Two of the most frequent questions we get from our customers are:
1. How many minutes should a piece of content run before going to the next one?
2. How many days should I leave it in rotation?
Here are the ways to figure both out. To answer the first question start with the ‘read time.’ Assume the viewer will be right in front of the display when the piece starts running, then calculate how long it will take to read. Read it out loud a couple of times to estimate this. Then you have to add some time because viewers will not usually be just standing there; they’re walking by or not paying attention, starting to read the piece after it’s been up for a while. So for short pieces with a read time of less than 30 seconds, add a minute. For longer pieces add more time, say an extra 2 minutes for a one-minute piece. By the way, you shouldn’t post pieces with a read time of more than one minute. From our research (we produce thousands of pieces of workplace content every year), the ideal read time is no longer than 12 to 15 seconds.
An alternative approach is to use ‘billboard’ timing, which means to leave the piece up for a relatively long time, say 10 minutes. Doing this ensures that everyone walking by during that interval will see it and be able to read the whole thing. I like this one best for the hallway locations since most viewers are walking by and won’t read more than one piece anyway. And it prevents the chance that a viewer will start reading when there’s only 5 seconds left and won’t be able to finish, which gets frustrating. For areas where the viewers are seated, like a cafeteria, the read-time method is better.
To answer the second question, you want to leave the piece up for enough time for your average viewer to see it at least 4 times. It has long been established that a person needs to see an ad or piece of content 4-5 times for maximum learning (see previous blog for the science). Example: You’ve got your display mounted near the main restrooms. The average person will visit about 4 times per day. The quantity of content in rotation dictates how likely a person is to see it on any given visit. While there are precise ways to calculate this on a spreadsheet, you can get close by estimating. For example, let’s say you’re using billboard timing and running 4 pieces of content. That means that, with 4 restroom trips a day, any given person will see each piece once that day. Therefore you want to leave each piece in rotation at least 4 days to get the maximum retention.
If you don’t want to bother with all the calculations above, my down-and-dirty recommendation is to time each piece for 10 minutes, and leave it in rotation for a week. If you have 5 or more pieces in rotation, leave them up for 2 weeks. And of course be sure to schedule time-specific pieces, e.g., ‘Happy 4th of July,’ to expire on a timely basis. Nothing makes digital signage look older than content that’s obviously expired.