As no-BS digital signage blogger Dave Haynes pointed out again recently, there are a lot of bad statistics out there that proclaim to describe the size and scope of the digital signage market.
“I don’t know how many meetings and conference presentations I’ve been at that sees one or more presenters, early on in their sessions, pop up a slide that shows a chart that climbs up and a big, honking number at the end – signifying the market size for digital signage. It’s almost always a number followed by 000,000,000, attributed to some obscure research firm. Somebody will then ask me if I buy into that number, and I suggest it probably reflects the same level of science and accuracy as a rousing game of Pin The Tail On The Donkey … after a few vodka and red bull shots.” – Dave Haynes
Well put Dave! A lot of the statistics we’ve seen out there seem meaningless to us as well. That said, we get asked the question a lot. How big is the digital signage market? Here’s one simple way to approach that question. Although it too is not perfect we feel as though it builds up towards an answer, or an analysis, that is more satisfactory than pie-in-the-sky forecasts.
Digital Signage is about Place, so let’s use Places to Guide us
Digital signage, at its roots, is inextricably linked to, and can be grounded in, real world business networks. A more practical way to look at the market opportunity is by looking first at the retail bricks and mortar landscape itself – the businesses which one day might use digital signage technology.
Every business on the planet that has a physical venue, or that has a retail partner with a venue, can be seen as part of the total addressable market for digital signage solutions. The key questions that get us closer to the total value of that market are as follows:
How many venues are there in any given market that might, in theory, one day use digital signage?
What is a reasonable estimate of the average revenue per year that one of these venues can generate for its preferred digital signage vendor?
The Digital Signage Market in Canada and the United States
Let’s put this model to work using the Canadian and US markets. Government census data is relatively easy to find and can be used to help answer the first question. Click on the graph (and wait) for a sense of where this data comes from.
The US census of 2012 counted 1,062,083 retail establishments1 in the United States. In 2011, using Statistics Canada data, the Retail Council of Canada counted 190,1002 retail stores in Canada.
Total number of retail stores
Next we need an estimate for the average revenue one of these average venues might represent to their preferred supplier. For the sake of argument we’ll use $40 USD, ScreenScape’s monthly subscriber fee.
Avg revenue per customer per month (USD)
Revenue opportunity, Retail, North America (monthly)
Additional Place-based media Venues
In addition to retail venues there are many public places that make for ideal locations for digital signage. These range from hospitals to health clinics, universities to fitness centres, and hotels to golf courses. The US census of 2011 counted 6,588,336 public establishments in total. For the sake of simplicity we can say, as a rule of thumb, that for every retail store there are five non-retail establishments.
Number of venues, total (6x retail)
Avg revenue per customer per month (USD)
Revenue opp, All Venues, North America (monthly)
Using our subscriber fee as a stand in for the average revenue opportunity associated with each average customer, that comes to $3.6B USD annually. Is this a bulletproof number? No. Is there plenty to quibble with here? Yes. Naturally, it’s hard to imagine the presence of digital signage in every single public-facing venue, certainly not for some time. On the other hand, there are and will be plenty of venues that, rather than having one screen, will actually have several dozen.
Furthermore, the average revenue per customer that any given vendor might generate through one customer relationship naturally depends on a host of factors. $40 per month might seem rather low when you consider some of the more sophisticated requirements of a high-end digital signage project. It really depends on the nature of any given vendor’s product line, whether they are a full service provider or prefer to focus on one part of the total solution. It also depends on pricing, on the nature of a vendor’s particular target market, and so on.
There is no perfect model that accounts for every angle and every instance. That’s why they call it a model. However, we humbly submit that this sketch, grounded in real world venues, does well to help us visualize the total market for digital signage solutions, over time – at least as well as any forecast we’ve seen to date.
The best method for estimating the market opportunity for digital signage is likely this method PLUS a thorough analysis, triangulation, and normalization of all similar, credible approaches. It’s looking at various approaches together that helps us to circle the problem and arrive at the best conclusions. How do the different approaches compare? What do the results say? Do they offer up a market value range that is consistent with the others? If it’s possible to accurately measure the size of the market, the value range that is common to a variety of approaches is likely your best bet.
From Digital Signage Systems Towards an Internet of Screens
We should stress that the broader, longer term market opportunity of place-based media & marketing, is actually much bigger than we’ve suggested here. The first phase of the market opportunity is in building out the infrastructure, the plumbing if you like, of digital signage systems. This is the market that us vendors are competing for in 2016, the sale of new software and hardware solutions, and that’s why we’ve focused on it here. For ScreenScape it refers directly to the revenues we generate through software subscriptions as we build out our network.
