Blog: David Little 
David Little (bio)
Director of Marketing
Keywest Technology
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Keeping digital signage content interesting and up-to-date has never been easier thanks to an explosion in the availability of RSS feeds.

Turn on your favorite cable news channel, and what do you see at the bottom of the screen? How about over on the business channel you like to watch? What's being shown at the bottom of the screen of many sports and weather channels? See any similarities?

Did you conjure up in your mind the ticker that crawls across the bottom of the screen, displaying everything from top news headlines to stock movements, sports scores to even weather conditions? Firsthand experience as a TV viewer with these sorts of tickers should make clear how up-to-the-moment information can motivate viewers to focus their attention on the screen.

If these sorts of crawls are successful in grabbing and holding the public's attention on television, have you ever asked yourself why they shouldn't be equally as effective on a digital sign? There's little reason to think otherwise. But many digital signage content creators don't even consider such news tickers because they assume the expense of the data required to feed the onscreen info crawls will be prohibitively expensive.

To be sure data subscriptions exist, and they vary in price. But data subscriptions aren't the only way to feed fresh news headlines, stock quotes and other changing information to a digital signage screen. There are sources of free content that can feed digital signs a stream of fresh, up-to-the-minute content that will grab and hold the attention of an audience. These sources are available online in the form of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds that offer something for just about everyone.

The diversity of the info available via RSS feeds is critical because there are so many uses for digital signs. What might attract the attention of a digital signage viewer in a car dealership service department waiting area could be entirely different from what grabs the attention of those waiting in the reception area of an investment advisor or dentist. Fortunately, with enough online investigation it's possible to find RSS feed sources on topics that make sense for both people with shared, yet highly defined interests as well as mass audiences.

For those who are a little uncertain about what an RSS feed is, think of it as a stream of headlines, info bits, data or conditions that is regularly updated and syndicated by online publishers. RSS source feeds literally are as diverse as the Internet, and it would be impossible to list them all. But to illustrate the diversity of content available via RSS feeds, consider such feeds are available from the NASDAQ stock exchange, Rotten Tomatoes movie review site, the BBC, the New York Times and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Topics range widely from science and culture, to financial and gardening.

For digital signage content producers looking to tap into this rich source of freshly updated information all that's needed is a digital signage system with RSS reader functionality that can take incoming RSS feeds and present them on the screen as a text crawl.

Finding RSS feeds to consider is as easy as doing a Google search for "most popular RSS feeds" and spending sometime honing in on those that make the most sense for your audience. To get you started, I've included a few URLs with lists of RSS sites: The Free Dictionary, Feeds for All and RSS Feed Folder. Good luck with your search.
Posted by: David Little AT 03:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, 10 February 2012
Enhancing digital signage content may be as simple as tapping the power of social media.

Here is a remarkable statistic published online by USA Today's Technology Live website in October 2010. As of that date, there were 6.8 billion people in the world, 1.96 billion Internet users and 517 million Facebook users.

As Byron Acohido, author of the piece noted: "Put another way: about 7 percent of the world's humans are on Facebook." Just over a year later, Facebook notes on its statistics page that there are now 800 million active users of the social media network.

How many of those Facebook users carrying smartphones will visit somewhere that relies on a digital sign? One can only imagine the number for a particular venue. But consider this: Facebook's statistics page says there are 350 million users who actively interact with Facebook via their smartphones. So it's a pretty safe bet that the closer the demographics of the audience for a digital sign match those of typical mobile Facebook users, the more likely there's a vast opportunity to be realized.

The likely proximity of a smartphone to a digital sign creates an important opportunity for anyone communicating via a digital sign who possesses a bit of an imagination and a willingness to experiment. Consider a noisy environment, such as a popular bar, dance club or even certain restaurants. Could designating on-screen real estate of a digital sign to a special Facebook page, give a business owner a way to help patrons connect with one another on screen and in so doing cut through the noise, attract the attention of customers and promote goods or services in other zones on the sign?

Leveraging social media in this way could be as simple as giving patrons a virtual bulletin board on which to post vetted observations and pictures or as complex as giving them a way to play bar games, like trivia, with one another. Imagination, budget and creativity would seem to be the only limitations.

The good news for small businesses looking to take advantage of this opportunity is many are already quite familiar and fluent with Facebook. According to the quarterly Merchant Confidence Index released in February 2011 by MerchantCircle, 70 percent of local merchants are using Facebook for marketing -up from 50 percent the preceding year. In fact, MerchantCircle, among largest social network of local business owners in the United States with more than 1.6 million members, found Facebook has passed Google as the most widely used marketing method for local merchants.

In addition to its wide use by local merchants, the rapid growth Facebook saw over the past year saw among merchants is positive. It appears to indicate local merchants have proven themselves to be quite willing to explore the potential of this social network. Thus taking the next step to integrate a Facebook page as digital signage content doesn't seem to be too far of a stretch for merchants with a knack for the platform.

It's also important to note that Facebook isn't the only social media platform that can be leveraged for digital signage content. Twitter, too, easily fits into the same mold as a convenient way to let patrons publicly interact with one another on a digital sign via their smartphones. Like Facebook, Twitter also is familiar to local merchants. The Merchant Confidence Index found about 40 percent currently use the platform, which is up from 32 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.

As business owners, outside creative agencies and internal graphics departments consider what digital signage content to present to the public, they would do well to remember that adding engaging, attention-grabbing element to their digital sign may be no further away than a Facebook page or Twitter account.
Posted by: David Little AT 01:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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