In what has become a very busy end-of-year rush, a lot of passing thoughts have bubbled up and are taking up too much RAM in the underpowered device beneath my skull. So it is time to unload a few of them in order to free up processing power.

Foxes in the hen house, or fish out of water?

It does not take an advanced degree to figure out that when all is said and done, the money that will drive hyper-growth in DOOH will flow from advertisers. As such, I suppose we should not be surprised to see non-traditional, non-media companies enter the fray to chase the big bucks. First came NEC with their VUKUNET offering, announcing their intent to bring order and lots of money to anyone who trusts a terrific hardware manufacturer to write software and sell ads. Now, rumors surface via DailyDOOH that Cisco is about to launch an OOH ad exchange. Despite the fact that there are several established, specialized and entrenched entities booking ads and aggregating DOOH screens, as well as several new and focused entrants, these two industry giants seem to think they can move markets outside their normal scope of operations. Maybe they will, but I wouldn’t make book on it. However, if a company like Google or Microsoft decides that they are coming into the space, they would be doing so from a position of experience and power. If that happens, the hardware guys will get schooled by people who understand both software and ad sales. The best of the established aggregators and agencies will continue to prosper based upon relationships with brands and networks and their specialized knowledge. Hardware people will return to hardware sales.

Can we agree on how to measure success?

There has been a lot of discourse on the topic of press releases, their content, claims and general usefulness. Most players in the industry are eager to get their names into the public consciousness in any way possible. Apparently, using key buzz words, fantastic claims and large numbers has become the accepted method to get attention.

So when vendors talk about how many screens they control, or how many connected network devices they serve, they are trying to publish the largest and least meaningful number possible. If you sell software, the yardstick is licenses, end points (media players, not screens) or locations. Each of those can somehow be related to actual scale, revenue and success. When we start counting screens and unidentified connected devices, it only serves to cast doubt on the claim itself. I doubt that anyone is trying to be dishonest, but using sleight-of-hand to make something look much larger than it is (even if it is actually large in the first place) doesn’t fool too many people.

2010: The year when digital signage and mobile get serious

I am not sure any topic is more buzz-worthy than how mobile technologies finally get married with digital signage technology. There are so many flavors of mobile applications, so many potential use cases, and so many providers on both sides of the equation, that it can make your brain freeze. I don’t think the answers are obvious, but it seems clear that the network owners, the brands and the consumers are all eager to make use of those smart devices in every pocket and purse. As a result, 2010 will see many cases of proof-of-concept testing of mobile-digital signage application integration. I am not a supporter of the idea that mobile screens will displace large format DOOH screens. But networks and solution providers are going to have to figure out how to embrace mobile devices and applications in order to raise the bar and their appeal to their many constituencies.

Naughty and Nice

I had planned to do a humorous post in the theme of Santa’s annual list, offering appropriate toys to the nice people in our industry, and lumps of coal to the naughty. I even solicited (and received) input from others via Twitter. I got a whole lot more input on the naughty side, some quite humorous. My experience is that the nice folks are in the vast majority and make this a fun industry to work in. You nice people out there… you know who you are and don’t need to be reminded. On balance, it feels more appropriate to just wish everyone the happiest, safest and warmest holiday season possible.

A special thank you to the RDM team, our partners, friends and of course our exceptionally brilliant customers for an exceptional year. I can’t wait for tomorrow.