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Friday
Oct282011

Digital Signage Content: How It Delivers The Winning Edge

All of the hardware and software technology in the world won't make digital signage successful without the most important ingredient: effective content.

"Content is king!" How often have you heard that phrase? Perhaps, too often. You might be thinking to yourself that phrase is trite, hackneyed or just a cliche?

While I wouldn't argue the point that it's well worn, I would take issue with the notion that it has lost its meaning from overuse. When it comes to digital signage, content is king -or more accurately, the single most important ingredient to making sure your use of digital signage is successful.

Without the right content, properly presented and thoughtfully executed, digital signage software, players and monitors might as well not even be taken out of the box. That's a pretty bold statement for someone whose livelihood depends on the sale of the digital signage technology, but it's the truth.

At its fundamental level, digital signage is a communications medium -just like television, newspapers, radio and magazines. For it to fulfill its reason for being, it needs to communicate something -news, information, marketing messages, ads, directions, greetings or whatever else you can imagine. If it doesn't, it is a failure. The same thing is true for the other media mentioned. How long could a publisher of a newspaper or magazine or the owner of a radio or television station afford to stay in business if their given medium failed to communicate? Who would buy their product or tune in? The answer is obvious.

In the next several articles, I will dive into some useful specifics about digital signage content, such as: how to go about creating effective digital signage content; developing a communications strategy for your digital signage messaging; ideas to measure the effectiveness of that strategy and when to make tweaks to meet your goals; key design concepts for static and interactive digital signage content; and how to develop winning digital signage content without breaking the bank.

However, before I launch into those specifics, I'd like to share a simple story about something that happened to me to illustrate how important content is to communications when it comes to signage.

After concluding business in New York City a few years ago, I arrived at Newark Airport for my return flight to the Midwest. Being a veteran traveler, I know the drill well. Arrive two hours early to allow sufficient time for check-in and to clear security. I actually got to the airport more than three hours early. I arrived at my gate long before my flight was schedule to depart.

Unfortunately, I was greeted with a message on the sign behind the gate agent that said "Delayed." It took a few minutes, but when I finally got my turn in line to talk to the agent about the situation, I learned that the plane due in for my flight hadn't even left where it was coming from and wasn't expected to do so for some time. I was told, however, to check back and look at the sign for the new departure time, which would be posted just as soon as more information was available.

Deciding to find a restaurant to pass the time, I did the quick scan of the location and found one near the gate, but not within sight of the gate. Not long after, the sign at the game displayed a new departure time of 9:30 p.m., so I headed out to the restaurant.

At 9 p.m., I left the restaurant and leisurely walked over to my gate, only to find that there was no longer any mention of my flight on the sign and the seats around the gate were strangely empty. When I approached the gate agent and inquired about my flight, I learned that somehow the delayed plane made up time in the air, arrived, passengers deplaned, my fellow travelers boarded and the plane took off for home -without me. I was out of luck, had to spend the night in a hotel and return the next morning.

The moral of the story for me is simple: Don't wait for a flight anywhere outside of a clear view of the gate. The moral of the story for anyone interested in communicating with signage: Be clear and accurate with your messages. They are important and can impact the lives of those who are viewing them.

I wish whoever was responsible for posting that information on the sign would have realized that content is king. Unfortunately for me that evening, the king seemed to have abdicated his throne.

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