Blog: Keith Kelsen 

Keith Kelsen (bio)
Chairman & CEO
5th Screen Digital

Thursday, 12 January 2012
Ah, 2011 has come and gone … but not without leaps and bounds and turmoil among the industry. But, why dwell in the past when in 2012 is going to be an amazing year in so many ways? 

Welcome to 2012, this is the year of the converging consumer. The accelerated purchase. This year we can buy anything, anytime, anywhere, any screen in any reality, whether I am standing in line, watching TV, walking down the street, in the mall, carrying my tablet or dining. Converging technology is here. 

Amalgamation is the mega trend for 2012.  

So the question is how will this mega trend affect our industry and the very core of all media, the brand? Let’s face it, the brand is back; the brand is the key, the brand is looking for cost efficient, measureable results when they put down their marketing dollar. Why?  Technology has accelerated and the consumer with it. Now the brands and agencies are driving new initiatives based on economic trends that will change the traditional media landscape forever. The pebble has hit the water and the reverberation will be felt for many years to come. We have arrived in 2012.

You can see my picks for 2011 trends to see how I did at prognostication last year, and at the end of this year's trends piece you can vote on the one you think will be the #1 trend in 2012.

Hold on to your seats: these are the 2012 predictions!

1.    The Union of a Medium, The Golden Triangle

Digital signage, placed-based media, DOOH - no matter what you call it, it is a recognized media. Just like any media, one needs three basic things; technology, content and an audience. This very idea will drive bundled solutions in the marketplace. Yes, we need good reliable technology. Yes, we need good relevant content and we need to understand and analyze the audience to prove our medium. The industry is headed for partnered, consolidated and bundled solutions. Brands and agencies do not have the time to figure it all out. The industry will serve up solutions. Technology only bundles are not the answer and authentic fully integrated partnerships are needed. A few companies are already providing total solutions through partnerships or mergers and more will follow. 

Look for the bundling of technology, content and audience measurement with new partnerships that drive the new networks in the marketplace.

2.    Combination of investment will be at an all-time high

In general there is a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines right now. The investment in the space has increased annually. This year will be no exception. The difference is the investment is not just cash from VCs; it’s through large companies pushing the agenda forward as an industry. It is medium businesses that are making investments to improve their bottom line and the customer experience with true ROI. Restaurants (digital menu boards) and hospitality (wayfinding) will continue to invest in digital signage. Telcos will also contribute to the investment in the industry through marketing and pushing cellular digital signage deployments. The investment in the space will be greater than ever before.

Look for major corporations to continue to push into the marketplace with significant investment and investment from investment bankers and more rollouts based on medium size businesses investing in their business.

3.    The merging of technology

Mobile is big. This trend was the number one trend last year and will continue well into the future. The integration of mobile applications and tablets is huge. The good news is digital signage is a key activator for mobile engagement in the market place. This latent conversation that the brand can have with the consumer has to start somewhere. It is a moment of inspiration that can drive the sale. And when one is in the marketplace the inspiration and purchase can begin and even end with digital signage. Buy anywhere, anytime, anyplace and in any reality. Mobile is forever part of the engagement. But, this needs to be done with common sense in mind and drive real results to move the industry forward.

Look for new and refined mobile applications that ricochet off DOOH. 

4.    The alliance of content

Content is king…forever. And it’s not just any content, its relevant contextual content that is useful and helpful.  Digital signage and DOOH content is an inconvenient truth among agencies and brands.  Television is what drives the creation of content in the big picture of advertising.  In merchandising its print.  The problem is the creative is built with a single focus in mind.  It is all about TV and then down the road it’s…”oh yes let’s convert that to a DOOH ad…uh…no that won’t work”.  But, this reality is like a merry-go-round that never stops.  When this happens over and over and it’s not working, most would call that insanity.  So with the acceleration of technology that supports five technological independent screens in the marketplace the creation of content has to fundamentally change for the entire digital media landscape.  Standards for content are not a simple answer.  Fundamentally we have 3 types of networks.  Point of Wait, all about dwell time, Point of Sale all about the shopper, Point of Transit, all about people on the go.  Each network needs a re-work of the content to meet the needs of the consumer’s frame of mind.  As a brand this is challenging. So start at the beginning of the creative process to accommodate all platforms, Movies, TV, PC/Tablet, Mobile and including DOOH.

