Digital Signage in 2021: Here’s What Awaits!

Given the challenges we’ve all faced in 2020, we don’t need to wait until its end to call it one of the tougher years. As everything gradually returns to normal, or at the very least appears to be so, we look forward to the future and what 2021 will bring.

Should the current pandemic situation remain on a manageable path and we don’t experience any sharp turns along the way to recovery, here’s what digital signage in 2021 will bring us.

A relative recovery of OOH

A few months back, as living amid a pandemic became the new normal, we saw plenty of sources predict how 2021 will be the year of the miraculous recovery of OOH. Of course, we must take such predictions with a grain of salt. We don't know what lurks around the corner. 

As we approach that corner, however, we now see the situation a bit more realistically. For reference, take a quick look at the UK. The latest Advertising Association/WARC expenditure Report showed that the UK ad spend will indeed continue recovering in 2021, but at a slower rate than predicted "with any gains made in 2021 unlikely to offset this year's losses." Full recovery of the UK ad market is expected by 2022 at the earliest.

Programmatic on the rise

Speaking of the recovery of digital signage in 2021, programmatic OOH is likely going to be a catalyst for it. The pandemic has provoked many changes. Among them is the shift to ecommerce which many brands opted for as the pandemic began. Programmatic OOH is the next logical step for clients of OOH as it can ensure marketers get the most out of their ad budgets while being able to deploy their campaigns quickly.

Not to forget, programmatic digital signage has been on the rise in the recent years. Its growth has shown it as a promising component of OOH. It's bound to become the norm at some point in the future. 2021, expected to be the year of recovery from the pandemic, is the ideal time for it to prove its worth. In fact, the question is not whether or not it will grow in 2021, but rather how much.

Will audio in OOH be the next big thing?

There are plenty of benefits of audio in digital signage. Although do keep in mind that it can be a tricky tool. It should be used with several aspects in mind. With the benefits of audio in mind, there is no question that it will always exist as a feature. Someone somewhere will make good use of it. But is it going to become a must-have feature in the future?

For that, we need to see just how much ad spending goes into it. According to the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) review, US audio and ad spend saw a rise of 30% in the first half of 2019. Additionally, Vibenomics, a location-based Audio OOH ad company, this year raised $6 million in Series A funding, bringing the company's total funding to $13.5 million. The funds will enhance the Vibenomics Audio OOH Advertising Marketplace. These numbers show there is a growing interest in audio for OOH, albeit not a groundbreaking amount.

A colorful visual preview of audio

Another factor to consider is the rise of touchless interaction. As it is today, much of digital signage in 2021 will be interactive via voice commands. In this connection, perhaps the concept of audio will become ingrained as a new normal in outdoor tech. Personally, I doubt that it will become an insanely popular feature anytime soon. One visual display can exist next to other displays without being a distraction. We can't say the same thing for audio. That’s an obstacle that might prevent it from becoming a dominant asset. 

Of course, we can hope to see ways in which this is overcome if audio is to grow further. For instance, there may be a way for audio to be conveyed via the individual’s headphones during interaction. 

The return of trade shows!

Although 2020 was a killer year for virtual events, it was a literal killer for physical events such as trade shows and conventions, DSE being the prime example. While some tried to make it work by postponing to later in the year, most public events opted to call it quits in 2020 and wait patiently for 2021 to make their comeback.

If the pandemic doesn’t spiral out of control and safety measures don’t rise significantly, it is highly likely that 2021 will have plenty of events that didn’t have the opportunity to take place in 2020. Of course, there are also those events which haven’t confirmed if and when they’ll be returning, such as RetailEXPO

Empty seats at an amphitheater

Still, we’re keeping a close eye on events from ISE 2021 to InfoComm, expected to take place in June 2021. Nevertheless, how will the public respond to these events at that time? Some events, like InfoComm China took place this year in September. But do keep in mind that the vast majority of attendees, if not all of them, were from China only. 

It remains to be seen if 2021 trade shows will host only a limited and local audience. Or, should we reach a point where international travel is permissible, we’ll see if the trade show audience is prepared to travel the miles, both in budget as well as in convenience and trust in safety measures.

JCDecaux expects to reach carbon neutrality by 2021

A big win for the environment, the largest OOH advertising company in the world expects to achieve carbon-neutral status by 2021 for all its activities in France. The company is also working on reducing greenhouse gas emissions internationally. But France is, after all, where their largest market is. 

