Digital Advertising Screens – The Profitable Business Anyone Can Start

By Lee Gannon

When people think of digital advertising screens, they think of giants like JCDecaux. They think of bus stop displays, large motorway billboards or those slideshows you see on escalators in the Underground. They think of household brands and celebrity-centered campaigns.

They don’t think of something more akin to a commercial TV you might have at home. They don’t think of locations like the windows of small independent shops in the high street, car parks, hotel lobbies or veterinary waiting rooms.

Advertising is simply about attention. If you have an audience, or at least access to somewhere with footfall, you have an opportunity. Advertising connects businesses with people. It works most effectively when these people are an organization or brand’s target audience. When this correlation is achieved, the value of communication for all involved increases. The owners of an advertising platform, in this case a screen network, can charge premium for ad space and advertisers will see ROI.

You don’t need to be a household name to attract advertisers and you don’t have to own a nationwide network of screens either. Digital signage for advertising is the profitable business anyone can start with a single screen. How? The key is to think local. If you are an independent shop on the main street, perhaps the only one with a screen in your window, other local businesses are likely to be interested in advertising to people walking past just as much as you are. There’s no need to sell ad space to direct competitors but focus on fostering a local network. Your favorite family-run restaurant or your local barbers might love access to the main street, particularly if they are located more remotely. A hotel might want to sell screen time to local attractions like the zoo. This way they would be delivering content genuinely of interest to their audience.

Most small businesses are yet to invest in their own screens for marketing because they think they are too expensive. But the reality is, in most deployments, a commercial grade display will do the job just fine for a few hundred dollars. When it comes to selling ad space, there’s no rule of thumb for how much to charge so think first of covering your costs and then adjust to align with your ambitions. You might just want to sell enough screen time to cover your costs, and then dedicate the rest of your time to your own marketing. That’s absolutely fine.

Even with a network limited to a single screen, pitching ad space to the smallest of local businesses, something like $50 per month in sponsorship is a highly accessible price. Most restaurants would only need to generate a customer paying for a family meal to profit from the venture. This might not sound like a lot but secure ten plus advertisers and a single advertising screen can provide a significant source of recurring revenue. Depending on the market and location, sponsorship fees can increase dramatically, especially as the size of an advertising network grows. It’s good practice to offer a tiered selection of sponsorship packages to accommodate all advertising budgets.

Digital signage can be a vehicle that brings local businesses together. Many organizations, including councils around the country, are investing in screen networks to create unique communication platforms where they can both distribute localized messaging and sell sponsorship space. As long as a reliable and easy to manage signage platform is chosen, digital advertising screens can be a low maintenance and highly profitable business model that anyone can start today.

This guest post was contributed by TrouDigital. Visit the company’s website for more information about digital signage advertising.

rAVe Team

About rAVe Team

rAVe Publications

  • Dave Haynes

    The digital signage highway is riddled with the roadkill of companies of all sizes that looked at the opportunity the way you’ve done here – thinking and suggesting it’s easy to sell advertising. It’s. Just. Not.

    The technology is just a means to an end. The stuff. The really, really, really, really hard part is developing a sales and marketing strategy, finding people who know how to sell, and then finding small business people who actually have ANY budget or marketing materials to use for advertising.

    I’ve been consulting on signage networks for 15 years, and even started and ran an ad-based network in a perfect media environment. It failed. It was too early on the scene for agencies. They didn’t get it.

    I get calls all the time from companies saying they are planning a network in c-stores, ski resorts, nail salons, dry cleaners … think of a place, and it’s been touted. In just about every case, I say Stop!

    You are blithely suggesting all entrepreneurs need do is find some screens and software, and keep their costs down, and the money will roll in. It won’t.

    Your advice is terrible.

    • Gary Kayye

      Here’s a fun game. Let’s replace the words “digital signage” with the words “digital publication” in your first paragraph and it still makes sense:

      • Dave Haynes

        Hi Gary … don’t know Lee or the company, but yeah, you can go across pretty much any type of media, all the way up to TV networks and newspapers, to find companies that had high hopes and then discovered advertising is way harder than it looks.

        If Lee’s company is doing well on advertising, awesome. The problem is he at least appears to be advocating this to people who in the vast majority of cases won’t have his or any ad sales chops.

        My favorite story on all this was a startup in a tourist town that was well advanced in plans to put screens in hotel lobbies. Then they called me and asked what I thought were reasonable ad rates. They were already sourcing tech and securing sites, and had no clue what a CPM was or about pretty much anything about media sales.

        Speaking from direct experience, getting media sales people to sell your stuff along with the stuff they really sell is usually a disaster. Your stuff is the “Oh by way” at the end of a sales pitch.

        • Gary Kayye

          Dave, if I were starting Business today, it would absolutely, positively be a digital signage business. It’s easy, easy, easy money. And it doesn’t require a lot of brainpower. What they said, it’s one of the easiest segments to get into. And, it’s very profitable. Sure, there are people who over complicate the hell out of that market, let’s be real (and honest) here.

          I remember back about a dozen or so years ago someone told me it was hard and complicated to get into the home theater and home automation business. I proved them wrong by starting my own business building it up and then selling it. Oh, and I did that on the side, barely focusing on it – maybe five hours a week. It was the low-hanging fruit of the day.

          I believe that the low hanging fruit of our market right now is digital signage – it is not complicated whatsoever and it has a low barrier to entry – and with companies like BrightSign and Adobe, it’s easy-peasy to do great content and make it all work.

          As far as advertising goes, because I teach as an advertising professor at the University of North Carolina, no – I do not think doing advertising in digital signage is complicated. But again, I’m in advertising professor teaching people how to do new media advertising so, I’m probably biased.

          But, the scare tactic is not the right way to respond to this guy’s logic. It’s not that difficult – it just requires focus and creativity.

          • Dave Haynes

            From what i know about you Gary, I think you’d be successful at pretty much anything ;-]

            I agree digital signage is very opportune, but I tell the startups coming to me looking for advice to look for recurring dollars from providing managed digital signage services. Lotsa people want signage, they just don’t want to figure it out and deal with it day to day. A lot of the big software companies and integrators like Stratacache and Diversified are turnkey for a reason, but there is tons of local business those bug guys will neverttouch.

            Getting people to pay me to help them makes more sense to me than putting gear in for free, at my capital risk, and HOPING I can sell enough ads to break even … AFTER I cut the host venue a revenue share off the net.