Like the prepaid card industry, the digital signage industry is still considered in its infancy. There seems to be a symbiosis between the two, with digital signage used as a vehicle for promoting prepaid card programs via in-store and online offers.
According to Laura Davis-Taylor, founder and Principal at Retail Media Consulting Inc., there are two types of digital signage: "sneakernet" and networked systems. Sneakernet is a catchphrase for the action of updating systems manually, such as plugging in a jump drive to upload a new version of an offer that flashes across a digital signage screen, Davis-Taylor said.
Sneakernet is seen as limited in comparison to the networked digital signage solution, with which screens can be updated in real time from a back office computer, for example. A networked system also gives administrators more flexibility, speed and control over advertisements and offers displayed on the screens.
A Digital Signage Association webinar entitled "Digital signage future trends" highlighted the state of the growing industry and future benefits merchants may reap by implementing digital signage solutions in retail environments and elsewhere.
Bill Yackey, Editor of DigitalSignageToday.com and one of the webinar presenters, said the retail world is where digital signage shows the most potential and forward thinking, with consultants and merchandisers trying new ways to reach consumers. One such strategy is to deliver offers via short codes - five-digit numbers that flash across digital signage screens, which when inputted into cell phones offer consumers digital coupons and other discounts.
In the webinar Lyle Bunn, Principal & Strategy Architect at BUNN Co., said digital signage systems already deployed have been underutilized overall; a main reason is that 45 percent of the displays are not networked, according to the DigitalSignageToday.com survey.
One goal of the industry is to integrate digital signage into POS terminals. While that development promises a wealth of data about customers on which retailers can build more effective and targeted marketing campaigns, Davis-Taylor warns of its risks.
To integrate digital signage into the POS takes an application protocol interface, akin to a "handshake between the data stream at the POS and the play list and analytics on the digital signage," she said. But that interface creates weak points for hackers to penetrate and steal cardholder data.
Digital signage has been a viable technology for 20 years and has been building momentum in the last three to four, Davis-Taylor said. She estimates it will be another five years until digital signage is ubiquitous.
By that time, it may be commonplace to buy your movie ticket with a prepaid card that utilizes restricted authorization network technology to limit the use of that card at select local retailers. As you walk through the lobby to the theater you are met with an offer on a digital signage screen which says, "After the movie, go to Enrico's for $10 off a dinner for two if you use your prepaid card."
And that is the value of digital signage. "Reach the right people with the right message at the right time," Davis-Taylor said.
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