A small tree in a shattered orb of glass

Outdoor advertising is an industry that has relatively low greenhouse gas emissions. Still, there is always room for improvement. JCDecaux has achieved much in order to lower these levels further. One example is rainwater collection for the purpose of washing street furniture without detergent, a technique which dates back several decades.

New opportunities for digital signage

COVID-19 shook up 2020 and threw several challenges to the Out-of-Home world. It has also presented new opportunities for digital signage. Now, more than ever, businesses need such a tool to provide detailed information to consumers. PSAs, for instance, are a new content category which seems to emerge everywhere.

Digital signage software providers in 2021 will be thrown in the spotlight. Digital signage users will need tools which help them organize the content adequately to make sure the right content reaches the right place. Furthermore, businesses which have relied on simple digital signage will now find just how much they can benefit from digital signage software.


Digital Signage News: A New Digital Signage Event, Banning Billboards, and more! 

Incredulously, and for the superstitious paired with a sigh of relief, the end of the year less ordinary 2020 is in sight. No doubt, a year to remember and one remaining in our social consciousness as a caesura point for years to come. As we dive deeper into the final quarter of the year we thankfully have only good digital signage news to report.

For a start, this month we saw a stellar example of dynamic outdoor advertising with the JCDecaux and MyPayNow OOH campaign. Among other things, the controversy of banning billboards brought up interesting points to their merit and whether or not they should be banned in certain locations. Lastly, we’ll highlight key features to look for in digital signage software before deciding on one.  

The JCDecaux/MyPayNow dynamic digital signage campaign

A great example of dynamic digital signage campaigns comes from JCDecaux and the cash advance app MyPayNow. Nationwide in the US at JCDecaux bus shelter displays bus arrival times were shown with the advert for the MyPayNow app. This is an instance where a dynamic digital signage campaign offers useful information to commuters while keeping creative focus on the advertisement. As the display showed the arrival time, the ad highlighted what a user could do with the MyPayNow app within that wait time.

JCDecaux digital signage at a bus shelter

Dynamic digital signage campaigns are a worthwhile path to inject creativity into your content. They pull in real-time factors into your message and as they are helpful they get noticed with an impact!

A new event emerges, presented by DSF and AVIXA 

Digital Signage Federation and AVIXA have recently announced about working together on a special virtual event, taking place on the 8th and 9th of December. The event is called D=SIGN and will focus on digital signage hardware, software, and content strategy.

D=SIGN event banner, presented by DSF and AVIXA

The event will among other things feature technology presentations. Given that DSF and AVIXA present the event, it will likely focus more on the overall education within the industry, rather than pitching certain products or solutions. 

Are billboards too beneficial to ban? 

As a group of citizens of Utah call for a billboard ban claiming they're eyesores, a new question arises. Billboards can indeed be an annoyance, but they do offer benefits which are often overlooked.

An article over at DesertNews discussed this in more detail, and here are some key points. Firstly, billboards are used to solve problems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uses digital billboards to promote safety. For instance, they urge drivers to buckle up, and not drink. The benefit of billboard PSAs during the COVID-19 pandemic is another example. There is also the point of innovation which drives the economy. The advancement of traditional billboards into digital enables the content they display to be more precise and relevant. This success persuades people to inject money into the economy by investing in them.

Has the pandemic made people appreciate the outdoors more?

COVID-19 has made a big impact on customer behavior, but how deep does this impact run? Posterscope, a global OOH and location-marketing firm, made an interesting discovery. 70% of UK consumers claim to be more mindful of their surroundings, especially in local areas. Many claim they found a stronger emotional connection with their local community. 

This also applies to outdoor advertising. 40% of respondents from "The Mobility Mindset" study claim they feel more positive towards brands who currently use OOH than before the pandemic. This confirms that outdoor advertising has the ability to build connections. In the end, this is hardly surprising. We all tend to appreciate things more once we are aware there is even the slightest chance of losing them. 

The latest mobility reports

Geopath mobility reports appear to show fluctuation in reference to pre-covid levels. However, they’re typically always above 90%. Good news comes from other locations as well, such as Australia. Based on their mobility data, the visits to shopping centres are up to 93% of normal levels. 

However, an OOHToday article raises a valid point when claiming that these numbers shouldn't be taken too seriously. While it's important to compare the current traffic numbers to pre-covid levels, let's not ignore the fact that traffic fluctuates throughout the year as well. Thus, perhaps including a comparison based on a year-on-year period may be more relevant. Overall, based on recent data, it’s safe to say that traffic can be regarded as normal, give or take a few percentage points.

