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Digital signage: standardized and customized?

Capital investment, mergers and acquisitions are not the only signs of growth in the digital signage industry. Diversity of applications, more narrowcast advertising, and a concerted push towards industry standards also signal the signage industry’s maturation, according to Matt Nelson, director of strategic business at Avocent and chairman of the standards subcommittee of the digital signage group at POPAI, the Point of Purchase Advertising Institute.

Nelson’s POPAI subcommittee is holding bi-weekly conference calls in its aggressive push to develop nascent standards for digital signage. The first standards, targeted for completion by late September’s At-Retail Media Show, are a glossary of terms – non-technical standards for industry nomenclature. The standards subcommittee also is working on a draft set of technical standards for serial command and control of display devices, which will simplify the task of connecting the technologies of various manufacturers.

Standards are considered essential not only to technology integration, but also to foster advertising spending in signage-related applications. Major growth areas include not only dynamic displays at retail, but also signage-related venues such as movie theaters, which in the U.S. are gradually making the investment into digital projection.

Yet even as new standards emerge to foster growth of signage media, end users also look for unique digital signage applications that set them apart, according to Scott Calder, CEO of Mainstream Data, which won a contract from Technicolor this summer for satellite distribution of advertising and trailers to U.S. movie theaters that have adopted digital projection technology.

Customers are increasingly requesting customized solutions leveraging standard technology platforms. “They want to create a sustainable advantage vs. competitors, so they'll ask us to write a specific software application for content playout or local insertions,” Calder explained in a recent interview with Digital Signage Update.

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