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The Evolution of Digital Signage


When digital signage first burst onto the scene, it wasn’t much to behold. For the most part, in those early days, it was nothing more than screens found in retail locations, allowing locations to update the sale and price information on the fly, without needing to print all new signage for each rack.

But that was just the beginning.

Today, digital signage has exploded, with ever-evolving technology allowing brands, businesses, buildings — and yes, printers — to engage with consumers on increasingly sophisticated levels. One great example of this evolution is the Piccadilly Lights installation in the UK.

Owned by Landsec, this location in Piccadilly Circus in London has along history of being a prime spot for advertising. And estimated 100 million people pass by this location annually, making it a great way for advertisers and brands to reach a wide range of potential customers. Illuminated advertising — static billboards lit with bulbs — has been used at the location since the early 1900s, with an upgrade to first digital projectors and then LED displays following in the 1990s and early 2000s.

However, Landsec has taken digital signage to the next level with this latest upgrade, which went live in October 2017. Now, instead of a patchwork of LED screens, the site features a single, state-of-the-art 4K digital screen, with a host of technological upgrades, including the ability to react to external factors like the weather or temperature, adjusting the ads it displays accordingly. It is a compelling look at just how far digital signage has come.

In a statement, Vasiliki Arvaniti, Portfolio Director at Landsec, said, “The Piccadilly Lights have been one of London’s icons for over a century, and are an unmissable sight for the 100 million people who pass through Piccadilly Circus every year. We know people have really missed the screen while renovation work has been carried out and both we — and the brands that light up the screen — are incredibly excited to have switched the Lights back on….”

The screen itself is 17.56m high x 44.62m wide and can generate trillions of colors, making for a rich and vibrant experience, and allowing the screen to truly convey those sought-after company colors that are so integral to a successful branding campaign.

The screen is managed by Ocean Outdoor, whose CEO, Tim Bleakley said, “Piccadilly Lights is one of the world’s most responsive, feature-rich advertising displays. Today is a major milestone in the history of Piccadilly Lights and to mark it we have a superb line-up of iconic global brands across six categories ready to exercise its creativity.” Some of the brands who were on hand for the re-launch of the new-and-improved signage included Coca-Cola, Samsung, Hyundai, L’Oréal Paris, eBay, Hunter, and Stella McCartney. An interesting fact — Coca-Cola, in particular, has been advertising in this space, across all the various technologies, since 1968.

This case study is a good example of why print shops of all sizes, and in all locations, would be well served to form partnerships with those companies who own and/or operate digital signage technologies. While Piccadilly Lights is a major example of the cutting-edge in the space, having a partnership where a shop can offer digital services right alongside their print components will help transform the perception from a simple vendor to a partner, one which can help those brands and campaign managers execute their vision and achieve their goals in ways they themselves might not have considered.

That doesn’t mean every shop needs to run out and hire digital signage experts, nor should they abandon what they do best to invest in these technologies. Rather those shops who seek out and form partnerships with those experts who have built their careers around this new and exciting form of communication might find there is more in common, and more ways to work together, than might be expected.

This article originally appeared in Printing News.

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