Digital Signage is fast replacing printed signs, maps and menu boards in stores, hotel lobbies, restaurants and elsewhere.
With people spending less time watching broadcast TV and reading print publications, advertisers are looking to digital alternatives in hopes of influencing consumers.
Companies have experimented with digital signs in recent years, but the pace of adoption is accelerating, analysts say. Why? Digital signage systems have shown a proven return on investment, such as greater sales of spotlighted products.
"This is the year we're going to see a massive change in the distribution of spending towards digital media," said Doug Albregts, senior vice president of marketing and business development for NEC Display Solutions of America.
Advertisers and marketers like digital signage because it is located where consumers are ready to buy, "When you're out shopping, you're already in the mind frame to buy things," he said.
"Eighty to 90% of all purchase decisions are made when people are in the store."
Digital signage screens are called the fourth screen people will view after TV, PCs and mobile phones. And their impact is measurable. Retailers can see the benefits at point of sale.
Falling prices for flat-panel displays and rising numbers of success stories are sparking an interest in digital signage, says Research analyst firm Frost and Sullivan.
The beauty of digital signage is that they can be managed remotely and content can be changed quickly, which is ideal for retail. Some digital signs allow for consumer interaction.
People can touch a screen for more details on a product or offer. Increasingly it is this interactive solution that is needed.
The Hyatt Regency Chicago is currently using Omnivex RFID (radio frequency identification) badges to customise content for guests who approach the signs.
The sign will know you are with a conference group, for example, and tell you such things as how to get to your meeting room and when the next presentation begins.
The hotel already has installed an extensive Omnivex digital signage system for advertising and directions. Guests can use touch screens to register themselves and find their way around.
Other digital displays provide a calendar of events, weather, traffic and airport schedules.
Digital signage is available from Communitech.