2016 marks the 15th year since we began designing, manufacturing and installing LED digital billboards. Here’s a quick look into our history and what our future plans hold for the Out of Home industry.
Some of the first “digital billboards” we sold were not 100% LED displays. Before manufacturing full LED displays, we sold products to billboard companies here and there, but most of these consisted of static displays with a simple message center integrated into the campaign displaying messages or time and temperature displays. Full LED displays were simply too expensive for billboard operators to justify purchasing.
When we began attending tradeshows for the billboard market, we were practically unknown. In the year 2000 this began to change, and we started to get interest from outdoor companies.
Blue and Green LEDs were becoming more viable for 24/7 outdoor applications and costs related to electronics were decreasing rapidly. These advancements caused the billboard market to take notice and begin to question the possibilities.
The First Install
In 2001, Lamar Outdoor pulled the trigger and purchased the first digital display. This
display wasn’t entirely digital as you can see in the picture, and by today’s standards, was very low-resolution. It featured a 34 millimeter pixel pitch, but it was groundbreaking for the industry. This display may not have been as impressive as the higher resolution displays of today, but that first install is what got the wheels turning.
Evolving Our Product
After that first installation, we worked with a number of companies that wanted to deploy product in ‘test markets’. There was a great deal of interest in digital, but it was necessary to prove the ROI before getting deep into it. This lasted from about 2001-2004.
During this period, we worked hard to better align with the OOH market, a big part of that was designing a new control system. The most capable scheduling system we had at the time was designed for live events. It worked OK, but did not allow OOH operators the amount of flexibility they needed. But the biggest aspect of our business we needed to change our service organization. We needed a 24/7/365 service business, one that could identify an issue and be on-site the same day providing service. This was new to us. Creating this capability allowed us to grow to be the world leader we are today in this space.
The Billboard Boom
Around 2004 – 2005, the price of digital billboards were finally economically feasible and sales grew rapidly. At the height of the billboard boom, we were shipping upwards of 15 digital billboards per week. We couldn’t keep up with the demand of production, which led to our second factory opening in Sioux Falls in 2007. We quickly began to release new products, each focusing on cost reduction and power savings while also integrating new features to make them more user-friendly.
Fast Forward To Today
We recently launched our newest product, the DB-5000 Series, alongside our new control software, the Venus® Control Suite. Both of these products leverage our years of experience in the market coupled with the knowledge we have gained through our Reliability Laboratories, where we are constantly testing and developing our products.
We have also begun to extend our services to the globalized Out of Home market. This means developing products for Transportation services such as airports and subways, breath-taking Mallscapes and also smaller, urban billboards. These “urban billboards” may also be referred to as Street Furniture. You can get more information on these products by following this link: http://www.daktronics.com/en-us/markets/out-of-home-advertising
In terms of product development, today we primarily focus our energy on lowering costs, improving operational efficiency and lowering power consumption. We also continue to explore solutions to lengthen product life and reduce component failures. Cost of ownership is a big deal to us and we are constantly looking for methods to lower those costs. We are also consistently tweaking our software in an effort to keep up with the most current trends in advertising.
To get a better idea of our current product offerings, you can visit Daktronics.com/billboards. If you would like some more in-depth information, you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.