In this month’s Issue in Focus, David Kim director of MEA B2B team for LG MEA and Anthony Peter, director of direct communications and customer care for Panasonic Middle East and Africa, go head to head to provide their own opinions on the progression and development of indoor and outdoor digital signage (DS).
1. What are the current trends/demands in DS, internationally speaking and/or in the MENA region?
Anthony Peter: There is a paradigm shift in the outdoor advertising industry – large roadside billboards are now being converted to digital. The concept of static advertisement display is changing and is offering more lucrative, innovative and creative landscapes for advertising companies.
Gone are the days, where billboard advertisements stayed up for one to twelve months before being manually changed. Billboards now are live and more communicative.
The outdoor advertising industry stands to gain a lot from converting traditional static billboards and posters to digital signs. While this gives current market players pricing leverage, in effect it also caps the supply of billboards in a now saturated market.
David Kim: Nowadays, we assist to new trends and demands in screens related to the digital signage, which is a form of electronic display that is usually installed in public spaces. The interactive displays allow the audience to engage with large format screens and when a social media option is available, the users have more fun.
This emerging field has limitless potential for the way businesses communicate with customers and influencing on their purchasing decisions. Current clients are investing in it in order to increase footfall, conversion rates and sales, as Digital Signage can be used to sell ad space, promote the brand or enhance the in-store experience.
2. How have these demands/trends changed in the past 5-10 years?
AP: As mentioned earlier, it has seen a considerable change over the years and is evolving constantly. The timely and efficient update of advertisement has heralded a transition from a business model based on selling display space to one based on selling time on multiple displays.
It also has the potential to attract more types of advertisers to outdoor advertising as well as to increase display utilisation rates. This will see more and more advanced utilisation of technological know-how in the coming years, providing customers a good value for money.
DK: Many analysts like InfoTrends and CAP Ventures, started tracking the industry back in 1999. They have adjusted projections upward annually to over a 30% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) reflecting steady, accelerated growth and even in tough economic times.
However, it is the unit growth that is the impressive part of the market as the unit growth in the Digital Signage market reached 23 million units by 2011, rising at the CAGR of 42.2 per cent from approximately 4 million units in 2006, a nearly six fold increase.
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3. What are some of the issues surrounding DS, both for indoor and outdoor use?
AP: There are two factors that will have a direct impact on the success and speed of adoption of digital signage – the first being the continued generation of a high return on investment and the latter being increased operational efficiency among outdoor advertisers.
We have to bear in mind that outdoor advertising is highly correlated and sensitive to GDP growth and decline. Small downturns in the economic performance lead to disproportionately large overall declines in ad spending, while ad spending tends to increase sharply during boom times.
In addition, revenues in the outdoor advertising industry are highly seasonal, following consumer spending trends. The legislation and capacity constraints can be termed as some of the obstacles within the industry. Also, a handful of jurisdictions have already placed bans on digital billboards, citing their brightness or power to distract highway drivers.
Industry watchers are still waiting to see how different jurisdictions will react to new installations and results of studies about their safety.
DK: Challenges surrounding Digital Signage can be managed especially when you are in the planning phase. First, the challenges are audience management, content and networks.
In the audience measurement, for instance, brands should ask the following question: How many people are looking at their digital signs and how long did they look at the screen?
Additionally, developers released digital signage audience measurement tools and techniques that help marketers analyze ROI. The content may be the most important element of any digital signage deployment, as it should target their audience and their market.
Finally, the outdoor signage challenges can be easily overcome like the visibility in direct sunlight, protection against the elements, security, and serviceability.
4. What are some future developments users can expect to see in the next 5-10 years?
AP: Digital outdoor advertising is turning old media into new media and a sluggish outdoor advertising industry into a growth industry. With special reference to the MENA region – we must take a note that air and road transport are the most widely used modes of transportation here.
Whilst airports in the region have taken major strides in the usage of Digital media, road network has potential for major revamp. We as Panasonic Marketing Middle & East Africa – not only use this segment actively, but we also have products catering to these markets.
Our LED screens and large Screen displays have been used widely across the region. We have displays featuring excellent visibility in sunlight and are all weather proof as well.
We foresee a great demand in this sector and believe that the industry undoubtedly is gaining prominence, offering outdoor advertisers various ways to stimulate profits: increase ROI’s. Digital media will be undoubtedly the most looked upon advertising means in the coming years.
DK: Some of the future developments we expect to see within the next 5-10 years are a wide viewing angle based on In Plan Switching IPS Technology, an auto brightness sensor where screen brightness is automatically adjusted by its surrounding illumination level and smart Energy Saving.
In addition, Media Players Integrated Solutions to reduce TCO, LED light displays designed with slim and light frame and adopt the eco- friendly feature, and transparent screens with full HD, shine-out, superior colour and true colour from IPS Technology.