Digital Signage Industry

Interview with Jeff Porter, Executive Vice President Experts Group, Scala

By February 3, 2008 One Comment

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Which industry (retail, financial, restaurant, etc.) is currently
making the best use of digital signage, on the whole?

In the United States,
Retail Pertroleum (gas pumps), Menuboards, Banking and Healthcare are growing
at the highest rate. Corporate
Communications and Educational networks have long been very strong, and
continue to be so.

Which industry has the most potential for growing their use of
digital signage?

Based on sheer numbers,
Retail Petroleum has the greatest potential. Its only rival will be vending machines (but this market has yet to
significantly take off).

What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen companies make with
this technology?

Content is where the majority
of mistakes are made. Some classic
mistakes are advertising Charmin Toilet Paper while waiting for your food at
McDonalds (NGN) and having Donald Trump advertise All brand laundry detergent
at the deli counter with a Bloomberg style crawl. (SignStorey). Clearly the wrong message at the wrong time
does not work.

How open are executives and decision-makers to the benefits/costs
of digital signage, relative to a year or two ago? How have their attitudes
changed?

I have never seen the level
of activity in the industry as it is today. The CAGR is about 60%, which is quite high, but I have a feeling we’re
just at the knee of the curve. Certain
sectors in certain geographies are growing more rapidly. For instance, we have a network of over 350
Pharmacies in Poland, but no major chain drug store in the US has deployed
anything significant to date. I claim
that Europe is easier to deploy since each country is in smaller “bite sized
chunks”, whereas in the US, critical mass requires an order or magnitude or
more in terms of size (and cap ex).

If there was a single misconception about digital signage that
you’d like to correct in the mind of the business public, what would it be?

Traditional Media folks in
the US are slow to catch on to this new medium. Digital Signage is not TV. It’s not Print. It’s not a
billboard. It’s not the web. It’s this new thing. You need to change your mindset when
developing effective content for this new medium. The old television paradigm doesn’t work here. The dwell times are different, and often
sound is not an option. In addition,
you must have a DYNAMIC platform to be able to support differences in pricing
per region or store as well as product mix. Playing the same video in all stores just doesn’t work. Snow blowers are never offered in New
Orleans for instance.

What emerging technologies are you most excited about?

Interactive Digital Signage
has some great potential to further give viewers a more customized
experience.

I also think that “mini
digital signage” will make a big difference as soon as the pricing is within
reach.

I also believe that more
and more screens will become IP addressable with computers built in. (and not just a dumb display).

Do you foresee any fundamental changes to this business in the
next five years?

I do expect some
consolidation in the industry in the next five years. We’re already starting to see that now.

As the next generation of
media buyers “come to power”, I think that they will be more accepting of this
new media, and not fear the risk of trying this. The prevailing attitude will change from “we’re looking into it”
to “of course we’re doing it”.

How long before digital signage is an established “must-have,”
considered to be just as essential as POP displays and POS systems?

Probably 5-10 years
depending on vertical. Some markets are
maturing faster than others. Some
countries are embracing this sooner than others. For instance, many Eastern European countries have completely
skipped the 20th century in terms of technology. They went from “cold war” to “21st
century” in one step!

What is going to be your company’s primary focus in the coming
years?

We will continue to be the
leading platform for digital signage networks around the globe. I expect that the far east will show
dramatic increases in the next 5 years, perhaps even overtaking the US or
Europe.

FINALLY: Please provide me
with a one-paragraph bio of yourself, including current title, previous
experience (where relevant), and any other brief and relevant information you’d
like to share:

Jeff
Porter is Executive Vice President of Scala, Inc., the world’s leading supplier
of software solutions for digital signage networks. Mr. Porter has been
employed by Scala in various capacities since 1994. Scala today has over 50,000
units deployed in over 60 countries worldwide. Mr. Porter also serves on the Board of Directors for POPAI, the global
association for marketing at-retail, where he chairs their Digital Signage group. Prior to Scala, Commodore International
employed Mr. Porter, where he was responsible for worldwide product development
of the Amiga computer, the world’s first multimedia computer from 1984 to 1994.
He previously worked for AT&T Bell Labs and The Eastman Kodak Company. Mr.
Porter holds a Masters degree in Engineering from the University of Illinois
and a BSEE from Purdue University. He may be contacted at jeff.porter@scala.com
or by phone 610-363-3345. www.scala.com.

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