Smartphones and Digital Signage

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Those who know my affinity for mobile technologies and digital signage typically ask me this question: “Which mobile trend will have the greatest impact on digital signage and what will be the impact?” I receive this question so often that I wrote an article on the subject, which will appear in October’s issue of Digital Signage Magazine. For readers of my blog, the following is an early excerpt of the article.

The Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association (CTIA), a massive trade group representing the wireless industry, is kicking off the Fall Season with its annual Wireless IT and Entertainment conference. The purpose of this conference is to explore how wireless and mobile technologies can and will be used to redefine how business is conducted. One of the conference sessions is a half-day seminar entitled “The Mobile Retail Experience.” This seminar is the first of many that will focus on how smartphones will make new and innovative in-store marketing applications possible.

This seminar is a part of an emerging trend by today’s thought-leaders to position smartphones as THE platform for delivering information, issuing calls-to-action, and facilitating transactions. This movement increasingly positions the smartphone as both a competitor and a complement to digital signage. It should be noted however that this trend would not have been viable two years ago. Prior to 2007, wireless carrier business models would not have allowed third parties (e.g. handset manufacturers, applications developers and content providers) to have the freedom to innovate that they do today.

This new freedom has spawned smartphone innovations so extensive that wireless subscribers are now using their smartphones to manage their health, wealth and entertainment. As a result, smartphone sales have been increasing dramatically, and are now projected to represent a near majority of new handset sales in about three years.

As smartphones occupy a larger share of the mobile subscriber base, the impact will be five-fold:

  1. The additional functionality that the smartphone possesses will make traditional mobile marketing applications such as SMS marketing, mobile web services, and similar services less appealing as they become supplanted by more sophisticated applications.
  2. There will be an emphasis by smartphone application developers to find more and better ways to centrally manage and deliver dynamic, interactive, multi-media content to the smartphone.
  3. There will be an emphasis by application developers on using the smartphone’s location-identification capabilities to deliver content that is tailored to the users’ location.
  4. There will be an emphasis on seamlessly integrating mobile commerce with the content so that smartphone users will be able to immediately respond to a call-to-action contained in the content. 
  5. There will be an increased emphasis on remotely measuring and reporting user interactions with the smartphone content and the corresponding calls-to-action.

What does this mean to and for digital signage as more wireless subscribers gravitate to the next generation of smartphones and smartphone applications? Simply put, it will mean that:

  • Digital signage will face even more competition for ad dollars as advertisers and their agencies recognize the smartphone’s ability to provide more extensive viewer metrics – particularly when the smartphone can provide a true one-to-one marketing experience.
  • Digital signage will need to become more sophisticated in delivering viewer metrics, which will mean that interactive digital signage will logically take a more prominent role in future deployments.
  • Digital signage will come under intense pricing pressure as venue owners and network operators gravitate to much less capital intensive smartphone-enabled content solutions as opposed to traditional digital signage solutions that require expensive monitors and media players.
  • Digital signage will need to work in concert with smartphones, which means that digital signage will need to play a more active role in promoting the viewers’ use of their smartphone.
  • Digital signage content management systems will need to interface with the smartphones so that content assets and messages can be shared and leveraged across the two platforms

Be sure to read the full article in Digital Signage Magazine.


2 Responses to “Smartphones and Digital Signage”

  1. Hi Steve,
    I have been involved in digital signage in marketing for a long time.
    I am very excited about the concept of a smart phone (or other pda type devise) dynamic recognition. Do you know of a digital signage solution or company out there that is currently implimenting this into a real working example?

    Please let me know.
    Steve Bergeron

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