It’s Not Too Late: Sell Digital Signage to Stadiums
Why does it seem like I always want to hold up sports stadiums as bastions of digital signage? When the unimitiated ask me what digital signage is, I usually mention stadiums, doctor’s office lobbies, and menu boards. And really, that one beat-up screen in the doctor’s office, which mixes messages about controlling blood pressure with a little entertaining video and some on-screen advertising, is probably the best example of the three.
Stadiums? They’re all over the place when it comes to digital signage adoption, though with the crazy money that pro teams pull in, I’m not sure what the holdup is. When I go see a ballgame, I see lots of screens showing the game itself (not digital signage) and some menu boards. That can’t be how we mean to define effective digital signage.
Recently, Mobile Sports Report (MSR) issued its inaugural 2013 State of the Stadium Technology Survey. And I admit it, I was a little surprise when I read this insight: “Digital signage represents a yet-untapped potential [sic].” Whah? “Untapped potential?” That can’t be. Google “stadium digital signage” and you get 268,000 results.
But maybe it can be.
The survey broke down along these lines: Only half said they’d implented a stadiumwide digital signage system; 35 hadn’t; and 20 percent were planning one. I suppose 50-percent penetration of a market should be considered good, but didn’t you get the impression that stadiums (stadia) were way out in front on this? At least as opposed to other vertical markets?
To be fair, sports stadiums have a lot on their plate, like making the live experience as cool and connected as the at-home-on-a-couch-with-a-big-screen-TV experience. I found this insight from MSR intersting: More stadiums are focused on building out their cell service coverage than making Wi-Fi accessible from all seats, probably becase the words “Wi-Fi” and “accessbile from all seats” should never again be written so close together. I love Wi-Fi but I know I’m not going to have a good Wi-Fi experience everywhere I sit. In this case, stadiums have their priorities right.
When it comes to “untapped” digital signage, I suspect several things at play. As the MSR study points out, these installs are big and no two are alike. Plus, there needs to be more innovative thinking into what a stadium digital signage application involves. Many stadiums have invested in big, bright, HD scoreboards/video displays, but only about a third say they’re integrated with their digital signs. Most have robust social media strategies to drive sales and loyalty, but NONE have made the link between digital signage and mobile apps (which is surprising, considering the length most are going to to accommodate mobile devices–see above).
So, roughly 450 blog words later, I’ve come around. Digital signage in stadiums is an untapped opportunity–and not just because there are still apparently many stadiums that don’t fully exploit it. But also because stadium digital signage isn’t like doctor’s office digital signage. It’s more experiential. There’s potential for far greater interactivity. The same way retail customers are exploring ways of using digital signage to generate a reaction (a purchase, a virtual clothing fitting, a customer review, a request for more information, etc.), stadiums should be using digital signage to get people to tweet their allegiance, engage with sponsors, and buy tickets to next weekend’s match from their seats at this weekend’s match.
This is where AV/IT gets fun and creative. No doubt many stadiums are on the cutting edge, but for those that aren’t cool signage solutions boggle the mind. What would you propose to stadium if you had a blank slate on which to design a signage network?