In my posts here at the digital signage blog, I often find myself comparing digital signage to other types of digital media. In particular, my personal feeling is that the digital signage industry can learn a great deal from Internet advertising. Both technologies utilize pixels. At least we have that similarity going for us, if nothing else. And while there are great differences in the way people interact and react to digital signage vs. the web, there are some things that we can learn about the digital signage sidebar when we compare advertising online to advertising out of home.
Banner Advertisements and Sidebars
Much like the web, sidebars act as a supplement to the main content. I have talked about the split screen changing previously. Logically speaking, we certainly wouldn’t want to place a banner advertisement for a automotive company on a website for cosmetics. Of course that would not make sense. However, having a banner advertisement on a website promoting a similar or complementary project is certainly ideal. The same goes for the sidebar. Some sign software packages do not allow for simultaneous scheduling of both the main playlist and the sidebar. In this instance, the sidebar is embedded with the main playlist and they play independently.
When this occurs, we have the same situation as the cosmetic website advertising for Jiffy Lube. The possibility of getting the message mixed up is quite high.
Why the Sidebar May Become Extinct
Display sizes and shapes will continue to be more custom. As this happens, sidebars will most likely fall out of the picture. The reason being is that they will become an awkward and very unnecessary part of the display. A custom shaped display will tend to look ridiculous when a sidebar is simply “forced” onto the screen because of tradition and form. They will not be necessary. Larger format displays, interactive installs, and video walls will further negate the necessity of have a sidebar on the display.
Another reason the sidebar may become obsolete is because the display doesn’t need to say the same thing twice. Sidebars often offer redundant information. Sidebars really do put out graphics that say the same thing more than once (did you catch the sarcasm).
How to Properly Use a Sidebar
The digital signage sidebar should act as a complement to the main playlist, not a detraction or–worse still–a contradiction. I’m sure many have witnessed how the side banner zone in a digital display has been “pimped” out for separate ads than the main playlist. This is sometimes a unforgivable blunder. For particular software packages who lack the ability to separately day part the side banner from the rest of the content schedule, you may not be loosing potential clients yet, but you certainly run that risk.
One thing I am certain about, audiences are becoming less and less captive. With OOH audiences on the move, it will become increasingly necessary to simplify the message to suit a rapidly changing audience. Doing so will help clarify the information you are attempting to display. The side banner may not disappear, but we’re certainly liable to see less and less of them as the months and years proceed.