How to create digital signage content
How to create digital content with our digital display board ideas
In our previous article, Digital Signage vs Traditional Print, 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 businesses may wish to display 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 are 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" .
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.
Digital display board ideas
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 .
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.
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" . 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 digital displays can have a positive effect on sales in large stores and hypermarkets, but can conversely have a negative effect on sales in small businesses .
Understand the difference between 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)
Customers pass by POT, such as in corridors or on escalators where they may be open to influence.
Point of Wait (POW)
POW include tills, queues, tables and waiting rooms, where signage could entertain and distract.
Point of Sale (POS)
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" . 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 .
"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 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 .
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.
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 may wish to consult our references for more research on the type of content they need to be producing in order to create the positive consumer connection we have outlined.
Traditional print media is certainly not dead yet, and is still the most reliable form of signage for smaller businesses. Digital 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, digital signage will almost certainly be the best advertising investment they can make as they begin to plan their future.« Previous
1. Burke, ‘Behavioral Effects of Digital Signage’, Journal of Advertising Research (2009), Vol. 49, pp. 180-185.
2. 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].
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