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The secret to creating good digital signage content

Educate. Entertain. Engage. Whatever your overall digital signage goal may be, a key part of that success is the quality of the content. Without useful and easy-to-understand content, you will lose your viewer’s interest.

So, where do you get fresh, relevant digital signage content? And, when and how should you present it?

Reduce, reuse, and repurpose. You can use brand assets such as logos, images, original photos, stock photos/footage, and existing marketing materials for signage presentation, along with all the included visual icons, colors, and text fonts. This all enables you to maintain a look and feel that matches previously created marketing materials.

You can reuse more than just images. Repurpose approved tag lines, corporate boilerplate, and marketing copy from sales materials. This transmedia approach of repurposing and adapting existing media elements can significantly reduce digital signage design and production time. Plus, the re-use of such media assets can improve the consistency of brand presentation while reinforcing the brand identity.

PowerPoint or keynote slides offer ease of composition of text and graphic elements. Individual slides can be saved as .jpeg or .pdf files for playout, but because they lack the motion that compels notice, viewing, and action, they should be used sparingly, and as part of a playloop that includes animated messages.

Website content is typically too busy and information intensive for digital signage. However, you can easily repurpose text and graphics from websites to suit digital signage viewing and messaging. The key to using Web content is to distill the messages down to key elements including features, benefits, and a call to action.

Quick tip: Sans-serif fonts and large font sizes work best for at-a-glance reading. Avoid using too many fonts in a single piece of content, and keep colored text at a minimum. Avoid writing in all caps.

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Design relevant content for a specific audience, context, and time of the day. Information is powerful. People make or change their opinions based on it. It offers viewers a reason to shift their opinion or to act. So, providing information that increases the pertinence or the value of a product or service to the viewer is important. Information can include features, benefits, differentiators, value propositions, ways of using a product, pricing, or special offers.

Content must present the benefits inherent in the message to answer this question in the viewer’s mind: “What is in it for me?” By answering this question, a communicator increases the probability of the intended action being taken.

Keep in mind, just because content works well for one audience doesn’t mean it will work well for another.

Take advantage of the fact that dynamic signage enables real-time messaging. Deliver content that most speaks to the target audience at the location and time of day. When developing your content, take into account the age, gender, jobs, level of education, and personal income and wealth of your target audience. For example, a store’s antacid advertisement could carry a different message to an older, health-conscientious consumer than to a young consumer shopping for junk food.

Again, it comes back to delivering the right message at the right place and at the right time.

Quick tip: Consider where your audience will be viewing the signage – how close will they be to the sign? How long do you expect your audience to view the sign? A hallway, for example, may call for a short delay, but a waiting room may call for a longer delay.

Keep it simple. Regardless of where the digital signage is viewed, it should not include paragraphs of text. It should be seen as a communication-at-a-glance display where viewers grab pieces of content at a time.

Quick tip: Keep words few and short; rewrite a few times to make it more concise. Write in phrases rather than full sentences. Use active voice and action verbs.

Consider the message length. Dynamic content is most effective when clear, short textual messages are presented with graphics and motion. The best spots present basic information and ask for action in a succinct and direct manner. A story is best told in 10–15 seconds with three-second messages being combined to form a complete spot. For example, a 10-second game promotion spot would include text of “our team vs. their team,” “the game date,” and “buy tickets” messaging transitioning with the graphics of a team logo, player, or uniform.

The duration (i.e., length) of a spot should be in context of the viewing time and the overall playloop time. As guidelines, a complete spot should be viewed easily during a single viewing episode, with multiple spots typically being presented in the same viewing episode. As with other media, digital signage spots become stale after having been viewed seven times. Fortunately, a digital signage spot can be recomposed in variations of the same message with minimal effort, offering a refreshed delivery of the same message.

Quick tip: To create a fresh, non-pattern feel, mix the duration times from screen to screen in a set. Change up your layouts so viewers notice a change.

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Keep the content fresh. Messages can typically be viewed between two and seven times; after that, they’re commonly disregarded by viewers. By including multiple playout zones on a display, each with different playloops or data feed messages, the network operator is able to allow content spots to run for a longer “flight” period.

Playloops: A playloop comprises a number of individual content spots that play out one after the other. The length of the playloop coincides with the viewer’s ability to see the messages. If, for example, the average waiting time in a medical office is 20 minutes, the playloop would include 20 minutes of messages. If someone takes an elevator many times in a day or week, the playloop would coincide with his or her total visit time.

Dayparts: These use playloops of content spots that are most relevant to the time of day. For instance, the playloop shown at concession stands during the final period of a game may show taxi or public transit promotions and food that would need to be discarded if not sold. Playloops in the workplace should get employees working on the business of the company on Monday and urge completing work as the week ends.

Quick tip: Consider where your audience will be viewing the signage – how close will they be to the sign? How long do you expect your audience to view the sign? A hallway, for example, may call for a short delay, but a waiting room may call for a longer delay.

Need help planning your next digital signage solution? Black Box offers digital signage products that range from plug-and-play to highly scalable, sophisticated solutions. If you’re considering a larger deployment with a fully integrated network solution, enlist the help of a seasoned digital signage professional. Contact a Black Box technical engineer at 877-877-2269, or comment below.

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