The Display Search Conference in San Jose this week kicked off with a rather muted start on Tuesday. Attendance was definitely down from last year and featured many of the same speakers, mostly from the likes of Intel, LG, Panasonic and NEC.
So, was there anything a creative guy could get excited about in this sea of flat-panel manufacturers and high-tech companies? Actually, I was pleasantly surprised at the caliber of some of the new speakers and the topics de jour. The same old chestnut of standardization in the industry was beaten with a hammer yet again, making me wonder how far we’ve come as an industry in the past twelve months. The noises were loud, but I didn’t see much in the way of leadership initiative.
Jack Sullivan, VP Of Outdoor for Starcom, delivered an impassioned speech on the reluctance of advertising agencies and brands to fully embrace digital out of home media buys, despite compelling research that shows it works. He also struck a few well aimed barbs at agency creatives who refuse to create original ads for digital out of home; the reason, of course is the dirty little secret of advertising agencies- it doesn’t make them any money! Jack, you’re preaching to the choir, but at least you’re preaching!
Chilin Technologies showed some innovative thinking with their EPaper product. Basically a form of electronic paper that is updated via a wireless network. It was simple, easy to install and runs on very little power. I don’t see this becoming a major digital signage solution for large screens but for retail it could have huge implications on saving on printing costs- imagine being able to swap out shelf-level pricing at a touch of a button or day-part part special offers without spilling an ounce of ink. Great potential here, let’s see if they can capitalize on it.
Overall, the conference seems to me to be a Digital Signage 101 for flat-screen manufactures and big tech companies already invested in the space. Amidst the plethora of power points and slew of self-promotion there were some glimmers of innovation and originality, but I think the Display Search team needs to freshen up the content for next year if they want repeat attendees- rather like most digital signage screens; a little content refresh goes a long, long way.