We are at the very beginning of a transformative communications revolution where technology has enabled the "un-tethering" of the masses from fixed communications points. The cell phone, lap top computer and wireless Internet have made communications mobile and persistent. Digital signage has taken digital video screens out of the home and in to virtually every location imaginable.

Digital signage is most often viewed with a relatively micro lens that is largely focused on its current and emerging capabilities in the context of the 21st century marketing mix. This is fair enough, as those who decide to deploy screens into a vast array of locations need to find a way to justify these deployments through a variety of ways including a number of "ROI" measurements that include everything from the average size of a market basket to advertising revenue generated. As a result the hundreds, and eventually thousands, of digital signage networks and millions of locations that will be "screened up" over the next decade need to start considering what this means in the larger scheme of things.

Digital signage is on the verge of becoming a truly mass media that, within a decade, should reach more people on a daily basis than traditional television, radio or newspapers. It is not television and it is not the Internet. It is a little of both and a lot of neither. It is an "opt-in" medium that must work in both a sounded and non-sounded environment. It is a communications medium, a marketing and promotional medium and a CRM medium. And, in combination with all of these attributes, it may well also end up an entertainment, news and public safety medium.

My hypothesis is this: Digital signage will become the "third leg" of the media stool, sitting side by side with television and the Internet. It will achieve this status at the expense of printed newspapers, broadcast radio, circulars and some broadcast television – but not cable television. It will develop its own, unique creative formats that will look a lot more like Second Life and video games than television. It will also be largely unsounded, relying on text, animation, graphics and, potentially, podcast/bluetooth downloads to message to the consumer.

This is both the great opportunity and daunting task of this emerging media. What exactly, is this thing going to look like and how do we get there sooner than later? It is also the responsibility of those of "us" who wish to be a part of this story to get straight on what exactly it’s going to take to drive digital signage to its greatest potential. And, to be clear, "us" isn’t just the screen owner, the location owner or the content provider. It is incumbent upon the marketer to become a part of "us" sooner than later, as they are now facing an enormous generational shift in both media consumption and buying habits that will drive brand awareness and adoption for decades to come. This is not a curve anyone wants to get behind.

Digital signage can be a leader in the transformation of communications or allow other media like mobile media and the Internet to lead as we follow. Personally, leadership works a lot better for me.


