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2005 B+ Report Card for Digital Signage

2006 Outlook Very Strong By Lyle Bunn

The elements of the 2005 Digital Signage ?Report Card range from ?A to ?F with an overall industry score coming in at a B+. This summary of key industry directions during 2005 suggests a very positive outlook for 2006.

B+  Overall Growing supply capability, display inventory and revenues.
A  Analysts and Events Valuable business planning information provided.
C+  Media Buyers Savvy performance under poor direction.
B  Technology Improving price/performance and inter-operability
F  Media Planners Need to stay ahead of clients awareness of digital signage.

Amid the arm-waving, proposals, pilots and promises, 2005 was a positive year for digital signage earning an overall grade of B+ due to the broadening range of organizations involved with this enabling capability, the success of current deployments and advances in both business models and the technology base.

Many firms entered and deepened their focus on the industry including suppliers, content creators, brands, location providers, retailers, consumer service providers and network owners. New approaches to digital signage emerged which broadened the field of options, RFID triggered display is poised to hit store shelves, multi-purposing of displays emerged as a key future function and the proof and rationale for digital signage advanced considerably.

On the down side, there were few launches relative to the promise of this enabling capability, technology was under-used, content often went stale, investment in new networks was slow and ad-selling and CPM rates developed poorly.

Organizations and investors were wise to.. think through their business model including the framework defining possible content and digital signage use for their organization. 
As 2005 ended, ?Digital Signage is still evolving as a name. POPAI, the global at-retail marketing association, defines Digital Signage as a ?network of digital displays that are centrally managed and addressable for targeted advertising, information, entertainment and merchandising.

Yet, non-networked stand-alone displays and those fueled by CD, DVD and flash cards also call themselves digital signage. Meanwhile PRN (the Wal-Mart network), and others call it ?In-Store TV, which suitably describes their service, and facilitates access to TV ad budgets. ?Digital display, ?electronic signage , ?multicasting or other terms are used to describe out-of-home digital display.

The ?Out-of-Home display category is an umbrella being applied to all digital signage networks by media planners and buyers.  

During 2005, organizations and investors were wise to wait, holding off technology deployment, capitalizing adequately, monitoring industry developments, considering and planning for intended outcomes and defining the value of audiences that might be reached is an underpinning of the success of every digital signage network. Thinking through the policy framework defining possible content remains extremely important.

?acquisitions recognize that digital signage as ?electronic publishing has the capability to extend or replace other display and promotional methods. 
Acquisitions. 2005 saw several large acquisitions. Mercury Online Solutions acquired Fred Systems in 2003 and was then acquired by 3M in 2005. Also in 2005, Thomson acquired PRN and Clarity Systems acquired CoolSign. In July 2005, FocusMedia Holdings (founded in 2003) raised US$197 Million in a NASDAQ IPO. These acquisitions recognize that digital signage as ?electronic publishing has the capability of extending or replacing other display methods. Acquisition have continued as 2006 began, attesting that the digital signage corporate business model, comprised of location agreements (i.e. viewers), technology application (i.e. display inventory), ad sales capability (i.e. revenue generation), is, at its core, a basic publishing model.  

Top marks went to Research houses, event producers and the technology, with low marks to organizations supporting brand development.

Research Firms scored an ?A. Three firms including Forrester Research, (www.forrester.com) Frost & Sullivan (www.frost.com) and Infotrends/Cap Ventures (www.capv.com) provided excellent statistical perspectives on the outlook of digital signage as an explosive phenomenon marching toward ?Big I industry status. Their immediate term projections reflect the ?opportunities pipeline of projects that BTV+ is tracking or involved with.

Strategy Institute presented 90 speakers at its 3 conferences,  (www.strategyinstitute.com) and has six Digital Signage events planned for 2006. 
?A+ was awarded to each of Event Producers.  Quality conference programming is essential to the development of an industry. Significant contributions to improving industry awareness, business models, partnerships and processes have been made by event producers. In particular, The Strategy Institute (www.strategyinstitute.com) which produces executive conferences on subjects of broad economic impact, produced 3 major digital signage events including more than 90 presenters. Strategy Institute has six events planned for 2006, including the World Digital Signage Summit April 4-5 in New York. The importance of these events lies in people connecting, the exchange of information and ideas, and that perspectives and experiences related to digital signage are synthesized and put into a limited public domain. Since many network initiatives are operating in relative stealth without significant disclosure, conferences offer a vital gathering point.  Digital Signage trade show floor exhibits grew at events such as GlobalShop, Digital Retailing Expo, InfoComm, NAB and others during 2005, although little was offered in terms of education at these events. Conference events will be of increasing importance as information forum.  

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Related Keywords:digital signage, BTV, Business Television, Digital Signage Report Card

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