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Digital Signage: Consumers Want Control

Jun 25, 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. None the less, he still feels in control, and it's that attribute that seems to be driving digital signage in the future.

According to the iSuppli forecasts, vendors of the touch screen technology stand to reap the rewards of this consumer love affair. Consider this: worldwide shipments of touch-screen modules will reach 341 million units in 2008, or about $3.4 billion in value. In five short years, global shipments of touch-screen display modules will more than double to 833 million units.

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, its 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.

For digital signage marketers, the message should be clear. Millions of people are demonstrating by their technology spending they like to reach out, touch a screen and be in control. In a digital signage context, that means increasingly that networked flat panel monitors used to playback linear digital signage content that is, event after event after event- will begin to look dated as the technological milieu transitions to a state where touchscreen control is commonplace.

Fortunately for digital signage marketers, a variety of interactive technologies are being built into some of the latest digital signs available, delivering the same sort of touch-screen interface thats gaining broad popularity. Best of all, incorporating touch-screen technology into a digital sign is doubly powerful because doing so combines the best of the kiosk world with the strengths of digital signage.

In a nutshell, these interactive, hybrid digital signs can attract attention while in linear mode by playing back special offers or even something as basic as television programming and at the touch of one finger transition into an interactive mode in which a consumer can find the product information, electronic coupon or one of an endless list of info nuggets that are desired.

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.

To ignore the message consumers are sending by their mass adoption of iPods, Blackberry devices, and GPS navigation units to name only a few, as well as the efforts of the cable and IPTV markets to elevate interactivity, doesnt make sense for digital signage marketers who wish to tap into the true potential of digital signage.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage enthusiast with 20 years of experience helping communicators use technology to effectively communicate their unique marketing messages. For further digital signage insight from Keywest Technology, visit our website for many helpful tips and examples.
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