Visual Art

“We plan to become Europe’s No.1 before 2025”

Visual Art is one of invidis’ Digital Signage Rising Stars 2023. In 2022 the Swedish full service integrator won prominent new clients and expanded the North America unit with senior hires. Already an long established market player in the Nordics, Visual Art has reinvented itself as an international digital signage expert. Pontus Meijer took over the role as CEO in September leading the company towards an IPO and into a new era.
Visual Art CEO Pontus Meijer (Foto: Visualart)
Visual Art CEO Pontus Meijer (Foto: Visualart)

Sweden has brought up a number of relevant market players till today. Besides ZetaDisplay and Vertiseit (Grassfish) is Visual Art the third relevant digital signage provider with international relevance. “Sweden has been a pioneering country, but we see that the rest of Europe, and some other parts of the world, are about to mature in the same way,” Visual Art CEO Pontus Meijer.

Driven by international accounts Visual Art has expanded its network with new offices in Spain and UK (in addition to existing offices in the Nordics and Germany). The North America office in Chicago – also home to McDonalds HQ – is now staffed with three very senior ex McDonald’s digital experts. “We have a unique expertise within QSR, both from a tech but also content perspective, and with our European approach to Digital Signage and tech solutions we have a unique position as a flexible and innovative company.”

McDonalds is one of the world’s hottest contested QSR clients for order kiosks, menu boards as well as drive through. Australia’s digital signage specialist Coates is the main digital signage supplier for McDonalds reportedly also soon replacing Stratacache in US restaurants. But besides a press release (invidis report), McDonalds restaurants in the US still seem to be Stratacache territory.

Visual Art plays a special role for McDonalds in many European markets. In some regions VA provides end-to-end solutions, in others the Swedes are content agency with an Apple Watch manageable, AI-powered menu board solution.

International expansion has become very important for VA. “Our strategy has always been to grow with our clients and be present (e.g. Australia, Asia and US) where they need us. But our primary focus is Europe and our goal is to become Europe’s leading digital signage company before 2025.”


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Large new account wins

2022 was with 23m EUR (26m SEK) a very successful year for Visual Art, the only Swedish integrator headquartered in Stockholm. The most prominent account win was the European roll-put of Subway for digital menu boards in up to 5.000 restaurants across Europe (invidis report). Visual Art has a long tradition with digital menu boards at 7-Eleven (Nordics as well as Australia) and Circle K (Norway) as well as many European McDonalds markets. Other international account wins and expanded collaborations were Lego, Nordic ski resort operator Skistar (invidis report), coffee chain Joe & The Juice (invidis report) and Chinese EV-Automotive manufacturer Nio. “We have continued our expansion across Europe. If the market came to a standstill in 2021, it has, for our part, come back to life again in 2022.”

Outlook 2023

“We plan to continue growing and take over both new markets and customers. The biggest challenge ahead is the outside world and the economic situation, but now more and more companies seem to be realizing that digital signage is rather a part of getting out of the problem than just another cost item.”

For 2023 Visual Art plans to grow by approximately 25% organically across all regions, but really targets 40% growth (with M&A). While the company has been busy winning new clients Visual Art is also preparing an IPO. A date has not been set yet, depending on how financial markets are developing. After the pandemic Visual Art’s major shareholder Ocean Outdoor, wants to focus on DooH plans to divest Visual Art.


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Modern Software Architecture, AI and Certification

Visual Art started developing a complete new service-cloud based software platform which will be fully available later this year. The new platform is already implemented with Finnish supermarket chain Kesko. “The CMS we have developed for Kesko is most likely the most advanced CMS globally with automated content recommendations where AI is analyzing sales and player statistics and are then recommending content.” Visual Art has also implemented a queueing system for Husqvarna which has now been rolled out in the dealers‘ stores around Europe.

“The inhouse-developed digital signage software Signage Player is an increasingly important success factor in procurements, large and small. Through the platform, we effectively manage all the screens, regardless of where they are physically located. Since the software works directly on the screens, without an external media player, it also becomes a very cost-effective system both in terms of purchase and maintenance.”

One of the biggest and most important developments are the new ISO certificates for quality (9001), environment (140001) and work environment (45001).

Back to the (DooH) roots – sort of …

Visual Art is also investigating focusing more on Retail Media again. Visual Art’s largest and most important customer form many years has been Sweden’s dominant supermarket chain ICA. Visual Art started developing more than ten years ago Europe’s most advanced instore screen network which today is a full grown and very successful retail media network.

Till the acquisition by Ocean, Visual Art operated also a full-fledge DooH business with exclusive advertising rights at all Swedish railway stations and many large shopping center in the Nordics. The business was split up and is now operating as Ocean Nordic.

But the recent success of retail media across the globe put Instore DooH back on the agenda of Visual Art. In which form and role is still open – but Visual Art knows digital signage in supermarkets inside out and retail media could complement existing solutions very well.

Role Model Sweden – Women in Management

Sweden has not only pioneered digital signage in Europe but it is also leading equality activities. Visual Art counts already five women in the management team and more are supposed to join. (invidis report) Similar developments can be seen on the west coast of Sweden. Just a few days ago Vertiseit/Grassfish promoted two women to management position – Ann Hjelte as Grassfish CEO and Julia Vogel  as Grassfish DACH Managing Director.