Thursday, August 22, 2013

Digital Signage Need to Know- Custom Content -vs- "Stock" or In-House Content

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?”

This 1970 song from the Canadian rock group “The Five Man Electrical Band” was very popular “back in the day” and is really about intolerance and exclusion.

Today, the sign industry, with the help of a few aging hippies might re-write the tune to ask this question:
“Sign, sign, everyone has a sign
One on every street corner, burnin’ my mind,
Do this, don’t do that, who'll read the sign?”

You have to admit, there are many examples of very ineffective outdoor advertising messages in every city across America. Sadly, even "fumble fingers" typos can create chaos as evidenced by the above image from my Elementary School (decades ago).  

Even the use of decent “stock content” instead of “custom content” allows a missed opportunity to occur. This issue is not unique to the LED sign industry and is merely an extension of conventional outdoor media messaging.

Why does a business (end user) make this mistake? I suspect it’s for one of two reasons:
  • They do not see the value of custom content or know the true cost of spending a few extra bucks for a professionally produced message to really squeeze every nickel of effectiveness from their LED sign investment. They think it's much more expensive than it truly is.

  • They are over-confident in their business’ ability to produce usable and effective in-house content or willing to risk losing sales with a stock message. And they do not look at the true cost of making their own slides or animation- it's not FREE.

Perhaps the business owner is proud of their new LED display but they forget it’s not the LED display itself that’s important, it’s the message. Bright, shiny and flashy does not guarantee an increase in sales. “WIFM- what’s in it for me?” is the question in each passerby’s mind and the LED display has to step up and answer that question to be effective.

The LED display is “on stage” and it has to deliver something great to be seen in the vast sea of other outdoor media. Remember 5 years ago when you could run any content on the LED display and be a standout? Those days are gone!

If the message does not “grab” the audience, the animation does not catch their attention, or if the colors turn them off then the LED display is not any better than a conventional sign.

As I wrote this, I thought about identifying the many rules of developing better in-house content:

Short and sweet. Not too wordy. Size of the characters appropriate for the distance viewed.  Good color. Good animation. Correct message for the target audience. Correct grammar, spelling, punctuation. Call to action!

That's it. But really- who cares? I’m not an advertising design professional, so trying to provide usable detail on the rules of design and trying to evaluate which Adobe product is required to create the ad copy or animation is beyond my keen. I can’t do it either! 

If you need to learn these basic rules and the other 100 that also exist, now is not the time to do so. Now is the time to find a way to provide custom content designed to “wow” your customer as he or she drives by at 50 mph- TODAY. Hire a professional content service that can deliver something "eye-popping" and unique.

Explore the market. Do your due diligence to identify a source for custom content to optimize the effectiveness of your LED display and make sure that the original investment in the hardware isn’t wasted by running an ineffective message.

Thank you Rick Ostman for the use of your LED sign image from our old K-6 school!

These comments belong to me, Mike Prongue, and do not reflect the views, opinions, hopes or dreams of anyone else, anywhere else and this includes Vantage LED. I appreciate your constructive opinion which may be sent to me at   

No comments:

Post a Comment