The Perspective 
Friday, 28 February 2014

By Stein Soelberg
Director of Marketing


Digital display advertising and digital signage is undergoing a technology revolution.  With electronic billboards and displays being deployed in more diverse and sometimes even hard to reach places, service providers are transitioning – from hard wiring displays to wireless connection via cellular networks – for content management on these displays.  While the use of cellular (and satellite) to connect and manage these displays (also called machine-to-machine or M2M communications) presents some challenges, the new market and revenue opportunities afforded by untethering digital display technology are not to be ignored.

As the largest global service provider for M2M connectivity, KORE predicted that M2M would shift dramatically in 2014 to richer data transport, with applications like digital displays coming online that yield a much higher bandwidth profile than our market has ever seen. Five factors have come together to foster this transition:

  1.     A monumental drop in cost per connection and cost per MB or GB of data consumed;

  2.     Smaller and cheaper devices that require less power to communicate wirelessly;

  3.     General ubiquity of cellular coverage (given the availability of multiple network options);

  4.     The trend towards single, predictable rating and billing due to eliminating roaming costs; and

  5.     The ability to pool or share data between multiple devices to reduce operating expenses

Contrasting the digital media industry with another bandwidth intensive application provides an apt analogy. Until this year no one in his or her right mind would have pegged cellular as an option for business continuity applications such as router back-up. Historically, using cellular to back-up enterprise routers (replacing an extra, expensive T1 line) would have been, simply, cost prohibitive. The connection itself, not to mention potential overage charges associated with data bursts, was just too much to swallow. But with today’s rate plans, many of which account for the ebb and flow of device usage by “self-adjusting” month-to-month based on the volume of data used – combined with plans that allow data to be pooled and shared across devices – makes cellular much more fiscally feasible.

Which brings us back to using M2M to control digital signage and advertising. Content managers and their applications can now track the performance of digital signs in real-time, ensuring they are operating properly and don’t require repair.  They can update messaging and advertising in more granular fashion, which allows for more campaigns to be shared among a wider pool of advertisers on the same sign. Same asset – now more revenue. Signs can be modified based on unplanned weather conditions, traffic conditions or, in the case of mobile billboards, proximity to a given business. As it drives by the Subway shop, for example, maybe the commuter bus billboard displays a code for 50% off a foot-long sub, good for the next 30 minutes.

In short, the opportunities for advertisers to get content in front of consumers at the right time, and for sellers of advertising to create customized programs for said advertisers expand exponentially once cellular gets involved.

Critically, centralized management systems also exist that allow companies to manage all of their signage from a single interface. Managers can track the performance of digital signs in real-time, ensuring they are operating properly and don’t require on-site adjustments. These systems help reduce operating expenses, increase customer satisfaction among advertisers, and propel the application service providers forward in terms of innovation and additional revenue streams with higher profit margins. The ultimate benefit is scalability.

On April 2, KORE will lead a Webinar on this topic in partnership with the Digital Screenmedia Association. Owners and operators of digital signage networks can register here for a chance to learn about current and future landscape of digital network management, including a primer on global cellular platform capabilities and intelligent network scaling to find the right balance between signage ROI and the customer experience.

Photo: czarcats

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