Innovation in digital signage gallops ahead but does it always pay?

Does the cool digital sign technology fill the the shopping cart?

We live in a society in which digital technology is moving so fast that every day there seems to be something new to amaze us. Digital signage is an example of this phenomenon.

However (there’s always a however), all this technical advancement comes with questions. The first question relates to the concept of technology in search of an application. The first time I became aware of this issue was probably in the eighties when hand-held calculators got smaller and smaller. Eventually we had calculators the size of business cards because technology made it possible. They soon disappeared though because they were too small for the average-sized adult finger to work the keys. This was a classic case of technology, though amazing, being unnecessary or impractical. Digital cameras, coffee makers, cars, and a host of other everyday gadgets and equipment suffer from this phenomenon.

When it is applied to signs however, unnecessary or impractical technology built in just because it is possible to do, has dollar implications. “Geez, that’s cool!” is one thing but, “So is it going to generate sales?” is a whole different thing. Signs are mostly marketing aids, so no matter what cool things digital technology can make them do, they’re only cool in a business sense if they produce a return on the investment. Designers need to remember this – cool technology is not the same as a cool return on investment.

Various digital sign customers will have their own ways of measuring the return on investment on super-cool digital sign technology, but whatever it might be, it makes business sense to do it. It’s not always easy to put a dollar value to the benefit of advertising but one method I read about made sense. An executive asked this question said that he watched the sales figures – if they went up appreciable then the advertising was considered a success.