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3 Questions of Digital Signage in 2017
Digital Signage Today
By Bradley Cooper
January 10, 2017
 
The digital signage industry continues to grow. There is a new story daily regarding hardware and software that delivers more with smaller pixel pitches and more customization. With the new year upon us, it's time to look at a few key questions regarding, "What's on the horizon for digital signage?"

Is 4K ready to explode?

HD is old news, as 4K has entered the market, bringing UHD to customers. Lyle Bunn, analyst of dynamic place-based media, believes the "quality of content presentation" will help to drive industries towards 4K.
"The quality of content presentation is an increasing priority for product promotion in fashion, jewelry, travel, automotive, luxury and sporting goods and other retail categories, and for visitor engagement in museums, galleries and sporting venues," Bunn said in an email. "The use of 4K will increase as brands seek to gain maximum advantage from brand communications investment."

For many businesses, however, the price gap between 1080 p and 4K is still too steep. Gary Bailer, director of product planning for Pro AV products, argues that depending on the size of the display and the distance between it and the consumer, it might be difficult for a consumer to see the difference.

For HD, Bailer mentions how it took several years for customers to get used to HD so that they expected it, and thus companies began to make the shift to meet customer expectations. He believes the same will apply to 4K.

"As TV panels shift to 4K and the production values of 1080p fall, then those gaps will begin to close," Bailer said in an interview. He expects 4K might enter the mainstream in 2018 or 2019.

What's on the horizon for content management?

Content management is a key tool for end users looking to customize their DOOH campaign. The advent of tools such as "proximity detection, anonymous view analytics, RSS and operating application feeds" have helped make content more relevant to viewers, according to Bunn.

"The designation of specific content to daypart presentation, which has been significantly under-applied, will increase as the gap between current and potential return on investment is identified," Bunn said.

Bailer also noted that content management is becoming a much more affordable solution, so that now smaller businesses can get in on the action.

"These solutions are much more affordable, easily implemented," Bailer said. He also noted that tools such as cloud-based solutions are helping cut costs.

Bunn believes that in 2017, more single platforms will be able to handle multiple devices, not just for advertising, but also for corporate communication.

"2017 will also bring the management of multiple devices onto a single platform so that campaigns can be more easily managed and optimized," Bunn said. "This trend has been well underway in advertising placement for 'paid' media, and will be applied to 'owned' media for internal operating efficiencies."  

What is the biggest hardware trend on the horizon?

Organic Light Emitting Diode displays may experience a great deal of growth in 2017. OLED screens can be as thin as 1-mm and are designed to be flexible. LG Electronics, in fact, crafted a double sided OLED screen that was dubbed the "poster killer."

Bunn believes that OLED will be "the most important digital signage advancement in 2017. The medium has proven its value to branding, merchandising and improving the attractiveness of a location. In seeking to gain maximum impact from dynamic place-based signage, end users will elect to apply the modernness of OLED and benefit from its superior media presentation qualities."

Bailer also believes there will be an increased deployment of OLED in 2017, although the high price will likely deter some businesses.
 
 
Mount Olive May Be Unable to Block Digital Billboards
Mount Olive Chronicle
By Phil Garber
January 18, 2017
 
MOUNT OLIVE TWP, New Jersey. - They flash different messages every eight seconds and police and other officials are convinced that digital billboards pose a hazardous distraction to passing motorists.

But despite police concerns, the township may not be able to block applications to set up flashing signs on Route 46 and Route 206.

The Planning Board is scheduled to resume hearings on Thursday, Feb. 9, into an application by Eye Spy Media Corp. of Lakeville, Pa., to erect two, 10- by 30-foot digital billboards to replace the Trading Post sign on Route 46 west in Budd Lake. One billboard would face eastbound traffic and the other would be seen by westbound travelers.

They would each provide eight second commercials with a maximum of eight advertisers per cycle.

Police have objected to the application citing the hazardous conditions along Route 46 that have resulted in numerous accidents in past years.

A second application is expected from Outfront Media Inc. to install a digital billboard near the municipal sewer plant on Route 206 northbound. Outfront Media of New York City, formerly CBS Outdoor, is one of the largest billboard companies in North America.

Both applications require use variances as they are not permitted in the zones.

Common Sights
Digital billboards have been popping up around the country, often along interstate highways like those on Interstate 287 in Franklin Township or along the N.J. Turnpike. Digital billboards are used to advertise everything from air conditioners in the summer, to allergy medications during times of high pollen counts to FBI wanted posters.

The Outdoor Advertising Association of America, reported there are more than 400,000 billboards in the U.S., including from 2,000 to 3,200 digital displays. The industry has been adding hundreds of the more-profitable signs each year.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration released a landmark study in 2014 declaring that digital billboards do distract drivers for slightly longer than standard billboards but not enough to pose a safety risk to passing motorists.

