As another year in the digital signage/digital out-of-home industry rolls by, I'm again this year revisiting the biggest trends of 2010 while looking forward to 2011.
The industry is growing up and is now part of the mainstream. I contend that we reached the tipping point in 2010, and here is why: As defined by Malcolm Gladwell, the tipping point is "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable." Are we unstoppable now? I say yes. Signs of ad spend, consolidation, standards, mature business models and the increasing digital landscape in our world have driven the tipping point. Five media screens are now in play and DOOH/digital signage is more of an integral part of the campaign to reach consumers. In a 2010 Arbitron study more consumers see DOOH in a month than have ever texted a message or have a Facebook profile or have seen an online video. This is 71 million viewers per month. The lower cost of technology and big names in the industry, including HP and Intel, are now in full force, which has tipped the industry into the mainstream.
You can see my picks for 2010 trends to see how I did at prognostication; check out Part I of this year's trend picks; and at the bottom of today's piece you can vote on the one you think will be the #1 trend in 2011.
Here is Part II of the top 10 trends to look for in 2011:
6. Measurement and acceptance
In 2010 measurement has been upgraded with anonymous video analytics (AVA). This of course has been percolating for a few years. In addition, Arbitron and Nielsen both came out with credible studies that catapulted the proof of our industry.
More and more networks have been spending the time and money to get the independent metrics to deliver real numbers to the agencies. OVAB fine-tuned the requirements on how to equate the currency of audience.
With metric standards in place and AVA on the rise, the acceptance of our media will depend upon the measurements and results of the networks. And with those results in hand agencies can trust that the audience is delivered every time.
The trend? Measurement metrics will be part of everyday ad and retail network ROI business.
7. Progress in content standards
As predicted in 2010 we made progress here, but was it the right progress?
H.264 adopted by DPAA just recently is a great stride, but what happened to Flash? Standards will reflect the true state of the industry. Most of the software that has grown up over the last 10 years has struggled with Flash simply because the current playback application does not support it. Now most recent software players in the last five years for the most part include Flash. But most of the larger networks are built on software that is more than five years old and does not support Flash. This needs to be fixed, and Flash needs to be part of the playback media. Even with a stake in the ground (H.264 is a good stake), it will not work without incorporating Flash.
The other problem that shows itself when incorporating Flash is that on some of the established networks, the power of the PC running in the field just does not cut it. Flash tends to suck up the CPU's power, and even three-year-old systems have difficulty running this media. The standard layering of Flash elements can be limited to address CPU power issues.
I predict the standard battle is not over and Flash will still be incorporated in official and unofficial standards.
8. Large-scale 2011 projects will march forward
The RFPs in 2010 that were not fulfilled will be given a second life as the economy improves in 2011. During any economic downturn, innovation and new businesses are created. Even though in the past we had a number of failures, the number of successes outnumbers them. In any industry that is coming of age, failures happen less and less often as the experience and solidified business models prevail.
Growth of networks in 2011 will dwarf the expansion that happened in the last four years. Look for multiple new networks being built in 2011.
9. Managed services
Cost savings for network operations, the complexity of managing and creating content, AVA and metrics will drive a new category of services. These bundled services will save individual smaller networks money.
Why have network operations, content creation, measurement and analytics within a small business ad or retail network company, when the math shows outsourcing these services is cost-effective?
Managed services for scheduling, managed up-time, content creation and AVA will be a new trend for 2011 because of simple economics.
10. Retail digital world
This trend is similar to trend #1. Retailers are changing their models to be more inclusive of different paths to purchase. It used to be easy to put an ad on TV or in the newspaper and, voilà, sales went up.
The path to purchase is now so complicated, and the technology is so incongruent, that retailers are looking for complete solutions that will help them wrap their arms around the digital world.
Digital signage in retail is about "How can I help you buy something today?" So these digital signs will be focused on that alone in retail and not on ad networks in retail. Those old business models will not apply in the future. Brands have been deploying screens at the shelf for years. The brands understand the model. Now the retailers are taking control of their space.
Look for retailers to implement inclusive, integrated digital signage solutions that include social, desktop, in-store and interactive that will help you buy something today.
Whether it starts online or in-store with digital signage, mobile will be part of it all.