A clash of the Titans. I can almost hear the MC: “In the red corner weighing in at a GDP of $2.79 trillion is the United Kingdom. And, in the blue corner weighing in at a GDP of $14.4 trillion we have the United States.” That might be a bit weird, but it paints a picture in terms of digital signage deployments. It seems currently that the U.K. and Europe in general are spanking the pants (not the U.K. interpretation of “pants” which refers to underwear, but the Yank definition) off the United States. And, although the worldwide digital signage industry is still pegged to grow, it seems the United States is trailing, not necessarily in technology, but more in rapid acceptance. Similarly, I have noticed a trend in mobile marketing which mirrors digital signage. That is, the U.S. has dragged its feet more often in acceptance of new marketing methods. Media outlet acceptance is changing, however, especially in the wake of the world’s worst economic dilemma since the Great Depression.
The reasoning: administrators are finally realizing that unmeasurable and expensive advertising campaigns are bunk. Specific, measurable audience targeting is how shoestring budgets have always operated and how the Internet has leveled the playing field for small and large business alike. And interestingly, with continual improvements in audience measurement, we will most likely see the acceptance of digital signage come in the U.S. faster than we think. Perhaps this is why a recent report by ABI Research claimed, in the U.S. specifically, that digital signage will grow by one third in 2009. And while this occurs, it is also expected (according to MultiMedia Intelligence) that overall industry growth worldwide will be steady for the next three years at about one third a year. In case you’re slow at math, that equals a whopping 100% growth by 2012. And if you’re even slower that means a doubling of the industry in 36 months. Not too shabby. Does this mean that the United States is forever to be behind in the digital signage race? Perhaps. China has had much wider acceptance of digital signage and is spanking the pants (this time I mean the U.K. version:) off of both the U.S. and Europe.
How do the U.S. and the U.K. compare in technology and installations both overall and on a per capita basis? I have not seen the numbers. And, with the constant growth that is happening it may be hard to determine. Technologically speaking I believe we’re currently getting owned. However, I’m sure the U.S. has the U.K. beat in overall installs, but my gut feeling tells me that per capita deployments may be higher with our friends flying the Union Jack. Population density plays a huge factor here. The “purple mountains majesties” and “fruited plains” put a wide divide betwixt the retail shopping malls, corporate towers, and transportation hubs of Europe. The Yanks are even more privy to these luxuries, but urban sprawl takes away the effect of targeted digital out-of-home when being out of home means hiking, swimming, and camping.
However, our “wide open spaces” means more digital real-estate with which to place our obnoxious lcd screen advertisements. And, with the way large deployments have been rolling out lately, I can see a digital Boston Tea Party in the works. Our U.K. brethren may soon exclaim, as did the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto after his attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Could this be true of the United States in reference to digital signage? Possibly, but first mover advantage–and in this case acceptance–could mean a laggard’s catch-up. Our site’s Internet traffic is only one indication of how the United Kingdom is well aware of the industry. After our first clashes with the motherland back in the 18th century, we have generally had good relations with the Brit’s. Perhaps it’s in the nature of American arrogance that drives us to say, “we want another revolution!”