Originally, the term “digital signage” described a totally passive activity. Static content was pushed to displays using basic content management software (CMS) and audiences were exposed to nothing more than a PowerPoint slide deck.
Since then, content and CMS products have evolved. Today’s digital signage serves a constant mix of static, animated and video content… But it’s still a passive activity.
Marketers and digital signage network operators have been looking for a better way to engage viewers, and the answer is interactive.
Audience engagement is key
The introduction of touch enabled displays has created a whole new segment. It’s called, interactive digital signage.
Touchscreens mimic a technology most people carry in their pockets… Smartphones. So, it’s only natural that digital signage evolved to deliver content that behaves in a familiar way.
- People who interact with digital signage retain more information than those who are presented a stream of static content. The act of touching the display to make a selection, or a choice engages the viewer like nothing else. It’s the point where the viewer becomes a participant.
- Static digital content is somewhat limited by its nature. It does the job for simple advertisements and messages, but interactive digital signage does much more.Here are some examples…
- Your bank’s ATM screen is a form of interactive digital signage, and many take advantage of these screens to improve customer service. Yesterday’s old monochrome displays are replaced with full-color, high resolution screens that can readily show video and other attention-grabbing content. This content acts as a constant reminder, informing passers-by of various promotions and programs, until someone touches the screen to begin a transaction.
- Shopping mall operators are replacing static, backlit floor plans with interactive touchscreens. This is the future of wayfinding, where audiences can browse store directories and receive detailed instructions. By using this technique, visitors can find the quickest route to their destination. Interactive wayfinding displays can perform many other duties. You can show promotions, advertise new stores, and suggest alternative destinations.
- Interactive wayfinding isn’t restricted to shopping malls. Any large building or venue owner can benefit from interactive wayfinding displays. In fact, we see more and more touchscreens pop-up in airports and train stations, hospitals, government offices, hotels, and many other locations.
- Trade show and fair operators are becoming big wayfinding users as shows get larger and expand to multiple sites. It’s important to inform trade show attendees of booth locations as they will often change from year to year. There are new exhibitors signing up and previous exhibitors who require larger spaces. It’s why trade show signage must be interactive, up to date and informative.
- Interactive digital signage is now the cornerstone of self-help applications. For example, car dealerships deploy interactive tablets so customers can browse a vehicle’s features and look up accessories. Retail stores use similar techniques to assist customers shopping for appliances, and other big-ticket items.
Today’s interactive digital signage is the “silent salesperson”
Traditional, non-interactive digital signage is a great promotional tool, but you must use interactive signage to experience it’s true potential.
Even the best staffed stores benefit from interactive digital signage. There’s always a time when a customer needs assistance, and there’s no one in sight. Strategically positioned touchscreens can bring instant answers to most customer inquiries, even when there are no salespeople around.
- Displays equipped with a bar code scanners provide accurate price information right at the point of decision.
- Products that have complex features or that require technical expertise benefit from interactive digital signage. Product categories like body care, electronics, fitness equipment furniture, major appliances, power tools and many others all gain from quick and easy access to useful and timely information.
- Self-check-out systems rely on interactive digital signage features to keep shoppers informed and improve check-out efficiency. Promotions, credit policies and other store announcements are automatically pushed to check-out screens, helping store staff provide better service.
Everyone benefits from interactive digital signage, from big-ticket items to luxury goods retailers.
With interactive digital signage, customers and staff members can access any type of information at the point of decision. It’s an effective and proven technology that increases sales, enhances customer experiences and improves the bottom line.
Helping people when no one’s around
Many locations are either remote or difficult to navigate, like underground parking garages which can sometimes be confusing for first time visitors. This is another example where interactive digital signage can assist by providing the means to easily retrace your steps or find your vehicle in an unfamiliar environment. Displays can feature QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone to retrieve a digital map, or receive a message with information about the current parking level and closest exits.
Hotels and travel destinations also benefit from interactive digital signage. Content can be provided in multiple languages that guests can select via an on-screen menu or by pointing to easily recognizable symbols. Hotel staff may not always be able to converse in the guest’s native language, so having an interactive display installed in a lobby or other common area can greatly enhance a guest’s experience. It helps bridge cultural and language gaps, and promotes better service.
It’s not uncommon to find these interactive information displays in airports, train stations, cruise ships and transportation hubs. They provide a very useful service and help free up staff so they can perform other important tasks.
Interactive digital signage displays come in various types, shapes and sizes. You can find them mounted in freestanding units, either in vertical or horizontal formats. Some interactive display units are installed lower and at an angle, so they are wheelchair accessible. The optimal mounting location is determined by the intended use and target audience. Units designed for temporary deployment, such as trade shows, are usually built for easy transport and enhanced connectivity.
Advances in surface technologies have resulted in antimicrobial coatings and other health and safety features that promote a healthier environment. Touchscreen display manufacturers now offer these options on many products used for interactive digital signage. This is increasingly important for devices installed in public areas.
Interactive digital signage can also use a range of technologies that don’t require touchscreens. These are based on motion sensors like Microsoft’s Kinect and similar devices that let digital signage respond to gestures instead of touch. Gesture recognition has already been used in retail and other applications that benefit from interactivity.
These solutions are becoming very popular since there are less health risks associated with touching a screen’s surface.
Gesture recognition also has a certain novelty factor, which has been exploited for advertising and promotional experiences. Think of interactive billboards and other similar installations in public spaces which grab viewer’s attention. These are often portable, or pop-up installations that are moved to new locations in order to promote product launches, movies and other high-profile events.
Interactive digital signage is always there for you, and always ready to help. It’s the silent partner who fulfills its mandate, twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. It’s a technology that is based on traditional digital signage, with the added benefit of user interaction. Interactive digital signage turns spectators into participants, resulting in a better and more engaging experience.