Tips on choosing the ideal digital signage software

To wrap up this set of digital signage news, we highlight one of the more important topics we wrote about this month. Digital signage software comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. One digital signage software type will suit your business better than another will. But no matter the recommendations, it’s important you understand the basics and know which key features to look for as you do your research. Only then should you proceed to take advantage of free trials and test the software before committing.

A comprehensive dashboard, proof-of-play reports, as well as the ability to find and fix errors quickly are essential. The interface should be easy to understand and use. You and I may be dedicated enough to put in the extra effort to learn a challenging interface. But think of other users within your management and how they should be able to quickly learn the ropes. Take a look at other essential features, including those which might not necessarily come to mind now, but as you grow your digital signage network, you’ll find them invaluable!

Digital Signage News: DSE Permanently Closes Its Doors, US Traffic Fluctuating, and more!

The third quarter already came to an end and the year’s final months approach. While we eagerly awaited the final months of 2020 to bring back previously postponed events in some form or shape, we note that one of the biggest annual digital signage events, DSE, is permanently cancelled because its host company has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

Fortunately, that’s the only bad news we have to report, as foot traffic seems to be doing generally well. We also have some new impressive tech solutions emerging, as well as more guidelines on creating quality ads in today’s time. With that said, let’s get started with the biggest news of the month!

Digital Signage Expo permanently closes its doors

Exponation, the company which started and ran the annual Digital Signage Expo recently filed for bankruptcy. On September 21st, it was announced that DSE will be closing its doors permanently. The Digital Signage Federation, which has been the official association of the DSE since 2011, released a statement on this matter.

“The leadership of the DSF wishes our friends and colleagues at DSE the best in their future endeavors. Now, more than ever, the tool of digital signage has such an important role to play in creating safe environments and moving our economy forward. When it is allowed and advisable, we look forward to meeting again because our members and our industry needs it.”

While the loss of this event comes as tough news, it hasn't surprised most experts. It was indeed one of the most eye-catching digital signage events in a given year. DSE often had too many vendors over the number of customers. Many experts also noted that COVID-19 was simply the final nail in the coffin for DSE as an unsustainable operation. Experts also noted that while it is more than a small pity, the loss of DSE is unlikely to have a serious effect on the digital signage world. There still seems to be a yearning for such an event in the future. We are curious what steps up in its place.

Argo Design brings interactivity to bar tops

The creative technology agency Argo Design recently released a solution which grants interactivity to bar tops. This clever and witty interactive solution involves projections and cameras to make an initially mundane surface interactive and engaging. Although this is by far not a new concept, it is certainly becoming sleeker each time a new sample of its use sees the light. 

The camera placed over the bar top works together with a projector on top of it to track movement. This allows patrons to search through their drink options and immediately place an order by simply touching the bar top. Certainly, touchscreens could be a solid replacement to achieve the same goal. But would you like to place your ice cold drinks on a screen? An interactive bar counter makes for quite a wow factor, and easier to clean it is, too. 

A podcast with more digital signage and OOH design tips and tricks

We’ve sent many design guidelines and tips for creating quality outdoor ads your way. But there is no such thing as too many useful tips, especially when it comes to creating effective ads and staying on top of the latest marketing trends.

Rob Jackson, the founder and creative director of Extra Credit Projects recently did a podcast hosted by Billboard Insider. Extra Credit Projects focuses on creative advertising, design, and marketing. You can be sure Rob had quite a few tips and tricks on making effective outdoor ads up his sleeve.

A large billboard ad for surgery

One topic which yields plenty of mistakes, Rob said, is complexity. Many creators don't understand the medium and they feel it's all about making the message as physically big as possible. Instead, the focus should be on the relevance of the message, not its size. Context is also one of the important factors he talked about. This can refer to the literal physical context which relies on the physical environment surrounding the ad. It can also refer to the timing of the message, relevant to the mindset of the viewer. In digital billboards, scheduling can come in handy.

US foot traffic on the rise, though primarily in smaller cities

In recent months, many industries, Out-of-Home in particular, looked to Geopath for statistics in traffic changes across the U.S. This data is a valuable indicator to gauge how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the nation’s foot traffic. Billboard Insider highlighted a few key points to take from the most recent Geopath traffic report

One important takeaway is that traffic is up primarily in smaller cities. On the other hand, it dropped the most in bigger ones. Many of the big cities hold a population which relies heavily on public transit which could explain this difference. In other news on this topic, when it comes to foot traffic at grocery stores, it appears to have fully recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the larger grocery store chains are already seeing year-on-year growth in their traffic for August. 

