DSE 2015 In a Word: Data

A number of people have done very strong reports on the products featured at the recently completed Digital Signage Expo, so I won’t try to replicate and instead recommend you check out #DSE2015 for links to their posts, which are great reading. Rather, I wanted to briefly address what to me was the overarching theme of this year’s event: data.

Absolutely the number one theme of DSE this year was how critical data is becoming to network operators, as a way of integrating DPB into the digital media ecosystem and to demonstrate the impact that DPB/DOOH advertising has as a part of clients’ integrated, digitally-driven media plans. After more than 100 years of OOH ad networks being operated as proprietary, closed-loop networks (from painted boards to vinyl boards to digital screens), all ad-supported network operators are being challenged to collect, analyze and utilize data to better target audiences and show how exposure to DPB/DOOH advertising supports integrated, digital media campaigns and drives results for advertisers.

Sub-themes included:
• The importance of integration with mobile campaigns and mobile technology
• How programmatic advertising technologies are absolutely headed to DPB/DOOH and the eventual requirement that all network operators upgrade systems, invest in technology and form strategic partnerships to enable programmatic buying of media
• The desire of agencies to have direct access to audiences and inventory and to see these audiences within the context of other digital media solutions
• The contextual relevance of OOH experiences is a core strength of the medium, but data needs to be provided to quantify the value of that contextual relevance and how it fits into the broader customer experience. Beacons could be one – but not the only – solution to demonstrate the context of DOOH exposures.
• There is broad and consistent confusion about the above, with no consensus on which technologies make most sense and how to apply them. As an industry, we are at a very early-stage in this process and people are looking for help and leadership to drive this evolution of the medium.

I also wanted to paraphrase what I feel are very astute observations made by two very smart people during panel discussions:

Jeff Gunderman, President of EYE Corp Media, noted that technology is moving so fast that network operators are unable to effectively learn, apply, commercialize and scale many new technologies given the capital requirements of upgrading digital signage networks. So instead of focusing innovation on proprietary screen or network operations technologies, focus on technology innovations that provide understanding of audiences and consumers and how a contextually relevant network and content experience can drive consumer behavior, in ways that can be measured via mobile and related technologies. Smart.

• Regarding the ongoing parade of “shiny new mobile things” that distract network operators, Stephen Randall of Monster Media noted that a common mistake is to start with a technology solution & try to figure out how to use it. Instead operators should start with the problems you want to solve for the customers of your specific network, which should lead to identification of the right mix of technologies. Don’t implement technologies just to be seen as “technology forward;” rather, develop a vision and strategy for how you want to evolve your network operations to incorporate mobile & digital tech and build and/or partner to provide the best solutions. Very common sense approach to a technology trap that I’ve seen countless network operators fall into.

Overall, I thought DSE 2015 was a stronger and more relevant event than in prior years, and I look forward to 2016.

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.

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