Look for a shift in the way in which content and brands interact with agencies to tackle this new digital world that we are coming to grips with and how we create the media to support the digital landscape.

5.    The pairing of analytics and measurement

Although part of the golden three this needs special attention.  AVA (anonymous video analytics) is here and real world applications are fast becoming a trend.  To detect who is actually watching the message on the screen and for how long is a reality that many networks fear.  They fear the real verification of their network may not live up to their expectations.  The truth is the verification drives amazing changes that makes the network more valuable.  These are changes that one would not ever contemplate without real data to back it up.  Arbitron, Nielson and People Count know this stuff inside out.   But when you are getting real-time data streaming in, what is missing is the analysis of the data.  The AVA data can be overwhelming and needs to be put into perspective.

As predicted also in 2011, if you own a network or you are putting in a network, AVA will give you valuable data.  Look for more and more responsible deployments based on real AVA data and services to provide the analysis.
6.    The merger of technology software companies

2012 is the year for a shake out of software companies.  Who will merge, who will be sold and who will disappear?  With 350 software companies in the world, only a few will survive the next wave.  ISV’s that are funded by investment have been stalling and the smaller they are, unfortunately, will not be able to maintain.  So consolidation based on customers not technology may be in order this year.  Buy the customer base and eventually replace the technology with one system.

Look for purchases, consolidation and a failure of ISV’s this year.

7.    The fusion of media social

Digital signage is part of the whole. The whole involves our social lives.  How a consumer shares adopts and promotes a brand is based on the experience each consumer has with that brand.  Retailers in particular are still looking for ways to enhance the experience for their customers. What better way to drive more sales by providing a social platform that can help drive sales? And I am not talking about the “like me” button. Digital signage helps drive that experience and engagement. Fusing the DOOH with social aspects of brand promotion can be promoted through the use of natural social interactions in the marketplace.  DOOH is one of those interactions and companies that track the social integration of the consumer’s life are going to bat 1000.  This might be sports, back to school, summer or a holiday.  By integrating the reality of what’s going on in the consumers lives to the screen will help drive sales.  The context of social can be seen as a new wave in creating value for the brand and for the consumer. But one must embrace social as part of a total big picture of the experience.

Look for social integration of one’s life onto the DOOH screen with interactive and engaging solutions that are meaningful and helpful to the consumer and the brand alike.

8.    The incorporation of virtuality

Yes, virtuality. This can be augmented reality, mirrored reality or warped reality. This is a new trend we saw begin to rise in the DOOH space in 2010. Clarified by Joseph Pine II in his new book “Infinite Possibility” he points out the different realities in our digital frontier.  There are number of areas where this will improve the customer experience.  InWindow OutDoor is doing quite a lot in this area successfully. Augmented reality is the most popular method of improving the experience.  This is where I can add virtual environment or virtual characters to a live scene that “augments” the experience.  Agencies love this stuff and it works.

Look for even more deployments that use this technology to drive the brand experience. 

9.    Infusion of more ad spend in the DOOH networks

Bookings for established ad networks are up in the beginning of this year.  I expect to see this trend continue and for established networks to take advantage of political ad money that will be pouring in the marketplace later this year.  This will help sustain the uptick in the 4th quarter.  One can also speculate that better built content will also be available to be placed on these networks.  In addition a big push will continue to be in Healthcare with some government and health agency’s looking to capitalize on Ad Networks revenue to help contribute to the bottom line.

Look for higher returns and growth in the ad spend from brands on DOOH in 2012.

10.    We will have integrated 2.5M screens/players in North America; 4.8 million screens/players worldwide in 2012.

At the end of 2011, we are somewhere around 1.3 million screens in North America and 3.5 million globally.  With the investment from companies and serious roll out plans on the way, I believe we will hit the 2.5 million screen/player mark this year in North America and 4.8 million worldwide.  This does not include refresh of current networks. So here is to that one special installer, that will be somewhere in world hanging up a screen mid-year and that will mark the historic 4 millionth screen/player for our industry.  Will it be you?  Congratulations to us all!

Look for that 4 millionth screen coming to a venue near you.

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