I began publishing my thoughts on the blog Digital Signage Insights almost 10 years ago. In that time, the digital signage and DOOH industries have changed a lot. Not all of the companies that I used to write about have survived. How many of you remember names like SeeSaw Networks, Indoor Direct, TargetCast, BarFly, Digital Display Networks or Wireless Ronin? Other companies have been acquired, with a varying range of success. These include startups and network operators like Locamoda, Aerva, Symon, Adcentricity, and IdeaCast.
At one point, it seemed like Reach Media Group (now RMG Networks) was going to succeed by consolidating the industry’s largest media networks. With backing from Kleiner Perkins, a lot of people thought (myself included) that RMG could emerge as not just a large DOOH company, but a major digital media player-at-large. At one point, RMG operated DOOH displays in shopping malls, cafes, airport lounges, and airplanes. I even heard a rumor many years ago that RMG attempted to get more growth capital to fuel a string of acquisitions. The company’s then CEO wanted to roll up mobile, social, and DOOH players to build a location-first media company. Today, RMG Networks isn’t even in the media business.
There are countless reasons why some digital signage and DOOH companies have failed over the last 10 years. These include everything from the effects of the economic downturn to operational mistakes, optimism that exceeded the market, missing the media sales piece when building a network, and being slow to recognize technological shifts. At the same time, we’re seeing more digital displays dot our landscape than ever before.
Displays are cheaper. Outdoor advertising stalwarts are transitioning more of their static assets to digital. Networks are being run off of Android players and Amazon Fire TV sticks. Programmatic advertising is supporting the flow of more digital media dollars into the space. This means that campaigns are getting more intelligent, and brands are taking greater advantage of dynamic creative capabilities.
Major companies in the foodservice and retail sectors are deploying self-service kiosks en masse. McDonald’s and Panera are realizing significant operational efficiencies from the technology. These days it’s hard to find a retail store that doesn’t have at least one digital sign. Brands like Uniqlo and Coach have massive digital displays in their locations.
While interactive mobile technology hasn’t had the effect on DOOH that I thought it would (the same can be said for the Social TV space), mobile is an integral part of the DOOH ecosystem. I still love the executions we pioneered at Screach, but the true value of mobile as an ally to out-of-home is being captured through location-based targeting, measurement, and attribution. As I have long espoused, mobile is a key connection point for out-of-home media. It helps media owners and brands better understand audiences, gauge the success of campaigns, and retarget consumers.
I’m sure that we will continue to see new and interesting ways that mobile and OOH will be combined. With Apple finally unlocking NFC in the iPhone, we’re going to see more tap-to-activate executions across the OOH landscape. Whether or not these OOH and NFC campaigns are successful will largely depend on their value proposition to consumers.
So, if you have reached this point in the post, you may be asking yourself whether I’m relaunching Digital Signage Insights. My answer is yes…and…no. I am definitely going to be writing more about the digital signage and DOOH sectors. Even though I wasn’t directly involved in the industry for a few years, my passion for the ecosystem and its players did not cease. I even built a free social media aggregation platform (Ventr – it’s still live if you want to check it out) for digital signage and DOOH network operators to stay connected to the industry. While I haven’t spoken at DSE in a few years, I did make it to the conference a handful of times over the last 4 years.
I’m going to be starting a new gig on Monday that’s bringing me back to the industry full-time. With that, I will be posting my thoughts on digital signage software, DOOH, location-based mobile, customer experience, and everything in between regularly on this blog.
I’ll also continue to write about technology, innovation, and startups that interest me. You can expect to find posts about AI, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, healthcare technology, mobile apps, and much more. As always, thank you for reading.