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Digital signage – displaying text and images on digital screens to advertise or promote products – is a highly effective advertising method that can be used to influence customer behavior or as a “call to action” to kick start the buying process.

In 2014, retailers and restaurant owners will not only increase their involvement with digital signage advertising methods, they will become more interested in providing customers with a more valuable experience via this technology. In addition, we will see the technology improve (while remaining affordable for smaller businesses) and we will see more businesses paying attention the analytics behind their digital signage efforts.

Here are this year’s top three digital signage trends:

1. Analytics will drive decisions.

Analytics will be more important to digital signage in 2014 than it was last year. Experts believe that businesses will use analytics as a background for their advertising decisions, working harder to accurately forecast and report digital signage results.

Specifically, retailers and restaurant owners will be concerned with determining who is viewing their displays, how long they viewed them and the effects that these displays are having on their new and existing customers. In general, they will use this information to understand the power and success of their displays as they relate to consumer behavior.

Retailers and restaurant owners will work to create statistically-proven messages or “calls to action” that will influence buying decisions.

2. Consumer interaction has come to the forefront.

It’s no secret that consumers rely on their smartphones and tablets for just about everything – especially in retail stores and restaurants. They use their devices to look up stores and restaurants, read reviews, place orders and compare prices. They expect businesses to meet their technology needs by communicating with them digitally.

That’s why businesses would be silly not to take advantage of this “smartphone movement” in 2014 using digital signage screens – a digital communication platform. It’s an effective tool for interacting and engaging with consumers.

To create two-way communication through digital signage content, more retailers and restaurant owners will include QR codes for consumers to scan with their mobile devices and more integration with social media for consumers to engage with the brand.

3. The technology is easily accessible for smaller businesses.

As the need to implement digital elements grows greater for every store and restaurant, we will see an increase in simple digital signage software that appeals to beginners and small businesses. In general, the technology is becoming easier to implement.

For example, according to Digital Signage Today, we will see more individual software packages designed for specific applications and industry needs in 2014. There will also be resurgence in USB as a way to distribute content in smaller networks as it is simple and easy to manage.

However, the technology will continue to advance and larger companies will continue to upgrade their displays. According to Digital Signage Today, larger companies will leverage displays with more media players built in, with systems on a chip similar to the one Samsung introduced last year. We will see double-digit growth in video walls and software-based video wall processors will become “all the rage” because of their performance and total cost of ownership.

Those new to the digital signage game are not to worry – LCD is still king. Digital Signage Today predicts that 4K will gain ground in 2014, but will not dominate LCD because of its production costs and distribution complexity. OLED will not take over, either, because of its supply, expenses and performance.

The takeaway: If you haven’t implemented some form of digital signage yet, 2014 would be a great year to do so. Not only can it be done in an affordable manner and executed effectively using analytics, it is a great way to connect with your showrooming, smartphone-wielding consumers.