There are many exciting digital signage trends to look out for in 2021. The digital signage market is growing at an extremely fast pace, and in 2019 it was valued at around £15.7 Billion and is expected to grow 7.3% to £23 Billion by 2024. Some people believe this is due to the increased use of digital signage in retail. There has also been an increased demand for other digital signage hardware such as 4k displays which allow organisations to display content that looks better than ever.
Another key contributor to the digital signage market’s rapid growth is the continued innovation within the industry. In a market that used to solely focus on televisions, now includes digital hand sanitisers, digital billboards, video walls, and much more.
2021 has brought new challenges and problems that new digital signage trends have attempted to answer. Here are just a few of the digital signage trends that you should watch out for in 2021.
Digital Hand Sanitisers
In light of COVID-19, many organisations have been faced with the challenge of ensuring that they are COVID-19 secure. One way of emphasising the importance of proper hand hygiene is by installing digital hand sanitisers at strategic points in buildings, such as in lobby areas or waiting rooms. These “handy” hand sanitisers are an extremely convenient way for staff and customers to keep their hands clean, whilst being reminded about an organisations individual policies. You will have noticed businesses all around the country have been quick to install hand sanitisers to ensure they are COVID secure.
Digital signage has taken these hand sanitisers to the next level. A digital signage trend that you may have noticed is having a screen incorporated with a hand sanitiser pump, like the one in the example below. Thanks to the electronic capabilities of the screen, the hand sanitiser can be sensor controlled. This means that your staff and customers don’t even need to touch the pump to receive hand sanitiser, which may reduce the risk of infection. Furthermore, digital signage technology means that the hand sanitiser pump can be directly linked to the screen. So, when a user takes a pump of hand sanitiser, content plays on the screen.
Higher Resolution Displays
1080p or Full HD screens feel like they have been around forever. They have been great for displaying crisp looking content to a wide range of different audiences. However, some businesses are now looking to higher-resolution displays such as 4K to really show off their content. 4K displays used to seem out of reach for many companies due to high costs. However, in recent years the price of these displays has plummeted and continues to do so. This means that businesses are able to upgrade their displays at a fraction of the cost that it would have been 5 years ago. In other words, digital signage hardware has never been cheaper!
4K screens have the power to really captivate your audience. It may be the thing that sparks a desire for a potential customer to make a purchase. The high pixel density produces a near lifelike image, allowing your products to look better than ever and stop your audience in their tracks. This is certainly the case for retail digital signage. This digital signage trend is certainly one to keep an eye on as more and more people make the switch to 4K as it becomes the new norm.
Digital Smart Entrances
Another digital signage trend that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic is digital smart entrances. It’s likely that if you have gone to a large shopping centre or supermarket, you have experienced one yourself. The reason that this new digital signage trend has emerged is social distancing within stores, with retailers implementing measures to reduce the number of people inside. Digital smart entrances are one method of controlling the flow of people whilst minimising the contact between customers and staff. Through innovative software, a digital smart entrance can track the number of people coming into a store. Once that number reaches a set maximum, or the store reaches maximum capacity, the screen can ask customers to wait outside until people leave the store and it’s safe to enter.
Although the birth of these digital smart entrances has come from the pandemic, there will definitely be other uses for them once the pandemic has subsided. For example, the same logic and technology could be applied to clubs, sporting venues and concerts to reduce overcrowding in various areas.
Large Digital Billboards
In recent times, there has been a noticeable growth in the use of large digital billboards. These electronic billboards are great for catching the eyes of your audience whilst looking sleek and modern. In contrast to traditional billboards that only show one advert for a given period of time, electronic billboards give advertisers the option to display a multitude of content at one location. This means that organisation can earn more revenue off a billboard by selling a great number of advertising slots.
There are many reasons advertisers have started to make the switch to electronic billboards beyond generating more revenue. For example, digital billboards surprisingly require much less maintenance. With a paper-based billboard, someone will need to go out each week or month and manually change the poster being displayed. This costs time and money. However, through cloud-based digital signage software, advertisers can change their content from home or even use digital signage scheduling to schedule content for months to come.
Advertising is something we have been talking about at TrouDigital throughout the year based on the increasing number of inbound enquiries we have been receiving. We are passionate about turning digital signage into a platform that can make our clients a lucrative additional revenue stream.
