rAVe Went to #NYDSW. Here’s What We Saw.

NYDSW 2019New York Digital Signage Week (NYDSW), held October 14-18 of this year, was 40 events and more than 100 speakers and 4,500 attendees excited to immerse themselves into the world of digital signage in the year 2019. Seven years into the event’s first showcase in 2012, NYDSW has grown proportionally; this year, it was sponsored by 12 groups with a stake in the DS game: BrightSign, Digital Signage Expo, the Digital Signage Federation, Peerless-AV and even the MTA, among others.

From industry panels to CTS certification sessions, NYDSW offers a diverse range of activities (some free and some paid; some open and some invite-only), including manufacturer showcases, conferences, open houses, breakfast debates, cocktail hours, tours and more. Why did we attend? Because we know that digital signage — whether in retail, wayfinding, the corporate environment, advertising technology (AdTech) or digital out of home — is (and will continue to be) hugely valuable in the overly cluttered world of marketing and advertising.

Within the lineup of companies that showed at NYDSW 2019, we had the opportunity to do a deep-dive with NEC Display and LG. Here’s what we learned.

  1. NYDSW 2019, like digital signage itself, is about connecting with the customer at the right time and in the right place.

NEC Display made its presence known at NYDSW 2019 through one of its five NEC Showcase events in 2019. One of the more obvious ways NEC did this was by showcasing some current technology — its direct-view LED options and its collaboration products, to name a few. But NYDSW 2019 isn’t just about product demos: Other ways NEC connected with its customer were by offering CTS certifications, an industry panel, a distribution summit and more. Through this lens, NYDSW 2019 is much more than a technology showcase; it’s an opportunity to make connections with key decision-makers and AV partners.

See a video of Sara Abrons interviewing Betsy Larson and Pat Malone of NEC Display:

NEC Vice President of Enterprise Sales Pat Malone said, “It’s a combination of our reseller partners, our consultant community and our end-user customers.” While the template for each NEC Showcase is similar, the beauty of the event is that it can be adjusted based on the location, as NEC partners with different groups like Legrand, Crestron, BrightSign and more to add value for customers. “We’ve changed it up [this year] to have more showcases to get closer to the customer and bring our technology into the market,” Betsy Larson, senior vice president of NEC, added.

The NEC Showcase guarantees consultants will see the latest and greatest from NEC. If you missed them in October, you can catch the next NEC Showcase on March 4, 2020, in San Jose, Calif., or on March 11, 2020, in Tustin, Calif.

  1. Digital signage must be creative, flexible and scalable.

Flexibility, creativity and scalability in digital signage is critical. Garry Wicka, vice president of marketing at LG, showcased a few of the LG products that are making digital signage better:

(And we think they did pretty well: Within hours of their event, LG had already initiated two purchase orders for their 130-inch display.) Here are some key themes:

  • Direct-view LED. Direct-view LED is complicated. How do you make it easier and scalable? LG’s new 130-inch fine-pitch (1.5 mm pixel pitch) LED signage for medium to large conference rooms makes it simple with one SKU. LG’s 130″ All-in-one DVLED LAAF Series Signage debuted at InfoComm 2019. Wicka said, “It all comes together. You have integrated sound built in. You can mount this on the wall, you can put it on a stand…or you can actually hang it from the ceiling, as well.” With multiple options, you have the flexibility you need in corporate conferencing, education and more without sacrificing your  “wow” factor.
  • Digital signage in outdoor applications. Outdoor-signage solutions need to continue to evolve like their indoor counterparts — without breaking the bank. Outdoor signage has been around for a while but is known for being quite expensive. LG’s new series of digital outdoor displays (which goes up to 4,000 nits) is much slimmer but is still fully rated for outdoor use. It can be used for various applications such as menu boards and outdoor kiosks and is particularly useful for museums, entertainment districts, theaters, restaurants and QSR. Wicka added, “In the past, when you thought of outdoor, oh my gosh, it was really expensive. That’s not the case anymore. So it’s really a difference maker. This is now making it available to a much broader audience.”
  • OLED. You can do things with OLED that you can’t do with other technologies. What’s more, OLED has come a long way since LG got into the technology in 2010. At less than 5 millimeters (a few credit cards thick), LG’s beautiful wallpaper OLED gives installers the flexibility to put a display where they couldn’t before. With it, integrators can offboard the electronics somewhere else to keep the setup extremely thin. In-glass OLED is another LG technology giving AV integrators flexibility and creativity in their installs. The same content can run on both sides of the glass, or you can display different content on each side at the same time; applications include airports, K-12, museums and more. Lastly, the (literally flexible) and show-stopping transparent OLED signage solution offers people a different perspective, a new depth in the ways that they view content.
  1. “Data” is a useless buzzword — unless you have a plan for it.

Digital signage won’t succeed without the data and analytics to back it up. But the word “data” is thrown around everywhere, all the time, and the more it’s used the less valuable it seems to be. Consumers are also very concerned about privacy when it comes to data. (Privacy laws are only getting tougher.) NEC breaks some of the challenging perceptions around data with ALP (Analytics Learning Platform), its cloud-based, anonymous, GDPR-compliant business-intelligence platform. Kelly Harlin, analytics platform strategist at NEC, explained:

“We are gathering data in brick-and-mortar environments, helping end users understand how customers are moving through their environment — dwell, traffic, age, gender — to give them a baseline to understand who their customer base is… It’s really understanding who’s in your environment and how they’re using it,” Harlin continued.

ALP is not just for retail, either — it’s multi-vertical, for use in hospitals, campuses, cinemas, etc. ALP is for anyone who has a physical space with customers flowing through it. Once you have an understanding of who interacts with your technology, you can use the data to make decisions and develop a digital content strategy. And if you are concerned about privacy, know that ALP is GDPR-compliant: The data is protected, while people’s identities remain secure.

DS solutions like ALP are helping manufacturers, architects and installers work smarter in digital signage.

The evolution of digital signage is a point of constant debate: The future of DS depends on connecting members of the AV world through events such as these to spur conversations around where the industry is headed and what it can do better. And digital signage is only going to continue growing. The question is: Will it keep getting better? Or will the number of emerging solutions make it feel convoluted? We hope it’s the former.

To view all of rAVe’s videos from New York Digital Signage Week 2019, check out our coverage here. See you at NYDSW 2020!