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I Saw the Sign at OAAA/TAB's "Ignite"

Reflecting on last week’s 2013 OAAA/TAB National Convention & Trade Show, it’s clear that while sunny California (the event was held in Los Angeles) was a beautiful backdrop, its role was minimal in a show that asserted a bright future for out-of-home advertising with digital being a key component.
Digital signage is no longer a trendy new niche within the extremely broad OOH industry, nor is it a buzz word among the speakers and exhibitors at the OAAA/TAB event. It is a reality acknowledged and taken seriously by the companies manning the 38 booths at the trade show, nearly three-quarters of which claiming to support digital.
Those who still remain true to conventional signage recognize the high revenue opportunities generated by signs that display more than one ad during a given period of time. Others in static signage have found ways to transition into digital that complement their product portfolios, an example being OutdoorLink Inc. that responded to an increased demand for digital signage by adapting their SmartLink remote power management system to screens. It is now used by the likes of Lamar Advertising and Daktronics.
The writing is on the wall – or more appropriately, the digital screen. As prices for digital technology have dropped over the past five years, the OAAA show has largely evolved to the point where one of the exhibitors confidently claimed “it’s all about digital”. “Money is flowing into digital because it works”, stated another exhibitor. People are drawn to the bright lights, flexible content and keeping up with the new and now.
Exhibitors and attendees are not mistaken – the effects on the OOH industry are evident. During the show, Arbitron Inc. presented two studies to a heaping audience. The first, Project Rushmore 2013, found that OOH media delivers more online activity per ad dollar spent compared to TV, radio and print (newspapers and magazine).[1] The second, Arbitron’s Out-of-Home Advertising Report 2013, noted that while two-thirds of travelers had seen a billboard in the past month, over 4 in 10 had viewed a digital billboard; [2] a testament to digital’s growth in popularity.
These results also speak to another consensus shared by many exhibitors at the show – though the static to digital transition is strong, a full conversion will not be taking place any time soon. For now, both divisions are able to exist and thrive within the same space, relatively similar to coffee shops and bookstores. Think about it. While the early majority are now bringing their ereaders to cafes, bookstores remain for those who like the feeling of paperback books and newspapers. The transition will continue to pick up pace from the latter to the former but a world without bookstores (or static signage) is still unimaginable.
Trends that are foreseeable? There was much talk about an increase in the presence of street furniture, the launch of AOTO’s LED street furniture being a prime example, as well as methods to reduce utility consumption, service calls and employee time spent on issues that can be resolved by maturing 24/7/265 offerings. The progression is positive for the entire OOH industry, from manufacturers of 3D props and extensions to certain digital signage software providers…

[1] Project RUSHMORE 2013: Out-of-home Advertising and Online Activations. Arbitron. (accessed 2013.5.27).
[2] Arbitron Out-of-Home Advertising Report 2013. Arbitron. (accessed 2013.5.27).