Trends and Predictions for 2008

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

We will be going into more detail on our “Trends and Predictions for 2008” at a number of events to senior industry figures in Q1 2008, for the time being though, here’s our take on what we will see in the digital out of home industry in 2008…


  • Screens won’t be (traditional) Screen Shaped. Whether it be a screen embedded in a piece of (digital) Street Furniture or a screen in a 6-sheet poster or elsewhere we expect to see screens no longer looking much like screens. In fact in many instances unless the image moves you may not know it is a screen display at all. We will see more portrait installations than landscape (landscape installs will decline dramatically) but bottom line, in Retail (fueled by a rise in screen based branded fixtures) and in Outdoor you will see an amazing variety of shapes and sizes of screens
  • Device based signage solutions will start to prevail. Personal Computers, especially PCs running Windows are not the sort of devices that should / will be used to run digital signage solutions. We expect a marked trend for large installs to be chosen on signage solutions based around devices and appliances. Undoubtedly this will be a hotly debated topic – especially amongst vendors who have Windows only software solutions. The trend will be more marked in Retail where we expect the major Retailers to buy Screens (with signage built-in) rather than buy a signage solution AND then buy screens as an after thought. Think on that last line and you will realise why the embedded device approach will happen – Retailers want to and will buy screens (with intelligence, devices embedded or devices velcro’ed to the back of them and not signage players per se)
  • Digital Street Furniture. We will see more and more digital street furniture, and we are not just talking about standard’ish indoor and outdoor 6-Sheets or bespoke other sheet-sizes – we have already seen parking bay meters, toilets and bus shelters with digital screens etc. We will also see giant two sided screens indoors and outdoors. Digital Street Furniture will be the biggest market for those involved with the Outdoor Media folks. More and more, when an outdoor media owner wants to make an impact they are THINKING DIGITAL FIRST.
  • User Generated Content (UGC). We will see more networks accept and make use of UGC – whether it be a simple SMS or (polite) MMS, home grown video programme or wannabe TV production from YouTube, CurrentTV or elsewhere. Content from the masses will make it onto digital out of home screens and help fill the content void that is appearing. Moderation may be somewhat of an issue in the short term so early uses may be limited to interactive competitions and where some element of control can be easily maintained. Event based UGC will be even bigger as networks accommodate the brands’ desire to be seen as “cool by connecting to the consumer” and we will see more branded shop window, shopping mall and airport experiential marketing predominantly being based around digital screens


  • Bluetooth as an out of home medium will die. We would argue that it hasn’t even got off the ground. ‘Bluejacking’ or whatever one wants to call it has had its day. Network providers who went to the expense of installing Bluetooth equipment would have been better off installing a Wi-Fi wireless access point and offering the consumer free (even walled garden) Internet access. We believe that Wi-Fi will replace Bluetooth in marketing campaigns
  • Major Cities will have issue with Visual Clutter. It’s already happened in Sao Paulo, and Paris has even started murmuring about it. We believe that major Cities around the world will start having more and more issues with what they see as the visual clutter of outdoor billboards and other advertising hoardings. The result we predict is actually a BOON TO THE DIGITAL INDUSTRY as we believe that the traditional advertising hoarding to Digital migration will actually be speeded up!!! The Outdoor Media owners will remove several traditional poster sites and replace with one digital – the outdoor media folks will also push through utilitarian street furniture as a way past any possible ‘bans’
  • People will see digital out of home as the industry to be in. We saw it happen towards the end of 2007 with a number of Internet, Web 2.0 and music executives moving into the digital out of home market space. Two things will happen here which will make it a good year for recruitment consultants; first digital screen networks will realise that they need good people from outside the predominantly technical digital / AV world to help them succeed and people outside our industry will look at digital out of home and want to be part of it

6 Responses to “Trends and Predictions for 2008”

  1. Kerstin Laveatz Says:

    Hi Adrian,
    as provider of digital audio solutions for background music and POS radio/ internet radio systems (by the way all systems reporting status back to the web such as WeAreON), digital signage strangely seems to leave out the aspects of Audio in many respects.
    Everybody is playing background music, in retail and hospitality, hardly anybody snchronzizes it with the digital signage output.
    Also strange: Audiosystems and services seems to be valued so much less than Videosystems and services, although it’s perceived on a much broader scale.
    There also seems to be a shift from using background music to playing foreground music and creating a brand through music.

