So many digital signage installations are either a “train wreck” today or are going “off the rails” on their path into the ditch. Many are under-performing.
We’ve all seen them… dark displays or error messages showing, or stale, boring or poor content.. In each case, under-achievement of the intended return on investment and little chance of system build-out through further investment.
Failure starts to show at the planning stage and rears its head especially during operations.
The effect of that the initial investment does not provide the intended return, and ongoing investment to system build-out. Without build-out, the benefits of broader multi-location installation and the amortization of the costs of volume purchasing, content and operations are not realized.
The causes are typically one or more of the following:
Inadequate planning lies in the short-sightedness related to clearly defining business goals and the content approach that is central to achieving these through the technology. The initiative will fail unless objectives are defined along with the content to achieve these, following by sourcing and installing the technology suited to presenting the content that achieve the goals.
Organizational issues can be blamed when one part of the organization (such as facilities operations or Information Technologies) puts the digital signage in place, while another (such as visitor relations, marketing or human resources) is expected to use and operate the system to generate return on the investment. The lack of investment understanding, budgeting, suitable personnel or skills, or over-arching executive validation causes the initiative to hobble along, being "good enough” and never fulfilling the full promise of the media.. or simply stagnating. The fault in this case is insufficient planning.
Revenue sourcing is sometimes expected from advertising as endemic or third party organization are invited or expected to pay for message display. Without focusing on activating this revenue, it simply does not occur and this source of funding is not realized. The fault is in the planning.
System outage: Digital signage is a technology system of media ingest, management and display, with the inherent needs of system performance monitoring and remedy as needed. The approach to making “help” happen is part of planning as are the establishment of training and human resourcing needs.
Poor content is the not-so-silent killer of digital signage. Stale or poor content are the cause of under-performance of most systems that are currently operating. It is the content that ultimately achieves the results once the technology is in place and operational.
No Analytics: The lack of quantified impact data means that value is unknown, and more important, that there is no baseline for performance improvement. In both cases, further investment has no validation. Information about impact does not need to be expensive or time-consuming to gather, and offer the strong basis for network health improvement. The free, 21-page paper “Digital Place-based Media ROI Analytics - Defining Value. ROI or Die! can lead a network operator through the process of assessment.
Poor planning is again the culprit. Content strategy must consider intended results from the target audience along with the viewing timeframe and context. Content spots then align with the display location and playlist daypart and structure.
The style guide and mechanical specifications of content for use by others who are submitting their messaging for display can help assure that content is suitable for display and of high quality.
The “Content Scoring Framework” paper will help improve content:
It is a “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail” world where digital signage is concerned.
All circumstances related to network failure can be overcome through suitable front-end planning, while operational problems, extra-ordinary operating cost and under-performance can be addressed in a network review process. Independent, experienced expertise can be extremely valuable.
Papers referenced in this article are available for free download from http://www.lylebunn.com/Pages/aboutus.aspx to help in the assessment and improvement of network planning, content. Download:
• Content Scoring Framework
• Digital Place-based Media ROI Analytics - Defining Value. ROI or Die!
• Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail
• Getting Higher Value from Existing Digital Signage Networks
Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon) is an analyst, advisor and educator in the Digital place-based and enterprise media sectors. He has assisted hundreds of firms to define and implement their media programs and was named as one of the “11 Most Influential People” in place-based media by DigitalSignageToday.com.