2013 Conference Details

Topics and Presenters Announced for the 5th Annual National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC)

Everyone associated with the signage industry is encouraged to participate in the 5th Annual National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC) at the University of Cincinnati (UC), October 9-10, 2013, which is sponsored by the Signage Foundation, Inc. (SFI), in collaboration with the UC Colleges of Business and Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP). The two-day event takes place at the Kingsgate Marriott adjacent to the UC campus. SFI is pleased to welcome the membership of the Midwest Sign Association to NSREC; the association will host its annual fall conference in conjunction with NSREC.

The focus of the 2013 NSREC, "Signage as Advertising," will address topical research on the third of four key areas that impact signage: Science, Technology, Art/Advertising and Regulation (S.T.A.R. initiative). Each of these four topical areas will/has annually serve (d) as the focus for NSREC.

  • Business Makeover Case Study: by Jeff Rexhausen, Associate Director of Research-UC Economics Center. The Research and Consulting Division of the University of Cincinnati’s Economic Center will present research findings from a multi-year case study of a national retail corporation. The research focuses on an additional 12 months of comparable data that allow for continued analyses of the impact of sign changes at the company’s stores on the Midwestern market. New comparisons of selected stores in a different region of the US to examine the impact of electronic reader boards (ERB).
  • Economic Value of Signs Research 1997-2012: An Overview by Kevin Stotmeister, President/CEO—Federal Heath This research study, conducted at the University of San Diego in 1997, was the first to use statistical analysis to detail the positive impact that on-premise signage has on businesses. This groundbreaking study was followed in 2012 with additional research conducted at the University of Cincinnati. That report, also titled “The Economic Value of On-Premise Signage,” heavily references the 1997 work, which has led The Signage Foundation to republish the original study. Nationally recognized industry leader, Kevin Stotmeister, shared his expertise in both of these research efforts.
  • Community Aesthetic and Sign Regulations: How far can a city go to prescribe aesthetics? by Dr. Dawn Jourdan, Associate Professor and Division Director of City and Regional Planning, University of Oklahoma. Relying on the police powers, municipalities frequently seek to regulate on premise signs in an effort to reduce visual blight. They often relied on interpretations of sign law that do not fully spell out the First Amendment protections afforded to on premise signs. The underlying basis for these regulations is that unattractive places are impediments to a healthy commercial economy, as well as the overall psychological health and well-being of city residents. The courts are divided as to the legality of sign regulations that are primarily grounded in aesthetics. This division has been further reinforced by legal scholarship that adds to the confusion. This session will examine the spectrum of jurisprudence on the topic and provide some guidance for municipalities, as well as commercial interests, that stand to benefit from the overall improvement of aesthetic quality in U.S. cities.
  • Roundtable Discussion on Dr. Jourdan’s Presentation
    Panelists will discuss the ways in which changes in sign codes or other planning/incentive programs have been successful in reducing visual blight without unduly restricting commercial communication through the presentation of on premise signs. Panelists will include Dr. Jourdan, a specialist in form based codes (planner lawyers), representatives from the sign industry and end user representatives.
  • Planning and Implementing an Urban Wayfinding Project by Sapna Budev, Director, Strategic Initiatives, ISA and Craig Berger, Fashion Institute of Technology and Craig Berger Management Consulting Urban wayfinding and identity programs have been developed at a high level for the last thirty years, but to many people, the creation of unique and effective systems using strong design principles, is still unknown. This lack of knowledge has enormous impact since planners, officials, and city boosters are responsible for fund raising, hiring, and program promotion. This lecture will review the 8 areas necessary for a successful municipal wayfinding program and demonstrate best practices through case study examples.
  • Illuminated vs. Non-Illuminated Signage—The Economic Impact of Illumination: An Overview by Mike Kesti, SFI Research Committee Chairman
    Efforts to limit night-time outdoor lighting are being enacted across the country in the name of aesthetics, ecology and energy efficiency. This research will provide a sound introduction and baseline analysis that clarifies and analyzes relevant prior research and information.
    This research collects and presents baseline information regarding the typical use and types of illuminated signs in order to provide the audience with a solid understanding of illuminated signage current practices, i.e., what forms of lighting are used, when and where illuminated signs are used, what makes them visible or effective at night, compare and contrast different kinds of sign lighting, how do drivers view them when it’s dark outside, etc. The research will identify and assess important factors impacting sign conspicuity such as sign placement, luminance levels, ambient lighting conditions around the sign, etc.
