Obstacle #6: Creative Budgeting
Talking money is like talking politics: everyone has an opinion, and no one is right. The question of budget must therefore be addressed both early in the development process, and regularly throughout the lifecycle of a project, for content carries a cost not only to create, but to maintain. The viewing frequency, and relationship it bears with its physical context give it a limited shelf-life, and while you would ideally have a surplus of content from which to chose, and/or assets with an automated feature, the project will, in fact, require ongoing programming, editing and management. True, most CMS (content management systems) now support advance scheduling, but someone still needs to oversee that task. The success or failure of a digital signage project therefore will depend on the project owners ability to accurately and creatively manage the fixed initial costs and variable ongoing costs to collect, license, and schedule content assets all powered by the most costly line item: human capital.
Obstacle #7: Stretching the Dollars
Were money not an obstacle, we would all simply hire ABC or Lucasfilm to build out our playlists, and keep them fresh. But money is an obstacle. Budgetary constraints come into play for everyone at some point. That is why I am a proponent of building playlists with an eye to maximizing value, as opposed to maxing-out one’s resources. This can be done in a variety of ways, including investing up-front in custom templates; reusing assets that your company originally used elsewhere; leveraging user-generated, and data-driven content; strategically recycling content; and outsourcing parts of your playlist to licensed feeds or competitively priced creative agencies.
Obstacle #8: CMS and Hardware
This subject, once broached, easily leads the ensuing discussion down the proverbial rabbit hole, but my goal is simply to highlight a few of the cascading effects of your choice in CMS, and hardware. With respect to CMS, some solutions are new, and less refined due either to their time on the market, or target simplicity, and for content managers posting only simple messages, they present an appropriate solution. However, with simplicity come limitations, and complex networks may feel the lack of editing and programming options, readymade app stores, KPIs, feeds, triggers, localization, advertising market platform integration, weighted playlists and logic playback configuration. They may also feel limited by the breath of file-type options, API, security settings, reliability, remote management features, emergency messaging capabilities, etc. If so, there are other more established, robust CMS to consider.
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The playback quality of the hardware you choose is also something to consider carefully, as it has a profound impact of viewers’ visual engagement with your message. And finally, careful thought must be put into your connectivity strategy. Will you connect your system via Wi-Fi for which you pay with a monthly bill, or through a mobile provider that you pay by the gigabyte – a costly proposition if your playlist includes large video files or frequent content updates. There is no right answer, just the solution that best fits your content strategy.
Obstacle #9: Optimization
The effectiveness of your content is in direct measure to the quality of your messaging, so even the most thoughtfully designed content campaign can benefit from regular, controlled tests of its effectiveness. A/B testing or before and after comparisons are the easiest, most affordable kind of assessment, and can bring to light adjustments likely to increase the ROI (return on investment) of the campaign at hand. For example, how did one store do vs. the other without the promotion running or using the same content in two different locations with a slight change to the CTA? Audience engagement and reaction are surprisingly difficult to anticipate; that which is relevant, which resonates with viewers, and speaks to them in “their language” changes all the time, so if effectiveness is your end, self-assessment is your means.
Obstacle #10: Creating Value
What objective do you aim to meet by means of your digital signage network? From your viewers’ point of view, a digital sign is not much different from a traditional printed sign. Both boil down to a message on a wall, and therein lies their value for audience and advertiser alike. Why then is so much attention and money diverted to the frame and mounting instead of the message? Mounts, frames, and hardware are inherently depreciating assets. It is the quality of your content strategy and execution that will make your 2-million dollar investment in digital signage worth 1 million, or 5. Funneling every piece of content through your network objective (ROO/ROI) is therefore the aim to which you should direct your primary energy as a network operator on day one and year five.
Authors Steve Glancey and Bryan Meszaros will lead the webinar discussion entitled, “Overcoming Content Challenges” when the DigitalSignageConnection.com presents its 30-minute webinar on Thursday, October 19 from 2:00-2:30pm EDT. Attendance for this 30-minute webinar is free, but registration is required. Register Here!