Digital Signage (DS) can be awesome, amazing, subtle, powerful, pointed, quiet, and a multitude of things, but more often than not, it's a failure. Why? Why would I write this when so many people tout the great leaps and bounds int he market. The huge market share DS is taking up... The gains DS is making within various industries (both profit and non-profit)? Obviously something is working for somebody. Here are the big three.
Feed the beast or it'll eat you alive. Content not only needs to be fresh, interesting, and timely, it needs to be good. It's not enough to slap a picture on a screen with a witty saying or a pricepoint. Where's the call to action? Why put up,"$0.99 hot dogs," when you can say,"First 10 customers - $3 for 2 hot dogs and a 16 ounce soda!" Give people a reason to take advantage of an opportunity (and help them identify an"opportunity when it happens). You can lead a horse to water, but the trick is making him drink when you need him to.
We live in the age of amazing tech where a toddler can pickup a tablet and get to their favorite game or TV show before they can even speak! SIMPLE IS BEST. If the system seems too complex and there's no direct benefit, see if there's a better (simpler) way to do things. The simpler a system is to use, the easier it is for the clients (the organization using the DS solution) to manage and update. The more the DS solution is updated with fresh and interesting content, the better its chances are of achieving that return on investment (ROI) or return on objective (ROO) the organization had in mind when they first envisioned having a DS solution in place.
Too many cooks in the kitchen
I was recently speaking with a DS client who had a great system (a combination of LED displays and LCD interior systems which were synchronized and had a solid, consistent brand and message running throughout the locations). I noticed things were looking splicy (fonts were different, the branding was confusing, and the message outside wasn't consistent with the content inside). Specials advertised on the LED Sign weren't synced up with the LCD displays and the information wasn't correct. I asked the manager what happened. They replied management decided to have one department manage the LED displays (to bring in customers) and another marketing team would handle the interior LCD displays. The teams weren't talking and there was nobody in charge of the complete package to ensure the message was constant and consistent across platforms. The regional manager eventually got everyone to go to a site and they agreed to have one person be responsible for the overall program. When too many people are given control, nobody really has control. Make sure the DS system in place has a definitive person and/or place where, "The buck stops" when it comes to management and content choices.
DS is awesome to work with. After attending the CES (Commercial Electronics Show) in Las Vegas this month, my brain is flooded with the amazing possibilities to integrate new technology to make DS more interactive, more dynamic, and not just about the LCD screen, but the overall experience. The failure of a technology isn't in what it can deliver, it's in how the technology is managed and used.
Make sure whatever DS solution is recommended, the client is comfortable with the system and confident in how to use it to get the most out of their displays. The reason Digital Signage doesn't work isn't because of the displays, or the content, or the systems. At the end of the day, the reason is as simple as someone not taking the time to speak with a client and make sure they get what they need. There's an urge to sell everyone a sports car when they really need a pickup truck. Listen to the client and deliver the right system for their situation and you'll come out with a much better solution at the end of the day.
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