However, a true Internet of Screens is certainly coming. The traffic that travels over and through the combined global digital signage infrastructure will evolve. Just like the World Wide Web it will become more interconnected, more sophisticated and begin to offer new and exciting marketing opportunities. Therefore a secondary longer-term market opportunity exists, beyond the sourcing of the software and hardware infrastructure, in the metered flow of content and in the growth of advertising services that have been enabled by digital signage systems. The leading providers of digital signage technology solutions, who today charge for usage fees or licenses, will find themselves in a strong position to become the leading providers of place-based marketing services leading to new business streams that are based on transaction or brokerage fees. Ad-based digital signage networks, the world of outdoor digital media and what, today, we commonly refer to as Digital-Out-of-Home (DOOH) marketing, together is but a very early incarnation of that bigger opportunity we like to call the Internet of Screens.
Get the long form analysis
If you found this approach to sizing up the current digital signage market valuable you should know that it is just one excerpt of a more indepth analysis we’ve completed that takes more than just a quantitative look at the nature of the digital signage market. It takes a qualitative approach as well looking at various contours within and beneath the umbrella term digital signage. It’s a more thorough analysis that helps to answer questions like:
What is the difference between the digital signage market and digital-out-of-home (DOOH)
How will the market opportunity for digital signage evolve over time?
How can you break down the opportunity into distinct sub-categories? Who’s buying?
What are the use cases for digital signage? for digital out-of-home marketing?
Last week ScreenScape introduced a new type of trivia template called ‘Pop Quiz’.
Pop Quiz is an automated template, meaning it works with little or no user input required. When added to a playlist it will randomly select a 5 question ‘pop quiz’, presented in a question and answer format. The audience is presented with a question (“Which bird has the fastest wingbeat?”), and they have 10 seconds to formulate an answer. The answer is presented in the form of an eye-catching image which is slowly revealed to the audience. Each video is 1m20s in duration. The next time the playlist rotates around to the Pop Quiz, a different randomly selected quiz will be presented.
The Pop Quiz subject matter is light and playful, and is intended for all audiences. It includes topics like geography, food and animals.
A Pop Quiz presented in your regular playlist rotation is a simple way to keep your audience engaged. The template is free for use for all ScreenScape members, including our free Content member accounts. You’ll find the Pop Quiz template in your Get Started collection, under the name ‘Pop Quiz’.
We hope you and your audiences enjoy.
Note: Special thanks goes to Flickr and its membership, who contributed the beautiful images used in the Pop Quiz under the Creative Commons license. Details on contribution are recorded here.
We released several new schedule templates this week. These templates offer 1 column, 2 column, and 3 column layouts. They each feature customizable color and background image. Available now in the Get Started and Menu template collections.
This blog post describes how to connect a spreadsheet (3 columns, 10 rows) to a formatted schedule displayed on your ScreenScape screen. Edits to the spreadsheet result in updates to the screen. Expect the setup process to take approximately 30 minutes for a user with intermediate computer skills.
A few weeks ago I posted about a simple technique for connecting your display to a Google spreadsheet. It’s useful for many reasons: spreadsheets make it easy to collaborate with others, and mass data entry actions like cut-and-paste are simple. Spreadsheets have formulas and data tools built in. It’s one of the first applications we all learn. It’s also an easy way to share data in a structured format. But first and foremost, it’s useful because spreadsheets are what people are already using today. If it ain’t broke…
A real world application for this technique is the humble Schedule. Most schedules are based on a grid of information, and they often start their existence as a simple spreadsheet. Going forward, the easiest thing to do would be to just leave it in that format. Let the schedule data live permanently as a spreadsheet, and let other software (like your digital signage) react to that as a data source.
Taking these steps to connect your schedule spreadsheet as the source for your ScreenScape display, even if it takes more setup time up front, will make life simpler in the long run.
Step 1: Create the spreadsheet (using Google Sheets)
Step 2: Connect the spreadsheet (using Zapier)
Step 3: Create your screen content (using ScreenScape)
IMPORTANT: Use your spreadsheet from Step 1 with the worksheet called ‘Zapier Integration’. When you copied the spreadsheet in Step 1, this sheet was created automatically.
Copy and Paste the URL of your new Zapier RSS to a convenient place, like Notepad. You’ll need to key in this URL in Step 3.
Test and Save your new zap. The Zapier system is now connected to your Google spreadsheet, and will automatically generate an RSS file from that sheet every few minutes.
For added insurance, make a small edit to your schedule. For example, change a word or capitalize a letter. Then manually Run your zap from your Zapier Dashboard. This last check will make certain the RSS file is generated in time for Step 3. If you get to Step 3 and your URL is rejected, come back and repeat this action.
