Blog: Frank Kenna 

Frank Kenna (bio)
President and CEO
The Marlin Company

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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