Digital Signage is Not Always About Retail and Advertising

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 in DOOH

I’ve been hearing the term shakeout quite a bit lately in some form or another. And frankly, I agree. Of the nearly 1,100 CRM leads I daily sift and the new leads I continue to receive, it has been interesting to see what has been “going down.” From what I can see, digital signage networks based on advertising are drying up. Not completely, but the firm and budgeted projects for advertising networks have been slowly decreasing. Have sales leads in general been decreasing? No, interestingly. They’re simply being replaced by international, government, and education leads–mostly private network leads or leads I don’t care to follow (installing a network for a prince in Nigeria is not a niche I’m prepared to chase…yet).  

Digital signage is certainly growing, but as many ad budgets dry up, so does the funding for digital signage projects. The interesting trend I’ve seen, especially in the past two months, is a shift in the type of verifiable leads received.

Digital Signage Niches to Target in 2009


WIth the proposed economic stimulus coming down the pipe, it would seem a bit foolish not to put some sales resources in the government related sector. For instance, at the end of December, Engadget reported the FBI would be rolling out digital billboards in 20 different cities. Our digital signage news feed picked up recent news story from Helius digital signage wherein they’d recently installed their MediaSignage enterprise solution with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, NASA Goddard has been an account we’ve also been working with lately. Theirs is a case of internal communications. In all previous cases, digital signage is being used primarily for critical information dissemination, not media and advertising.

Personal financing is not too dissimilar from corporate financing. When funds for discretionary spending decrease, individuals and organizations look to the “value factor” before spending money on a project. Would you purchase a $30,000 digital signage network just to create an ambiance or numberless ROO when you weren’t sure if, in the next six months, you would be able to keep all your employees working for you? Most likely not. The same applies to potential clients for digital signage. In my humble opinion, 2009 will not be a year friendly to advertising networks. Sales managers need to pursue ways to show organizations where money can be saved, not spent.


The same mentality applies to the education market. I can, off the top of my head, think of six universities and a dozen or so primary education facilities where we’re working with AV integrators on signage projects within the school. Southern Utah University recently proposed an increase in tuition to aid in the deployment of a digital signage network. Digital signage can be a great way-finding tool within a campus. It also acts as a dynamic bulletin for coming events, shows, and even emergencies. Emergencies alone may be worth jumping tuition by $1.50. If that money saves one life during a possible campus disaster, I’m sure no one will be spurning the project post facto.

There are a few reasons schools benefit immensely from the use of digital signage technology. One school in particular is Lincoln Memorial School of Osteopathic Medicine in Tennessee. The schools system utilizes a two way digital signage system for education and communications. Their particular system allows guest lecturers to remain a dedicated member of their faculty without ever having to visit the school. In this way, the school is able to get some of the best and brightest lecturers around the globe without having to fly them to and from the school. They simply broadcast their lectures to the students via satellite uplink. Such a system reduces long-term costs and gives the students more of a reason to be a member of the university. Lincoln Memorial is only one example of a market that is ripe for digital signage integration.


People still need medications–and perhaps they’ll need more with the stresses of a recession looming. As a result, the medical community is always a bit more resilient to “bear market” situations. Specifically, the FOR profit health care sector. This sector is almost barraged by the pharmaceutical industry to push the drugs they offer. Over the last several years however, the pharmaceutical companies have, instead, been pushing their pills on the patients themselves. Something they’ve seen as being enormously effective. This is where digital signage comes into play. Medical complexes and pharmaceutical companies alike realize they benefit from:

1. A captive audience. Who has not waited in a medical waiting room for less than 5 minutes?

2. A specific demographic. They know what type of doctor the patient may be coming to see and what type of medications to push them?

The medical community is the digital signage bear that is just beginning to be awaken from hibernation. The possibilities with this market segment are still great. Now is the time to target and seek after this niche.

Corporate Communications

Digital signage does not always, of necessity, need to be used as an consumer-only advertising tool. Screens can face other audiences as well for education and way-finding for internal communications. Such a system can be beneficial for just communicating a message or for use in corporate training. Specifically, multicasting over a digital signage network can be very useful tool in today’s economy. With the unsure range of gas pricing and multicast enabled digital signage network can allow for remote corporate training that is much more cost effective than busing out herds of employees to a corporate facility. In fact, I just finished reading a very boring, but informative “manual” of sorts entitled, “Introduction to Data Multicasting: IP Multicast Streaming for Audio and Video Media Distribution.” It outlines the various and specific forms of data multicasting. I’ll post on the some of the specifics of the read later, but let me summarily conclude: multicasting with digital signage as a use for corporate communications is a method wherein corporations can substantially cut travel and training costs. Can advertising networks boast the same? Maybe, but it will be a while before the idea becomes a mainstream phenomenon.

It’s not that we’ve not all seen the reports about how digital signage can be used to boost ROI in the retail environment, but solidifying ROI and ROO information in the minds of media buyers and planners is still not where it should be. As a result, going after the immediately viable sales will be necessary in the coming weeks and months. And, where are these sales to be had? You can make up your own mind or follow the trends I’m seeing. Stay tuned, sometime next week I’ll be releasing a detailed analysis of over 1,000 digital signage sales leads. Where they came from and where the sweet spots were.

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