You can start an advertising network with a single screen in a high footfall environment, a media player and a content distribution tool like our software. If you have window space on a busy high street, this could be a huge opportunity for you next year. Why not start by putting feelers out to other local businesses? Sponsorship packages from something like £25/month will soon be snapped up. Assemble a line-up of advertisers and you could find yourself making £100s if not £1000s per month with a larger network, with software fees from £18/month.
A couple of the biggest projects we have worked on this year have utilised isolated networks by which we mean standalone mobile routers with roaming SIMs for broadband access. We are noticing a significant shift from public or private WIFI networks to the use of independent routers dedicated to single or multiple displays. This upgrade is designed to minimise the downtime of screens, maximising revenue when it comes to advertising. If you are looking for increased network reliability, then investing in a mobile network for your signage could be your next upgrade.
An example of an instance where isolated networks are proving invaluable would be remote locations such as on vessels (we have multiple projects in the pipeline for such projects). Another use case would be environments such as the NHS where there are security or overload concerns with using signage on the existing WIFI. Setting up a dedicated network is extremely popular with cautious IT managers who want to avoid disruptions to the existing technology.
The vast majority of us are well and truly reliant on our phones nowadays for GPS, whether it’s Waze or Google Maps in the car or exploring a new city. The inevitable progression from this reliance has been wayfinding solutions tailored to more specific locations, such as within building complexes like offices or shopping centres. A mobile phone might get you to the right building but it won’t be able to find you a specific meeting room.
That’s where bespoke wayfinding solutions provided by digital signage come in. This year we have worked on a couple of different projects where custom maps and floor plans have been created to guide visitors to specific rooms within a building. Both a staff directory created for a university facility and a corporate wayfinding tool for companies in a shared office space work in a similar fashion with route mapping and contact information. Digital wayfinding is a digital signage trend we expect to be around for a long time.
Interactive Kiosks and Touchscreen Overlays
Leading on from the above trend, digital signage going into 2021 and beyond is so much more than a screen on a wall. A significant increase in the number of installations we have been involved with this year has been touchscreen kiosks and interactive monitors. Vital for wayfinding solutions, interactive displays allow users to take control of content and tailor their experience to them. For example, searching for directions or information about a certain product in a catalogue-style interface.
One innovation that many people aren’t aware of yet and that is set to make a splash next year is the introduction of the touchscreen overlay. This technology takes a standard display and introduces an interactive screen over the top in the form of an attachable bezel. Suddenly a regular monitor has interactive functionality – all you need is software with touch screen features too, something our own platform introduced at the start of 2018.
Interactive kiosks and touchscreens displays are certainly coming down in price which will make them popular next year. If your budget can’t stretch to these units, however, a touchscreen overlay could be the cost-effective answer.
Voice-activated Digital Signage Trends
In February 2018, we demonstrated our own Google Assistant integrated digital signage solution at an innovation event in Winchester, Hampshire. Voice-activated technology has exploded in popularity in the past 12 to 24 months with more of us than ever owning an Alexa or Google app in our homes. As voice-activated IoT devices become more widely available and user-friendly, this area has emerged in digital signage trends.
Where voice-activated technology is yet to make such an impact is in the workplace. Digital signage is set to be a key player in this department with screens that can trigger content based on voice commands. There are endless possibilities for different environments. Only recently were we talking to a manufacturer about using voice triggers to play certain health and safety or technical videos at times when operators have their hands full. If you want to stand out from the crowd and deploy a solution with ‘wow factor’, look no further than voice-activated signage.
Gamification has been one of the biggest developments in not only the technology world but in marketing over the past decade. Nike+ pioneered this trend back in 2006, transforming running into a game with a vast community of competing players. Gamification creates an immersive experience for consumers, encouraging engagement with a brand or product.
The interactivity of digital signage and gamification has been a perfect match. In retail, for example, screens are often used to deploy brand or product-related games. The use of in-game leaderboards has become particularly popular. The most effective retailers might offer daily prizes in the form of shop vouchers to their best-performing players.
Gamification is equally popular when it comes to digital signage in education. Classroom games allow students to learn or be tested on material without it feeling too much like school. The class test has effectively been replaced with the interactive quiz.
