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Research: Digital signage market could triple by 2016

When I first started covering the market for digital signage solutions — all those electronic displays that can deliver messages in places from retail floors to board rooms along with the software content and connectivity to deliver those messages– it was difficult to get many people to look behind the obvious margin they would get from installing the hardware.

Now, ABI Research has reported that the digital signage market will basically triple in the next three years, hitting almost $4.5 billion by 2016. I can assure you, that’s not just from product resale. That’s from all the managed services it is possible to construct around these solutions, many of which are IP-based.

Notes Larry Fisher, practice director for automotive, energy and emerging technologies at ABI, in the press release discussing the study:

“A continual stream of fresh and relevant content is what separates a successful digital signage project from one that is boring and stale. Relevant could mean timely or localized, customized to the time of the day or the demographics of the audience watching the screen, but deployers must consider content from the outside of a project.”

It is a mistake to think of digital signage solutions just as an opportunity for those of you focused on retailers. Digital signage will rewrite the rules for corporate communications within many midsize companies, replacing some of the internal messages and newsletters that get printed and distributed and then thrown out every month. Many businesses already use them in lobbies, where they display messages that used to be thrown up on posterboard, or outside conference rooms, where they could display schedules that are continuously kept up-to-date. You might even see them in elevators, where they could play content related to the facility or current company news.

Building solutions of these sort does require you think like a marketer or communications person, which might be out-of-the-box for some of you. If it is, think of it more like a managed services model — and look to a media partner that could help your prospective client create and shape the content. That way, your team can focus on timely, reliable delivery and not the content itself. Either way, it is a mistake not to look at the opportunities in digital signage, especially as a way to extend your existing customer relationships.

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