The Digital Signage Insider

Which Issues Matter the Most for the Digital Signage Industry?

Published on: 0000-00-00

For someone who's not even exhibiting, I've spent a lot of time getting ready for the upcoming Digital Signage Expo. Just last night, I gave my PowerPoint decks a final review and sent them over to the powers that be at Exponation, and I'm still revising some of the research material we'll be presenting. While it looks like a good number of people have already registered for my talk on research techniques for designing effective digital signage content (Seminar #48: Effective Content Design and Display), I got word this morning that our panel on standards is suffering from low pre-registration so far. That's unfortunate, but not surprising. When it comes to "issues" in this industry, I've found that most people either don't want to take a stand, or are ill-equipped to do so. And it's probably one of those things that's holding us back.

What are the issues we should be focusing on?

Technology standards. Best practices for interacting with the viewer. Consumer privacy. Sheesh, even the number of non-profit industry organizations that represent us. All of these things have a serious impact on the operational efficiency of our technology and of our businesses. And it's consistently like pulling teeth trying to get anyone to notice or care. Throughout the young history of our industry, we've seen and squandered opportunities to make our industry better and play nicer with others outside of our little ecosystem. For example, ever wonder why your digital signage player can't simply turn on and off any display device, regardless of whether it's an LCD screen, projector, or LED billboard? That's because after contemplating some very sophisticated and useful tech standards for getting screens and players to talk to each other in a consistent way, the folks in POPAI's Digital Signage Standards group simply couldn't get vendors and manufacturers to adopt them. Consequently, we're left with a hodge-podge of techniques and practices. Likewise, have you ever run into a situation where a seemingly OK piece of content simply won't play on your system? Again, it's probably because either the content author, the player manufacturer, or both failed to certify against any of the existing standards (POPAI and OVAB -- I mean DPAA -- both have them).

And things are only going to get more complicated from here. There have been discussions about intellectual property sharing agreements, licensing bodies, content management bodies and a host of other things that would make business easier and better for all, but will be difficult to get started. So unless something dramatically changes, we'll probably be doomed to the fate of many other industries, taking up challenges only when they've hit the "crisis" level instead of taking steps to head them off at the pass.

How can we address the current challenges?

If you're an executive or other decision maker:

The first thing you should do is drop by our DSE session at 9 am on Wednesday: Seminar #9: Driving Industry Growth through Standards. We'll be giving a brief presentation on the status of various industry standards and how they're already making things better for early adopters. We'll then move to a question-and-answer format to discuss current challenges and talk about strategies for the future. It will be a good introduction to the various efforts for those who haven't yet been involved, but who want to lend their thoughts and influence to matters of technology, content and law.

After that, join a group and make a contribution to the community! POPAI, DSF and DPAA all have standards groups. I think DSA might too, but I don't know for sure. They range from very involved (POPAI's tech group has an hour-long call every week) to much, much less involved (think a few emails a quarter), and there's room for every kind of expertise.

If you're a network owner/operator:

Again, there's no time like the present, so I'd definitely encourage you to check out Seminar 9 to see what the industry can do for you. Remember, to most of the people who have worked on these standards so far, you are the customer and our efforts have largely been designed to help you out. Now we want to make sure that you agree with us, and if not, that you have the opportunity to tell us why.

After that, I'd also encourage you to make sure you're properly educated. There are lots of opportunities for this, and in fact DSE has three other executive-level sessions designed specifically for digital place-based network operators: The goal of each of these programs is to help business managers improve efficiency and reduce waste by learning from past mistakes and taking advantage of today's best practices. If you have questions about any of these meetings, you can leave a comment below, or get in touch with the DSE folks directly. Either way, I'm sure one of us can help you out. See you at DSE!


+1 # Ken Goldberg 2011-02-11 18:54
Well said, Bill! I have always been amazed that there can't be a common protocol for RS232 screen controls. They even vary within models from the same manufacturer. Knowing that you tried and got nowhere with the vendors makes it even more crazy. You forgot to tell your readers that if more than 75 people come to Session 9, that you will perform the Macarena after the Q&A. Now they know!
+1 # Stephen Ghigliotty 2011-02-11 19:55
Sorry to read that all the effort you and others have worked to achieve are not getting the traction deserved. I spent at least a year on those POPAI DS Standards Committee calls and would have hoped by now that some of the standards would have percolated into products and service offerings in the industry. Readers of this blog should know that Bill has been diligently working on this issue for a long time...and I can testify firsthand that it hasn't always been that easy. Folks headed to DSE would be well advised to attend Bill's sessions; content and standards.
0 # Bill Gerba 2011-02-11 20:06
Ken: That's right, I will do the macarena immediately following your chainsaw juggling display. Stephen: Hey, I didn't know you were still keeping track of any of us poor digital signage folks ;) Seriously though, thanks for the kind words and support. As you said, it's frequently not easy... in fact, most of the time it's pretty damned hard.

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