Digital signage to be on a bull run

BANGALORE: The digital signage market (DSM) in India, which is at a nascent stage with a size of about Rs.500 million annually, is expected to grow by about 300 to 400 per cent by the end of next year with the rebound of the global economy, according to a number of DSM players at the ?Expert Tour? on Digital Signage organised by Emarson IT Solutions (EITS) in partnership with global DSM player Minicom Advanced Systems.

The road show was aimed to educate various industry participants such as co-vendors, partners, integrators and customers about what digital signage (DS) is and how it can be absorbed into various industries such as banking, transportation , hospitality, retail and OOH.
Organised retail is the biggest user of DS in India as well as globally. The market is catching up with static signage (bill boards, etc.) and will soon overtake it, say DSM pundits.

EITS co-founder and CEO Prateek Jaswant claims, "The out-of-home sector will be the only traditional advertising media to post real revenue growth during the next five years. The growth will be driven by the migration to digital and the incremental revenues generated from digital sites. Also, one of the major growth drivers of digital signage is the advancement in technology which has helped retailers, marketing and entertainment companies, and many other organisations to ?narrowcast? dynamic video, graphical and editorial content on hundreds, or even thousands, of digital signage displays located virtually anywhere."

Being a new industry in India and globally, a lot needs to done to help the industry grow even further. One of the challenges it faces is convincing the real estate owners to permit placing DS in their premises.

Another key factor is television content. While a viewer watches television for the sake of entertainment or news or knowledge, in the case of DS the message has to be short and loud to catch the attention of a viewer who could be a shopper in a store. Many advertisers and creative teams create content for in-store DS that is more suitable for television and include a lot of audio or just run television ads with or without audio. At present, DS is more of a visual than an audio-visual medium.
Most advertisers fear that DS calls for a lot of content to be created since in-store situations change over very short periods of time (even hourly) and hence could be expensive, says Scala Inc senior software developer Jahan T Kadhar. "You could run the same ad over and over in the background with just change in the text message, which is possible to render using current technology."

Driving more than 300,000 screens worldwide, Scala is a global provider of digital signage and advertising management solutions that offers a platform for content creation, management and distribution in digital signage networks and for advertising management of both traditional and digital signage networks.

Selling DS by itself is another challenge, since it is not a part of most media planners who look at just Digital OOH. A number of media sellers also perceive DS as competition.
Capex and total cost of ownership (TCO) is not easily understood and there is no proven or standard return of investment (ROI) matrix for DS. The market lacks other indicators such as measure of reach. Neither the efficiency and efficacy measurement standards of DS are available. "We all know that it?s working but have no way of proving it," says Minicom Digital Signage CEO Ronni Guggenheim. 
Over 400,000 screens worldwide are using Minicom technology . "When measurability matrices were started for other mediums such as television and cinema, revenues of these mediums increased. We are at the same stage that television was in 1996 or cinema was in 2003," adds Guggenheim.

The market is fragmented with a number of players with a small number of screens. "There have been times when we have had to send people to various places where we have deployed screens to check physically if they are working or not. Due to bad connectivity, I?ve had to send the new ad clips on pen drives to various locations in my network," says Tag Media Network President and CEO P R Sateesh.

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