NYDSW and Embrace of Experiential Design Reflect an Evolving, Ascending Industry
By Margot Douaihy
$31.62 billion in sales: that’s the forecast for the digital signage market by 2023, according to Orbis Research. But numbers alone cannot convey the opportunities and challenges for digital signage providers in 2019. While retailers need to reinvent their spaces to stay relevant, experience designers and content creators are keen to leverage new technologies as storytelling tools. That trend and others suggest the digital signage industry is both evolving and adapting to meet the needs of rapidly changing commercial verticals.
1) NYDSW Signals a Dynamic New Chapter
Like Fashion Week for designers and brands, New York Digital Signage Week (NYDSW) has established itself as a premier showcase for the digital signage industry. During five electrifying days, October 29 – November 2, 2018, more than 4,500 visitors enjoyed 32 free and ticketed events, including conferences, seminars, tech demonstrations, networking parties, debates, tours, and pop-up activities. There was even a scavenger hunt thanks to Open Eye Global. Managed by The Ministry of New Media, NYDSW’s popularity reflects an engaged digital signage industry. It also illustrates an increasing demand for smarter, interactive, and experiential designs.
Shari Sentlowitz, senior manager of New Product Launches for B2B Commercial Display, Samsung, believes that NYDSW gives Samsung an opportunity to network with customers and integrators while offering deepened insight into the company’s offerings. “Hosting a customer for our panel luncheon each year allows Samsung to showcase our solutions and how they’re used in the real world,” Sentlowitz said. “We enjoy engaging with our attendees, answering their questions, and helping them find solutions to suit their needs.”
Jeff Hastings, BrightSign’s CEO, appreciates how Digital Signage Week breaks the tradeshow mold by including a mix of events—some for industry professionals, some open to the public, and some invite-only events. “It’s a great opportunity to rub shoulders with colleagues across the industry, but also to educate the broader public about the latest breakthroughs in digital signage,” Hastings enthused.
Kurt DeYoung, VP of Channel Sales at Barco, said NYDSW gives his team the chance to interface with a broad cross-section of work types, such as AV consultants, media, integrators, engineers, UX, experience designers, and artists. The ability to connect with such diverse professionals is “really helpful to get the voice of the customer,” said DeYoung.
NYDSW was also a meeting place for the AVIXA Women’s Council NYC Metro Group and The Women of Digital Signage, the organization providing women in the digital signage industry with a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.
2) Smarter Signage Attracts More Customers
Another reason the digital signage industry is inspiring confidence is its embrace of emerging technologies. As app personalization and IoT-connectivity become staples of the residential user experience, digital signage vendors are adding more AI, sensors, facial recognition, APIs, geolocation, and responsive functionality into digital kiosks, menu and transit boards, billboards, and videowalls. System on Chip (SoC) is now four years old, and the demand is growing for digital signage that can offer streamlined multizone, reporting, and live streaming. Cloud-based solutions are also on the rise.
Samsung’s Shari Sentlowitz said that she anticipates growth across all digital signage verticals but especially in quick-serve restaurants, stadiums and arenas, cinemas and retail stores. Smart Signage and LED technology play a large role in attracting customers to various venues including the sports, cinema, or retail spaces.
“Consumers constantly challenge businesses to deliver top-quality and efficient customer experiences, a standard that is always changing given the rapid pace of advancements in technology,” Sentlowitz explained.
3) LED Advances
AV stakeholders should expect to see more LED and microLED products in 2019. There is still room for growth when it comes to these displays, and Samsung’s Sentlowitz is “excited to extend installations even farther to reach broader audiences.”
Barco’s DeYoung is also optimistic about LED. “We are getting more visibility and more awareness around our LED platforms, and that’s typically one of the main technologies that we see used in retail environments. We’re proud of the LED platform that we provide; it’s intended for use cases where quality and accuracy are key.”
LED is a natural fit for corporate branding, brand recognition, and accuracy of color reproduction are essential. DeYoung pointed to the LED-driven Barco UniSee as a seamless canvas.
4.) Focus on Experiential and Inventive Solutions
Jeff Hastings, BrightSign’s CEO, believes that 2019 will be a pivotal year for the retail sector.
“At a macro level, brick-and-mortar retail is struggling as e-commerce takes a bigger piece of the pie,” Hastings said. “But the encouraging subplot to this storyline is how savvy retailers are using digital signage to reinvent the in-store shopping experience to better compete with e-retailers.”
Facilitating that reinvention is the deployment of immersive technologies that elevate the user experience. To achieve that goal, some vendors and installers are exploring ways to work with creators, UX designers, and experiential designers. While content creation might be considered outside the traditional AV scope, it’s beneficial to collaborate with “creators of ‘the wow,’” said DeYoung.
The SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Designs), for example, exists to “educate, connect and inspire” the global, multidisciplinary community of professionals creating experiences that connect people to place. Though the processes may be different, an experience designer and AV integrator share a similar goal: to create exceptional experiences.
DeYoung said that Barco’s relationship with multimedia entertainment creators The Moment Factory has been advantageous; it helps inspire clients to push beyond expectations. He also welcomes new voices into the digital signage dialogue. “We try to understand different perspectives and offer value for each one of those type of customers. We want to understand what the emerging trends are and what the emerging needs will be for the next three to five years.”
Resolution and hardware specs will always be important, but many industry professionals are thinking more boldly, crafting strategies to deliver engaging integrated experiences. As DeYoung articulated, the more clients that say, “We want to create something that’s never been seen before”, the more opportunities will grow for integrators.
Margot Douaihy is a writer and storyteller. She serves as the Editor-at-Large of AV Technology magazine.
Bright DOOH Forecast for 2019
Jeff Hastings, BrightSign’s CEO, says that 2019 will be an important year. “We will have updated our complete portfolio of media players to our new Series 4 platform. We want to emphasize the importance of effectively and securely managing digital signage networks via cloud services. Also, we have partners of all sorts doing amazing things in the DOOH space—strategic consulting, content, software, analytics, experiential design…you name it.”