I was at the local Starbucks here this morning and noticed something interesting — they’re going digital — signs that is.
My local bank branch plays Bloomberg TV surrounded on the screen by Apps and streaming Wachovia mortgage, financial services and car loan services ads. A big grocery store chain just added baby digital signs all over the store to convince me to purchase whichever advertiser spent the most money aisle-by-aisle. A Chick-Fil-A down the road just switched to totally digital menu boards that not only include stuff they sell, but also stuff they support. Heck, the local sports bar down the street just installed digital signage content software to wrap around the screen so that while you’re watching football, they can show you, in real time, what’s ready to eat and which keg they just tapped — a perfect impulse purchase application of digital signage. When I asked the manager how it was working out for them, he exclaimed they see a 20 to 30 percent increase in alcohol sales every time they flash it up there.
So this morning when I saw the regional manager of Starbucks personally overseeing the install of the new so-called “Starbucks Digital Network,” I wanted to find out who the integrator was. So, I asked.
Guess who was integrating it? Right! A company of which I’d never heard.
That’s right! It’s a local IT integration firm that specializes in network management.
How many of you reading this right now have a strategy to get into the digital signage market?
If you don’t, do!
Not only is digital signage the fastest growing sector of the AV market, it’s also the future of AV. Huh? Simply put, the way digital signage works is the way that the average AV system will work in just a few years.
Let me explain.
Currently, the average AV system is routed via RGB color-coded cables, signal routing and distribution gear that is designed to send computer and other video and audio source signals all over a room or facility for displaying anywhere we want. But, in case you’ve not been reading my columns over the past year, we’re rapidly moving towards the “network.”
What’s that mean? Well, let’s take a look at what’s going on in the home to better understand. Just a few months ago, the number of digital movie downloads surpassed Blu-ray sales. That’s huge. Why? Well, people are accepting and have become more comfortable with the concept of virtual buying — not having to own or rent a tangible movie on a disc — they’re perfectly fine with buying it via the network and streaming it to their TV rather than owning the disc that sits on the shelf. Coincidentally, a month later, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy.
Flip back to the ProAV market. We still fill our classrooms, boardrooms and meeting rooms with DVD players, in-room PCs and all sorts of other source gear. We still connect all that stuff via VGA and RGBHV cabling and send it to the projector via wire.
All the while, the digital signage market’s been doing signal routing and distribution via the network. Their source gear is all in the “cloud” and their players are all little boxes that are basically dedicated media players that take in signals via an Ethernet port (or over Wi-Fi) and convert them to1080p HD video on HDMI.
Why aren’t we doing that in ProAV? We will — that’s why I’m writing this column.
In fact, that’s my justification as to why you need to be doing digital signage — so you’ll understand the future of the meeting room. Even if you forget about the fact that the digital signage market is the fastest growing segment of AV, the most profitable service sales opportunity in AV today or the fact that it can bring you recurring revenue from advertising sales opportunities or from creative content (graphics design) management expertise; you should still get into digital signage to understand how network-driven AV content works.
Or, you can pull a Blockbuster…