delegates or by visiting the trade show floor, this is one event, in particular at the stage and rate of growth of digital display for retailing, when exhibiting is of very high value. Partnerships are essential and availability in a trade forum the key. Full conference participation is also warranted.

    Learning curves are steep and acceleration growing. While technology and retail shows can, and should, profile dynamic digital signage, the Digital Retailing Expo offers the premier forum for all parties engaging in this marriage of technology and merchandising to advance the use of this powerful tool. Bookmark www.digitalretailingexpo.com

    Prepared by: Lyle Bunn, Apogee Partners: apogeepartners@rogers.com

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