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The 5th Annual Electronic Digital Sign (EDS) Industry Survey

Reporting 2006 statistics surveyed in 2007, this survey retains commercial/industrial as most frequent customers.



From a near-similar survey response rate this year to last (78 shops replied this year compared to 70 in 2006), the most notable change is in the “Type of Work” (Table 1) Installation category where, this year, 81% of respondents said they installed systems, compared to 51% last year. Fabrication work also increased, measuring 62% against an earlier 42%. The Sales notch increased, 55% compared to a previous 41%. Creative work, a strong gainer last year, dropped to 27% from 31%.

As in the past, the Commercial/Industrial category, at 65%, topped the “Type of Buyer” (Table 2) as the most encountered type of customer; retail and school gains followed. Interestingly, the Casino buyer category dropped significantly, from 26% last year to 9% this year.

Another visible change occurred in the “Types of Technology” (Table 3) where, this year, 92% of the respondents reported working with the LED-based displays, compared to 70% last year.

Our e-mail-based survey also asked for the “Geographical Distribution” of ST subscribers who responded to the survey. We received one reply from Africa, two from South America, three from the Middle East, three from Europe and four from Asia. Fifteen respondents said their companies conduct business internationally; 15 others conduct business across North America, and the remainder produces work in the United States.

Best survey quote: “Industry standards in LCD technology would be helpful to the consumer, so that there are less proprietary technologies and simpler ways to implement digital-signage networks. The more complex the solution, the less attractive it is to the broader market.”

Most stated complaints: Pricing, zoning and system-maintenance issues.


Please remember that this is an informal, ST staff-initiated survey for which our participating readers provide generous data. Consider, too, that year-to-year changes may or may not indicate trends because, each year, we may receive responses from different shops. For formal, sign-industry surveys, refer to ST’s State of the Industry (SOI) reports, published every July and August. The Electric SOI report (July) contains selected information on EDS use.

Quick Facts
Type of Ownership by % 2005 2006
Corporation 57% 72%
Sole proprietor 27% 15%
Partnership 6% 5%
(2006 data based upon 75 responses)

Total Sales $701 million $575.75 million
Overall sales average $13.2 million $8 million
Mode (most reported figure) 12@$2 million 16@$500,000
(2006 data based upon 76 responses)

Total Sales $330 million $301.1 million
EDS sales average $10 million $4.25 million
Mode 8 @ $100,000 32 @ less than $100,000
(2006 data based upon 66 responses)

Total Number of Employees 3,475 6,220
Average 96 79
Mode 21 @ 10 34 @ 5 or less
(2006 data based upon 74 responses)
Marketing Budget Change
% Companies that increased budget 81.5% 88%
% Companies that decreased budget 18.5% 12%
R&D Budget Change
% Companies that increased budget 76.3% 80%
% Companies that decreased budget 23.6% 20%
(2006 data based upon 66 and 60 responses)


Because readers voluntarily provide their shop’s EDS information to us, we don’t always get continuing information from the same source. Thus, the year-to-year variances may be more accountable to changing contributors than from precise trends. However, this year’s modes (modes reveal the most frequently encountered value or number) may illustrate a trend. See the EDS Total Sales mode (32 respondents with sales of less than $100,000) alongside the Number of Employees mode (34 respondents reporting five or less employees). Note also that last year’s Total Sales mode was 12 respondents at $2 million, whereas this year it’s 16 at $500,000. Do these more widely scattered numbers indicate added entry-level, entrepreneurial efforts?

Of the nine work categories, Installation, Sales and Fabrication take the lead, but this year’s Installation count shows a substantial leap — 81% over 51% — followed, expectedly, by fabrication, because one naturally relates to the other. It’s interesting, however, to compare the 81% Installation tally of Table 1 to the LCD and plasma interests in Table 3, because the prefabricated, flat-panel screens, oppo¬site of LEDs, call, normally, for minimal installation efforts (which means less money earned by the installer). Still, 37% of the respondents work with LCD, 11% with plasma.

Displaying the common range of EDS product buyers, this chart, because it links the type of buyer to the number of respondents, tells you what type of firms are buying EDS and their level of interest. In essence, it provides an EDS shop with a prospective customer list, meaning, how much harder is it to sell to retail buyers if you’re presently selling to tradeshow exhibitors? This chart indicates the Retail/Tradeshow success rate — 50% compared to 22% — which is more than doubled.

A falloff occurred in every Type of Technology category but LED and LCD. Does this indicate a trend, or did more LED/LCD-based shops respond than in the previous year? Note, however, that flat-panel LCD displays held firm at 37%. The most significant drop was in electroluminescent technology – 5% in 2006, compared to 17% one year earlier.




Introducing the Sign Industry Podcast

The Sign Industry Podcast is a platform for every sign person out there — from the old-timers who bent neon and hand-lettered boats to those venturing into new technologies — we want to get their stories out for everyone to hear. Come join us and listen to stories, learn tricks or techniques, and get insights of what’s to come. We are the world’s second oldest profession. The folks who started the world’s oldest profession needed a sign.

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