Digital signage is becoming more accessible and affordable says Matt Cole, director of marketing and creative at BCS Cloudmedia
It seems that every shop, bar, doctor’s surgery and bus station has a digital sign these days. However, how many of these provide content that is truly compelling – and how many already seem part of the furniture?
Despite the obvious success of digital signage over the past few years, using the technology effectively is often difficult. This is partly because nobody quite knows where responsibility for managing it lies – in the IT department, marketing, facilities management or within individual retail outlets? And few have the right mix of creative flair and technical knowledge to make it work.
However, despite the relative youth of the technology, there have been some disruptive moves in the industry already, helped by the growing take-up of cloud technology.
There have always been some vendors offering digital signage with back-end support, but in general once they hand over the technology, the retailer is on their own. If return on investment is not as fast as expected, the customer is likely to blame digital signage itself. In reality they have nothing to show that is powerful enough to engage the viewer.
Recently the managed service concept had been taken one step further. It’s now possible to pay for digital signage as a service which includes the support of hardware and software plus the creation and management of content. This means that the upfront cost can be dramatically reduced and a much more manageable monthly fee can be put into place
The best providers have their own creative content specialists who work with marketing teams to ensure that content is developed and scheduled to align with business and marketing strategies, brand values and with the correct call-to-action to maximise the return on the investment.
This model also enables a far more integrated approach to campaign measurement. By using a managed services approach, retailers can more effectively assess the success of campaigns and alter content in response to shifting audience demographics without the usual delays.Retailers can avoid the blank screen syndrome – or even worse the continual loop of stale information or images. Instead they can be constantly creating interest with updated news and creative use of visuals, appropriate to target audiences. At the same time, the latest camera technology can be deployed to monitor who is looking at the screen and can even trigger varying content according to age or gender.
They can also take of the latest advances in image quality; ultra-high definition (HD) or 4k video, for example. Using the right combination of technical and creative know-how, they can use this to improve the impact of video walls and split screens without sacrificing image quality.
The use of the cloud always raises questions of security. However, whether data is held on a service provider’s cloud, on the internet, or on a private cloud behind a firewall, it is subject to the same risks as any shared resource.
In reality, security levels may well exceed a customer’s normal standards, going beyond the required accreditation benchmarks, for example, IL3 level.
Next time you walk past a digital sign without taking much notice, think how differently it could be done. By leaving success to chance, users are jeopardising the return on their investments and missing a huge marketing opportunity. There’s still a tendency in the industry to talk only about the hardware and software – but delivering communications successfully to the targeted audience so actions can be made is the real objective.