The digital signage industry is growing quickly, and now exceeds $16 billion worldwide. But, to put it bluntly, it’s surprisingly not an industry known for its innovation.
Strange, considering it’s a technology-based industry and those tend to be the most innovative.
For the most part, emphasis has been placed on hardware, growing the size and resolution of the screens with very little thought given to anything else – especially the user experience!
Because the term digital signage has always gone hand in hand with the word ‘screen’, or hardware that is sold by A/V suppliers for whom content and customer experience is often an afterthought.
As well as this, the people who buy digital signage often think of it simply as ‘digital screens’ that they can place around the venue, office, or public space to display information. But, again, they give almost no thought to how this might improve the customer experience.
With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that the majority of progress in the digital signage industry has been the size and quality of the screens themselves.
At EventIgnite, however, our focus is on creating a seamless visitor experience at large events and not on technology for technology’s sake.
With that said and done, here are what we think are the most interesting and important trends in the digital signage industry this year.
1. Slim, Good-Looking Screens
One of the biggest factors in the success or failure of a digital signage system is how well it fits into its surroundings – does it blend in? Does it stick out like a sore thumb?
Better, sleeker designs are becoming more commonplace and, assuming the content displayed on those screens ticks all the boxes, they are quickly making digital signs blend into their surroundings creating a more seamless experience.
So yes, this trend still relates to how the screens look, but it focuses on how they fit together with other materials that are on display at an event, as well as what the surroundings look like.
Visuals are also part of the user experience, hence why the aesthetics of the screens are an important starting point.
2. Personalisation and Interactivity
Okay, so this one technically isn’t a trend because, well, it’s hard to do it justice and almost every company that has given it a go has failed.
Every company?! You ask. Here’s why:
You see, interactive digital signage uses touch screens to create “Plan Your Visit” points or hubs. But the tricky part is creating an intuitive, friendly user experience that makes it easy for the customer to find what they’re looking for (especially the more technology-averse ones).
When you realise that any successful solution needs to be integrated with multiple data sources (some of which might not be complete or might be hard to keep up to date), you have a difficult situation that often doesn’t bring the results needed.
That said, this year, thanks to better connectivity and easier integration with other suppliers, it’s easier than ever to create truly useful, interactive and personalised digital signs.
Watch this space!
3. Responsive Content
The rise of responsive content means we can now create digital signs that automatically change the content they show based on external triggers, like:
- The weather outside (e.g. the sign will show adverts for soft drinks and ice cream when it’s hot)
- Traffic (e.g. the sign will show alternative routes to viewers)
- Time of day (e.g. The London Underground screens that change what they show at rush hour)
This creates a user experience that taps into the customer’s needs at any given time and provides them with information that is completely relevant to their current surroundings and situation.
At EventIgnite, we implemented responsive digital signage at Star Wars Celebration Europe by showing in-the-moment queuing times, the availability of tickets for popular sessions, and live stock levels of certain items. You can read the full case study right here.
Digital signage is coming along in leaps and bounds, and we’re expecting to see some real improvements to the industry this year.
To coincide with the rising importance of the user experience, the industry is having to make tweaks so it’s not just focusing on what the screens look like.
Instead, we can expect more of an emphasis on personalisation, interactivity, and responsiveness, three key things that come together to create a seamless user experience.