‘Content is king’ has been the dogma ever since the inception of Digital Signage. It is still valid today, although more accurately there is a triumvirate: ‘concept, context and content’. The challenge lies in the DNA of Digital Signage, merging technology (AV, IT) and marketing (content) – a combination of two very different skill sets.

Digital Signage content is very different from online or even social media content, even though both of these types of content are often ‘misused’ for Digital Signage purposes. The main reason why content needs to be adapted for public screens is the different situation in which it is received. While consumers using smartphones or tablets focus fully on the screen, shoppers or passengers passing by a public screen only take notice of it in the context of their surroundings.

Opportunity To See (OTS) – the attention span – is usually only a few seconds, depending on the location of the screen. While the dwell time queuing in front of a retail check-out, at an airline check-in or inside a QSR can add up to a few minutes, the average OTS is just a few seconds. Content needs to be adapted to this situation; in particular, the key message and a call to action always need to be visible.

While a TV commercial usually has 20-30 seconds to build up excitement and tell a story, Digital Signage content needs to come to the point immediately. This can be a challenge for more artistic, emotional content but it is not an issue for real-time data-driven concepts. Most content pieces for Digital Signage are not solely created for public screens but are a mixture of existing media assets (lead campaigns, social media) and data-driven template-based information.

Digital Signage uses templates to dynamically display relevant data-driven information and existing media assets in a scheduled order. This is in stark contrast to video art, or videos in general, which are the opposite of dynamic.

In general, the effort that goes into content creation is mostly underrated. Because this awareness is missing, budgets are chronically low, especially in tech-driven projects. For purely data-driven concepts like flight information displays (FIDS) or to a lesser extent menu boards in QSR, content production is negligible. But for the majority it’s a major topic.

What are the success factors for experience-driven content?

  • Engaging
  • Unique
  • Personalised
  • Surprising
  • Repeatable

The most obvious success factor is ‘Engaging’ – if it doesn’t attract the target audience’s attention at first sight, the opportunity has passed. Key messages in a font and at a size that are readable, impactful visuals, attention-grabbing motions, as well as a ‘call to action’, are mandatory.

Unique’ stock photos don’t do the trick – understanding the mindset of the audience and the surroundings of the screen helps to determine which message is relevant.

Personalised’ in Digital Signage doesn’t mean the same as it does in mobile or online. The content needs to be relevant to the audience at that moment and place – ideally, even sensor triggered. Outdated information or the promotion of past events or products currently out-of-stock in the store are not acceptable in Digital Signage. Consumers always expect up-to-date information from any digital touchpoint, whether it is Google Maps or a news website. Acceptance of outdated information has decreased noticeably in recent years.

‘Surprising’ the audience is one of the most obvious benefits of digital vs. static. Dynamic ordering of content pieces, dayparting and digital storytelling with creative moments are some of the typical content forms used. The surprising part of the content loop is most often also the ‘shared moment’ that every network owner is keen to offer.

‘Repeatable’ – the core of Digital Signage is scale. Content can be replayed numerous times in a different order and still offer variety. Data-driven information layers add real-time and situation-relevant content to reusable media assets.

Digital Signage content best practice, innovative ideas and the reuse of existing digital content are key to affordable content concepts. Small tricks help to add a local touch to generic brand visuals and videos. Social media content can also be shown on public screens if it is adapted, for instance adding a call to action to make it relevant.

Learn more about engaging content concepts at DSS Europe 2019. Tickets are available here.