Step 3: Create your screen content (using ScreenScape)
Create a new content item using the template ‘Spreadsheet powered schedule’ in the Schedule collection
Enter the URL of your Zapier RSS, for example https://zapier.com/engine/rss/123456/MySchedule
Save and Publish your new content item
When you run your ScreenScape display, the data in your schedule will mirror the data you’ve entered in your spreadsheet. When your schedule information needs to be updated, make your edits in your spreadsheet.
There are a few important items to note with this solution:
Updates in your spreadsheet won’t appear on your screen instantly – it takes a few minutes for each automated step to execute. First Google communicates to Zapier, then Zapier posts the new data in their RSS, then your ScreenScape display sees the new data and downloads it.
Once it’s created, don’t change the format of your spreadsheet. This is important! Moving or adding columns, changing headers, or renaming sheets will break the automated connection between the spreadsheet, the Zapier RSS, and ScreenScape. If you do have to make these edits, don’t forget to go back into Zapier and edit your zap appropriately.
If you have more than one schedule, like a ‘DAY 2’ for the example here, just repeat the process above for each unique schedule. So for each unique schedule, create a new copy of the spreadsheet, a new zap, and a new ScreenScape content item.
If you have an idea for a different application of this spreadsheet-to-ScreenScape technique, let us know!
We’ve just released more new templates this week. Check out the brand new Image with Color Pack in the “Get Started” collection. It features options for large centered image with Logo, Text, RSS and Weather. Let us know what you think. If you have ideas for new templates drop us a line here.
We’ve just released new templates. Now you can see a new full screen solid color pack the “Get Started” collection. Choose the foreground and text colors to match your brand for full logo & text, full screen RSS and full screen weather featuring seamless transitions when used back to back.
This tip will help you automate a connection between your Twitter account and your ScreenScape display. After setting this up, you can tweet as you normally would, and the tweets will display themselves automatically on your display.
To tweet to your display, take the following steps:
Create free accounts on Zapier and Twitter. You can use your existing Twitter account if you have one.
In Zapier, use ‘Explore Zaps’ to find a Twitter to RSS zap called ‘Create RSS Feed from Twitter‘. Follow the step by step instructions to connect your Twitter account to the Zapier RSS feed, and turn it on. This RSS feed will be the invisible “glue” that links your Twitter account with your ScreenScape display.
Create a new ScreenScape RSS content item using the URL of your new Twitter/Zapier RSS feed.
Tweet from your Twitter account as you normally would.
Wait a few minutes for the automated zap to pick up the new tweet and for your ScreenScape feed to update from the RSS feed. If you want to hurry up this process, you can use your Zapier Dashboard to Run the zap immediately, and ask your ScreenScape Support team about how you can increase the RSS update interval on your account.
Pro tip: if you only want certain tweets to go to your screen, add a hashtag like #ScreenScape and filter on this in your zap.
Your tweets will now be visible on your ScreenScape display!
To help you and your audience get into the spirit of Halloween, ScreenScape has added 30 new Halloween-themed background videos to the ‘Get Started‘ video collection.
Use these as assets in any template that supports video. When you’re creating new content, you can find these videos after clicking Select video by searching on the keyword ‘Halloween’. You can also find them with the same search when managing your video assets.
We’ve also shared 7 of the Happy Halloween videos as content items in the ScreenScape Community. All you need to do to get these on your screens is find them in the Community (search on ‘Happy Halloween’, or ‘ScreenScape Content’), subscribe and Publish.
This tip will allow you to use spreadsheets to publish directly to your ScreenScape display. Once set up, all you do is create a new row in an online spreadsheet; after a few minutes the row contents will automatically appear as text on your ScreenScape display.
The technique is especially useful when the data you want to display on your screen already lives in spreadsheet. It makes large or frequent “cut and pastes” of that data a simple exercise. Examples where this can be put to good use include customized daily reports, hourly headlines, status updates, Q&A’s, meeting room info, dynamic pricing information, leaderboards, etc.
Create a new ScreenScape content item. Use any template that includes RSS, and enter the URL of your new Zapier RSS feed. (Tip: Set the RSS Sort critieria to ‘Newest first’ to see your latest entries.)
To publish new RSS items, just add new rows to your spreadsheet with the data you want to publish. (Don’t delete the old rows – just add new ones.)
You may have to wait a few minutes for the automated zap to pick up new data, and for your ScreenScape feed to update from the RSS feed. If you want to hurry up this process, you can use your Zapier Dashboard to ‘Run’ the zap immediately, and/or ask your ScreenScape Support team about how you can increase the RSS update interval on your account.
Your new spreadsheet entries will now be published directly to your ScreenScape display.