I would venture a guess that many technology companies view their fiscal years in some denomination of multiple years. Kind of like a dog year. Things just advance at a more rapid pace than humans age when it comes to technology. 2016 demonstrated that this was indeed the case for the Digital Signage and Digital Menu Board technology space. We all watched the technology advance at that dog years pace with the new technology that was introduced.
Stadium and Arena applications are a great example. A number of new venues opened in 2016, all trying to outdo the last spectacular venue that opened. A number of them installed 4K or Ultra HD screens which were dazzling and engaging like never before. At the lower end of the spectrum, those installing traditional 1080 displays were putting up screens that had embedded player technology, which pioneered a lower entry cost into digital media for their teams and concessionaires. Virtually every new stadium, ballpark, or arena upgraded their public wireless networks to engage fans and visitors. Along with the increased bandwidth, the progressive sports teams also began to explore who their visitors really were. They were able to determine what fans were engaging with through the use of technologies like beacons and NFC. This encouraged their visitors more easily “discover” engaging content and offers, right on the screens of their mobile devices.
Convention Centers and entertainment venues continued to exploit the advances in digital technology, by viewing every visitor as a substantial revenue opportunity, once inside the venue. The initial ticket was the easy part, and engaging their customers throughout their venues became the battle cry. More food courts were equipped with dynamic digital display signage, including digital menu boards, digital merchandisers, wayfinders, and directional signage. The cinema sector saw the expansion of in-lobby ad networks, like the Christie Experiential Network, which featured dazzling displays to entertain guests who had remained in the lobby until their movie started.
Some of the most memorable digital advancements came in the Food & Beverage space … specifically with Fast Casual and QSR entities. The industry offered them options that made more sense than ever – from lower cost “content on a chip” displays for those chains just dabbling with the notion of expanding Digital Menu Boards, to highly advanced digital signage solutions featuring integration with POS, KDS, and inventory systems. These advanced systems featured “on board back-up” in the event that a player or screen went down, so the restaurant didn’t lose a menu during a technology hiccup. The very progressive chains began installing sophisticated systems, where a single larger player could drive several screens at one time, which was used to drive spectacular venue takeover and interruption marketing.
It was a year of epic advancement in 2016, but it seems we say that every year. We expect the even more for 2017. Watch for truly Dynamic Digital Signage, where content is flexible and data-driven. You’ll see venues and restaurants of all types installing smarter signage, where the real-time data is scheduling or altering the content on the Digital Menu Board or Digital Merchandiser. You can expect the price of outdoor applications like Drive-Thru Digital Menu Boards, to begin showing up with greater frequency as the price drops and brightness and durability become more enhanced. More and more entertainment venues will have the opportunity to finance their way into digital signage as ad networks advance and collaborate to subsidize the cost of the initial hardware installation. Screens will get bigger, brighter, and more economical. Software and integration will allow systems to become smarter and more responsive. And, like each preceding year, ROI will come a little quicker. Welcome to 2017!