Near Field Communication
Near field communication (or NFC) has been another milestone in interactive technology, and one ideally suited to digital signage as a platform. Major cities like London are already familiar with a ‘tap culture’ that includes Oyster cards and Apple Pay. With NFC integrated digital signage, consumers can tap digital displays with their smartphones to engage with its content.
The sector where this seems to really come into its own is real estate. Without having to go inside an agency for a brochure, prospects can collect property information on their phones by tapping digital property listings in the window to save them for later. NFC is definitely one of the digital signage trends to watch as concepts like Apple Pay become mainstream.
Big Data Analytics
Marketing today is driven by big data. Companies want to know where and exactly who they are spending their budgets on. Everything is recorded. Once anonymous visitors to your website are now tracked and characterised, with companies knowing the demographic and source of their leads through tools like Google Analytics.
The problem with traditional forms of advertising like TV or radio is that marketers have a very limited understanding of their reach. It’s not enough to know how many viewers tuned into Coronation Street at a certain time. Broadcasters have no way of knowing how many left to put the kettle on while your advert was playing, or how many viewers fast-forwarded it on demand altogether.
As a marketing channel that breaches offline and online, digital signage is uniquely positioned to cater for the drive towards big data. Up until now, retailers, for example, had no real means of collecting data for engagement with their billboards, etc.
Digital signage trends now include screens that are able to track who’s walking past and who’s stopping to engage with content. Almost every mobile phone nowadays has Bluetooth. Using this, advanced signage screens are able to collect data on passersby. Some screens even have eye-tracking and facial recognition capacity. At the forefront of the technology, retail digital signage is able to identify the gender and age of its real-time audience and adapt its content accordingly. This kind of targeted marketing is surely the future of display advertising.
Profit Generating Potential
Finally, we want to talk about digital signage as a financial investment. One of the digital signage trends to immediately acknowledge is the dramatic fall in hardware costs. Everyone today knows you can pick up a TV screen far superior in quality and at a fraction of the price of a screen just a few years ago. As screens have always been the largest cost associated with digital signage, this is great news for the end-user. Similarly, media players have continued to get smaller while growing more powerful and affordable.
The trend that is yet to be properly exploited, however, is the profit-generating potential of digital signage. Advertisers trade in attention. Today people are glued to screens so the premium on this space is rocketing. The more screens a user has on their network, and the higher footfall their locations, the greater the value of this platform to potential sponsors. A dynamic digital signage solution allows users to intersperse internal and external forms of content. 30 seconds out of a 2 minute loop, for example, might be sold to advertisers.
The benefit of owning a network of screens is having complete control over the extent and nature of your advertising. Working with sponsors does not have to mean selling out. A dentist, for instance, might want to only display sponsored content for dental products they genuinely recommend. If you own a chain of stores or practices, or just a large network of screens on one vast site, sponsors will be biting your hand off to gain access to your audience.
What we are beginning to see are companies across sectors, even charities, investing in digital signage primarily to generate profit, with the internal communication capacity of the technology being a welcome side feature. It is not unusual for large companies to happily spend £2,500 a month on a 100 screen nation-wide network, in the knowledge they can sign up a dozen sponsors at £1,000 a month each for a slot in their content playlist.
Statement Digital Signage Trends
We always like to ask prospects and clients what their motivations are when it comes to digital signage. Some will highlight internal communication as a high priority, while others are attracted to its capacity to generate advertising revenue. These are all great reasons but an answer we’re hearing more often is a desire to make a statement. In particular, the video wall, the king of signage, is becoming increasingly popular and set to expand its dominion next year. In the past, video walls have been nothing short of a nightmare to configure and extortionate to install. Thankfully, these days seem to be behind us thanks to developments in the technology. In 2021, you can expect to see a lot more video walls cropping up, venturing outside of the shopping centre. For example, we installed a video wall at a Students Union this year that’s become a talking point on campus.
From day one as a signage company, we’ve tried to stand out from the crowd by having developers in-house that can provide a cutting-edge. We view our platform as precisely that: a foundation to build on top of with bespoke applications. In the past, this has meant pioneering estate agency signage that integrates with property databases to automate listings in a carousel. We’ve helped schools by integrating with their existing timetabling software and sales teams by pulling their targets and data onto screens.
