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Expo Showcases Larger, More Mature Digital Signage Industry

Mar 11, 2008 8:00 AM, By John DeWitt

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If tradeshow attendance provides an accurate measure of industry health, the Feb. 27-28 Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas bodes well for continued growth and maturity in digital out-of-home media.

“The industry is really exploding right now,” according to Chris Gibbs, executive vice president of ExpoNation, which produces Digital Signage Expo and the co-located Interactive Technology Expo.

Since the last expo eight months ago, exhibitor space grew more than 50 percent, and attendance increased 70 percent to more than 3,400 people, Gibbs says, adding that he saw a good mix of systems integrators as well as users in attendance. Perhaps more important than numerical growth, the show’s success indicates a maturing digital signage industry, as both attendees and exhibitors are now a more sophisticated crowd.

“I heard over and over again that attendees were more educated [and] understood what they’re looking for from vendors,” Gibbs says.

Industry analyst Nikki Baird, managing partner of Retail Systems Research, echoed this assessment in her review of the show. She emphasized that the collective conversation is taking place on a higher level.

“ ‘Digital signage’ is making way for more comprehensive terms: ‘dynamic messaging,’ ‘retail media networks’—a change that emphasizes networked communications, and leaves room for a role for interactivity,” Baird wrote on March 4. “Attendees spoke of pull marketing, immersion, and managed communications to consumers, not just more ways to advertise.”

Major advertising and media companies attended the show, Gibbs says, reflecting their pursuit of growth segments in a down market and contributing to the buzz around the topic of targeting.

“Advertisers and brands recognize that the value of mass-media advertising is declining and so, while advertising budgets may freeze or even be cut in a downturn, any advertising that is more targeted is going to get a bigger share of the pie,” Baird says. Media buyers and ad agencies continue to complain about the lack of rate cards or similarly standardized ways of purchasing digital signage advertisements, she says, predicting that this issue will not be resolved. Moreover, Baird wrote, too much focus on advertising skews what should be an emphasis on digital signage business models that create “specific value for both retailer and consumer” regardless of whether advertising is part of the content mix.

Among the news announcements from the show:

Harris introduced an expanded, interoperable solutions portfolio for digital signage content-delivery workflow. Specific products on display included InfoCaster content creation and playout systems.

X2O Media emphasized end-to-end digital signage workflow with its debut of Xpresenter version 2.1. The company also announced a content development partnership with CBS Marketing Group.

NEC rolled out a pre-configured TileMatrix videowall solution comprised of four 46in. MultiSync LCD4620-2-IT displays along with a new 52in. full-HD widescreen display.

Omnivex demonstrated its MoxieT software platform, which uses 3D vector graphics to create large display content without the need for rendering video files and allows each display to target individual viewers.

For in-store audio networks, Barix and StreamGuys jointly announced a customizable, IP-based platform for localized ad insertion in point-to-multipoint audio streaming networks.

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