Expert Viewpoint: Digital Signage Trends
Jun 2, 2009 12:00 PM, By Ken Goldberg
A look at where digital signage networks are headed in the future.
The digital signage industry has come a long way in the past several years. Technologies have matured; networks have entered their third, fourth, or fifth years of operation; and customers are educated and asking all the right questions. Still, room for improvement and growth exists, and a number of trends are converging to drive the evolution of this game-changing technology. Through the development of these trends, AV integrators will see an increasing number of opportunities. Having a handle on these driving forces will allow them to make proper choices for their customers. Before examining these trends in detail, however, it is useful to understand what digital signage is, what different applications are currently in play, and what elements of a digital signage network are most important for success.
In the broadest terms, digital signage is the deployment of IP-addressable digital displays for the purpose of sending targeted out-of-home messages and communication to identifiable viewers. This definition works for retail networks and nonretail spaces—such as hotels and medical facilities—and in specialized venues such as corporate facilities, educational facilities, and places of worship. In each instance, the ability to remotely plan and update site-specific or screen-specific content is essential.
An important driver of value in digital signage networks is the fact that the end points are networked and can be managed centrally. This is as true in a 1,000-store network as it is in a 10-display network in a corporate headquarters. That the end points are networked via some form of broadband and managed from a single location means that the days of sneakernet content changes (physically transporting removable media), spotty compliance, and limited visibility into whether the screens are even on or playing the right messages are behind us. The new era of networked digital signs provides for assured compliance, rapid change, customization of content at any level, near-realtime diagnostics, and accurate proof-of-play reporting. Each of these is critical to the achievement of return on investment, especially in an environment where advertisers are paying for display time.
Key components of a digital signage network include a centralized server and software, media players, displays, and communications. Content, clearly a critical element in achieving the objectives of a network, is a subject for a separate discussion. A typical network configuration will look something like Figure 1.
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