Digital signage is a form of electronic display that shows television programming, menus, information, advertising and other messages. Digital signs (frequently utilizing technologies such as LCD, LED, plasma displays, or projected images to display content) can be found in both public and private environments, including retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and corporate buildings, amongst other locations.
Digital signage displays are most commonly controlled by personal computers or servers, through the use of either proprietary or public-domain software programs; this approach often allows the operator to avoid large capital outlays for the controller equipment.
Advertising using digital signage is a form of out-of-home advertising in which video content, advertisements, and/or messages may be displayed on digital signs with a common goal of delivering targeted messages, to specific locations and/or consumers, at specific times. This is often called “digital out of home” or abbreviated as DOOH.
Since digital signage content may be both frequently and easily updated, saving the printing and/or construction costs associated with static signage, and also because of the interactive abilities available through the accompanying employment of such real-world interfaces as embedded touch screens, movement detection and image capture devices, it has won wide acceptance in the marketplace.
While the term “digital signage” has taken hold throughout most of the world, some companies and organizations prefer to use the terms “narrowcasting”, “screen media”, “place-based media”, “digital merchandising”, “digital media networks“, “digital out-of-home” or “captive audience networks”.
China currently leads the world in the number of digital signage displays deployed and number of NASDAQ IPOs, with the country’s biggest digital signage firm, Focus Media Holding, alone operating more than 120,000 screens. Total revenue from the digital signage equipment market in the United States:including hardware, software, installation, and maintenance – is expected to grow by about 33% in 2009. Another source for information on digital signage displays and impressions (the number of times a viewer reads/views digital signage), is a report provided by Nielsen, the “4th Screen Network Audience Report”. In it Nielsen identifies that digital screens in the “fourth screen” category in the US generated over 237 million monthly exposures to persons 18+years or older,. The report identifies Screenvision, NCM, Capitvate, GSTV and IndoorDirect as among the companies that are leaders in the fourth screen category. One of the leading digital signage companies in movie theaters is Screenvision, with over 14,400 screens in the US; another leader in the “fourth screen” marketplace is GSTV (Gas Station TV), which reportedly generates over 32 million digital signage impressions every month. Nielsen estimates these 237 million+ exposures translate into more than half (54%) of the adult population being exposed to a place-based video ad during the period measured.
Digital signage is used for many different purposes and there is no definitive list. However, below are some of the most common applications of digital signage:
- Public information:news, weather and local (location specific) information, such as building directory with map, fire exits and traveler information.
- Internal information – corporate messages, such as health & safety items, news, and so forth.
- Menu information:pricing, photos, ingredients, and other information about the food(s) being offered, including nutritional facts.
- Advertising:usually either related to the location of the signage or using the audience reach of the screens for general advertising.
- Brand building:in-store digital signage to promote the brand and build a brand identity.
- Influencing customer behavior:directing customers to different areas, increasing the “dwell time” on the store premises, and a wide range of other uses in service of such influence.
- Enhancing customer experience:applications include the reduction of perceived wait time in the waiting areas of restaurants and other retail operations, bank queues, and similar circumstances, as well as demonstrations, such as those of recipes in food stores, among other examples.
- Enhancing the environment:with interactive screens (in the floor, for example, as with “informational footsteps” found in some tourist attractions, museums, and the like) or with other means of “dynamic wayfinding”.