“Can we all agree that in 2015, not a single person got the correct answer to ‘where do you see yourself five years from now?'” asks a funny meme that has been the rounds on the internet.
As the witty meme implies, Covid-19 took practically everyone by surprise, including players in the digital signage space. One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic has been financial, which has forced many organizations to cut back on spending. For this reason, the overarching goal will be extracting maximum value from existing installations.
This focus on getting the maximum bang for digital signage buck means many firms will look for cheaper solutions that integrate well with existing installations. In addition, they will likely prioritize multifunctional solutions and reuse hardware and content wherever possible. Heightened focus on efficiency and value will also push many companies to leverage the 80:20 rule, meaning they will aim to invest 20 percent in solutions that meet 80 percent of their needs.
You are also likely to see an increasing number of firms signing up for signage-as-a-service solutions, which require minimal upfront investment and can be scaled up or down depending on the need at hand. Expect a rising preference for easy-to-use solutions, which can reduce the time spent on creating and managing content by a significant degree. Here are other digital signage trends to watch out for in 2021.
Another digital signage trend that is likely to gain traction in 2021 is the use of non-touch input for screens. This is, in main part, because of Covid-19, which has been shown to spread via high-touch surfaces, but screens can spread other diseases as well. Screen manufacturers are likely to leverage mature, widely available technologies such as voice and gesture for this purpose rather than developing completely novel input methods.
More Innovative Signage Screens and Solutions
Digital signage screens have been growing in size, resolution, brightness and innovativeness over the last few years, and that trend looks set to continue in 2021. Gargantuan screens with resolutions of 4K and higher are going to become more and more common.
Expect to see innovations such as see-through screens in areas where use case and a potentially positive return-on-investment make the cost of ownership worthwhile. Concerns over operational costs, environmental impact and climate change will continue fueling a growing preference for more power-efficient display technologies, such as OLED and QLED. Firms are also likely to eschew proprietary hardware and software for more generic products, which often integrate better with existing systems and processes. Even as firms invest in ever larger, higher-resolution displays, they are likely to purchase more smaller screens as well as they aim to create personalized, intimate experiences.
Richard Malton, the group-marketing director of Ocean Outdoor, who managed the Piccadilly Circus LED signage refresh, bills it as the most advanced advertising screen on the planet. The reason? The installation features a cutting-edge system that can tell if the majority of the pedestrians passing by are male or female, young or old, angry or happy, and so on. The system combines this information with data such as ambient temperature and time of day to determine which ad to display. For instance, if its warm, the system may choose to show ads about convertible cars. Expect to see more of this kind of interactivity in 2021 and beyond.
Interactivity will also continue to be the killer application of many a smaller screen as firms push for more intimate experiences to connect better with customers. For instance, you are likely to see smaller screens serving as digital assistants in hotels, stores and other areas, reducing the need to hire an army of assistants.
Increasing Integration with Other Platforms
Another digital signage trend that is likely to accelerate in 2021 is platform integration. By showing the same ads on Facebook, YouTube and digital signage, for example, brands can create or enhance coherence. The ability to create a coherent brand image is critical as information silos increasingly become one of the defining features of the information landscape.
Better Privacy and Security
Interactivity and integration, the two trends we looked at above, involves storing and shuttling a considerable shuttling of data from one platform or system to others. Some of systems involved are linked to sensitive business networks – which makes digital signage systems a target for hackers. To mitigate this concern, firms in this space have been making significant investments in information security, a trend that will continue, if not intensify, in 2021. Apart from keeping valuable information safe, investment in data security is essential to satisfy regulatory requirements and win or maintain customer trust.
This list of digital trends for 2021 is, in a sense, a reflection of ongoing societal anxieties – the risk of contracting disease, worries over budgets, concerns about environmental impact, the hunger for a more personal connection with brands, apprehension over data and security and privacy. As this list shows, players in the digital signage space recognize these anxieties and are rising up to the challenge – not just today, but in the years to come. This unceasing sensitivity to societal needs and the willingness to come up with suitable solution is perhaps the best evidence yet that digital signage still has a bright future.
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