0845 450 3848

Show VAT?

Need a pro forma? Get one online

Search the UK's No.1 Point Of Sale specialists

Delivery from £9.50* FREE on orders over £150*

Next Day Delivery when you order by 5pm

Lowest Price Guarantee

How to create digital signage content

How to create digital signage content

How to create digital signage content with our top digital display board ideas

In our previous article, we discussed how digital advertising screens have proven to be more effective than printed media. In this section, we explore how different types of display have different effects, and what kinds of messages and content businesses may wish to create in order to capitalise on this display method. We also explain the three main types of display location and how location has an impact on display success. Finally, we will explain why digital advertising is important, the limitations of digital advertising, and how these limitations can be outweighed by the benefits.

What is digital signage?

Digital signage is a form of poster display that uses technology instead of traditional printed media. Usually this type of signage uses LCD or LED technology to display high definition images, videos and presentations. They are often used in stadiums and corporate buildings to display branding messages, but in-store digital signage is also great for advertising in retail stores, hotels and restaurants.

Seeing is shopping: What to display on digital signs

When designing messages to be displayed on a digital sign board, retailers need to consider the task at hand for their customers, and tailor the messages they display so that they are relevant. When a customer relates to an advertisement, it feels more personal to them and this will positively influence their ability to recall the advertisement at a later date.

‘Shoppers are most responsive to messages that relate to the task at hand’- R. Burke (2009)

In one analysis, it was reported that ‘shoppers are most responsive to messages that relate to the task at hand and their current need state’ [1].

So, for example, in a food court location, this advice suggests that advertisers ought to show graphics of delicious food or of people eating. Alternatively, a clothing retailer may wish to display images and video which shows their target market actively participating in clothes shopping.

This is in contrast to displays which might only show heavy branding with logos and irrelevant images. Additionally, adapting the content to the theme and decor of your business can enhance the atmosphere, creating a more positive customer experience.

One important benefit of digital displays is that retailers can easily change their promotional messages whenever required, or even set messages to play on a timed loop. Experts suggest adapting your advertising to suit to suit the different shopper demographics present at different times of day and, with digital displays, this couldn't be more easy. For example, ‘price-sensitive seniors may be shopping on a Tuesday morning, while the 4 to 6 pm dinner rush is made up of hurried shoppers, more focused on meals and convenience’ [2]. Therefore, show different promotions on your display boards at different times, to ensure your messages are reaching their target groups.

Digital display board ideas

Digital display board ideas 1: family pictured on an outdoor digital screen

Studies have found that, in comparison to images, video content helps to mentally transport customers into the experience.

Roggeveen explains that increased emotional connection created by video content actually reduces price sensitivity in customers and enhances their consumption of more hedonic options [3].

Digital display board ideas 2: posters advertising vegan menu options

It was also found that messages which present informative, price-promotional content are likely to increase sales, whereas using uninformative content with no pricing can actually decrease sales.

Avoid this by ensuring that content features informative value, as this element is crucial to convert viewers into buyers.

Digital display board ideas 3: example of what to display on digital signs with a mobile phone ad in a waiting area

Ensure that content is high quality, colourful, and brand-appropriate. Keep video under 15 seconds long or risk losing your customers' attention.

Conversely, while moving images and bright colours are attractive, ensure that content is not so fast paced as to be disorienting and confusing, as this will result in negative emotions and avoidance behaviour.

Location matters: Where to use digital display boards

Bauer et al. note that, when planning digital advertising campaigns, ‘location is more important than content’ [4]. This alludes to their findings that DS is noticed more often when placed in an unconventional location. They found that in a city centre surrounded by lots of adverts, passersby would often ignore a digital sign, whereas they would pay attention when the same ad was displayed in a university. This relates to our earlier point regarding ‘display blindness’, and strengthens the argument against overwhelming customers with too much signage.

Interestingly, the type of store you are displaying signs and posters in can affect their effectiveness. Roggeveen also found that in-store digital advertising can have a positive effect on sales in large stores and hypermarkets, but can conversely have a negative effect on sales in small businesses [5].

Understand the difference between the three main types of display location below, and which is the most effective for your purpose. You can then cater your choice of display to the different areas.

Point of Transit (POT)
Digital touchscreen placed at the bottom of an escalator

Customers pass by POT, such as in corridors or on escalators where they may be open to influence.

Point of Wait (POW)
Waiting area with chairs and a digital screen

POW include tills, queues, tables and waiting rooms, where signage could entertain and distract.

Point of Sale (POS)
Shop floor with clothes rail

POS refers to the location of retail transactions. A POS could include a POW and/or a POT.

Although studies show that DS used at POW receives more attention than at POT, and can increase sales (Bauer p.11), digital posters at a point of transit has a very useful purpose. At a POT where a customer is travelling through, they are open to influence over their next steps. Here, digital display boards can inspire the customer to check out certain items or sections, increasing footfall while advising them of the price and location.

At a point of wait, such as in a queue or waiting for completion of a service, ambient or entertaining messages can be used to help keep the customer in a positive and relaxed emotional state, distracting them from their wait.

Many studies have demonstrated a clear reduction in perceived wait times when a point of wait was equipped with a digital display. Garaus and Wagner even found that digital signage could create ‘favourable waiting experiences’ [6]. This effect was also reported in the 2015 Nielsen study into digital billboards, which claimed perceived wait times were reduced by 35% when digital signage was used [6].