The report is titled "Driver Visual Behavior In The Presence of Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs." It refers to digital billboards as "Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs" or CEVMS. The studies sought to address three specific questions:

To conduct the study, the FHA tracked participant's eye movements with an eye-tracking camera device mounted in the vehicle. The device tracked the driver's eyeball movement to determine if the driver was looking ahead or to the side of the roadway at a billboard.

The research involved motorists in Richmond, Va., and Reading, Pa., and concluded that drivers do look at digital billboards measurably longer than at static billboards. Glance duration toward digital billboards averaged 0.379 seconds, while glances at static billboards were at 0.335 seconds at both test sites. Both measurements fall far below the two-second benchmark, which would constitute a hazard, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The non-profit, "Scenic America" organization disputes the federal study and points to another study published in the journal "Traffic Injury Prevention" that concludes "that digital billboards attract and hold the gazes of drivers for far longer than a threshold that previous studies have shown to be dangerous."

The study, conducted by researchers at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute and funded by the Swedish Transport Administration, found that drivers looked at digital billboards significantly longer than they did at other signs on the same stretch of road, with the digital signs often taking a driver's eyes off the road for more than two seconds.

Scenic America, an organization formed to "safeguard the scenic qualities of America's roadways, countryside and communities," opposes the proliferation of digital bill boards, which it calls "the biggest threat now facing America's communities and highways is the proliferation of digital billboards. These huge TVs-on-a-stick distract drivers, throw off huge amounts of light into neighboring homes and the night sky, and constitute a magnified blight on the landscape."

The courts have allowed municipalities to set standards but have not supported prohibitions against digital billboards.

On Sept. 15, 2016, the state Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Franklin Township Zoning Board of Adjustment and invalidated a township ordinance that barred placement of electronic billboards along Interstate 287 in the township. The township had claimed that it reached its decision on aesthetic and public safety concerns.

The court however, decided that there were no evidence that "the installation of a single digital billboard in the township will exacerbate the accident rate."

Billboard Insider
By Dave Westburg
January 17, 2017

At last year's Geopath/OAAA convention, Lamar's CEO Sean Reilly predicted that within 10 years most of Lamar's billboards would be off the power grid or feeding the power grid due the use of solar power.   Autonomous Power Solutions wants to make this happen.  The company has installed solar powered billboards for Lamar, Clear Channel Outdoor, Ralston Outdoor and Sign-Ads.  Insider talked with the CEO Kevin Conlin about solar and billboards.

Kevin tell us about Autonomous Power Solutions.

Since we're based in the Houston, TX, area, our core business is oil and gas. We build high reliability power systems for remote locations without power; such as offshore platforms, mountain top repeaters, and pipeline measurement stations. Our systems are expected to last 30 years, with 99.99% reliability, and this is the mindset we bring to the solar lighting business.  
How did you get involved with the outdoor advertising industry?

We specialize in packaged systems, and in 2013 we were asked to package the batteries and controls for a national solar distributor that was building some standalone systems for Lamar. The systems were subject to weather extremes, and sometimes placed in high crime areas, so we developed a package that completely protects the batteries from the elements - both natural and human.
 
The concept has worked well around the country, and provides a convenient platform for those customers who locate the solar array on the ground. This is just one aspect of how our approach to reliable power differs from our competition.  
What mistakes do people make when buying solar power?

People naturally shop for the best price, because in the case of solar, the lowest cost system has the quickest payback.  What they don't realize is most solar billboard lighting systems are priced to sell, not operate. The three problems I see most frequently are:
  • To keep costs down, they tend to be under-lit, with uneven illumination and dark spots, which results in an unhappy customer.
  • The solar array tends to be sized for average weather conditions, rather than worst weather conditions, so the system fails frequently in winter.
  • They never have enough battery reserve to handle cloudy periods, so again, they fail frequently, especially in winter.
This combination of poor performance leads people to conclude that solar just doesn't work; they don't realize that bad decision making was the real problem.  A low cost solar system that doesn't do the job is worthless. It will cost you time, money, customer satisfaction, and maybe even a little bit of your reputation.

Available in 24V DC, the Holophane Sign Vue II fixture is good for solar billboards.  
What lights work best with solar?

I recommend selecting a light from a major manufacturer familiar with the needs of the Outdoor Advertising industry, such as Holophane. The best lights are sealed against the elements, and should be constructed entirely of durable materials such as metal and glass for long life and maximum reliability.The Holophane lamps are offered in 24VDC, and provide the highest efficiency, over 100 lumens per watt. This translates into the most efficient, and reliable, solar system.  By following the manufacturers recommendations on proper light spacing, you can now offer your customers a solar lit board that is just as bright as your line powered boards.