Tel: 905–690–4709 dk@tfwm.com - Darryl Kirkland, Publisher

Signage of the Times

One of the most important factors for a successful digital signage program is having content created specifically to meet your expectations and objectives. Displaying content that is not focused on your objective will not yield the results you seek.

Content Objective—
Using Digital Signage to Engage with your Community

Just as brochures or commercials are created to reach specific audiences, you also need to create content specific to your digital signage application. A digital signage environment also allows you to deliver multiple messages simultaneously. if done correctly, it can be a very powerful way to target people. All of these factors are relevant and must be taken into consideration.

Decide on your content objective and expectations.
1. Do you want to build and reinforce your brand?
2. Do you want to inform people about the benefits of being a part of your community?
3. Do you expect to appeal to more people, and in what timeline?
4. Do you want to entertain?
5. Do you want the viewer to become part of the experience?
6. Are you branding to create, develop and reinforce your brand through association?
7. Do you wish to reduce perceived wait times?

All these questions will help you determine your expectations and content objectives, giving you a clear plan on which to succeed. A realistic look at what you want to accomplish will save you time and money in the long run and deliver the results you expect from your investment.

Content Needs Analysis
A content needs analysis is very important to make sure the content you have created generates the results you expect. Determine what you want to accomplish and how often it will change. Decide on a budget and plan for future content additions and changes. Don’t skimp on content— without good content you have an expensive piece of electronics with nothing on it.

Developing a content needs analysis is also important when choosing technology, because you want to have technology that will seamlessly provide the best playback and performance. Content will be a determining factor in the technology you choose, so carefully think through everything you might want to do, even if you don’t do it all right away. This will assure the greatest flexibility when creating content for your application. A good plan will alleviate frustration, excess time and cost overruns.

1. Look at what you have been doing with your current signage solution and decide what elements you can use to create a consistent brand identity. Logos, photos, copy, graphics, A/V materials, etc.
2. Decide if your display will have multiple messages or not.
3. Determine what RSS feeds you might want and where they will be coming from.
4. Does the content need to be interactive?
5. Does the content need to be entertaining?
6. Do you need a directional application?
7. Will the content be integrated with off-site applications?
8. Will there be a database?
9. Does your application have to provide feedback and is it Internet or database-driven?
10. Does the content have to integrate with a mobile application?
11. Does your digital sign also act as a training portal?
12. Does your deployment have to act as a warning system?
13. Is there any unique programming or security needs?
14. How often will you be changing your content?

Content Types
Digital Signage as a medium is the convergence of Information Technology: Audio, Video, Rich Media Applications, the Internet and Mobile Computing applications and devices. It allows you to create your content in many different forms. Finding the right content types starts with the capabilities of your digital signage engine and the software you choose to run it. You need to evaluate them both to know what they are capable of and what they are not. Not all digital engines and digital signage software is made equal! Do your homework and work with an authorized provider and know the limitations to assure the best performance. It also comes down to budget. The more interactive you get, the more your content development costs will go up.

Content Requirements
Content requirements, i.e.; content type, size and performance ability are ultimately decided in the content analysis stage. Since Digital Signage and Interactive Technologies are dynamic in the way they display information the possibilities are relatively endless. That said, there are proven templates that the industry has unofficially adopted and available from most software developers.

1. Develop a content layout to use as a template. This will determine the size the content needs to be.
2. Determine what the “sweet point” of your digital engine is to know how far you may push the data rate for proper playback of the application or video.

Content Design
It is proven that good design sells and communicates clearly. It develops brand association and provides the viewer with a clear, concise message. Good design is consistent from one media to another and retains the interest of the viewer. As another piece of your outreach, strong attention should be paid to the message you are creating. It must portray your brand positively and reinforce other marketing materials you may have created. Good design will also engage the viewer and provide clear, thought-provoking information. It will also provide entertainment and a memorable experience that people will remember. Interactive design must also take into consideration the “human” factor. Interfaces must be easy to navigate and clear to understand.

Content Creation
If you’re experienced with content creation then you will want to create your own content. However, your content must work together on the display and there is no substitute for quality design. This is your brand image and should be taken as seriously as your logo or any other medium. If you’re not experienced in content production it is highly recommended to partner with a professional design company that understands digital media content creation and how it works with technology. Remember, what viewers see on the screen reflects directly on the impression they have of you, and your facility.

Content Storage
Media type plays a big part in the requirements for storage. For example, if you are planning on using Full HD content you will need significantly more storage than if you are developing Flash applications to run your digital signage content. Storage also plays into the equation when you decide on how often you will be changing out content and the longevity of the content. In other words, how long do you plan on using a specific piece of content and how long is it relative to meeting your objective? Your storage needs will be determined by the content you create and how often you use it.

One of the greatest advantages that digital signage offers, is the ability to schedule and dynamically change the delivery of content down to the specific time of day. You control the schedule and where it plays. It can be delivered via:

1. The Internet
2. Hard-wired or wireless
3. Broadband
4. Delivered locally to the engine

All content is scheduled from either a remote location or locally over your digital signage network. Content is stored centrally on a server (Can be a digital engine) and delivered throughout the digital signage network and distributed to the individual signage engines simultaneously.

If used with these considerations in mind, digital signage can be an exceptionally useful form of outreach and information sharing. It can also set up an engaging ministry for those people involved with creating, maintaining and updating the content. Most importantly- have fun being creative!

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