Of course there are many more problems than just the five outlined below which could prove fatal for a display network looking to make an impact on its audience. But, I thought it necessary to outline a few which I felt could aid in improving content on networks generally. So, here they are–Five Content Blunders to Avoid.
Avoid the Temptation to Budget More for Technology Rather than Content
Because technology is the means and content is the end, content on your screen must never be an after thought, or even a second thought. It must be priority one. This should be readily evident in both the time and money spent in making sure your content is looking the best it possibly can. How many networks have we dealt with whose network simply failed? A number. After seeing some of the content on the display screens, I could see–to a large degree–why the network failed.
One thing I see happen quite often in the midst of choosing a proper software package is the temptation to pick software purely for the one widget or feature that makes it more unique than the other packages, but does little to increase the value-add. It’s like buying the best race horse, but using a 300 lb jockey. It’s just not going to work. When budgeting for funds, be sure the software fits you needs both in feature-set and budget, but it is also wise to leave enough in the budget for your digital signage content.
Avoid Repetition, Avoid Repetition, Avoid Repetition, Avoid Repetition, Avoid Repetition…
Did you get the point yet? There is a fine line between saying the same thing enough to get the message across and crying wolf. If persons realize the sign is on repeat and has been for sometime, they will generally tune out to the message–especially if their patronage is regular. Making a good content loop is not only about the content itself, but it’s also about how regularly that content is rotated. Knowing the general dwell time of the audience is good–then matching dwell times to content loops can get you in the fast track to network success.
Repetition is also a problem when content needs regular maintenance and upkeep for which it does not receive. In that case, it is wise to contract for content creation through content as a service. Otherwise, having a large repository of content to feed the beast that is your display network, may be one of the most important investments made–especially for the long-term vitality of your network’s content.
Avoid Tailoring Content to the Wrong Audience
You may have great content, but without knowing your audience the content does not meet the context of your message. This is a problem of many a network, both small and large. They say, “oh, we’ve got some great images, videos, and graphics from previous things we’ve done for the web, television and print–we’ll just slap that in and voila! Problem solved. While this does not always prove to be a bad idea, it can produce content that is not tailored to the prevalent audience for the venue or content that does not target the desired audience at the venue. These are two separate affects the content can have on the audience. Moreover, playing content suited for teens will not bode well in an athletic facility whose patronage is primarily made up of seniors.
Yet another blunder I have personally seen when tailoring content to the wrong audience comes when content is never tested as to its impact. Content needs reported. Content needs tested to see what works best in particular scenarios with particular groups of people. We’re always clamoring about ROI, but we few are actually testing for it directly. Content, content change, and regular content refresh–testing the particular audience, so to speak–is one of the best methods for judging and reporting back on whether particular content is living up to whatever hype placed on it.
Avoid Making the Content a Self-Detractor
So many times we see content on displays who may have a great “intended” message, but who go about it in obnoxious ways or the wrong way. The phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” could adequately describe what I am referring to. What may look good for one individual could be an absolute flop to another. Getting an org on board that knows what they are doing when it comes to content is certainly a start in the right direction.
One way to avoid content that is a self detractor is to watch for sound and audio, While audio on digital signage can be effective, it can sometimes prove a detractor to your message if it is too loud or gets in the way of the visual message. Flash images, interactivity, and wordy messages can also prove a detraction from the message. How many times have I seen more than the established seven-word-max on a digital display? Way too many times to count. My personal feeling is that your message should say what it needs to say in five words or less if possible. That is all the time you have in many instances–especially when audiences are on the move. Flash and interactivity–while cool a inviting–can also be a detraction when placed in an improper venue. If the visual message is too loud and interactivity does not suit the audience, the display will be ignored rather than adored.
What is content stagnation? It is simply giving into the temptation to never refreshing the current content you may have on your display. This certainly has many downsides including “clerk burn” (driving employees insane because they’ve seen the same ad repeatedly on a ten minute loop for eight hours) and customer burn (if the loop is too short and they end up seeing the same content more than once–one reason to know average dwell times of audiences). While these two reasons alone should be enough motivation to change out your content regularly, there are certainly other reasons to make sure your content does not stay the same for six months.
I can think of two additional problems off the top of my head. First, why purchase a corvette software solution and keep it parked in the garage. With web-based management for your sign content you’re generally paying a hosting or annual maintenance fee. Doing so and never using the access portal is fool-hearty. Hosting your players on a server means you can control the units anytime you like. If you’re simply letting it go, you’re not utilizing your network to it’s fullest potential. Second, stagnation could turn to stagflation. If you’re not careful stagnated content could mean stagnation coupled with inflation. When your network becomes stagnate, it generally means the network is not performing at 100%. This means it’s not producing enough of a return and the technology is not pulling its own weight. Your sign network should not be treated with an implement and drop it mentality. These things take work and content requires some of the most recurring work to any network.
Content can be a pride and joy or headache and frustration. Pride and joy if done correctly and managed properly and frustrating if done poorly and improperly. While performing in the content arena takes a great deal of effort, this effort will most certainly be rewarded by a message that truly can make an impact today and into the future.