Feeding the Beast

You’ve invested in a pricey digital signage program, so now what?
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Posted March 30, 2015

In the digital signage realm, the line between hardware and content providers is blurring.

I observed this last month at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas, which has evolved beyond a platform for exhibiting the latest bells and whistles in signage hardware. Although, those high-tech advances were on full display, including an array of dazzling 4K-resolution screens (and one huge, awesome 8K screen) that were sure to impress even the most jaded visual merchandiser.

However, for retail marketers – and now designers – content is king. Increasingly, signage serves as a content delivery device to attract, inform, motivate, engage and ultimately sell to the customer. More suppliers are offering turnkey digital media solutions.

I’ve fled more than a few urban flagship stores, head pounding and retinas burning from the visual onslaught of flashing screens at every turn. And, while I understand the business imperative to constantly engage the shopper, greater consideration must be given to the content being projected. Sometimes, less really is more.

That said, you’ve got to “feed the beast” as those of us in the content creation business (or media) say. And that beast is ravenous.

I was recently in the shoe department of a large retailer where a short film loop of a footwear fashion show was playing. It would’ve been watchable if it were interspersed with an in-store promotion or perhaps some tips for cleaning suede shoes, but after 10 minutes, the repetition grew old and annoying – like being stuck in Las Vegas traffic with one of those taxi TVs blaring ads for Blue Man Group’s latest show.

And yet, savvy retailers are reaping the rewards of carefully curated, targeted content. Case in point: Cedar Fair (Sandusky, Ohio). Matt Shafer, the amusement park operator’s vp, strategic alliances, demonstrated at DSE how his company has leveraged dynamic digital media and positive ROI from last year’s deployment of 358 screens across its 11 amusement parks. Screens were strategically placed in high-demand ride queues and restaurants to entertain and inform guests while they wait.

The screens broadcast FunTV, a Cedar Fair in-house production, offering content advertising park attractions and promotions, with music, games, weather reports, trivia and videos. Shafer’s team also partnered with a media company to generate incremental advertising revenue for the in-demand audience.

The key to the deployment’s success: “You have to have [continuous] relevant content,” Shafer said. “[It’s all about] engaging, assisting and delighting the guests.”

Ultimately, Cedar Fair’s beast won’t go hungry – and neither should yours.