DSE 2015: I hope this is the year…

For the last 6 years this is the time of year that I head to sunny Las Vegas for the annual Digital Signage Expo, a showcase for the hardware, software and ideas that power the rapidly emerging digital signage industry. And every year I come away excited by the people I meet, the business opportunities I uncover and the innovations I see. But every year I’ve also come away frustrated that we, as an industry, still don’t yet have our collective act together. So maybe this is the year…

Maybe this is the year…

  • The media industry truly embraces the value of digital signage as a key element of location-based, mobile-driven marketing programs. Marketers and their agencies are no longer thinking in terms of media types, they’re targeting audiences and trying to surround consumers with contextually relevant messaging that can bring them one step closer to purchase. According to recent research from location marketing firm Placeable, 71% of customers research & confirm the location of a business before visiting for the first time. Most signage networks provide a marketer with the ability to target advertising to signs and screens that are close to the physical location of the advertised business. If you’re trying to stimulate store traffic, why wouldn’t you prompt the customer to search for your business if you know they’re close by and in a location where your product and offer is meaningful and relevant to them?
  • Our industry embraces beacon technology not as a means to spam customers with unwanted push notification ads but instead to better understand how customers interact with signage and digital place-based networks as an integrated part of their daily experience. Beacons allow network operators and marketers to gain an understanding of how ad exposure in a location influences consumer behavior. Through a deeper integration of mobile and location-based data, powered by the potential of beacons to capture and track real-world exposures, network operators and marketers can start to use the combination of digital signage and mobile ad retargeting in ways that can be proven to drive results.
  • Digital signage and place-based network operators start to view programmatic advertising not as a threat to their livelihood but instead as a way to remove the “friction” from the buying process that has traditionally limited the broad embrace of out of home media. Yes, the early days of programmatic were about monetization of the long-tail of digital ad inventory via real-time bidding auctions that risked lowering the average selling price. Today, agencies are applying these automation and data-driven buying techniques to all media types, including traditional media like TV, radio and print, primarily through embrace of “programmatic direct,” or the use of automation and data to place and optimize direct-sold, guaranteed ad inventory. eMarketer predicts that more than $8.5 billion will be spent via programmatic direct in 2015, representing 42% of US programmatic ad expenditures. This has the potential to bring new budgets to out of home, but it is incumbent upon the industry to embrace programmatic techniques and channels and upgrade our technology to have our media be seen as part of the programmatic ecosystem. If we do not, the industry will pass us by.
  • Our industry moves to codify a true audience measurement standard, one that is supported by network operators, agencies and the research community. It’s encouraging that the Digital Place-based Advertising Association, at their recent quarterly membership meeting, announced plans to publish standards developed in partnership with the Media Rating Council, by mid-2015. Having an MRC-approved measurement currency will be a critical step in driving more sustainable, scalable advertiser support of digital place-based media.
  • Consolidation really starts to happen. Like it or not, the truth is there are too many companies who are too small to make an individual impact, and not enough money being spent to support them all. But I continue to feel that through collaboration and consolidation this sector can make a huge impact on the media and advertising industry.


As always, I’m excited to be going to DSE, looking forward to catching up with friends and talking shop over over-priced booze and food, and maybe winning a buck or two at blackjack for a change. Yeah, maybe this is the year…

Dan Levi is the founder and owner of Levi Media Advisory, a retained and project-based consulting firm that specializes in the intersection of media, advertising, technology and marketing. A veteran of more than 25 years in the media and advertising industry, Dan is also Chief Marketing Officer of digital place-based network Captivate.
  1. Spencer Graham Reply

    Can you define this? ” But every year I’ve also come away frustrated that we, as an industry, still don’t yet have our collective act together.”

    What is your solution?

    I always enjoy DSE, too!


    • Dan Levi Reply

      Thanks for visiting and for your comment, Spence. My point is mostly focused on the ad supported side of the business. We are still too fragmented and relatively difficult for advertisers and agencies to buy. I believe we are at the same point that the online world was in the late ’90’s and that mobile is working through (but further ahead than us) today, i.e., developing from a collection of innovative businesses in the same basic sector into a true industry. We need to establish standards and tools to allow publishers (networks) to realize the true value of the audiences DPB networks deliver, but that will not happen until agencies can buy our audiences more easily and we – as an industry – can demonstrate the role DPB audiences play in the broader media landscape. Our viewers engage with our screens on their daily journey; let’s start to use data to show the role our media plays in the context of all other media encountered during these journeys and how exposure on DPB networks helps marketers impact their customers in measurable ways.

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