Though economic conditions present a short-term challenge for digital signage, the market already has grown 34 percent in 2008 and is expected to continue its upward trend after next year, a USA-based IT research firm is reporting today. 

Officials at MultiMedia Intelligence say that the market has consumed 1.1 million digital signage displays this year, and is expected to consume nearly 2.3 million displays by 2012 – as the chart below shows.
According to Frank Dickson, the firm’s chief research officer, the technology represents the next evolution of multi-platform advertising.
‘The integration of IP-based network management allows an entire deployment of screens to be controlled from a single location, allowing for dynamic and simultaneous control of text, video and graphics,’ Dickson said.

For marketers, digital signage networks are relatively new communications platforms that connect storefronts with advertisers and shoppers. According to MultiMedia Intelligence, digital displays are more vibrant that traditional ink-and-paper signage, and because they have IP connectivity, advertising copy can be changed more dramatically.
TMC President Rich Tehrani wrote about one recent example of a new technology for marketers from Powered Media Technologies, or PMT, which allows traditional printed paper document to light up.
‘The company is looking to use its LightEffects technology to change visual marketing the way electronic audio has changed the world of greeting cards,’ Tehrani wrote, citing an example of a similar technology by showing a recent Esquire magazine cover with so-called ‘E-ink.’
‘Obviously this is an interesting time to be augmenting the benefits of printed marketing vehicles as many companies are shifting more of their ad dollars to solutions which are easier to measure,’ Tehrani said. ‘In other words, online ad spending is relatively stable and even increasing for some companies in this economic environment while print promotion is being reduced.’
According to MultiMedia Intelligence’s new 68-page report – which costs about $4,000 and is titled ‘Network Digital Signage: Infrastructure, Displays, Software and Technology,’ global economic weakness will hurt new hardware deployment growth over the next year, but the market will return to double-digit growth in 2010.
The firm’s report shows that revenues from digital signage opportunities abound for infrastructure providers and installers, wireless semiconductor manufacturers, digital display manufacturers, end-to-end software providers, content creators and advertisers.
MultiMedia officials say the report centres around three major questions that industry insiders are raising even as the digital signage network grows and innovates. They are, first: How do recent global economic conditions affect the industry? Second: What display form-factors are most popular in digital signage networks? Third: Though Ethernet is the most common digital display interconnect now, will wireless connections between displays ever take hold?
In response to the final question, the firm says that though Ethernet is far and away the dominant connection interface, HDMI and cellular will become increasing significant.
Other findings of the report include: China overtook the USA as the top digital signage consumer, driven by preparations for the 2008 Olympics; retail, transportation and restaurants and bars are the top 3 verticals for digital signage; education and corporate communications verticals are making impressive gains; digital signage networks are increasingly driven by digital media adapters rather than PCs. Digital media adapters will exceed PCs in new deployments in 2009; roughly 8 percent of digital displays have embedded TV Tuners, with ATSC, DVB and country-specific standards competing for leadership.

By Michael Dinan

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