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Digital Signage: People Like Interactivity

Jun 10, 2008
Perhaps you have a friend like mine. It seems no matter what we do, whenever I'm over at his house, the TV is on. No one may be watching, but the set alternates between some talking head delivering the news and commercial blaring out their sales pitch.

When I question him about why the set is on, he never has a very definitive answer, just some nebulous comment about background noise. Without question, my friend -and millions upon millions of other Americans- have found a way to tune out the endless stream of information, commercials and promotions and selectively focus in long enough if something arises to pique his interest.

I've often compared and contrasted television and digital signage in this space, usually pointing out the benefits of the latter, such as its ability to reach audiences at the point of purchase--when they're actually looking to spend money. Sadly, however, digital signage has the potential to suffer from the same "tune out factor" my friend integrates into his normal TV viewing. Without the right messaging, it's possible that digital signage will blend into the background and fail to connect with its audience at the most opportune moment.

Fortunately, good news is at hand--literally. A recent forecast from market research firm iSuppli shows that by 2013 global shipments of touch-screen display modules are expected to double, or 833 million units. By way of comparison, in 2008 worldwide touch-screen module shipments will reach 341 million units, about $3.4 billion in value, according to the research organization. At symposium in Los Angeles last month put on by the Society for Information Display, nearly 60 companies promoted their particular touch-screen sensor technology.

When coupled with digital signage technology, such touch-screen sensors can transform ordinary linear digital signage content (in other words, a succession on visual and audio elements presented one after another) into dynamic, interactive content that let's the public seek out the information about a product they desire. Interactive digital signage combines the best of the kiosk world -namely touch-screen interactivity- with the power of consistent messaging delivered when the sign operates in a traditional linear mode.

The significance of the iSuppli data is that it quantifies something we all intuitively know. People like to touch screens, interact with technology and get what they want. Look at the incredible success Apple Computers has had with the iPod, the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Those products have hit a nerve with the public. Simply touch a screen, interact with the interface and satisfy a desire.

Even the monolith of linear program presentation -the television industry- has been forced by technology to re-evaluate its business model and begin making the transition from so-called "appointment TV" to the anything, anytime model of video-on-demand. Spurred by DVRs, VOD, pay-per-view, IPTV, and cable television, those whose business it is to generate revenue from commercial television sales are working hard to develop a business model that makes the most sense. While all of the details are being hammered out on a daily basis with each new media sale, it's safe to say the future of TV will be built on interactivity.

Consider the ramifications from digital signage content. Marketers who rely on the presentation of endless linear digital signage content are likely to find their messaging becoming less effective as their audience increasingly finds their experiences with consumer devices, like an iTouch, and their television, to be more interactive.

Simply put, to compete in the battle to influence the buying decisions of consumers, digital signage content producers will soon be forced to incorporate interactivity into their presentations just to stay competitive.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage enthusiast with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media . Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons.
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