+1 # DailyDOOH 2008-07-11 08:08
Nice article but surely 'digital signage' is the technology not the media, so am hard pressed to see how it can be the 'third leg' of a media stool Indeed there are already a number of industry standard classifications - the US centric 'Marketing at Retail' for one example See also http://www.dailydooh.com/archives/356
+1 # Bill Gerba 2008-07-11 11:34
Hi Adrian, I know you're a stickler for this one, but I have to (continue to) disagree. We're using the [[http://www.popai.com/Content/NavigationMenu2/Mem bership/DigitalSignageGroup/DigitalIndustryStandar ds/DigitalSignageStandardsDocuments/POPAIDigSignag eStandardTermsRev1_0.pdf|POPAI standard definition for digital signage]], which clearly indicates that it is a "network of digital displays that are centrally managed and addressable for targeted information, entertainment, merchandising and advertising." Clearly the \\network\\ part of things qualifies digital signage as the medium itself, not just the tech behind it. Otherwise, what you're saying would be equivalent to saying that televisions are not the medium, just the technology. And by "medium" I'm thinking of something along the lines of dictionary.com's definition, which is, "one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society." When I think "medium" I think the \\means\\, not the message.
-1 # Dick Trask 2008-07-11 15:32
Very nice article! I am impressed to hear this tone of dialog from an advertising company like SeeSaw. As recent times indicate the proliferation of digital signage into the retail market is hampered by metrics and the lack of enthusiasm by the ad agencies that work for major retailers. I think when ad agencies realize the benefit of digital signage and incorporate it into the strategic mix of technology and message for their customers than and only then can the digital signage industry realize its potential with retail. Maybe the retail industry can learn from their counterparts in Europe where digital signage has been embraced as the media for the 21st century. BTW, I am sorry to hear that our friends at the dailydooh have such a narrow view of the potential of digital signage. Digital signage is more than a technology, it is anew media.
0 # Bryan Bach 2008-07-11 19:27
Yes! The digital signage world gets us industry folks very excited, but I think that's just because we are so deeply committed to the industry. ITMm just not convinced the consumers see it our way. Jeff describes DS as the third leg of the media stool, along with TV and the internet. However, the article later alludes to the fact that DS is competing with a fourth leg: mobile media. Since TV, the internet, and mobile media have already proliferated into daily life of the masses, it is hardly a competition at all. DS is way behind the other three types of media. It is quite optimistic to say that DS is even on the verge of becoming a mass media. The general public has hardly accepted it as a media at all. Consumers are passionate about watching TV, surfing the internet, and making sure they have the latest mobile phone. I have yet to see any of my friends talk about a digital sign they way they blog on the internet, gossip about last night's reality TV show, or rave about the new ring tone they downloaded. I take the dooh side on this one. Right now DS is merely a technology. DS can only be considered mass media once the general public embraces and uses it as a medium in their daily lives. DS is a ways off from influencing pop culture, consumer behavior, and social interaction the way other media types do. It just seems to be missing some things that the other media types possess. It doesnTMt have the ability to stimulate the same kind of human interaction. It always surprises, and even disappoints me to hear DS companies trying to divide themselves from the kiosk crowd. The www has set the new standard, and has successfully defined new emerging media as being interactive. Even television has made successful strides to become interactive and on-demand. DS needs to accept interactivity as a necessary component to engagement. Advertising is an essential part of mass media. I respect SeeSaw as a network aggregator, and for the extensive work they have put into their studies of "life pattern marketing". I just think we need to be more sensitive of consumer engagement. It feels like a large portion of the industry is out there to please advertisers and media buyers through standards, metrics, and measurement. Take Google as an successful example of a company that uses and ad-based model. Google develops powerful tools for the end user, thereby gaining usage and loyalty, and as a result they make a boatload on advertising. I hope the big box DS companies begin to understand why this model is so darn effective. The companies who can make the most impact are not preaching hardware and software (BTW...these guys arenTMt media, theyTMre just technology). It is the companies like Nanonation, Loca Moda, Accuweather and Fourwinds Interactive, among others, who can take digital signage beyond loud advertising, and deliver value to both consumers and brands. We need to get away from the mentality that we must become leaders and separate our industry from these other media types. It is dangerous and arrogant to think that DS can jump in front, and lead a pack that includes MySpace, the iPhone, and Tivo (plus the newly released MS Surface). Personally, ITMd rather follow sucessful examples.
0 # Bryan Meszaros 2008-07-14 18:23
ItTMs sometimes hard to separate passion from the truth, and that unfortunately leads to somewhat of a blurred reality. The digital signage industry I believe continues to make progress however I agree with Bryan that we are still behind where we should be. It is true that we are not quite television and not quite Internet, but that shouldnTMt be our tag line. In order for this industry to progress forward and make significant contributions we need to embrace other technological advancements. Consumers, brand managers etc see this medium for itTMs visual aspect (not impact) only. The industry has been running with blinders on for the past few years. More concerned over how to integrate RSS feeds and develop fluent GUITMs rather than gaining an understanding of the consumer and how to develop a technology that retailerTMs want and consumers react to. I believe this is a great challenge for this industry and we have the knowledge and capability to transform this medium into a viable option, maybe not as the oethird leg but certainly as a niche medium. To get there we need to acknowledge that digital signage can be combined with other technologies as several companies have already done. We need to further those efforts and look at ways to incorporate RFID, Bluetooth, txt messaging, POSin other words oehuman interaction. I share in JeffTMs excitement of the industry, though I believe we need to be more aggressive and continue to think outside of the box to make a name for ourselves.
0 # Mia Opinion 2008-07-28 00:19
I find it interesting that alot of people don't think DS is a great medium. Not to replace TV or Internet but to continue layering the message! Use TV and Internet as the main game, but all that money spent can be pointless if the consumer gets to the Point of Purchase and they are influenced by another brand right? So using DS at Point of Sale is a powerful way of "finishing off" your marketing message when the consumer has their wallet in their hands. Also DS is considered a niche medium but it does reach a mass audience. I think it's on it's way definitely!
