Advertising, in general, has been around since the 1700s, making digital out-of-home and signage a mere blip in history. This small blip will forever change the course of advertising history due to refined targeting and audience measurement.


Shibuya Crossing

A Brief History

The most common and long-lasting form of advertising is in print media, in particular newspaper advertisements. Newspaper advertising started around the 17th century, at the same time the printing press was gaining popularity. Whilst an older form of advertising, it is still commonly used.


The next major advertising method to make headway was the introduction of out-of-home advertising. Out-of-home (OOH) advertising refers to any type of advertising experienced outside of your house, originally, this was billboards and posters. Eventually, this came to include things such as car, bus and train wraps.


As time moved on, newspaper advertising adapted and changed to suit the needs of advertisers and viewers. Newspaper advertising seeped into the world of magazines, copying a similar format, but changing to suit what the everyday person read. After print media, the early 1900s introduced us to radio, and with it, you guessed it, radio advertisements.


Advertisements on the radio became a common practice, and much like magazine and newspaper advertising, still are. As time moved forward, so did technology, in 1941 the next major advancement was made, television and television advertising. This lead the way for one of the most interesting and effective advertisement media platforms, digital signage.


In 1992 the term digital signage was first used and referred to a wall of TV’s using VCR tapes to play marketing material. Since this moment, out-of-home advertising changed the advertising world and continues to do so.


There have been two other major changes in the advertising industry, online advertising, and more recently, social media advertising. These have impacted digital signage as the programmatic model they employ has been adapted and shifted to be suitable for digital out-of-home.


The History Of Out-Of-Home

The first piece of out-of-home advertising material was seen in 1835 and was a large printed poster, showcasing a circus. Now, we have huge reality breaking 3D displays that amaze and captivate audiences. The evolution of out-of-home advertising is directly related to the changes in technology we’ve seen.

Early form of OOH

One of the first things that should be acknowledged is the adoption of out-of-home advertising, along with its versatility. At first, it was just large posters, but quickly it became billboards and furniture wraps. As time went on, more and more firms looked at ways to cut advertising costs, and digital advertising fit the bill.


Transition To Digital Out-Of-Home

Digital advertising was born, and with it, a whole new way to reach your potential customers and audience. The technological revolution didn’t end here, since the 90s technology as we know it has rapidly developed, becoming more affordable. This affordability and continuous change has made digital signage accessible to most businesses and allowed advertising firms to develop new methods.


Originally, digital signage simply worked like a poster or billboard but was able to switch between preselected creatives automatically. The next step taken was when the internet became more accessible and creatives could become experiences. Some of these experiences were at a small scale, for example, the Pepsi Max bus stop advertisement campaign. Others are at a huge scale, in particular, the Piccadilly Circus billboard and Cross Shinjuku Vision screen.



One of the most impactful changes to digital signage technology has been the reduction in the weight of screens. Screens becoming lighter has meant that they can be installed in more locations than ever before.


Some of the worlds most iconic cities have embraced digital signage, just look at Times Square (New York) and Shibuya Crossing (Japan) for example. These displays are huge, and anyone can pay to have their content displayed on them. The screens in one location can be set up in a way that they integrate together can create an experience, or they can be used independently to show creatives on a screen by screen basis.


Now, almost every business can employ digital signage at some scale, all they need is a tablet and internet connection. Software such as Doohly enables everyone to take advantage of digital signage at an affordable price. We support things as simple as menu boards, to as complex as what you’ve seen above.


If you’re interested in starting your digital signage journey, contact us today!





How Advertising Has Changed

21 Nov 2021

How Advertising Has Changed
Want to know more about Doohly?

Find out what makes Doohly stand above the rest

Learn More