Interest in the forthcoming Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia will help the digital signage market in Eastern Europe dig out from under a slump last year, pushing overall shipments in 2014 to higher levels in the entire Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) region, according to a new report from IHS Technology.
Shipments of digital signage panels for advertising and information will post a modest increase this year in Eastern Europe after declining 8 percent in 2013. The region was the only area to suffer a loss in shipment volume last year, compared to the large 18 percent growth in the Middle East-Africa territory, and to a very slight uptick of 0.5 percent in Western Europe.
But with the boost expected from Sochi this year, the digital signage market will see growth in all three territories in 2014, as shown in the figure. Eastern Europe will be up by 2 percent, Western Europe by 1 percent, and MEA by yet again the most expansive growth in the region of 12 percent.
Overall, the digital signage market in EMEA will grow in 2014 and for the next three years, with total shipments reaching 4.06 million units by 2017.
Digital signage plays prominently in advertising, branding, entertainment and information, and the panels are used in commercial markets like the retail and hospitality industries, the government and corporate sectors, and in public areas such as sports venues.
Sports to invigorate market
Eastern Europe on the whole has been more hesitant to invest in new signage technologies, finding venture costs in the region and operation to be expensive, Khatri noted. But the massive exposure that can be expected from the Winter Olympics in Russia, taking place in February, will help propel growth in the supply of hospitality services.
In turn, such services will be a boon to the region’s digital signage market, which makes use of display panels to convey public information or dispense advertisements in venues like hotels, shopping malls and other places of public congregation.
Sports events overall have a salubrious effect on markets, and digital signage is no exception. Another sports extravaganza to come, the FIFA World Cup in 2018, will have a similar influence that will be felt by the digital signage space as the much-anticipated date for the event approaches.
A glowing picture for Western Europe and MEA
Digital signage prospects are generally more promising in Western Europe, with uninterrupted growth from 2012 to 2017 and especially vigorous in the retail and public space sectors, according to Hicham Zoultaoui, digital signage analyst at IHS. In fact, Western Europe accounts for the bulk of the digital signage market in EMEA, making up more than 77 percent of total panel shipments in 2013. And the gradual financial recovery of the Eurozone, which claims a large number of Western European member countries, will help digital signage gain additional traction this year, IHS believes.
Meanwhile, the Middle East-Africa territory will enjoy significantly greater growth than either Eastern or Western Europe during the same five-year period. At the end of 2017, digital signage shipments in MEA will be up 61 percent from 2012 levels, compared to a mere 3 percent uptick in Eastern Europe and a 4 percent increase in Western Europe.
The education sector is the main focus of digital signage in the Middle East and Africa, especially in the Arabian Gulf states of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Given the upheavals brought on by the Arab Spring, demand for change is growing among the younger populations of the various states. In response, the countries have shown increasing interest in spending on educational systems to combat growing youth unemployment and to strengthen public education.