For some people, digital signage is just showing digital content on a screen; for others, it is a complex system that can engage modern customers and offer them an amazing shopping experience. A successful digital signage campaign involves the work of several professionals and the coexistence of different systems. It’s like turning a car on: someone thinks it’s just pushing a button, others see the whole electric, mechanic and thermodynamic processes behind that simple action.
1. The bigger picture
When creating a digital signage campaign the most important requirement is answering the following simple question: what do I want to achieve?
It might look a bit over simplistic or naive, but this is actually a crucial point. Dedicating some effort on this now can help saving a lot of time and avoid doing expensive mistakes later on. An appropriate answer to this question is able to set a target and a KPI at the same time (two big birds with one stone).
A possible answer is “to attract more people”, which could be measured by either walk-ins or audience size.
Another common target is “to engage people more”. A Good KPI in this case is the dwell time distribution.
Or perhaps one could be interested in “knowing more about the customers”. In this case, you need to collect and analyse data. A good KPI to start with is the number of customer for whom you get the data (or the amount of data). Later on, it is better to go deeper and consider the insights that one gets from the data.
When it comes to data, I believe that quantity is important, but quality is vital.
There is not a day on the web when I don’t read some version of “Content is King”. I believe that this is true also for digital signage. However, “content” should be regarded in a broader sense. Content is what you offer to your customer: content is an amazing video as well as the possibility to interact, content is a stunning installation as well as a real time personalisation.
In step 1 you have set a clear target, now you have to decide how to get there. This is not about the technical details of the implementation, rather about the content that the digital signage campaign should deliver. In this step, you need to follow a fully customer-centric approach and define the use cases in details.
You need to know your customer and match that information with the goal that has been set.
For example, are you trying to attract more people? Are your customers tech-savvy? Then a good solution could be using QR code overlay.
If instead one is focusing on engaging different segments of customers, the best solution could be using face detection mechanisms, to make targeted advertising, along with touch screen technology.
After having set the bigger picture and the content, the digital signage campaign should have a definite look and it is now time to make it become real. This is done primarily by deciding which software to use to create, deploy and manage the campaign.
By defining the content (in step 2) you have already picked some features that the software should have (e.g. QR code or face-detection mechanism). However that is not the whole story, in fact it is only the customer-centric one. Now you need to consider also the company-centric view:
- How many locations can the software handle? Does it scale?
- Is the software cloud-based? Does it allow remote control?
- How difficult is it to setup each location? Is the software intuitive and easy to use?
- How flexible the software is? Does it allow to develop ad hoc solutions? At which cost?
In addition, do not forget to consider three more things:
Reliability (your locations should be running for many hours every day), support and deployment (how to setup and update each location).
If you followed the previous steps carefully, you should now be able to put down in a list all of the requirements for your campaign. With all of the requisites at hand, you only need to choose a compatible hardware, this refers both to the screens where to offer the content and to the mini-pcs (or player) where to run the software. Today we are facing the flourishing of a variety of choices. There are low cost players, ARM based players, players embedded into the screens…
Also, do not forget to consider the accessories needed to install the hardware, such as the VESA support for the mini-pc. I suggest to double check compatibility, for the connections, for the mini-pc and for other components that might be part of your solutions (e.g. a webcam).
5. Reshuffle and finalise
At this point, you have developed a complete picture about the digital signage campaign. It is now time to abandon the serial, step-by-step approach and look at the campaign as a whole. All of the pieces are connected to each other: some hardware configuration can inspire you new ways to engage with the customer (e.g. video-wall), or some software features can have an impact in the global strategy (e.g. data collection and analysis). This is why I suggest that, after the first loop, it is wiser to start over again by considering all of the four points at the same time (strategy, content, software and hardware).
It is during this stage that the financial part should also be addressed. “Cheap” and “expensive” are forbidden words until one quantifies the value of achieving the target. Calculating the return of the investment (ROI) is the right approach here, and don’t forget to include the cost you may save on traditional advertising.
Have your say
This is just a short and very incomplete overview of a complex system. My goal is to help in identifying the key players and to suggest a path to follow to plan and create a successful digital signage campaign. Which part do you think is the most relevant one? In your activity, do you follow a different approach? Feel free to comment below!