Guest Post: Too Much of What’s Developed for Digital Signage is Shiny, Overpriced and Non- Performing Fluff
This industry has developed some pretty engaging applications. From touch screen interactivity to gesture-based control, there are many pieces of the digital signage ecosystem that provide the value-add needed to help legitimize a still burgeoning industry. Unfortunately, what some deem as new, engaging or enhancing in terms of products and business models are all-too-often repeats of technology developed in a bygone era, don’t add value at all or could actually prove a detriment to the the legitimacy of the industry at large.
Let’s take general DOOH advertising for instance and hit it with some rhetoric. If the industry was truly the value-add to traditional DOOH that many prognosticators claimed, why have so many of the companies in that sector failed to match the hype of their PR? If ad-based networks were truly the way to monetize the glitz of a public digital display, then why haven’t we seen more home-grown ad networks gain the massive traction to prove the point. I want to belabor this point: until plug-and-play digital out-of-home reaches the simplicity and ease of monetization of a Google Adsense model, the masses will not be reached and the industry will continue to limp. While that may require an ascent to the Minority Report levels of control and targeting (and might I add, creepiness), then let’s push for it. Until then, anything that only represents a half-hearted attempt at something that isn’t quite there is only deleterious to legitimacy.
Touch screen interactivity is yet another area where heavy investments have been made, but for whose applications are more nichey than we’d like to admit. We’ve been there ourselves. Client wants to have some specific feature with his/her digital sign so as to engage customers. Unfortunately, the viable locations for touch screen displays are infrequently discussed and so many would-be signage reps end up installing touch screen just for the wow-factor, realizing later that the thing was rarely, if ever, used. There are some very stark exceptions to this rule–where touch screen wins in ROI and effectiveness hands-down (which may be worth another blog post sometime), but unfortunately most want to use it as a veritable–and ultimately more expensive–catch-all.
Furthermore, expensive custom applications for integration with digital signage fails on the ROI for a number of reasons. Unlike their mobile phone application counterparts they lack the scale and are usually created with a single project in mind. Second, there is no direct path to monetization. Third, we’ve seen a number of occasions where such infringe on IP.
Intellectual Property arguments and patent-trolling aside, the applications developed for this industry–in particular those developed for public interactivity–still leave too much room open for offensive and obscene error. Take the public interactivity of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on DOOH displays. Without true filters on such displays, the applications become the portal for the potentially obscene, a perfect avenue and complete fodder for attorneys.
Admittedly, my rant is a bit overzealous. The journey of this industry has actually been extremely interesting to watch over the last several years, especially when it was combined with the onslaught of the Great Recession. It can be argued with unyielding fervor that the very things I would call fluff are the experimental and tangential laboratory experiments needed to push this industry into finding itself. True. Even we’ve been guilty of that. But what most often occurs is a repeat of the same half-baked business models, software apps and process ideas that become today’s TechCrunch headlines and tomorrows shuttered companies.
About Nate Nead
Nate Nead is one of the Principals of MediaSignage, Inc. a cloud-powered digital signage software and hardware vendor based out of Southern California in the United States. He resides in Bellevue, Washington with his wife and two children.
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