I recently returned from the Digital Signage Expo conference in Las Vegas. While the majority of the conference is hardware and software suppliers establishing their presence on a massive tradeshow floor, there is a pre-show Advertising Summit that I always attend. This year, I was appointed as the Chairman of the Educational Committee for the Summit and the Brand Marketers and Agencies track. In this role I was fortunate enough to work with a committee of specialists in the field to brainstorm ideas and themes that should be discussed during the event. Then, I had the privilege of working closely with the DPAA and Sue Danaher to assemble the Summit event – as the DPAA was a sponsor. As such, I believe that I do not have an impartial view of the Summit, Track or even state of the industry, but I wanted to share what I learned during this event.
1. The Speakers: It was incredibly difficult to put together an interesting, enlightening and cohesive conference program for the attendees; however, as is often the case with something that is difficult, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I took heart that our committee and the DPAA put in 100% effort to produce the best possible program. Some very interesting gems of knowledge emerged from the conference. Some examples:
a.In a heavy-hitter panel of the highest-level agency buyers, there was almost uniform agreement and honesty about the state of the DPB industry and how it was growing more slowly than expected. Obstacles to its growth seemed to be uniform for all of these gentlemen, regardless of client category or perspective. I actually took this to be a validation of my own challenges and think it will serve the industry well in the future, helping galvanize it toward a common goal (more on this below).
b.Research is developing rapidly. This medium used to barely be measured. Now there is a new announcement about measurement at every turn. Arbitron is now using their people meters to help measure the medium. We are viable.
c.There are actually some creative groups that are devising very clever and interesting ads specifically for the DPB space. We got to review some of these examples. They were effective, creative and often hilarious. Takeaway: We need more of this!
2. Thought Leadership: We had a very interesting lunchtime keynote speaker. David Kepron. He is an architect who focuses on building retail spaces that create the ideal user experience. He covered how the brain processes shopping and experience and how digital signage and advertising can be woven into the experience for the benefit of brands. Fascinating- and a pleasant surprise because after our first few discussions with him, Sue and I weren’t sure he understood our industry and what perspective he needed to take, but he nailed it. It made me wonder – how many other dynamic speakers and great minds are out there, just waiting to join the fray in the digital place-based advertising industry? How many more driving forces will there be? I am tremendously excited to see the next generation of people like David who will force us to challenge ourselves, think outside of the box, and move the industry forward.
3. The Industry: The big question that always hovers over these summits is: “How can we grow the industry?” This phrase is code for “How can we make more money?” This question does not necessarily suggest that the industry is immature – even though it does have some development to do – it simply means that there are plenty of players who are committed to the space and want it to grow and reach its full potential. There is no simple answer to this question; rather, the entire day’s subjects focused on the answer like pieces of a puzzle. Case studies, thought leaders, honesty about the industry’s challenges, measurement – we need to take the long view with the faith that each will add up to a full, mature medium that becomes a line item in media budgets.
While no one solved the crucial riddle of how to grow the business of Digital Place-Based media overnight, I think conferences and summits are always excellent for holding up a mirror and taking an honest look at the industry and where we stand in relation to what is happening. How else can we progress?