When someone mentions “digital signage” to you, what comes to mind?
- An airport or train station arrival/departure sign?
- A roadside LED billboard?
- A flat panel display inside or outside a retail store?
Surprisingly, digital signage is far more common than most people think. This is partially due to the ever-increasing sales of commercial flat panel displays and LED signs, but there are other factors. Take for example, businesses and government agencies who are always on the lookout for more effective ways to communicate with their respective audiences. As many organizations have realized, digital signage has the power to connect with viewers wherever they are. It’s why many businesses can justify their digital signage investments solely based on advertising revenue. However, there are many other potential uses, such as the ability to broadcast urgent notifications, instant messages and emergency alerts.
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting public gatherings and face-to-face interactions, we see more and more digital signage screens being paired with cameras and computer vision technology to help manage physical access and enforce sanitary rules. Screens installed at each entry point can deliver a mix of information and act as a virtual “concierge” by restricting access to people wearing face masks and ensuring occupancy levels are enforced.
Digital signage has traditionally been used to reach people who may not be carrying a smartphone or tablet and since there is no need to install apps on a phone, messages and ads can be seen by larger audiences. It’s the perfect solution for public areas or any locations where people can encounter a screen. Messages and alerts are delivered on-demand and anyone within sight of a display will be informed instantly.
Stick with these best practices for a successful digital signage project.
- Install your displays in the right location. Look for locations where people naturally congregate and spend time, such as waiting rooms or near elevators. Busy hallways are also great locations, but be sure to design your content accordingly (use shorter content, less text). Remember that people passing by won’t absorb as much information as captive audiences since they are only within visual range of the display for a very brief time. This is where a good marketing analytics solution can make a difference. These technologies help you gather useful traffic data and dynamically adapt content based on each viewer’s profile. For example, display different ads based on the viewer’s characteristics (ex. male/female, young/old, etc.)
- Make sure there are good sight lines with no obstructions. Don’t install your displays too high or too far as this will make them difficult to read. Here again, you can rely on marketing analytics software to establish the best location for your screens.
- When creating your digital signage content, stick to proven design rules. Use contrasting colors for foreground text and backgrounds. Select a clean and simple font, and make your text big enough that it can be read from a distance. Don’t use too many words or overly fancy fonts because this will impact readability.
- When planning to use digital signage screens with an access control solution, select a product that can monitor multiple entrances and exits. Use good quality cameras and a software that can detect who is wearing a face mask so you comply with local sanitary rules and regulations.
What to look for
If you don’t already use a digital signage software, or if you are comparing products, look for a solution that support automated alerts. These are professional-grade software products that can interrupt scheduled content to display your messages. When the emergency or situation has passed, normal programming is restored. This is commonly referred to as triggered content, and it can be extremely useful. You should always consider digital signage software that supports automated and manual triggers.
Here are some examples:
- An automated fire alarm triggers evacuation messages to appear on digital displays in a building.
- An Amber Alert is flashed across many LED billboards in a city, interrupting all advertising content.
- An evacuation alert is shown across a shopping mall’s digital signage network, informing shoppers about which exit to use.
- A screen at a store entrance detects if someone is wearing a face mask and displays content accordingly.
- These are just a few of the possibilities so think outside the box and be creative!
- Izn someone walks by with a new pair of pants, or a promotion for paintbrushes for someone who picked up a gallon of paint.
- Display ads or other multimedia content to shoppers based on their demographic profile.
You can also use smartphones to change what’s shown on screen. This is perfect for changing items, product descriptions or prices instantly.
Smartphone apps can also trigger useful content on demand. Imagine a store assistant who can call up product information videos and web site content to answer a shopper’s questions. This can be especially valuable for people selling high-end appliances, automobiles and luxury goods.
Digital signage helps people navigate buildings so they can get to their destination as quickly as possible. This can be an entirely passive process, or it can require user intervention. In the passive scenario, maps are shown as part of other content and looped for a given time. This is the playlist method commonly used in most digital signage software.
The interactive scenario requires an action from the audience. In this case, a touch screen would be installed so visitors can call-up a map. Finding a location can be assisted with a text search capability or by manually scrolling and zooming a map.
Text searches work great in retail applications (like, show me all the shoe stores in the mall), but you can also select a store name from a list. Once the visitor has stopped using the touch screen, the scheduled content takes over until someone touches the screen again. This is called wayfinding and it’s the evolution of printed maps and signs.
Relying on digital signage technologies for wayfinding is a major step forward.
- The content (maps, lists, etc.) can updated continuously to reflect the current state of a physical location or venue.
- Previously, maps and signs would be printed and shipped out periodically. They would quickly become obsolete, so they were only accurate for short periods of time.
- Wayfinding maps have entered the 3D age. They can be manipulated by the audience in real-time to present the most useful angle or view. This makes it easier to find what you are looking for.
- Maps can feature information about any destination. They can also include business logos, videos, and instant messages about promotions, hours of operation and other useful information.
General business/call center/ factory signage
These applications can benefit from many digital signage features. With the proper content, digital signage can engage, and empower your staff. This goes further than the obvious motivational content. Digital signage displays can pull data from business databases in real time, and deliver this information in an easily understandable way. This is commonly referred to as “business intelligence” or BI.
Today, BI is used in the C-Suite and on the factory floor. Data is crunched and shown in colorful graphs that are always up to date. Properly designed BI dashboards can instantly alert key stakeholders about any measurement, or statistic:
- Key performance indicators (KPI).
- Statistical goals (calls received/answered, after call wrap-up time, number of outbound dials, talk time, etc.)
- Production benchmarks (overall equipment effectiveness, overall labor effectiveness, scrap/yield rates, failure rates, on-time in full, complaint rates, etc.)
This type of information is extremely important to both management, and staff. It’s why digital signage displays are being deployed in more and more businesses worldwide. With digital signage, information flows through the enterprise so everyone knows how they’re performing.
Companies who rely on digital signage for their BI needs perform better. Employees are more engaged, and there is less turnover.
Optimizing the queue experience
Digital signage has been extremely popular in applications where there may be long wait times. Think of your local DMV office, medical clinic waiting room or busy large format retail store.
These digital signage displays perform multiple functions.
They play general information / weather / news / sports.
They handle queue management, and alert visitors when a representative or cashier is available.
Queue management can positively impact a visitor’s experience by reducing perceived dwell times. After all, time goes by a lot faster when you have something interesting to watch. It’s a wonderful opportunity to provide useful information, and promote your services or products. A good mix of advertising, local news and weather has been proven to improve customer’s perception about a company or organization.
Computer vision technology can deliver useful statistics and live metrics to store managers. They will have up to the minute information so they can make better decisions. By monitoring customer queues and staff response times, computer vision can help you stay on top of changing situations and enhance the customer experience.
- Monitor staff response times and generate statistics.
- Calculate customer browsing time.
- Determine which areas in your store have the least amount of traffic (aka. “dead zones”).
- Improve your merchandising. Move high-margin/high-volume items near checkouts to increase profits.