An empty train stop

As foot traffic hopefully continues to return safely to normal, outdoor advertising recovers more each month. This is a great time to prepare new content for your campaigns, or even look into selling advertising space. Whichever road you take, OnSign TV digital signage software can help! And you can try it out immediately with a free 14-day trial.

Digital Signage News: UK OOH Down by 44.8%, Key Tips on Selling Your OOH, and more!

As we push deeper into 2020, the aftermath of the lockdowns prompted by COVID-19 becomes apparent and we now know just how bad the second quarter of 2020 has treated the digital signage world.

In this month’s news set we take a closer look at the numbers on how the Out-of-Home world is doing after the damage caused by COVID-19 and the challenges in the journey to recovery. For this purpose, you’ll also find some useful tips on bringing in more clients and selling your OOH more effectively. This is particularly important for the back-to-school time of the year we are in, and what a back-to-school it is!

UK's digital signage faced a 38.8% decline in Q1 and Q2

With the data on the first half of 2020 coming to light, Outsmart reports a 44.8% revenue decline year on year in the UK Out-of-Home. Overall revenue stood at £329 million. While traditional OOH declined by a staggering 50.8%, digital OOH dropped by “only” 38.8%. 

From a quarterly perspective, Outsmart reports that following a relatively minor decline in the first quarter of the year, the UK faced a much sharper decline after the country entered the lockdown initiated in March. On the plus side, Justin Cochrane, Chair of Outsmart, noted that the second quarter wasn’t all bad news. “We knew Q2 was going to be very challenging for Out of Home, as it has been for many sectors. More positively, there is good evidence that audiences and revenues increased throughout July as brands reconnect both locally and nationally outdoors,” he stated.

DPAA’s annual Video Everywhere Summit coming in October!

Just a few days ago the Digital Place Based Advertising Association (DPAA) announced that it will hold the annual Video Everywhere Summit via Zoom. Taking place on October 13-15, 11AM - 1:30PM ET each day, the event will cover several topic fields invaluable to Out-of-Home. This includes talks on omnichannel and programmatic OOH, as well as the globalization of media and brands. 

Banner for the DPAA digital signage event

DPAA’s live-via-Zoom-Video Everywhere Summit Canada, held in July, had a record attendance which let’s to assume the event in October will see similar interest. Barry Frey, DPAA's President and CEO, noted that it makes sense that not many people can set aside a full day for a video conference. For this reason, the event is stretched across three days. There’s still plenty of time left to register, therefore head over to the DPAA site if you’re interested.

As foot traffic comes back, so does digital signage

From the moment Ireland began stepping outside from the lockdown in May, foot traffic has gradually begun recovering in the country. Naturally, with the return of regular foot traffic, outdoor advertising embarks on its long road to recovery. This isn’t only the case for Ireland as it’s evident that the situation is similar in other countries recovering from COVID-19 lockdowns.

A crowded street.

Although they increasingly test the waters, people aren't quite yet ready to get back to their old ways. There are above all legal limitations we mustn’t forget. OOH now faces the challenge to figure out where advertising makes the most sense. Some previously-crowded locations are now low on foot traffic. Movie theaters are one example as they seriously struggle to appeal to moviegoers to return, and moreso, they must maintain safety procedures which limit the number of people which can occupy the screening room at one time.

Public transportation is experiencing lower traffic with people working from home which means fewer eyes look at digital signage and ads in key areas. But while in some places there is less traffic, there may be too many people at one stop due to the limits and capacity set on public transportation. In this case, advertising at those locations does make sense. All this implies there are still dense audiences outdoors that can make outdoor advertising a success. The challenge is finding which locations are still relevant for this purpose and which are not.

Some helpful tips for enhancing your OOH sales pitch

If you're looking to sell your digital signage advertising space, you're in for a treat! A couple of weeks back, BillboardInsider hosted an article on some of the main ways OOH influences Back-to-School shoppers. Of course, you can include this information in your sales pitch for other target audiences as well! Some of the more noteworthy points include: 

  • 75% of US adults report engaging with OOH ads
  • OOH online activation is far superior to traditional media and banner ads
  • Outdoor ads can't be delayed, skipped, or ignored

Some of these will surely come as no surprise to you. But it is possible some of them aren't in your sales pitch. Other tips are more specific to back-to-school shoppers. This includes the statistic that shows 41% of US adults will shop for back-to-school supplies this year as well.