0 # Jeff Dickey 2008-07-30 22:01
I thought I would clarify a few things. I believe that we are moving to a point where marketers have to consider the "utility" of the various media available to them. For the past four decades television has been sun that all other media revolve around. It was easy to buy, easy to justify and sexy to be creating content and advertising for. Regardless of the advertising strategy, television was the solution at most levels. But, with the advent of rapidly improving communications technology, messaging is now untethered from the home and from the television set. Marketers now have to take a new look at what each media is and isn't good at doing and, simultaneously, blend this view with what the particular goal is for their advertising. Television is really good at reaching a lot of people quickly with a brand message but really lousy at defining, analyzing, socializing or exploring a product. That's what the Internet is great at doing. I believe digital signage, mobile media, radio and outdoor are "the last mile" of media and digital signage in particular is the "end aisle display" of media. This can change a bit by demographic profiles, but it is a good general view. Marketers should seriously consider a new set of "buckets" for their media strategies based on what they are trying to accomplish and not creative attributes. The days of bucketing print assets, video assets, etc. are over with. The need to define their media strategies in terms of what medium has greatest level of utility against their goals is the new world. As for mobile, I believe it works in tandem with digital signage and not in competition with it. I further believe that the look and feel of content and advertising creative will be similar if not the same across these two symbiotic platforms.
0 # Bryan Bach 2008-07-31 00:02
Jeff, thanks for expanding upon your point. I agree, media has undergone drastic change since the days when television dominated. Furthermore, when we are talking about PoP, digital signage gives marketers one more chance to influence buying behavior. I do think DS will continue to develop as an influential medium and information source for consumers. At the time being, however; I still think that DS is lagging behind other types of new media. This is partially due to the lack of innovation. Many (not all) DS networks look too much like TV, but without the quality programming. This allows many small, medium, and even some large companies to think they can fake it by buying up a bunch of Vizios at Costco. I think there is a disconnect between business owners who see LCD's available as a consumer product, and have a hard time investing in commercial screens and equipment. DS can make strides when it stops looking like TV. Does anyone have any good ideas or examples?
0 # digital 2009-01-27 07:14
It was easy to buy, easy to justify and sexy to be creating content and advertising for. Regardless of the advertising strategy, television was the solution at most levels. But, with the advent of rapidly improving communications technology, messaging is now untethered from the home and from the television set. Marketers now have to take a new look at what each media is and isn't good at doing and, simultaneously, blend this view with what the particular goal is for their advertising.
0 # digital signage software 2009-03-24 23:20
It is true that the varying mediums that carry digital signage messages are wide and varied and what must also continue is that the software is as adaptable as this.
0 # *>TM TM 2009-05-27 05:56
In order for it to become a 3rd leg in the media mix, a marketplace for buyers, sellers and service providers should form and be easily accessible to all, and most importantly prices in it reach economic equilibrium based on demand and effectiveness. The question is - whether some media giant will form such a marketplace and provide it will the prerequisite critical mass, or weather it will be formed by itself (maybe as a result of network mergers as it is often the case). My 2 cents.
+1 # Bill Gerba 2009-05-31 16:40
To the person from israel-business.com (whose name obviously didn't render out correctly above!), you make an excellent point, and I encourage you to read our recent (2009) [[http://www.wirespring.com/dynamic_digital_signag e_and_interactive_kiosks_journal/articles/Razorfis h_s_Patrick_Moorhead_Gives_Us_The_Agency_View_On_D OOH-721.html|interview with Patrick Moorhead from Razorfish]], as he touches on that very subject.
0 # Marco 2009-10-20 13:34
I'm quite enthusiast for digital signage, and I bring you Italia experience, where I daily see digital signage installation grow in number. The appeal brought by Digital Signage is very high and people seem to be very interested in what is played by this screen networks. I saw them in markets, airports, gas stations, but also in city halls, playing video, photos and useful informations on city life and services. GRET MEDIA!!
0 # mark 2009-10-29 11:37
Not sure I would agree DS will become the third leg of advertising. But in time it will become a major consideration as part of media mixes. You can talk about the technology. But in the end digital signs are signs like billboards. Billboard is the oldest form of advertising and stronger than ever today as the other major media encounters changes in consumer habits. I see no reason why DS will not become a staple of many advertising strategies just like billboards when DS becomes as prevalent in the market place.
0 # thomas 2009-12-14 12:19
DS will gain ad marketeshare, as soon as it can measure the visits, passanger etc. like tv, press or online, when i'd like to spent money, i'd like to know how many people i can reach with.
0 # tim warrington 2010-03-04 21:43
The new media will not only be digital signage but interactive digital signage combined with mobile technology. The software as alsways is the big stumbling block for digital signage but that is getting better.
0 # resus digital signage 2010-03-24 21:25
Digital signage is getting bigger and better all the time, with the intergration on touch screens and social media it will get better.
+2 # Signs melbourne 2010-04-30 05:35
I like signs, but I've got to say that "3rd leg of the media stool" argument is a bit rich for mine. Signs are on the most part a one way interaction and they are viewed with suspicion by the public. I think this suspicion is a pretty major hurdle to them becoming on par with the internet etc.
0 # digital signage software 2010-09-03 12:48
Always important.
-1 # Tim Warrington 2010-10-17 08:46
I agree that at the moment signs are a one way interaction with the public but advancements in technology are moving fast and DIGITAl signage is working towards becoming more personal to each shopper
0 # Joshua Lyons 2010-12-08 15:36
The third paragraph is particularly interesting. Digital signage being seen more than tv, radio, and papers, and using a little tv and a little internet at the same time. That is well said. Let's see what happens over the next 10 years.
0 # digitalsignage.net 2010-12-10 22:45
It really has evolved a lot. It's amazing.
+1 # james 2011-06-02 20:12
i'd like to know how many people i can reach with. The new media will not only be digital signage but interactive digital signage combined with mobile technology.

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