Are we there yet? Why is it taking so long for digital signage to catch on?

| by Michael Ionescu
Are we there yet?  Why is it taking so long for digital signage to catch on?

When my brother and I first started our digital signage business, there were many instances in my environment that made me think, "Digital screens are a no brainer! Who wouldn't want to add this to their business?"

It wouldn't be long, I thought, until a digital revolution would make digital screens the ubiquitous medium around town. Fast forward to today and digital screens, while on the rise, are still not everywhere that I thought they'd be.

And while I could point to some of the obvious reasons digital signage didn't grow as quickly as it could have, like expensive, smaller and less reliable technology, my experience concludes that a less-than-expected adoption rate has resulted from a variety of less-obvious factors.

The reason I want to focus on in this blog—need. Digital signage did not grow as fast as it could have five years ago because there wasn't an obvious need for it. Many marketing companies have and still do work exclusively with various forms of print advertising and run marketing campaigns that lend themselves toward that more conventional medium.

The issue here is; investing in digital comes with a risk of high cost and failure. Sure, there are plenty of successful digital marketing campaigns, but there are also plenty of failed ones. There is not a guaranteed method of success that makes going digital a compelling enough offer, especially if failure means a lost job or a lost client. Why invest in a new technology and a new method of advertising when firms have decades of research to back up traditional advertising? 

Today, that approach is changing. With the advent of various social networking sites, the increasing complexity of our smartphones and the increasing time constraints of the average person's day, conventional forms of marketing are much less effective than they used to be.

This infographic shows that over the past ten years the attention span of the average person has been reduced from 12 minutes to 5 minutes, a 58 percent decrease! With all of the on-demand information at our fingertips, we no longer need to wait for anything. In fact, it’s an unacceptable hassle when things are not immediate. When my phone takes longer than five seconds to load my email I get annoyed, yet it was not long ago that my phone wasn't even capable of such functions.

This is why digital media is becoming less of an "outside the box" idea and more of a necessity. When an audience is losing interest twice as fast, traditional media just can't keep up. All of the sudden, digital media isn't looking quite so costly. The ability to constantly change a marketing message or update an ad to maintain the novelty isn't just an option; it's a need in order to combat people's lower attention spans. Something as simple as a digital display rotating media every 10 seconds gives people something new to look at. If a person doesn't like one, there's a good chance their eyes are going to linger to see what pops up next. I do it all of the time when I drive by digital billboards, finding myself subconsciously looking up to see if it changes before I drive out of sight.

This is the main reason I see digital on a faster rise. But I do believe there are other things holding digital from growing even faster—I’ll cover those in my next blog.

I am curious to hear from people across all industries. What are some of the things you feel have kept digital screens from being implemented? Sound off in the comments.

Topics: Digital Signage, Display Technology

Michael Ionescu
Since 2004, Ionescu has built a proprietary software/hardware package for state tourism and hotels. Ionescu believes successful kiosk networks are built upon ongoing collaboration between the client and provider to develop flexible systems that clients and users are happy with for years. wwwView Michael Ionescu's profile on LinkedIn

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