Digital Signage Expo 2009: Key Retail Trends

Mar 03, 2009

by Laura Davis-Taylor, Founder
& Principal, Retail Media Consulting

spite of recent economic woes, last week’s 2009 Digital Signage Expo appeared
to be a rousing success — both the show floor and educational sessions
were packed. This bodes well for the Digital Out of Home (DOOH) industry,
despite the surprising news that the 2009 OOH show has been cancelled for
the first time since its inception due to poor support.

to retail, the trends that emerged from the show floor were encouraging
and pointed towards industry maturity. The most consistent themes:

Forget content is king…it’s now
relevancy is king.

the years past, retail digital signage efforts were most often espoused
as a method to capitalize on captive audiences to disperse advertising
messages. This year’s theme warned of the dangers of this, highlighting
time-starved, stressed-out consumers who had little time for any type
of message that is not relevant to their needs.

Measure or be gone.
The Out-of-home
Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB)
shared the details of its measurement standards and many panelists discussed
both qualitative and quantitative approaches to monitor the effectiveness
of various in-store digital media. All agreed that it is no longer an option
if one is to be successful with in-store digital.

Valuate based on reality, not old
media thinking.

sync with a desire for measurement, it was clear that most agree that
the value of in-store digital media (ISDM) messages increases in line
with the level of accountability that could be provided. Thus, the CPM,
or cost per thousand valuation approach employed by more traditional
media was agreed to be sensible for now — but that it is necessary to
move beyond with the help of better measurement and message accountability.

“path planning”

heard often that digital signage and ISDM are not a standalone draw, but
a critical part of the path to purchase. Done right, it can be very effective
to move a consumer from one decision point to the next, inching them closer
to a sale. However, the content on the screens must be strategically planned
to cater towards the viewer audience, store location and necessary message
intent to support the shopper experience. It must also be planned in sync
with the marketing calendar to support customer-centric messaging.

Retailers want to provide unique
digital experiences.

DOOH in general is satisfied to have various screens sending along standard
general messages, retailers want their ISDM activations to be unique.
They have no desire to have the same digital experience in their stores
as the competitor across the road and are hoping that the industry embraces
this and supports their efforts accordingly.

Agencies are slowly getting on

was a huge leap in attendance from agencies this year seeking information
about DOOH. Some were clearly far along the path of strategic understanding
of this media and some were satisfying a general curiosity. Regardless,
the spike in interest clearly points towards more acceptance from
Madison Avenue.

Digital signage is not the only
game in town.

show attendees seem to have embraced that digital signage is one of many
exciting DOOH tools that can be applied to retail stores. Mobile and
new flavors of interactive devices are on the rise, either as standalone
tools or ones that can snap into a digital signage network for various

most important trend to note is one that has been consistent since this
show’s emergence in early 2000. That is that we by no means have the answers
to how to make digital media in stores work in a consistently successful
manner, as each installation will have its own unique challenges and potential
solutions. But, we are all on board to keep working together and challenging
each other to find them.

Discussion Questions:
Which issue is most critical for retailers/brands/digital signage vendors
to address collectively for the media to achieve its full potential in
stores? How will greater acceptance of digital signage by Madison Avenue
affect the development of shopper marketing in stores?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

8 Comments on "Digital Signage Expo 2009: Key Retail Trends"

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Max Goldberg
13 years 2 months ago

It seems as if DOOH is finally ready to enter the 21st century. Almost all other media have embraced the points raised in the article: measurement, performance standards, etc. Any media needs to inform and sell, and it must have accurate reporting of the number of people it reached and how it performed. This is just common sense.

I’m glad to see these standards coming to DOOH and look forward to seeing the results of these efforts.

Ron Margulis
13 years 2 months ago

Two clichés come to mind with this trend–What are the three most important elements of real estate? Location, location, location. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. You can’t get the message across to any audience unless they can see it and are in the right mental state to be receptive to the message. And, it’s going to take a number of tries to create the optimal relevant messaging. It will happen–digital signage will be a vibrant channel for communicating to shoppers, en mass and individually, within the next 10 years.

Gene Hoffman
Gene Hoffman
13 years 2 months ago

DOOH, like the hula hoop, has been turning round and round for a while. As Ron said, it has to carry the most relevant message to be received by customers who are concerned about many other things. As I write this I find myself asking “Is the potential of DOOH destined for greatness or is it another proliferating process by third party experts to hopefully influence what retailers should do?”

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
13 years 2 months ago

There is an inherent lack of transparency when the people who own the audience also own the means of measuring both exposures and sales. This single fact trumps all the starry-eyed expectations of fitting into the larger media world. (This single fact killed PRISM.) The exception to this will be the use of shoppers’ own digital media–cell phones and PDAs–as in-store digital media. This is going to take some time to get anywhere near the maturity of store-owned or controlled media.

Bernice Hurst
13 years 2 months ago

Yet again, you guys seem to be marching to a different drum. According to, Tesco is shutting down its in-store TV network after a five year trial. The official reason is “outdated and inefficient equipment” but the report claims it didn’t generate enough advertising to cover expenses even with a “top player as selling partner.” Apparently “Other major European retailers are complaining that brand manufacturers are not investing enough into digital instore advertisements.”

Carol Spieckerman
Carol Spieckerman
13 years 2 months ago

I think the single biggest opportunity will be tying all DOOH touch points together rather than keeping them in silos. That means pulling together relevant messaging and data insights from proximity marketing (to shopper’s cell phones/PDAs based on location), online marketing, bricks browsing (window shopping touch screens; already in use), and in-store digital media. Getting the right message to the right shopper at the right time and in the right place…Walmart has called this opportunity “connecting her world” and I think that sums it up perfectly.

Laura Davis-Taylor
Laura Davis-Taylor
13 years 2 months ago

Great points above. To speak to the Tesco news, it is a case in point that you can not create an inherently successful in-store digital network based on advertising alone. And, any advertising needs to be carefully planned to be contextually relevant and feel more like a valuable conversation. Finally, the proper business planning needs to be in place to map out potential ROI and get there!

There are a myriad of moving parts to this new media and I have in fact been part of some very successful initiatives that aren’t in the news. Once again, every network is different–and each has an opportunity to be a failure if not done right.

James Tenser
13 years 2 months ago

As usual, I’m in fierce agreement with Laura about the Tesco decision. Your first clue that the experiment was doomed lies in the descriptor, “Tesco TV.”

Digital Shopper Media is not TV. The glowing screen is just a coincidence. It shouldn’t be perceived as TV-like. It shouldn’t be managed or measured like a TV network.

I’ve delivered this rant before, so I won’t repeat myself further. Suffice to say that Tesco’s decision should not be read as evidence that all Shopper Media networks are doomed to failure. Bolting on a TV network business model, however, is clearly a non-starter. My crystal ball tells me that Tesco will be back, with a relevant Shopper Media program that fits more appropriately within its total shopper experience strategy.


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