Digital Signage Sales Set to Rise in 2009

Moderate but positive growth in the digital signage market means small business owners can take advantage of a maturing industry and the falling price of large high-definition, flat screen displays.

It's no secret that midmarket companies don't have the advertising and marketing budgets of their larger business brethren. So, when it comes to funneling funds into bolstering your company's exposure in the marketplace, money must be spent wisely. While opportunities in social media (Facebook groups, Twitter accounts) can link you with an online audience of thousands, it is important to remember that physical displays-namely, digital signage-can provide a big boost for your business's image.
A study from ABI Research found total revenue from the digital signage market in the United States, including hardware, software, installation and maintenance, is expected to grow by about 33 percent in 2009, despite a devastated economy.
There are several reasons for the positive outlook, according to industry analyst Zippy Aima, reasons that are tied to longer-term trends. "Traditional advertising media are losing their appeal for many consumers," she said. "Consequently, digital signage has emerged as a way to deliver highly customized and targeted messaging in a variety of locations. And in a fast-changing world, digital signs' ability to be updated in real time is a real benefit."
Aima said adoption is also encouraged by improvements to displays' appearance, the generally falling prices of electronics goods and less expensive data storage. The latest generations of digital signage, which include interactivity, can offer a more compelling experience to users and provide valuable consumer feedback to marketers. However, the market is fragmented, with several vendors and multiple solutions that can seem overwhelming to small business owners. Concerns over data security also continue to hamper the industry's growth.
Cost is also a factor, especially now. "Although digital signage technology promises increases in sales and revenue, such growth is not immediate," cautioned Aima. "The investment in installing a network can still be very high depending on the number of sites and the cost of the other components. Yet, businesses with ready access to capital may see a real opportunity here."
However, major vendors like Hewlett-Packard are reaching out to small business owners with special deals on digital signage, like the HP LD4200 ($1,399), a full high-definition 1,080-pixel-resolution, 42-inch display designed for indoor venues, retail environments, and advertising and control room applications.
The falling price of the essential component-large-screen displays-has reduced the upfront investment significantly. SMBs are able to enter the market with a new cost-benefit outlook. SMBs who can't afford to buy tons of software and hardware can turn to digital signage-as-a-service using the SAAS (software as a service) model.
For a long time the idea of a complete digital signage solution seemed out of reach for small business owners; as the cost of the displays continues to decline and the market for custom installation matures, SMBs will be more able to make a smart investment that can bring flash and polish to the company.