Get even more guidelines from the most recent OnSign TV article on selling your outdoor advertising space to potential clients. By the article’s end, you’ll see how OnSign TV digital signage software can help you in that task in more ways than one! In the meantime, we continue further into the second half of 2020. It should be a welcome improvement compared to the first, if the most recent months are any indication.


Digital Signage News: Marketing and Consumer Behavior During COVID-19 Pandemic, and more!

This month’s edition of digital signage news leaves much to be desired in terms of tech, innovations, and advancements for the OOH world. Unfortunately, it’s not something that can be fixed through creativity, effort, or investments. As we’ve seen, much like many other industries, the Out-of-Home industry has been brought to an abrupt halt as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head. But, just like everyone else, OOH is adapting and carrying on.

Doing business in today’s challenging time raises many questions. We find some of the answers in this month’s recap and outlook. What do marketing experts say: should you push onward with marketing, or give up and wait for a better time? We also take a closer look at how consumer behavior adjusted in the recent weeks. And, as always, we find the positives to keep us going and hoping for the end of the pandemic.

Should you proceed with marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

When asked how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, marketing leaders had much to say. Most suggested to push forward with more marketing on different platforms. Reaching consumers through television, internet, and their phones is the correct path. And while some suggest the content to focus on science, hygiene, and safety, others believe it would be better to build new offers, strategies, and product promotions. 

Overall, no matter what the marketing recommendations are, not one of the 250 marketing leaders in the survey suggest you should stop or give up.

Whichever platform you intend on using, instead of giving up or slowing down, it’s best to adapt to the current situation. Companies can use this time to focus on building trust and gaining recognition with their audiences. This may be a challenge for OOH-focused campaigns. As outdoor ads encounter less traffic, it may be wise to temporarily adjust your strategies, focusing on other channels. And once the pandemic passes, you can build further on the success you achieved by re-focusing back to outdoor marketing.

Predicting consumer behavior is becoming a challenge 

Advertising has always targeted the behavior of the consumer. Said behavior was relatively predictable within a certain spread prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. But just within a few weeks, we’ve already seen a shift in the way people spend their money. This makes predicting future behavior increasingly difficult. It also makes advertising an unstable practice at this time.

In the UK, for example, there was a massive spike in spending in the days leading up to the government lockdown, on March 23rd, which is quite normal. But interestingly, sales of home baking goods didn’t rise until April. Presumably, once boredom kicked in, people started looking for new paths to entertainment, creative outlets and occupation. If social media is any indication, as people grow increasingly bored at home, they try and buy new tools.

Meanwhile, as spending on some products rises, for others it falls. With no special occasion waiting outdoors, purchases of non-essential and appearance-related items, such as perfumes and cosmetics, have gone down. Print media is suffering from people not commuting and turning to online sources, TV, and radio for information. With such drastic behavioral changes, advertising must be carefully conceptualized. Instead of direct product sales, perhaps building a reputation or gaining recognition with the target audience is a better idea.

We see most brands adapt with ads across all mediums, sending their intended marketing message. But, it always comes with awareness of the current situation, almost akin to public service announcements. 

Survey: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted AV providers/users?

COVID-19 punched AV providers, as well as AV end users, in the gut, and in a less-than-subtle way, we might add. According to survey data, 67% of AV end users and 79% of AV providers said their company's business felt a negative impact. These numbers appear high but the survey, done by AVIXA (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association), does contain a relatively positive note.

Most users do claim they felt a negative impact due to COVID-19. However, this week-on-week survey shows their perceptions on the pandemic have not worsened. Of course, they haven’t gotten any better either but the sentiment seems to have plateaued.

In the April 21-22 survey, one AV provider said: “We seem to be somewhere in the acceptance phase of grief, fully aware that we have very little true control over when the switch is turned back on."

Will outdoor traffic rise sooner than expected?

To wrap up this month’s set of digital signage news, we take a look at some numbers of American travel and outdoor traffic. According to an analysis done by Geopath, the numbers in American travel seem to be slowly rising again.

American travel rises amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Additionally, according to a LuggageHero survey done early in April, most American respondents are not too worried about their travel plans in 2020. 77% said they were sticking to their travel plans between June and December. That is, as long as their destinations aren’t under quarantine. 32% said they'd be avoiding big cities and public transportation, and instead stick to the outdoors. Of course, on their travels, they are sure to pass through cities and highways. Thus, this isn't a red flag for OOH.

As these numbers indicate a better future for outdoor advertising, we must stay mindful of the present. In the long-term, if we stay home and fight through the pandemic to a point where it lessens and everything goes back to normal, these numbers will surely become a reality!