If you look back on the history of digital signage, you’ll discover that the concept of video marketing and promotion all started with a television set and a VCR. But, where is digital science now?

As more and more retailers began to wheel into their stores clunky TV’s and even clunkier VCR’s, it was evident that video was fast becoming a medium that could be produced, stored, and played back for promotional reasons.

By the 1970’s, retailers were using the now antiquated machines to play commercials or advertisements in-house for customers as they shopped around the store looking for good buys. If the video did its job, those good buys turned into more good buys.

It was when the Internet really exploded in the 1990’s that the concept of broadcasting on a larger footprint outside of a store or business started to turn in the minds of techno-geeks and advertisers everywhere.

Today, advancements in the retail digital signage sector are insane. In a good way, of course. From ultra slim screens to up the minute updates, digital signage is more than just a promotional tool, it’s a product of good engineering and science that is taking us well beyond the 21st century.

Here’s how science has improved and continues to improve digital signage:

1) With Mobile Integration

In 2015, 72 percent of Americans reported owning a smartphone. When mobile devices are integrated into a digital signage marketing strategy, that integration significantly increases the opportunity for more buys and upsells.

When a retailer can connect a promotion with a smartphone, it takes the digital signage experience to a whole new level.

Take the QSR code, for example. A QSR code, or a quick response code, is a two-dimensional bar that, when scanned, can bring the user to a particular URL within seconds.

Marketing managers that want more interaction to increase engagement might consider sharing a QSR code within their digital signage content in one of three ways:

  1. Offering Coupons
  2. Encouraging Registration for Activities
  3. Encouraging Direct Interaction with the Promotion

This kind of interaction gives customers the opportunity to move the information they see from the sign directly to their phone, giving that customer a second opportunity to engage, buy, or share your brand with the world.

2) Offering Real-Time Updates

In the early days of sound, producers and engineers used a square plastic device that resembled an 8-track called a cart to play sound. It was a magnetic tape sound recording that couldn’t be rewound. It just looped over and over again.

Early digital signage acted the same way. But today, users have the ability to offer real-time updates without lifting a finger. Digital signage displays offer immediate information with respect to current inventory, consumer buying habits, and trending buying cycles, all of which can improve sales.

Real estate agencies are learning how to take advantage of real-time updates with their MLS listings. Prospective buyers can browse a touchscreen and look at images or video of the house they are interested in. If, while they are browsing, one of the properties is sold by another agent, that information will update immediately on the display, marking the property as sold.

No need to tear paper fliers down all over town, no need to woo a disappointed client after driving out to a house that is no longer available.

In the retail sector, live data feeds allow managers to change marketing messages and promotions that could affect the buying power of a customer. Based on data collected each day, managers can determine what items to promote and when.

Quick-service restaurants can do the same thing, even including or eliminating a menu item based on its availability.

These are the places where consumers can easily see technology and science come together seamlessly. While they may not realize it, you do, and in the world of an ever-evolving industry, that’s a huge win for those that take advantage of digital signage.

3) Gauging The Weather

When it rains, it pours.
When it snows, it…well, snows.

When an industry can sell products based on consumer needs in the moment, they can expect an influx of sales if they play their digital cards right.

A great example of a retailer that uses weather to increase sales based on digital data is retail giant, Walmart.

Walmart uses digital science to track weather trends and compare those trends to historical sales periods in an effort to determine when to boost prices on popular or much-needed products.

For example, watermelon sales may go up when the weather hits 80 degrees. Air conditioning sales may go up when the weather hits 100 degrees.

Armed with this knowledge, the retailer can prepare by ordering stock before the weather trend hits, and then price it accordingly.

Walmart also gathers data from its cloud-based infrastructure to gain customer insight by monitoring social media movement to discover which products and widgets are the most sought after.

Who knew social media could be utilized in this way?

4) By Monitoring Inventory

Digital signs are more than just flashy advertisements or learning tools. Digital signs also aid retailers and restaurateurs in monitoring inventory to help thwart unnecessary spending and curb overhead costs.

Like using data and weather conditions to predict what consumer’s need, digital signage can also track consumer buys. Restaurant kiosks and point of sale registers tally the information scanned and offer management a roadmap of what kind of inventory will be needed based on purchase history.

From sales to product tracking to interactive customer engagement, handheld devices or large display screens that pull in this kind of information are opening doors for retailers everywhere.

Retailers can grow more when the inventory information they need is readily available. IDC, a global marketing firm, analyzes that this level of IoT would grow by 19% in 2015 as retail stores seek new ways to track inventory and keep their cash registers full.

5) With Virtual and Interactive Signage

We’ve all seen those futuristic movies that show robots ruling the world while man eats a tiny gray pill once a day to stay healthy and fit in his once piece Star Trek suit.

He can probably fly, too.

Nonetheless, the projection of what we thought the future would be from a Hollywood perspective isn’t entirely accurate. Instead, our future consists of virtual touchscreens that are populating the world, giving futuristic users everywhere an experience that puts the brand first and foremost in everyone’s mind.

In Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, an interactive sign that acted as a digital coloring book stopped residents in their tracks. The campaign was created to promote the relaunch of Deep Spring’s organic and sparkling mineral waters.

The campaign combined artful Zentangle patterns with technology to bring a virtual coloring book to the streets. The idea of the campaign is to remind people of the “simple pleasures” of a bottle of water in a technological world.

Of course, they used technology to tell people about those simple pleasures. And digital signage technology, no doubt.


By using innovative signage, you can give your business the push it needs to seriously increase customer interaction.

Using a media-rich medium combined with science and the IoT, you have the ability to improve your customer’s perception of your brand.

Mobile integration is fast becoming one of the more popular options in digital signage campaigns. In 2015, Coca-Cola used mobile integration with their digital signage in Times Square that encouraged viewers to tweet their name with the hash tag #CokeMyName.

Thousands of participants played along, helping Coca-Cola tell their brand story from smartphones everywhere while learning what their first name meant.

Real-time updates are also changing the face of how we interact with digital signage. Real estate agents, restaurants, and retailers are using this level of technology to keep customers up to date with inventory availability.

At the same time, big data is being collected based on customer habits and weather changes. By monitoring inventory hinged on use cases, thunderstorms, and snow squalls, sales are shifting to satiate the needs of the customer now more than ever.

Finally, interactive and virtual digital signage is showing up on streets and other heavily populated areas to engage users to become one directly with the brand.

While Australia attracts artist with its virtual coloring book campaign, a busy bus stop in London wowed travelers with a Pepsi Max interactive digital campaign that put people in the middle of the action when a UFO came down from the sky or Octopus tentacles came out of the sewer.

How you choose to integrate digital signage with your digital campaign is up to you. Knowing what your customers need first and what you need after that is step one to designing a fetching campaign that won’t soon be forgotten.

Digital Signage is the one digital tool that can help grab the attention of millions of people within seconds, and convey information and ideas immediately to target audiences. In which way will you take advantage of science and technology combined?

Have you considered using any of these methods to increase customer engagement? If so, which way would really springboard things for you and your brand?