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Signs of the digital times

01 Jul 10

Digital signs, such as LCD, LED, plasma displays or projected images are fast becoming the new medium to get   messages out and heard. Digital signs can take many forms, including free-standing towers, fl at screens hung from walls and ceilings, electronic displays integrated into end caps at retail stores, video walls in all sorts of venues, and even 30-foot outdoor billboards. 

The ability to modify or adjust content in response to specifi c audiences across multiple locations is changing the way businesses communicate and advertise. Research studies have proved that an audience’s retention of a message is much higher when it is displayed through digital signage.
In fact, 48% of people read digital signage, compared to the 17% who read static signage. The market for digital  signage systems had annual revenues in excess of $350 million worldwide in 2008. Research by Frost & Sullivan  shows revenues are expected to grow annually at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 10% between 2008 and 2014.
The global digital signage industry continues to grow, with the retail sector showing the greatest appetite. While New  Zealand’s retail sector has been cautious to date, more and more retail chains are starting to seriously investigate the  feasibility of digital signage.
For those that are already using the technology it is a matter of ensuring they are getting the most out of their in-house advertising. Beyond retail, banks and other fi nancial institutions, universities, restaurant and hotel chains and the healthcare sector  are all starting to deploy digital signage systems to inform, educate and promote to their target audiences. In New Zealand, a number of banks have already deployed digital signage and are investigating new ways to use this  technology.
At banks, there are customers queuing for banking services or making inquiries at various counters for different financial products – it’s an ideal audience for digital signage. Banks are positioning digital displays inboth the waiting and   queuing areas, providing information on the latest fi nancial services, products, interest rates and loan offers. Banks are  also introducing interactive touchscreen kiosks as part of the digital signage network for customers who prefer to use  self-service machines to access the relevant information on fi nancial products.
The ability to instantly update and tailor content across all screens from a central location is a key advantage for all  organisations deploying digital signage – particularly banks that have multiple sites across the country. It provides a  more streamlined process while reducing operational and printing costs.
In the future and with the right back-end technology installed, banks will be able to pinpoint the area of the screen a  person is looking at, and use the data to analyse who is responding to the content being displayed.
This intelligent system uses facial recognition and camera technology to determine the age and gender (as well as other attributes) of the person standing in front of a display. Using this data, the system can intuitively deliver the most  appropriate content and messages for that person. The eye tracking and gender determination technology will allow  organisations to fully understand who is viewing what, resulting in smarter and more targeted marketing. This technology is already being tested in Asia.
In any case, no matter the sector, digital signage solutions can be customised to serve the specifi c needs of different  industries. Another future advancement for digital signage is interactivity with Bluetooth and wi-fi . Digital signs will be  able to detect thepresence of devices fi tted with Bluetooth or wi-fi transmitters carried by people passing by, such as smartphones.
With the continued development of screen technology and advancements in content creation, 3D digital signage will also emerge more in the market. Viewing angles, resolution and picture quality are all improving, making no-glasses 3D  a real possibility for the future of digital signage.
However, despite all the benefi ts, digital signage can still be a complex proposition for businesses. Dynamic content, multiple networks and IT infrastructure costs are all factors that need to be considered for digital signage to be truly  effective. But, with more cloud services emerging overseas, it may become easier and less expensive for businesses to  deploy digital signage solutions in New Zealand than we think. Hosted digital signage, or digital signage that is fully managed by a third party, are management models that are likely to  reach our shores in the near future.
These cloud-based services allow organisations to display content across their network without having to invest in costly information technologyinfrastructure, software licences r hardware maintenance. Cloud technology is paid for incrementally, meaning there are no heavy upfront costs to setup a digital signage network.  Cloudcomputing services will make it easier for small-to-medium sized businesses to run digital signage and  reap the benefi ts the technology has to offer.

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