"The presence of a digital signage system reduced the perceived wait time while also creating favourable waiting experiences"- Bauer et. al (2016)

What are the disadvantages of in-store digital advertising?

Too many digital display boards can make customers "switch off" and cause them to feel negative emotions. In a 2015 review of in-store experiments, Roggeveen et al. found that, while digital displays had a positive impact on sales and approach behaviours, it could potentially have a negative impact on customer attitudes [7].

When surveyed, shoppers predicted that they would dislike a shopping experience that used digital posters, and afterwards did rate their experience shopping in smaller stores with digital screens as being more negative. The study reported that, while the use of digital displays in hypermarkets increased sales by up to a whopping 17%, using the signage in small stores actually decreased sales.

The good news is that the negative effect on sales was no longer observed in a follow up study 6 months later, although the positive influence on spending remained. This suggests customers no longer felt negatively about the signs once they had become used to them, but were still under their influence.

Purchasing and installing digital displays does require a considerable level of expenditure at the start. As we've seen, however, the return on that investment can be very significant over the lifespan of the signage in terms of costs saved and customers gained, especially when compared to the life cycle of printed signs.

We have also found that these savings can increase if the signage is used wisely, particularly in superstores and food retailers. Following our guidelines on what to display on digital signs, and where to display them, will help to ensure that your digital advertising reaches its full potential.

How to create digital content: 7 key points to take away

  1. Make your digital content relevant to the situation at hand.
  2. Video content is more effective than images at creating a connection with customers.
  3. Connecting with video content reduces your customers' price sensitivity.
  4. Informative content that includes pricing increases sales.
  5. Keep digital video content under 15 seconds long, but not fast paced and confusing.
  6. Use digital displays in unconventional locations to make them more memorable.
  7. Display digital content at points of wait, such as in queuing areas to create positive waiting experiences.


Our research confirms that digital signage is consistently found to have greater rates of observation and recall, as well as being proven to increase footfall and sales. While digital does have its drawbacks in terms of a high initial output and the potential for negative effects on shoppers if used badly, many researchers have demonstrated the ways in which digital displays can have a greater ROI than printed posters.

DS must be used carefully to ensure it creates an adequate ROI, however, when installed in specific areas such as a POW (point of wait), your digital screens can have a significant impact on the mood and behaviour of your customers.

Companies developing digital display board ideas ought to analyse competitors for on-the-ground inspiration, and consider their customers needs carefully in order to create a positive consumer connection via their digital display content.

Traditional print media is certainly not dead yet, and is still the most reliable form of signage for smaller businesses. Digital signage content, however, has now proven its value for engaging customers, as well as increasing footfall and sales. Nonetheless, in our current society in which we are forced to consume hundreds if not thousands of printed and digital messages per day, display blindness is on the up and retailers must make more innovative advertising choices in order to gain attention.

Both digital and printed signage have their strengths and weaknesses, and the best type for purpose depends on what type of retailer you are. Whatever form of POS advertising you use, make sure that you carefully consider your business type, display style and target market, to ensure that you are achieving the best results and ROI.

For large companies who wish to keep up with the competition and are looking to save themselves a significant amount of time and money, investing in their digital signage content will almost certainly be the best advertising choice they can make as they begin to plan their future.

Kira Swales

Kira Swales is a copywriter for UK POS. With over six years’ experience in e-commerce and copywriting, and many years in the retail sector, Kira loves to take a deep dive into topics in order to provide readers with the latest research in point of sale and merchandising. Read more of her in-depth guides on POS in our Knowledge Hub.


1. Burke, ‘Behavioral Effects of Digital Signage’, Journal of Advertising Research (2009), Vol. 49, pp. 180-185.

2. Gwen Morrison, ‘Retail media: a catalyst for shopper marketing’, in Shopper Marketing: How to increase purchase decisions at the point of sale, ed. by Markus Ståhlberg and Ville Maila (London: Kogan Page, 2010), pp. 90-91.

3. Roggeveen et al., ‘Insights from In-store Experiments’, Review of Marketing Research: Shopper Marketing and The Role on In-store Marketing, Vol. 11 (2014), pp. 127-146 https://doi.org/10.1108/S1548-643520140000011005 [accessed 4th September 2019].

4. Bauer et al., ‘The Business with Digital Signage for Advertising’, LNISO (2016), pp. 1-17 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28907-6_19 [accessed 4th September 2019].

5. Roggeveen et al., ‘The Future of Retailing, Journal of Retailing 93 (2017) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2016.12.008 [accessed 4th September 2019].

6. Garaus and Wagner, ‘Let me entertain you – Increasing overall store satisfaction through digital signage in retail waiting areas’, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Vol 47 (2019), pp. 331-338 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2018.12.008 [accessed 4th September 2019].

7. Williams, Nielsen Digital Billboard Study (2015), https://oaaa.org/Portals/0/Webinars/pdf/Nielsen%20OAAA%20Digital%20Billboard%20Study%202015.pdf [accessed 4th September 2019].

8. Roggeveen et al., ‘Do Digital Displays Enhance Sales? Role of Retail Format and Message Content’, Journal of Retailing (2015), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2015.08.001 [accessed 4th September 2019].