If the second DOOH Business Conference was anything to go by, the digital signage industry finds itself at something of a crossroads.
On the one hand, near-term forecasts for growth are very positive - especially after the difficulties of the last year or so - and success stories abound. On the other hand, there is uncertainty about how the industry can fulfill its unquestioned potential, and what it needs to do to become as mainstream in advertising terms as, for example, TV and print.
Oliver Schwede, senior analyst at Invidis Consulting, revealed how confidence - as measured by his company's DOOH Business Climate Index (DBCI) - was high in the industry. Dirk Hulsermann, president of AVAB Europe, noted that 2009 had seen significant consolidation in the industry. Titan's demise, had, he said, come as a shock - but on the other hand, there was also compelling evidence of strategic investment in the sector.
Broadsign president and CSO Brian Dusho noted how the digital signage audience size is comparable with the TV audience size; how DOOH is no longer 'experimental' for agencies; how aggregators are emerging, and new networks beginning to proliferate; and best practices are evolving into industry standards. The need for consistency and standards, and the importance of aggregrators, were recurring themes in a number of the presentations the delegates - close to a hundred of them - heard. Dusho also noted the potential danger in the name 'DOOH': while the fact that DOOH is growing its share of the OOH market, he pointed out just how small OOH is as part of the total available market.
A particularly compelling presentation was made by Valery Rochard of Médiamétrie, whose company specialises in audience measurement. It was noted that some of the more advanced measurement capabilities have personal privacy and data protection implications.
As Eric Penot, digital media director at JCDecaux pointed out, digital signage is an evolution, but not yet a revolution; the fact that his position had only been created last summer is unquestionably a positive sign, as is the fact that his company will have more than twice as many digital signs in March 2010 as it did two years ago. On the other hand, those 5,200 screens are only a tiny fraction of the company's 1,000,000+ traditional 'faces'.