    How do you see the trends on that?
    best regards from Hamburg Germany

  2. Yasmin Hughs Says:

    Dear Adrian,

    We have seen in you posts several remarks to support devices and appliances instead of PCs.
    I will take the liberty of suggesting you to post something especifically on this topic, a small analysis of the products in the market, maybe even some recomendations…
    I am sure many non-IT people like me will appreciate it.

    Thanks a lot.


  3. Dave Haynes Says:

    Computing devices with no moving parts definitely eliminates much, but not all, the risk of failure in the field. But we’ve all seen power supplies die, so the risk is not completely eliminated. And software, especially hastily written and nominally QA’d software, will stop any appliance in its tracks as quickly as a full-blown PC … maybe quicker.

    My concern with the forecast for appliances to conquer the industry is I never see them, other than Cisco’s box. There are little boxes that will play out standard def video, which looks like absolute hell on big or even mid-sized flat panels. And they have nowhere near the horespower to play Flash.

    Then there are companies who call small PCs appliances, or package up small form factor PC boards into little cases and call them appliances.

    So I am with you on the no moving parts thing, but I am not sure how much is out there that truly qualifies as an appliance. Aopen is showing a fanless micro mini PC at CES this week. With a solid state memory drive and an embedded OS, that’s pretty close to an appliance.

  4. Bill Barr Says:

    You are dreaming in 4D. I have been through many product evolutions, BW TV Color, cable to ATSC tuners, C-band dishes to 18″ dishes and it takes many many years to get to where you are predicting. Sure we can make Linux boxes, but they will not have the functionality of Windows boxes, HDD drives have many many more read/write capabilities than flash drives and flash is poor man’s digital signage. Digital Signage is HDTV content with hardware and software acceleration and that is larger disk drives and on Windows OS who have a better and cheaper codec than MPEG.

    Also satellite mulicasting will outpace terrestrial when we get to HDTV. Can you imagine a 10 GB file to 300 medial players on a DSL unicast connection, it would take weeks. Wheras all 300 boxes can get that size of a file in 2 hours via a multicast satellite connection.

  5. Tim Godwin Says:

    I agree with your comments on the new formats within which screens will be implemented. I also agree that Bluetooth has not added clear value to a media/advertising proposition and will therefore fade off the scene.

    Having run (and sold) companies in the shopping centre media market for nearly 15 years I think the value of the new format screen implementations is primarily that it allows the digital units to be placed at eye level (like six sheet posters) rather than ‘dropping from the ceilings’ or mounted on bulkheads. As such the proposition then stands and falls on content which will be increasingly ‘moving posters’ only.

    There is still the danger, however, that these units will still be seen as ‘wallpaper’ by the brands/advertisers and I, therefore, believe that a major trend in 2008 will be the addition of ‘wow’ factors to screen implementations. In one area this will be reflected by the implementation of more genuine interactivity with the digital installs (ranging from simple touch screen type interactivity to interactive floor and wall projection to sophisticated image capture allowing the consumer to ‘appear’ in the featured advert. In another area this will involve new technologies such as glasses free 3D screens and directional sound.

    I fear that only in this way will screen network owners be able to prove the value of digital to brands and perhaps more importantly establish digital at some decent form of premium over posters.



    ps, if anyone wants to see implementations of the technologies referred to above drop me a line

  6. Mike Cole Says:

    I may be a bit biased here but I agree with Tim, large screens with touch will play an important role in this market. The opportunity to engage customers and measure usage are just a couple of the many benefits interactivity can bring to the party.

    Regards Mike

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