Blog | Is Outdoor Digital Signage Still Relevant?

Outdoor digital signage allows you to capture the attention of audiences, with engaging displays that excite and inform customers. Innovative retailers are building outdoor displays on premise to push, pull and serve customers.

What is Outdoor Digital Signage?

Outdoor, or Out-of-Home (OOH) digital signage is increasingly used by cities, advertisers, and businesses to manage and deliver compelling digital content to passersby and prospective customers. Some of these locations allow for on-the-spot conversions, but even digital billboards support more engaging content that is easier to change and manage at scale.

Are Outdoor Signage Displays Still Relevant?

In 2022, retailers are still questioning the priority of physical storefront and foot traffic. It is interesting to note that the businesses still questioning are the ones being left behind.

Looking at data from Q1 2022, we see two general trends. The bad news is foot traffic has plateaued from 2019 for many consumer industries. The good news is that despite the average, top contenders in these same industries are growing very quickly, securing their lead.

Let’s take a look at Superstores, like Target and Walmart.

According to Placer.io, Target has seen significant growth in shoppers from these months in 2019. Whereas superstores, in general, have experienced little to no growth during this time period.

Grocery stores show a similar trend toward performers and average. In this case, Costco has posted strong growth and stolen market share.

Home improvement shows the same trendline, with leaders like Home Depot almost doubling the average delta.

Quick service restaurants have also transformed over the past three years. In 2021, the restaurant industry as a whole had not yet returned to pre-pandemic sales. But quick service restaurants had already recovered and grown, like many of the top contenders in the industries just mentioned. The Limited Service segment had grown sales from $309 in 2019 to $339 Billion in 2021 (National Restaurant Association, “State of the Restaurant Industry: Mid Year Update August 2021”).

Looking at the data, outdoor digital signage played a large role in the growth of top contenders during the worst leg of the global pandemic. Innovative retailers have transformed outdoor and Digital Out of Home (DOOH) from traditional push advertising to responsive platforms, capable of not only deploying content quickly, but also serving customers. Drive thru menu boards, curbside pickup, and storefront displays are three examples where we have seen rapid evolution of digital signage from a pure Marketing role into Operations, not only attracting customers with compelling content, and empowering customers with self-service options to pick up or buy on the spot. As customers return to stores, these innovative solutions will continue to play a role in attracting and converting customers.

Smart Outdoor Digital Signage Drives Omnichannel Experiences

Customers have always changed preferences “too quickly,” but the global pandemic accelerated change. Now, most consumers want and reward personalization. They are fine with giving away personal information in exchange for more streamlined service. According to McKinsey & Co., 71% percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen (“The value of getting personalization right—or wrong—is multiplying”, Nov 2021).

These changing preferences explain why the most innovative brands are stealing market share so quickly and growing while so many others plateau. Digital technology, such as outdoor digital signage, enables market leaders to deliver personalized content and streamlined interactions outside the store. Outdoor digital signage is no longer the traditional DOOH of yesteryear; it’s about extending the store.

Digital Signage Unlocks New Customer Journeys and Omnichannel

How are market winners using outdoor digital signage to win market share? Let’s take a look at what they are using digital signage to accomplish.

Digital Drive Thru

Drive thru was the hero of the quick service restaurant industry during the pandemic. Operations were already in place to serve customers outside. Transitioning to digital was able to drive more accuracy, speed and sales to strengthen this service modality even more. Since drive thru is a one-to-one experience, this context allows innovative QSRs to deliver personalized Limited Time Offers (LTOs) and streamline the customer journey.

Read more about the evolution of drive thru menu boards at top QSRs >

Digital Billboards

Digital billboards - on highways, bus stops and urban locations with large amounts of foot traffic, are able to change content easily. This agility drives optimization efforts by serving the right content at the right time of day. For billboards, digital signage drives revenues and return on ad spend.

Storefront signage

Retailers did not have drive thru, but innovative retailers were also able to develop unique, omnichannel services with storefront signage. The simplest examples allow window shoppers to convert on the spot. Digital signage delivers compelling videographic content that allows more engagement with the display, showing off the product in use. QR codes connect passers-by to  eCommerce pages where they can order on the spot.

Digital Curbside Pickup

Curbside pickup was another service that separated winners from the pack. In grocery, curbside pickup was listed as one of the top seven business opportunities in 2022 and 2023 (RISNews, “Grocery Tech Trends Study 2021”). Initial data suggest that omnichannel grocery shoppers are more loyal to the stores where they engage both in-store and in curbside or delivery. Even without a major health crisis, the convenience of curbside will maintain its use for consumer brands.

See our curbside pickup solutions >

Planning Your Outdoor Digital Signage Campaign

Pick the Right Technology Partner

Technology is incredibly important. When it works well, you can deliver and manage beautiful, relevant content at scale. When it doesn’t, your customers look at a blank screen. The complexities of digital signage scale with size, so this becomes even more important for enterprise-class businesses.

Get C-Level Buy-In

Many outdoor digital signage projects impact Marketing, Operations and Human Resources. They change relationships with customers and require cross-functional collaboration for success. Getting C-Level Buy-In, especially the CEO, removes roadblocks before they happen and smoothes the way.

Start with a Proof of Concept

No one wants to cook bacon. But once they can hear the sizzle, almost EVERYONE wants to eat it.

Digital signage is the same. You need data behind a solution to believe that it can pay for itself. You need to see that ROI happen on a small scale before you take the plunge for general deployment across thousands of locations. Think Proof of Concept, but be willing to spend real dollars to achieve real, repeatable results.

Spend more time on your content strategy

For 99% of tasks, the less amount of time you can spend, the better. Content strategy is the opposite.

Your content strategy is the core of success with digital signage, more than it is with traditional media and advertising. The pace of digital is faster; you need a plan and a rubric that helps you to keep making progress.

A good content strategy is more than creating appealing content. It requires a dayparted analysis of the segments you want to reach, when they will see the content. When the outdoor signage is close to the store, you also want to think through follow-through actions you would like visitors to take.

Take the example of curbside pickup. One common goal for curbside is to attract customers into the store to buy additional items. Once you establish this is your priority for non-rush dayparts, establish goals that would justify a general deployment of the technology. A comprehensive content strategy gives the business a testable hypothesis that has influence on the business strategy.

Want more content strategy tips? Read our article, 4 Best Practices for Digital Signage Content Strategy.

More questions about digital signage? Let us know!