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My first Expo as part of IMS was DSE19 in Vegas a couple of weeks back. I was joined by my colleague Eric West, who has been doing an amazing job of getting IMS and our clients up to speed with our technology vision. I say ‘vision’ but we’re already delivering the first modules to great effect – it’s safe to say that development is well underway. My background (certainly my previous job) was running a digital signage company, specifically one that develops next-gen CMS and API’s for integrators. The opportunity to go to DSE19 was great, primarily to compare what was on offer in such a specific category, having exhibited at ISE19 and visited the massive InfoComm last year.

DSE is a relatively small, focused show with around 4,000 attendees. I have read on Dave Haynes blog, Sixteen:Nine, that the attendance is up on last year which is good. On the downside, many of the usual Digital Signage ecosystem (display) partners were not in attendance, or were exhibiting with partners. This is no surprise, the display business is all about volume and shows like ISE eclipse this one.

Integration is key to success, something that underpins the MerchTech platforms we’re developing here at IMS.

Nick FearnleyIMS SVP MerchTechTM

There was some good tech on display, it felt overwhelmingly display focused with a lot of LED vendors showing off the latest tech. Eric and I were blown away by some of the 0.9mm LED displays out there – surely won’t be long until we’re getting resolutions good enough for home use – don’t expect them to be affordable any time soon though…

The Good, The Bad & The Integrated

What was really interesting was that the digital signage CMS providers are realizing their industry is saturated (and has been for a while). There’s a lot of talk of API, but the demo’s we saw were not particularly compelling, in fact a couple of them were not working – Signage Live in particular was a little disappointing.

What was impressive though is that many CMS vendors are taking on board the importance of analytics. As an industry, we’ve been asked for so long to prove ROI and I think the technology that’s emerging is really helping do that, to the point I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a shift towards revenue share (in a sustainable way – unlike the many ad-revenue share models we’ve seen break after year 1!).

Many of the analytics demos we saw were simply third-party products on signage vendors stands, but some were more tightly integrated. It was clear they were still third-party (why would you roll your own?) but the integration is key to success, something that underpins the MerchTech platforms we’re developing here at IMS.

We came away having had some great conversations and we gathered a handful of exciting leads and opportunities. I think this show is a good focal point for meetings – but it’s fair to say that ISE or InfoComm are still top dog for information gathering.

Article Author: Nick Fearnley

Nick Fearnley is SVP of Technology at IMS. Nick works with IMS’ F500 clients to design in-store digital experiences for both brands and retailers, merchandising measurement, and execution technology. Previously, Nick was founder and managing director of a global SaaS digital signage company based in the UK. Nick is also a founding member of the Path to Purchase Institute’s SM2 Commission to Standardize the Measurement of Shopper Marketing.