Bill Collins’ On Industry Associations

Guest Contributor, Bill Collins, DecisionPoint Media Insights

My goal here is to provide some historical background and personal perspective that may put the original post, and some of the comments with regard the Digital Signage Assocation , Networld Alliance and Networld’s in perspective.

Essentially, I greatly respect Networld Alliance and I do not hesitate to defend them in this note.

My small research consultancy, DecisionPont Media Insights, is proud to be a member of the Digital Signage Association (DSA). As Stu Armstrong said in his thoughtful and measured reply, the DSA’s dues have been kept low so that small and mid-sized businesses – the creative backbone of the Digital Signage industry – can afford to join and help lead the DSA.

In the USA, there are three (3) trade associations that support our industry. Each plays a vital role, and each deserves the support of all in our industry who have the means and energy to support them. We are a small and growing industry, so I think we need to respect and support each other in order for us to ‘grow’ the industry for all of us.

  1. OVAB

    The Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB) is an advertising bureau with relatively high dues that serves as the advocacy body to build the OOH digital media industry into a strong advertising-funded medium. 3-4 years ago, I developed the concept of OVAB and organized OVAB’s first two meetings along with Jim Lavelle of WatchIt Media.

    Yes, OVAB’s dues are high — $40K for a media company and $20K for others — but the dues NEED to be high because OVAB’s mission is to build a highly visible, well-staffed, well-funded NYC-based advocacy body for the advertising-based Digital OOH networks that operate in the USA. Our model for OVAB was the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau which Ted Turner and his cable-advertising friends created in the early 1980s when cable TV enjoyed less advertising revenue in the USA that Digital OOH network do now.

    I think it’s important to understand that ALL of these advertising bureaus on which OVAB was modeled charge high dues and virtually all of them are based in NYC because it is the media capital of the USA. Today OVAB is fulfuling its mission in spades, big-time, under the leadership of Suzanne Alecia.

    The way I see it, OVAB’s mission is one that in no way contradicts the mission of the DSA and the POPAI Digital Signage Group in the USA or overseas.

  2. The DSA

    The DSA’s mission includes lots of players: technology firms, ad-based OOH networks, AV integrators, content-production houses, research firms, and any service provider that plays in the “Digital Signage” industry. Because the concept of “Digital Signage” extends far beyond advertising-based networks and the sale of advertising, a strong association is needed to lead that industry IN ITS ENTIRETY and tell its story.

    Just as Networld Alliance stepped into the breach to midwife the creation of the DSA (as Stu Armstrong explained above), Networld has also has played a very important role in the industry by creating, staffing and maintaining, a leading news-and-analysis web site for our industry.

    Back in December 2002, I founded the first periodical publication of any kind (print or online) to cover this industry. It was called the Narrowcasting News From Bill Collins. Later I merged it with another publication (a UK-focused web site owned by Bob Clarke of Instrumental Media Group called the Captive Audience Briefing) that was started after the Narrowcasting News. Together, Bob Clarke and I created

    At that time, AKA.TV was the only publication of its type in the world. At AKA.TV, we maintained a friendly relationship with Networld Alliance (and I suggest that the Daily DOOH might also consider maintaining a friendly relationship with Networld Alliance) because we respected the work that they were doing publishing, creating events and creating trade associations in the kiosk industry.

    Back around 2005 or so, when I decided to change my role in the industry and sell my part of AKA.TV (or perhaps all of it), I had very friendly conversations with senior management at Networld Alliance about a possible sale to them. At that time, they felt that they had their hands full in the kiosk industry, the ATM industry and other industries that they played in. Later, a couple of years after I sold my share of AKA.TV, Networld started at a time when, quite frankly, there was a news-and-analysis void in the industry.

    Today this news-and-analysis void is well filled by, by, by Digital Signage Magazine, by and by other publications. There is plenty of room for all of these various publications. As for me, I contribute articles to, to Digital Signage Magazine and to, and am happy to support all of them.

    Going back several years in our industry, I remember several efforts to start a trade association in the USA like today’s DSA which were not able to take flight because there was not a professionally staffed organization like NetWorld Alliance to “carry the ball” between meetings. [Indeed, organizing national groups across a vast geography like the USA is always difficult, in any industry.] The first such effort to start a trade association was in 2002, when the “super friends,” as Brad Gleeson and Jeff Porter sometimes called them, got together in March 2002 in Chicago after the CAP Ventures Digital Signage conference (which was the first industry event ever organized in the USA for our industry).

    That effort didn’t take flight, most likely because CAP Ventures (I respect these guys, because I used to work for them) didn’t have an internal organization that had sufficient experience organizing new trade associations.

    Organizing such associations “from scratch” is not easy. NetWorld Alliance is a very good organization to help this process now because they have experience and staff that has successfully organized such associations in the kiosk industry and in other industries in the USA. Indeed, it is integral to the Networld Alliance’s business model to:

    a) create industry news-and-analysis web sites

    b) create industry trade associations, and

    c) create industry events

  3. The POPAI Digital Signage Group

    I believe that there is a vital role for the POPAI Digital Signage group – both in the USA and overseas – because POPAI’s heritage is in the retail marketplace and in the Point-of-Purchase or Marketing at Retail sector.

    Obviously, retail is and always will be a key venue for Digital Signage and other in-store digital media. To me, it makes perfect sense that POPAI has the institutional knowledge and experience that can help elevate Digital Signage as a key medium IN RETAIL that complements all the other ways that retailers communicate with shoppers.

So, to summarize this long commentary, I think we need to understand the complexity of building trade associations, publications, events and all the other “infrastructure” elements that we need in the USA and worldwide in order to build our industry (Digital Signage, Digital OOH, or whatever we want to call it). This work requires heavy lifting, and there are many people around the world – including Networld Alliance – who have played a very positive role in these efforts now and in the past.

Patience, please. In the immortal words of Rodney King, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

2 Responses to “Bill Collins’ On Industry Associations”

  1. Lou Giacalone, Jr. Says:

    Amen, Bill. We need to nurture these coordinated efforts to build “an industry”. As one of the “super friends” I having been pushing this for years, and am delighted to have some fresh blood coming into the industry *focused* on trying to do this infrastructure work as you call it. The main issue that always reared it’s head in earlier efforts was the fact that we all had “day jobs” and we couldn’t devote the attention to making it fully realized. Now well organized, and subsequently well funded and staffed, groups are making it a reality. I am delighted to see it come to pass and we will be support these efforts as much as we can… –Lou

  2. Bill Collins Says:


    Thanks for your note. I agree: it is great to see these “infrastructure elements,” as I sometimes call them, come to pass.

    Long live the Super Friends! Ha!

    — Bill

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