Blog: Frank Kenna 

Frank Kenna (bio)
President and CEO
The Marlin Company

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The rule of 3

This is a question we are often asked by our customers.  On one hand, if you change the content too often or have too much in rotation at one time, little learning takes place.  Conversely, if items are left up too long – a very common problem – people will stop paying attention.  And once they do that, retraining them to pay attention can be a long slog.  

So while there are many considerations such as type of message, cycle speed and length of message, how new the concept is, how complex it is and how many frames of content are being displayed simultaneously, there is one primary rule of thumb.  That is the rule of three. This rule is one I often refer to because of its simplicity and basic logic.  And while it was devised decades ago, before DS was invented, the idea applies to 21st century messaging as well as it did back then.

What this rules says is that you want to adjust your digital signage (DS) content so that the average person walking by it will see any particular message at least three times.  

This basic theory was developed by Dr. Herbert Krugman at GE in the 1970s when he was studying the effects of attention and learning of GE's advertising.* He broke the three-exposure rule down to these three basic elements:

The first time a message is seen the viewer thinks, "What is it?" The first response is to try and understand the nature of the content stimulus.

The second time makes the viewer think, "What of it?" and "Ah ha, I've seen this before."  This completes the basic reaction to the message with understanding taking place.

The third exposure becomes the true reminder when the message sinks in.  By then the "sale" has taken place and your message has been understood and "bought" by the viewer.  

Equally as important to the third exposure is that it's also the beginning of disengagement and withdrawal of attention. In other words, it's time to take that piece of content out and replace it with something new.  Once a person has seen a message more than 4-5 times, any further learning comes to a halt, and the piece is just taking up space.

This simple rule of three can be applied to any DS system.  Whatever system you use, just make sure to adjust the content controls so it will stay up long enough to be viewed an average of three times - and not much more.  This will significantly increase the communication, learning and engagement between you and your viewers.  

* Herbert E. Krugman, "Why Three Exposures May be Enough," Journal of Advertising Research, (December, 1972), 11-14.

Posted by: Admin AT 06:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 23 October 2012

In my last two blogs I wrote about what the terms ‘social’ and ‘mobile’ mean within digital signage (DS) industry.  Today I’ll complete the social-mobile-local trilogy by focusing on the local aspects of workplace communication.
To get an idea of what local is and why it’s important, let’s take a step back and look at the reason managers want DS in the first place.  The primary reason that DS is installed is to influence minds and behavior, whether that means selling more soda pop or getting employees to work more safely.  In either case, the idea is to put messages in front of viewers that will get them to pay attention and buy into whatever they’re seeing.

What ‘local’ means today

For advertisers, ‘local’ means increasing the use of proximity-type marketing using techniques such as Bluetooth, geo-fencing and Near Field Communication to get customers engaged with a store, restaurant or product.  While those ideas will eventually matter in the workplace, for now the technology both on the employer and employee side is not there.  However, the concept of local is still very important.

For workplace communicators, local means posting content that matters to the viewer.  A typical problem for enterprise DS installations is that all the content is generated by an HQ location and distributed to all of the company locations.  Without a local manager or administrator being able to post content, these systems often amount to ‘Corporate-TV,’ which local employees soon learn to ignore because they feel there’s nothing in it for them.  So these companies can ironically end up with a multi-million-dollar digital signage system that looks fabulous but has no effectiveness.

This is where local comes in.  To make these systems effective, they must have some relevance and interest to the viewer (employee).  It’s very important that DS admins strategize on what that would mean for their company, and then come up with a regular implementation schedule to do audience targeted content.

Making the message personal

Local content can fall into two broad categories: information pertinent to the location in general or to the company and employees in particular.  Examples of the former are news feeds from the local newspaper or TV station, or an RSS feed from the local sports team.  For the latter, examples could include personnel items such as employee of the month, birthdays, etc.  Or they could be about local company information such as work schedules, production or safety metrics, blood drives and company events.

Managers often look at these local items as secondary or even ‘fluff.’  But ignoring local content will significantly lower readership of the DS, thereby crippling the ability of those same managers to get employees to read the corporate info—which was their reason for installing digital signage in the first place.
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