A great integration that anyone can find a use for is embedding Google Slides on screen. Once you install the free application on your phone, you can make changes to your embedded content on the go and update your screens without even logging into our studio. You’ll still benefit from the scheduling functionality unique to signage platforms, with the bonus of away from desktop access too.
Ultra-High Bright Displays
Digital signage is a highly visual form of marketing and communications. Therefore, it is paramount that your on-screen content and messages look great, and more importantly are easy to read.
Some digital signage users have found that on a normal brightness display (such as a living room TV) the content looks great in low light, however, when the sun comes out, the content on the screen seems to disappear. This has left these users frustrated and searching for screens that keep their content looking great even on the sunniest days of the year. Enter, ultra-high bright displays.
Part of the digital signage hardware family, ultra-high brightness displays have been around for a few years, however, lower prices in recent times have made them a more accessible solution. These commercial-grade screens feature extremely high brightness ratings in comparison to the average digital display. This extra boost of brightness packs a punch and allows content to be easily seen, even in direct sunlight. Thanks to these features these displays are becoming a more common digital signage trend.
In 2021, we expect to see far more ultra-high bright screens in shop windows, as high street retailers battle it out to capture the footfall of consumers.
Learn more about high brightness screens here.
Automated Content Creation
Globally, organisations are looking for ways to speed up their operations and boost efficiency. Robots now help in factories and warehouses, self-checkouts are now common-place in supermarkets, and we even have access to automated parking systems that park your car for you.
This automation has extended to the digital signage industry. We’ve already discussed digital signage scheduling which allows you to automate when content appears on your digital displays. But what about the content itself?
Digital signage providers are constantly developing new solutions to make the digital signage experience as streamlined as possible. This year we’ve seen more digital signage users making use of digital signage templates. Clever software allows the user to browse 100s of templates, choose one they like, and edit the information (e.g. company name) and display it on their screens. However, the design work and animation are all done for them.
This digital signage trend possibly saves hundreds of hours each year and noticeable cost savings on the content’s design which can be used elsewhere in the organisation.
To Learn more about automated content platforms click the button below and get in contact with a digital signage expert.
Digital Signage Product Catalogues
One of the digital signage trends for 2021 we expect to be common place in digital signage for retail are digital product catalogues.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers have been searching for solutions to slow the spread of germs and reduce the amount of contact customers have with products. For example, in a clothing store a T-Shirt sitting on a rack may be touched by hundreds of customers each day.
To mitigate this contact, some retailers have been displaying a single size of the product on the shop floor along with sizing, etc. The single product features a product code that the customer can enter and find on a digital product catalogue. The customer can then add the item they want in their preferred size to their basket and have it delivered to their home or ready to collect at the counter. After each use, the screen can be easily wiped down to kill any germs and viruses.
Digital Restaurant Menu Boards
Restaurants, takeaways and bars are constantly discovering new methods of promoting their products and making their food look as good as possible. They are also looking for ways to draw attention to special offers and promotions to upsell food.
In the past, traditional menu boards have done a decent job at showing what’s available. However, digital restaurant menu boards have taken menu boards to the next level and are portraying food in ways that are not possible with other technologies. Enter our next digital signage trend.
In addition to going digital, we also expect to see many eateries opting for a digital restaurant menu video wall. This is where multiple screens can be daisy-chained to give the illusion of one large screen. This allows for more possibilities for restaurants to draw attention to their food and drinks. For example, you can have food extending over displays (like in the example below) to really wow your customers. Or you can combine all your screens to draw focus to one specific promotion.
How many restaurants do you think we’ll see go digital in 2021?
Many manufacturers have started releasing breath-taking 4K ultra-thin displays which take up minimal space, giving the illusion that the screen design is jumping out of the wall. These impossibly thin displays can be placed anywhere within your business. They are ideally suited to deliver dynamic content mimicking a paper poster but with added ‘wow factor’. In my opinion, a screen can be just as much a draw as the content it shows. Your customers won’t believe a screen can be that thin and will think it’s a poster. When they see the image on the ‘poster’ move they will be stunned and want to come and take a closer look. What a great way to make a positive impression as an innovative company or retailer.