“Because digital signage is a more dynamic way to communicate, providers can leverage the creative resources to tell a better story about their brand, product, or service."

–Paul Flanigan

 

As technology continues to advance in ways that allow even the most minor operators to utilize digital signage for their environments, awareness of the need for quality content continues to grow.

 

It would seem obvious that replacing a static sign with a digital screen or adding a screen to an environment would automatically create more awareness for whatever is being communicated. It seems really great video (herein generally referred to as “content”) on an HDTV that someone wants to buy is a foregone conclusion. But that is not the case.

 

In situations where the shopper is buying a staple, like shampoo or toothpaste or milk, the shopper is so focused on the mission at hand that almost all signage—static and digital alike—is ignored. The potential to miss the audience can be frustrating to a network operator who has spent enormous amounts of money to install a network and wants to see a return on the investment.

 

The ultimate goal of digital signage is to change behaviors. It could be to navigate through an environment, or learn more about a product, or catch up on the latest news. Digital signage does not allow the operator to be better at communicating. A compelling and engaging message does.

 

You need terrific content.

 

The ability to engage a viewer with outstanding visual content is not easily accomplished. The awareness and respect for content is increasing because providers continue to learn about the medium. The common battle cry of “It’s Not TV!” runs through the industry. It isn’t TV in the traditional sense of what we sit down and watch in our homes each night. But it is a screen designed to communicate, and understanding how to communicate is evolving as fast as the industry itself. It is TV, just a different kind of TV.

 

In the past, the novelty of a screen in a store or elevator or subway was enough. Now we are seeing screens treated as vital elements of design, built into the physical structures. This completes the environmental experience for the end-user and the audience. The screens and content look like they are made for the store, rather than added on at a later stage in the environment’s evolution. Venues are constantly looking for advantages over their competitors. Brand logos, colors, and store layout can only go so far. Compelling, relevant content can give one environment advantage over another by bringing the environment to life.

 

As much as good content has the ability to engage a viewer, bad content can detract a viewer just as fast.

 

High quality, relevant, and compelling content is the most important feature to digital signage in any application. It is the reason you’re adding the screens. It can connect you with viewers in ways never before achieved through the traditional methods of communication. Whether you are a brand or product or service, or just someone who has information to share, digital signage gives you the ability to engage the viewer with your message in ways no other medium can.

 

There are many variables to consider when creating good content. What works for posters in a shop or waiting room, or on a billboard, will not work on screens of the same nature because the audience makeup is different each time. This creates havoc for providers who are trying to get the right content in the right place at the right time. But there are a few basic principles that can be understood and applied across any medium that will give the provider and/or end user great content, great impact, and a greater return on the investment.

 

Content is the reason you’re doing this.
Pure and simple. You’re not building a network to hang screens and hook up computers and run wires. You don’t operate a network for the sake of technology. You hang a screen to show your audience great stuff. No one cares about the wires. The better the content, the more integral the network becomes in the visitor experience. If the content is bad, the network is a nuisance, and a reason for visitors to find other places to visit.

 

Great content tells a story.
The unique environments and audiences give creators the opportunity to tell more intimate stories with greater impact, focusing on key features of the subject that appeal to the viewer at that particular time and place, rather than trying to cover all the bases in a short message you may find on television (a good reason why “It’s not TV”).

 

Because digital signage is a more dynamic way to communicate, providers can leverage the creative resources to tell a better story about their brand, product, or service. For example, a cell phone provider may be able to show live action of the cell phone’s screen and interface (think of the iPhone commercials) as an advantage over other cell phone manufacturers. This has tremendous impact at the point of sale, where the phones are on the shelf, and where customers are ready to buy. Great content creates competitive differentiation.

 

Great content can engage a viewer like no other type of communication. 
With the growth of interactivity through touch screens and mobile devices, that engagement can become personal and inspirational. Brands, products, and services can now connect with customers and consumers at all points of interaction, from online at- home to touch screen kiosks in-store to mobile media that allows users to define a brand or product in their eyes. The effort to change behaviors and create impact is tremendous when the customer becomes engaged with the message.

 

Great content makes money.
Revenue goes beyond just selling time on the network to an advertiser. In the case of retailing, relevant and compelling content will encourage a viewer to purchase a product. The revenue generated from more product sales in turn becomes a budget that retailers can spend on bigger and better digital signage applications. Technology does not make money for a network. And if the advertising does not sell the product, the advertising brings no value to the network and the bottom line.

 

This is easier said than done. The research and strategy that goes into creating engaging content can be extreme and often nebulous. The factors of audience demographics, environmental attributes, and advertising requirements all play very heavily on the composition and execution of great content. However, the work that goes into understanding the variables of compelling content can pay dividends in the end. And simply put: The better your content, the better your network.

 

Content really is that important.

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