The Digital Signage Insider

How Network Size Impacts Digital Signage Service Choices: Survey

Published on: 2009-10-08

Last week we looked at a list of digital signage services to find out which tasks companies tend to outsource, versus handle internally. Today, I'll break down that survey data based on network size, looking at how those with small network experience, large network experience, mixed experience and no experience responded to the questions. This data could be valuable for service providers who are trying to decide which companies to market to. Likewise, it could be useful to network owners and operators as a way of comparing their decisions to similar (but potentially competing) companies. We've got a lot of graphs and charts in today's article, so once again if they're not showing up correctly for you (e.g. in your email inbox or your RSS reader), surf on over to /blog to get a better look.

So, how do big and small digital signage networks handle their service needs?

If you missed last week's article on digital signage services, you might want to give it a quick read-through, since it presents some top-line findings that we'll be exploring in more depth today. Let me point out one quick thing before diving into the results: there are some slight numerical differences in the results between this week and last, due to rounding errors in Excel and a peculiarity with how the spreadsheet treats blank values in certain formulas. For the most part, these errors are small (less than 3% or so), and in any event they don't change the high-level findings or analysis presented in last week's article. With that out of the way, let's take a look at the charts for each type of digital signage service:

Digging into the numbers

As you can see, there really isn't much variance in the responses from each of the experience groups, which I found quite surprising. After all, a 10,000 screen, 500-venue advertising network is quite different from, say, a 2-screen employee breakroom application. I was really expecting to see more distinction between those with only-large and only-small network experience, but those variances simply didn't show up. Understandably, the group who admitted to having no experience working with digital signage did tend to have different answers than the folks who have done projects before. Whether this indicates a lack of understanding of the marketplace or just a different set of expectations based on some domain-specific knowledge is hard to say. Most of the time, though, even the no-experience people were within a few percentage points of those with some experience under their belts.

However, there were a few areas where the groups displayed more diversity in their responses:
  • Nearly 80% of those working with large digital signage networks handle their content management in-house, versus 74% of small networks and 70% of those who have done both.

  • Those respondents who had only worked on large network projects were slightly more likely to outsource their project planning (11%), versus just 3.5% of those who had only worked on small network projects.

  • Likewise, those handling large and mixed projects were more likely to outsource logistics management (35%), versus only 21% of those working exclusively on small network projects.

  • While those with both large and small network experience generally tended to answer more similarly to those with large network experience only, one exception is in the network/operations area. Those with mixed experience were markedly more likely to take care of that service in-house (76%), versus just 63% of those exclusively working on large projects, and 64% of those exclusively working on small projects.

  • Not surprisingly, small network managers were significantly more likely to handle installation services themselves (though it was still only 30% of them). Only 20% of large network managers handled such tasks in-house. Those with mixed experience were split between these two at about 24%.
Things to cover in future surveys

While I got a lot of positive feedback about this survey and its content in general, there were a few common themes in the suggestions that I received. For example, many people asked for a greater focus on content-related costs, including typical production costs, rework costs, and the like. Another popular area of focus was on hardware, with numerous folks asking for a study of pricing for components like directional audio systems, cellular modems and plans, and measurement peripherals. Still another group wanted a look at more business-y items like equipment financing and leasing, costs associated with customer attrition, and related site fees. And then there was one guy who said "Monkeys. Lots of monkeys. And pie."

I'm not quite sure how I can help that last respondent (except perhaps to recommend that he check the dosage of his medication), but for the rest of you folks with requests, I'll certainly begin planning some future surveys to cover these important matters. There's clearly still a lot of confusion and complexity in our market, thanks to both the variety of skills that must be brought to the table, and the wide range of corporate disciplines that have attempted to take on digital signage projects. My goal for future surveys is to continue bringing the relevant data into the open, which should help increase confidence among potential customers and increase the size of the pie for everyone.

Well, I'm finished studying this data for a while, but it certainly has been an educational set of articles (for me, at least). As many of you have been asking, yes, an update to our annual digital signage cost estimate is coming up soon -- either later in October or early in November. To compile the annual budget numbers, I definitely plan to use the data from this pricing survey in conjunction with my usual method of gathering industry-wide pricing (which largely consists of emailing and calling a lot of people). But thanks again to everyone who filled out the survey and left comments during the past few articles. I've learned quite a bit from the experience, and hopefully you have, too.

Did you enjoy the way we published the survey results? Would you like to see them presented in the form of a downloadable report, a slide presentation, a video, or a podcast? Leave a comment and let us know.


+2 # Edwin Leung 2009-10-09 05:20
What a great job you had done.I would like to see the survey results presented in the form of downloadable report.
+2 # june Hagman 2009-10-29 01:38
Very interesting and seems to make sense to me based on my observations, conversations, and experience. Wish I had realized some of this a long time ago - would've saved a bunch of $$.

Subscribe to the Digital Signage Insider RSS feed

Looking for more articles and research? Our newest articles can always be found at Digital Signage Insider, but there are hundreds of additional research articles in our historical articles archive.

You may also be interested in M2M Insider: our blog about M2M and the Internet of Things.