The clarion call of most would-be signagers involves something related to capturing advertising $$ for the millions of existing and deployed screens. There’s only one problem: the “if you build it, they will come” idea didn’t work as well as most had planned. Maybe it was the widespread recession or the lack of battle-testing of the medium itself. Or maybe the content wasn’t up to snuff. My bet is a perfect storm that includes those and other lurking variables.
Pigeonholing the industry into just a DOOH network is more than disingenuous. It tends to prostitute out the signs and belittles the complex nature of the technology infrastructure used to create, deploy and schedule the content. In its simplest sense, the industry needs to stop trying to sell advertising and really start pushing itself as an effective solution to a real problem. Some have caught the vision.
The iPad was not a new idea. Microsoft had tablets almost from the beginning, but the marginal feature differences provided by the iPad have literally spawned a new industry with third party apps and content. Steve Jobs’ genius there was one part timing with a dash of design and delivery. The same needs to occur in this industry if any real movement in advertising is to take place. Maturity of a still nascent and recession-battered ad-touted industry like digital out-of-home requires more proliferation, more information and greater emphasis on analytics–something for which online marketing has done extremely effectively.
Ignoring advertising monetization may be a bit extreme, but being prepared for it when it does become an expected and more mainstream aspect of digital out-of-home may have helped many a failed digital signage business avoid further missteps.
My personal opinion is that we’re still in the land-grab phase of the industry. The digital real estate is much more limited than digital advertising on the internet. There are a finite number of out-of-home locations where digital signs actually make sense.
Those who’re able to capture a large share of said digital real estate, will be much more prepared when the focus eventually shifts to large ad purchases. You have to walk before you can run. Unfortunately, when it comes to advertising, we’re still crawling.