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The History of the Digital Signage Expo
The Digital Signage Expo kicks off today and is celebrating its 10th show. Here's a look back.


The show floor at Digital Signage Expo 2012. (Photo credit: Digital Signage Expo)
February 27, 2013 By Steve Crowe

Today marks the start of the 2013 Digital Signage Expo (DSE), which is celebrating its 10th show inside the Las Vegas Convention Center during Feb. 26-28.

DSE has grown into the largest trade show and conference in the world serving the digital signage, interactive technology and digital-out-of-home markets. More than 200 exhibitors and 6,000-plus attendees from 70-plus countries attend the show each year.

In honor of the 10th show, we thought it’d be fun to look back at how far the show has come. Thanks to the folks at Digital Signage Connection for doing all the legwork and compiling the following timeline.

Spring 2004: The industry is “discovered” by Angelo Varrone, CEO, Exponation, LLC, which produces DSE, during a visit to GlobalShop’s “Digital Store,” pavilion. Varrone, former founder of GlobalShop, immediately saw that digital signage would not be limited to retail stores and would be adopted rapidly by all types of organizations doing business at a retail level.

October 2004: First Digital Retail Expo (DRE) is successfully launched with 40 exhibitors, fewer than 1,000 attendees, (originally co-located with LightShow/West).

May 2005: DRE moves to Chicago to be more centrally located.

May 2007: Embracing all vertical industry constituencies doing business at retail show is renamed Digital Signage Expo (DSE). The event sets new attendance record, hosts more than 2,000 qualified attendees - a 60 percent increase over 2006; hosts record 110 exhibitors, a 20 percent increase over 2007.

August 2007: DSE named by Tradeshow Week Magazine as one of “Fastest 50” one of the top 50 fastest-growing trade and consumer shows in North America.

February 2008: DSE moves to Las Vegas, a top destination for international trade shows to provide larger draw. Event sets new record of more than 3,500 attendees, 70 percent increase over May 2007, just 8 months earlier.

February 2009: In spite of down economy that shuttered other annual trade shows, DSE successfully attracts more than 3,000 attendees; sets record of 188 exhibitors and largest net floor space ever.

August 2009: DSE named by Tradeshow Week Magazine as one of “Fastest 50,” one of the top 50 fastest-growing trade and consumer shows in North America second time in three years.

February 2010: DSE becomes the official show of the Digital Signage Federation, the industry’s premier trade association. As the industry begins to regain traction, DSE draws more than 3,400 attendees, a 14 percent increase over 2009 and hosts 56 first-time exhibitors, as exhibitors report writing business on the show floor.

February 2011: DSE draws more than 3,600 attendees, a 6 percent increase over 2010, including increases in key attendance categories: Client end-users up 2.4 percent, brand marketers up 4.7 percent and international attendees up 1 percent over year prior. Event hosts record 195 exhibitors, 57 of them for the first time.

August 2011: DSE named by Tradeshow Executive Magazine as one of “Fastest 50,” one of the top 50 fastest-growing trade and consumer shows in North America, for the third time in five years.

February 2012: DSE shatters all previous records, draws 4,024 qualified attendees, more than 9 percent over 2011; sets record conference attendance, record international attendance from 69 countries; and record exhibit sales, net square footage increase of more than 4 percent over 2011.

Feb. 26 to 28, 2013: DSE will stage its 10th anniversary show. Today, DSE is the largest and longest-running conference and trade show in the world, uniquely serving the digital signage, interactive technology and digital-out-of-home markets, with more than 200 exhibitors and more than 6,000 professional and exhibitor attendees.

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About the author

Steve Crowe - Web Editor,
Steve is an editor for He graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in Journalism. He joined EH Publishing in 2008. Steve is also a freelance sports writer for The Boston Globe and other various publications.
View all posts by Steve Crowe
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