– Jeff Hastings, DigitalSignageToday.com

Timely, relevant content has always been essential for a successful digital signage display; and the evolving expectations of today’s always-on consumers have taken these requirements to a whole new level. Having dynamic digital displays isn’t always enough. In order to effectively communicate marketing messages, you must first capture the consumer’s attention. As a result, a trend involving the convergence of digital displays and live messaging is gaining momentum. The idea is to get visitors to look at the screen and pay attention your message.

The catalyst for this convergence is the need for digital signage to keep up with changing consumer preferences on information delivery and content. Consumers have become accustomed to the live help and live chats that are available online, and they want the information they receive to be “Live,” “Local” and “Late Breaking.”

Meeting the Challenge

Some of the leading signage player providers have addressed this challenge by offering software that makes it easy for users to create eye-catching displays that combine their marketing messages with live data from public and private sources. Data from RSS and Twitter feeds, live text or stock tickers, for example, can be integrated as elements of an engaging signage display without having to republish presentations or update the primary content.

With the ability to drag and drop networked content feeds into multi-zone or full-screen presentations, even non-technical users can create localized and dynamic signage that includes regularly updated news, price promotions, sports scores, temperature or traffic conditions — all without human intervention.

To add live text messages, text fields can be placed on top of video and image content, allowing them to be updated quickly with up-to-the-minute information. When linked to a database, live text messages can enhance the visitor’s experience in a variety of applications:

  • Wait Lists: Utilize one of the screen zones to display the next person in line for signage applications in restaurants, salons, pharmacies … anywhere customer wait time is involved. Having interesting digital signage in waiting areas also makes the wait time seem shorter.
  • Menu Boards: Instantly promote new menu items and specials of the day.
  • Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems: Update pricing changes, product availability and backorder information.
  • Trade Shows: Welcome visitors, list events for the day and communicate trade show news.
  • Manufacturing Systems: Show factory statistics and the day’s goals and achievements on factory floors.
  • Bank/Financial Displays: Provide current CD/home interest rates and stock market status.

On the Move – In this shoe display, the retailer incorporates constantly changing still shots, video loops and streaming messages across the bottom of the unit. Changes can be quickly and easily provided for special events, times of the day and even Twitter feeds.

As more and more businesses adopt social networking in their marketing strategies to humanize their organization, build customer relationships and expand their reach, it makes sense to combine the technologies that will bring their digital signage to life with real-time data. Called “Social Signage,” the combination leverages the growing popularity of social networking.

How popular? According to a recent comScore report, social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide. In October 2011, 1.2 billion users around the world visited social networking sites, accounting for 82 percent of the world’s population. Nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online around the world is now spent on social networking sites, making social networking the most popular content category in engagement worldwide. And, according to recent data collected by Compete, a combined two-thirds of Twitter users say retailer feeds on the social network have influenced their decision to purchase products or buy from certain retailers.

With Twitter support for their digital signage, businesses can Tweet personalized welcome message for visitors, display Tweets featuring certain hashtags, post coupons and announce exclusive offers that will promptly appear on the signage screen.

Keep ‘Em Longer – Constantly changing streaming video and message content such as this multi-screen installation at a dinner club help keep people interested, involved and coming back. Digital signage applications such as this aren’t expensive to install, manage, maintain. They just require attention to detail and an interest in improving sales and message opportunities.

The good news is even small businesses can now afford to deploy digital signage that will harness the impact of live messaging. Display screens and solid-state players are more affordable than ever before; and, when the players come network-enabled, integration time and the associated costs are dramatically reduced. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is further reduced when the player includes wizard-driven management software that even a novice can use to add live messages to a display.

These turnkey solutions will enable users to increase the timeliness and relevancy of their digital signage while capturing customer attention and adding value to the customer’s experience — a win-win solution for both the business and the customer.

Filed under: In The News

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