  • A CEO’s Perspective of Signage in Rebranding
    The CEO of a national corporation will discuss the significant role signage plays in a corporate marketing strategy and will illustrate through examples of how on-premise signage was the foundation of his corporate rebranding strategy.
  • The Value of the Cost of Replacing Exposures Valuation Method: Using Advertising Rates to Estimate A Sign’s Worth by Dr. Charles Ray Taylor, John A. Murphy Professor of Marketing, Villanova University, School of Business
    The valuation of signage is often at issue in takings cases and in assessing property value when properties are sold. Too often signage valuation techniques do not adequately take into account the mechanisms via which on-premise signs create value for businesses. Indeed, the primary valuation techniques, including the market approach, the income approach, and the traditional cost of replacing exposures approach do not directly take into account the marketing functions of signs. As outlined by Taylor, Claus and Claus (2005), signage performs the following functions: 1) communicating the location of the business; 2) interacting with and reinforcing advertisements as part of integrated marketing communications; 3) branding the site, and 4) enhancing store image.
    The way in which valuation techniques have been applied to signage in the past has often been problematic. While there have been isolated cases where appropriate methods have been found, the general techniques leave much open to debate and interpretation. For example, under the market approach, debate often ensures about the degree to which good locations for signage enhance value. Under the income approach, unless there is highly precise data from sites of very comparable businesses, it is often difficult to “prove” the value of signage. Under the traditional cost of replacement approach, some argue that a sign can be valued based on its salvage value.
    This presentation will introduce the cost of replacing exposures valuation technique for signage valuation. Based on the theory behind the cost of replacement approach, the cost of replacing the exposures approach values signage based on the cumulative value of the exposures they provide. The approach has the advantage of being relatively easy to implement as it is based on the value of comparable outdoor advertising space (billboard or other comparable out of home media) that is similar to the sign. The logic of this technique and its ability to better capture the true value of signage will be discussed.
  • Signage as Art and Creativity by Danilo Palazzo, Director of the School of Urban Planning at DAAP at University of Cincinnati, Kate Bonansinga, Director, School of Art, College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning at the University of Cincinnati and Frank Russel of the Neihoff Center at the University of Cincinnati
    This session will address the components of the built environment in urban space and will feature the topics taught as a part of the University of Cincinnati’s new course entitled “Signage as Art and Creativity”. The focus of the course is art and how it creates identity and improves neighborhoods. Tasteful signage will be part of this.
  • Longitudinal Analysis of Signage Communication Evidence from the BrandSpark/Better Homes and Gardens American Shoppers Study by Dr. James J. Kellaris, James S. Womack/Gemini Chair of Signage and Visual Marketing, University of Cincinnati, Lindner College of Business The American Grocery Shopper Study™ is performed annually in conjunction with the Better Homes and Gardens Best New Product Awards program, by leading independent market research firm BrandSpark International. Insights from a consumer panel representing over 63,000 households in all 50 states are mined by BrandSpark in collaboration with academic partners from the University of Cincinnati College of Business. The survey, now in its second year, includes several items of interest to the signage industry and planners.
    Survey items regarding the economic value of signage to business and consumers include (1) the effect of signage quality on driving traffic into stores, (2) shoppers’ use of signage as inferential cues for drawing quality inferences about stores, and (3) the perceived usefulness of outdoor and indoor signage (versus other media) vis-à-vis finding out about new products. The survey documents the proportion of consumers who have driven by and failed to find a business because the signage was too small or unclear, as well as when, where, and among whom such visual communication failures occur. The presentation will report longitudinal findings from the survey pertaining to signage items. Additionally, the presentation will report comparisons of results across geographic, demographic, and psychographic groups.
All conference materials will be available in a single, bound document for ease of reference. Several sessions have been approved by APA for certification maintenance units for planners. Early registration for the conference (available until September 23, 2013) is $225. Accommodations are at the Kingsgate Marriott located adjacent to the UC campus. To register, arrange for housing or for the complete NSREC agenda, visit the conference website at: www.thesignagefoundation.org.


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