Digital signage is a broad term for a broad subsection of the AV industry. It encompasses many different display types. If you walk into a mall and there is an interactive kiosk that shows the map of where stores are in relation to yourself, that’s digital signage. If you step into a restaurant and display screens are rifling through menu items, that’s digital signage. If you are in a building and an emergency occurs, and television displays on the walls change to display steps to be taken during the emergency, that too is digital signage.
At the core, though, digital signage is exactly what the name would dictate. It is displaying information, content, instructions, etc., on a digital screen. This is important, especially in the age that we live, where a significant portion of many peoples’ daily lives consist of looking at digital screens. Digital signage is a way to captivate an audience, to focus their attention on pertinent information for a period of time. The end result can be a number of things; they learn about a company they are visiting, they learn where they are supposed to go, they learn about updates they need to know.
“If you have a captivating sign on the wall, it’s going to grab their attention,” says Steven Rosenheim, Business Development Manager for Content Creation Service at Almo Pro A/V. “If it’s done well you’re going to have a more successful way of imparting information than virtually any other form of presentation.”
Where Should It Be?
Whatever the objective is for installing digital signage, the most important goal of a digital signage system is to be seen. There are different ways to accomplish this. You must place the display screens in areas that will naturally draw the eye of the people nearby. You must ensure that the content on screen is visually stimulating enough to hold the attention of the audience. Also, you must make sure that information isn’t staying on-screen long enough to grow stale. Attention spans are growing ever shorter, and information digestion is faster than ever.
Where you place your digital signage is going to depend on who you are installing it for. If you want visitors and customers to see it, then the lobby or the waiting room is a good place for the content. Customers will be taking in their surroundings and looking for something to focus on while they wait anyway. If you want employees to see it, then cafeterias, break rooms, and lounge areas work best. These are spaces that most employees will frequent throughout the day, and when in these areas they are likely not too busy to check out some signage.
Elevators are some of the most highly trafficked spaces in buildings. Placing digital signage outside of elevators for visitors and employees alike is probably best case scenario, as there is built in lounge time while waiting. “Obviously, high traffic areas are the best place to put digital signage,” says Rosenheim. “You’re going to get your best opportunity for people to see it.
When it comes to placing digital signage, traffic is really the most important aspect. You want to place it in spaces that are highly frequented, and an added bonus comes when those spaces force or encourage visitors to be stationary for a time. When standing around and waiting is when people are most likely to check out digital signage.
What Should Be On It?
There are several reasons to install digital signage. First, companies can install digital signage for visitors. These can be either informational or as a way finding station. Often companies will install touch screen, interactive digital signage screens within lobbies for visitors to rifle through and learn where different offices, conference rooms, auditoriums, and cafeterias are located. In addition, digital signage in lobbies can scroll through information about the company in the form of videos, statistics, social media feeds, and so on. For waiting rooms, digital signage often displays this information about the company, along with information about their products or services, and projects that they are working on. It is a way to get visiting customers excited about what they can get out of their visit to the company.
Once inside, digital signage is helpful for employees as well. Cafeterias are a great spot for getting information to employees, as many employees frequent the area throughout the day. In the past, companies have relied on memos and e-mail blasts to inform employees about the goings on of the company. However, with e-mail growing so prevalent and with portions of the day devoted to sifting through and answering e-mails, a quick note from the company can often be missed. Digital signage in cafeterias and hallways are a way to inform employees about changing policies, upcoming events, safety protocols, and, at times, emergency procedures.
“If you don’t have good looking content on there, if it’s just clip-art looking, PowerPoint looking, people aren’t going to pay attention to it,” says Richard Daugherty, Digital Media Content Specialist for AVI-SPL. “Average dwell time on digital signage is about seven seconds, and if it doesn’t look good or if it’s really wordy they’re not going to stick around. They’re on their way somewhere. If they stop for an extended period of time it’s because it looks good.”
The trick is taking hold of those seven seconds. Give enough information to intrigue with one or two sentence, then supply a link, a QR code, phone number, or something else easily retrievable for them to learn more. Colors are important as well. Many know about the psychology of colors; red is an action color, but red may have different connotations within different industries. Incorporating company colors is also important for branding purposes. Easily readable typefaces, bright colors for important information, and the right highlights are all important. These are aspects of digital signage that content creation specialists are well versed in, but they are also something to keep in mind.
How do we get it?
The first step in installing digital signage should be working with a content creation specialist. It is possible to create content on your own, but it is often not worth the training, man-power, or cost of hiring an employee to do so. In addition, you will likely get inferior content than if you go to someone that creates content for many different industries for a living. There are plenty around.
“The conversation is mostly questions,” says Rosenheim. “There will be questions of understanding their customers, their personal tastes, the purpose of the signage, and they as they answer I may ask questions associated with that digging deeper and deeper.”
Hiring the right content creation specialist is like commissioning a painting. You can be specific, explain precisely what you want and what it should do, but at a certain point you have to allow them to use their expertise to deliver the correct content. They should be thorough with you and learn exactly what is needed. At that point they will create and deliver. Often, you can opt to be trained on the basics so that if offices are moved or names are changed you won’t have to call the content creation firm each time.
It is especially important to begin working with content creation specialists as soon as possible. Sometimes if you install certain products before content creation, it will turn out that content won’t work for certain systems, software, and screens. Working in tandem or hiring content creation first will allow much more flexibility in content, which you can fit into the install down the line. Remember: it all comes back to what’s on-screen.
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