September 14, 2010

2010 Prediction #4 – Interactivity will continue to be hyped, but wide-scale deployment will remain elusive.

There has been plenty of commentary on the blurring of the lines between digital signage and kiosks.

When does a digital sign become a kiosk – when it has a touch screen?

How does an adding an interactive element help to achieve desired business results?

What is the right device for interacting with out-of-home digital displays? Touch screens? Mobile phones?

These are not easy questions to answer because it depends on the environment.

Take, for example, retail environments, where merchandising and customer experience are vital and digital is a proven way to drive results. Here, there’s a clear role for interactivity. But, to what extent is interactivity required and how will the results be measured?

Retailers have been shown some really slick proof-of-concept ideas for immersive digital media “experiences”.  The problem is – how can these concepts be applied profitably to a retailer’s unique needs, and how are these systems scaled beyond a single demo to thousands of locations?

Many strategists responsible for digital signage networks (whether ad-based venues or in-store digital networks) are taking a very cautious approach to employing interactivity.  One very big reason is because there is uncertainty about the extent mobile smartphones may (or may not) be used as an interactive touch point.

There are a lot of questions being asked, with answers still being formulated.  While I have my own opinions on how things will develop over time (I’ll reserve these for future entries), I’ll just say for now that for 2010 most large-scale deployments of digital signage will either be non-interactive, or they will include simple and inexpensive implementation. More ambitious investments and powerful interactive applications will be left on the back burner to simmer a bit longer.

Matt Schmitt