The word concomitance means "co-existing" or "affecting while simultaneously effected by." As such, the word is an apt descriptor for the expanding relationship between digital signage and cellular technology.
The positioning of out-of-home digital signage has this concomitance generating keen interest, indicated by the planning and spending of ad agencies, brand managers, network operators and wireless carriers.
With one billion mobile devices being shipped annually, they constitute the largest segment of the consumer electronics device market, according to Stuart Carlaw, vice president and research director of ABI Research. That means cellular and other wireless merits consideration by the digital signage industry.
The benefits of triggering a download or mobile transaction provide brands with the high levels of engagement that accelerate brand-building. Communicators are catching onto this fast.
Mobile: the future of advertising
Jupiter Research reported the North American mobile commerce revenue in 2007 to be $505 million and forecasts it to grow to $1.9 billion in 2010. This is fueled by increased adoption of mobile Internet.
Comscore TKG projects growth to 92 million users in 2012 from 32 million in 2007, with highest usage, at 45 percent, being the Millenials demographic of hard-to-reach 18-24-year-olds. The next group, 27-40-year-old Gen X-ers, represents 27 percent of users, and 41-50-year-old “Baby Boomers” represent 17 percent.
The IBM Institute for Business Value Analysis reported that the highest compound annual growth rates (CAGR) for global advertising spending are being realized in mobile advertising at 41 percent, followed by 20 percent for Internet and 19 percent for each of interactive TV and in-game advertising.
Wireless carriers are taking note of the high value that they can bring to digital signage while it simultaneously returns the favor. Concomitance of the two media means a co-existing "win" for every part of the supply chain, from network suppliers to operators to advertisers to viewers.
"Cellular and mobile broadband use for media networks leverages the network reach, reliability and security built into networks, like the Nationwide Sprint network, that successfully carry millions of digital transmissions daily," said Steve Rowley, director of indirect distribution for Sprint. "Digital signage will increasingly take advantage of what cellular offers."
Walsh Wireless, a Sprint reseller, is one provider that is looking specifically at optimizing and using cellular technology to enhance digital signage.
"End users of digital signage want to focus on their core business of retail, hospitality or services, and benefit from the ease and confidence that gaining a complete, turnkey display network can provide," said Chick Walsh, chief strategy officer of Walsh Wireless.
Three benefits of cellular/digital signage concomitance
There are three benefits for carriers seeking more average revenue per user (ARPR) from digital signage-cellular integration.
1. Taking advantage of cellular networks. The first key benefit is using cellular networks to connect digital signs. Using cellular connectivity offers speed and ease to deploy, location flexibility and a lower cost of operating a network.
Companies such as MediaTile, Adshift and NEC are providing cellular-enabled "digital-signage-in-a-box" products, and system integrators such as Walsh Wireless are bringing the two technologies together.
"The use of cellular connectivity for digital signage underpins the rapid path toward more flexible deployment and lower costs of operations," said Keith Kelsen, chief executive of MediaTile.
2. Using screens for a mobile call to action. A second benefit is found in mobile phone downloads that can be triggered by digital signage content. The words "text to download" provide viewer engagement and dramatically extend the value of digital signage.
The download could be a schedule, procedure, information, coupon, wallpaper or ringtone. Reference has been made to digital signage being a "middle media" that explains this communications supply-chain positioning of digital signage.
3. Digital signage as a mobile merchandising tool. The third benefit is in the mobile Internet browsing sessions and mobile transactions that can be triggered by digital signage.
Optinion Research Corp. said that one out of three U.S. mobile users are currently accessing the Web with their mobiles, and 50 percent of those people are doing so three or more times per week.
Hossein Mousavi, EVP & co-founder of mporia, an m-commerce provider, reports that merchants of all sizes are moving to mobile Web to enable mobile commerce, with a 300-percent adoption rate of merchant subscriptions per quarter.
Communications supply chains are a continuously growing and optimizing entity. As digital signage is increasingly geared toward information provisioning, cellular and other forms of wireless, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, WiMax and satellite, will optimize the application while reducing deployment and operating complexity and cost. Cellular will both offer and enjoy benefits – "concomitance."
Lyle Bunn is the principal and strategy architect of Bunn Co. and a noted authority in the digital signage industry.