The Digital Signage Insider

Electronic Digital Signage (EDS) - It's a Sign of the Times

Published on: 0000-00-00

For those of you involved with the visual retailing or visual merchandising industry from a non-digital perspective, there's a very good magazine published by ST Media Group called Signs of the Times (note the clever tie-in with this article's title :).  Focused mainly on traditional signage like neon lights, outdoor billboards and the like, this month's issue has some very good articles on digital signage, which they like to call electronic digital signage, I guess to separate it from digitally printed static signage, which has been a big revolution in their industry in recent years. (how many people remember when the only way to get professional print output was through a fiery RIP?  But I digress... :) 

The first article on the subject is written by Bob Klausmeier of Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO).  YESCO makes bulb and LED-driven electronic signs for gas stations, parking lots, public venues, etc.  In fact, one of our clients, ifuel uses a YESCO sign powered by FireCast to display gas prices at ifuel stations.  Bob's article focuses on the steady growth of electronic digital signage (shortened to EDS) for outdoor advertising and display. He notes that the lower TCO of LED-based signs has driven their not only their adoption as well as other ancillary digital sign technologies.  He also talks about some of the possibilities that will open up as more "moving billboards" start to show up.

Two featurettes on digital signage also make the issue, one focusing on Princess Cruise Line's experiment with a massive, outdoor LCD movie display, and another focusing on an EDS deployment as part of an artistic public works project in Chicago.  Both demonstrate some of the very innovative and unique things that we can already do with digital signage, and offer a glimpse of what is to come as these technologies become more prevalent.

What really caught my eye, though, was an article by Steven Platt that looked at the different ways to calculate the ROI of your digital signage project (Steven is the director of the Platt Retail Institute in Illinois).  While his initial impression is that digital signage ROI can be tricky to calculate because of its intangible benefits, he comes up with some interesting solutions for how to determine whether your signage network is working for you.  I'm glad that people in the traditional signage industry are taking notice of EDS, and I certainly hope that they embrace it as a new extension of their existing product offerings.  Much like static signage, EDS is part advertising, part retail fixture, and part sales tool, so calculating its value, or determining its incremental value over traditional signage is complicated and imprecise.  Nonetheless, there are real examples of EDS ROI (there's an ugly set of acronyms).  Depending on the size and type of deployment, ROI can be most easily calculated by determining which sales were driven by the presence of the sign.  Since most retailers are pretty good about keeping records of past years's sales numbers, this shouldn't be too difficult if you're working closely with your retail organization.  Your EDS beta test should include the best store, the worst store, and an average store in your chain.  After a few months of operation and product promotion, it should be fairly easy to calculate the sales lift (or loss) at each of these locations, and thus discover the value of your EDS system.

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