Digital Signage: Missing From Your Marketing Mix

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puzzle_smallADOTAS – Advertising as we know it is quickly changing. Consumers are no longer viewing traditional mediums in home, leading to a declining rate of effectiveness. As a result, advertising dollars are shifting away from expensive stalwarts like full-page print ads and 30-second TV spots.

Recently Outsell demonstrated the decline of traditional media when it reported that digital advertising spend is poised to surpass print for the first time in 2010. Fortunately, as traditional mediums become less effective, vehicles like digital signage have emerged to provide companies of all sizes with solid, affordable advertising options.

As the medium’s adoption accelerates, digital signage has become more affordable and accessible, offering a great opportunity for increased engagement. Still, it’s important for advertisers to understand the medium and how best to capture an optimal return on their investment.

According to most research, it takes the average consumer only 2.5 seconds to make a purchase decision — meaning it’s critical to maximize that initial impression with effective digital signage strategies. Below are a few specifics that can help advertisers get a bigger bang for their digital signage buck.

Location, Location, Location

The decline of traditional mediums as effective advertising tools has a lot to do with the fact that consumers are becoming more mobile and spending large periods of time out-of-home. Digital signage is effective precisely because it can reach mobile consumers wherever they are.

That means as a digital signage advertiser, it’s important to understand exactly where the audience is and how best to reach them. On a basic level, digital signage content should be geared toward the general audience in its location. “Hyper-local” content is a new buzzword in the industry; it consists of advertisers gearing content to specific geographic tastes and views.

Industry experts suggest giving local businesses input if your campaign stretches across a wider area or even exists on a national level. It’s an inexpensive and effective way to relate to the consumer on a deeper level.

Integration of digital signage with emerging location-based applications like Gowalla and Foursquare also promises further innovation. These applications provide GPS-enabled smart phone users the ability to share locations with friends and discover new hot spots.

Location-based applications enable digital signage network possibilities to integrate with consumer device GPS for local offers and incentives. While only a few place-based digital signage systems have tested integration with these applications, the possibilities for engagement in high-traffic, well-known urban locations are endless. It’s a trend to keep on the radar.

Advertisers should also remember that customers in areas not traditionally exposed to digital signage are much more engaged with the technology now that it’s moving into previously untapped areas like suburban cities and commuter routes. New verticals are taking advantage of digital signage as a way to share information with employees or the general public. Hospitals, schools and airports, to name a few, are now using the technology with much success.

Focus on High-Quality Content

Digital signage is chosen for its “can’t-miss” visuals, but content still needs to be unique and compelling. It’s no secret that it’s getting harder to break through the advertisements cluttering consumers’ everyday lives. That’s why content strategies form the backbone of a digital signage program, and many industry experts are encouraging advertisers to make content their first priority when designing digital signage agendas.

Nothing drives engagement and sales more than relevancy — so it’s important that digital signage providers and advertisers understand their key audiences. A few new options truly personalize digital signage, with digital displays actually “reading” viewers’ age, sex, etc. This technology is years away from mass market use, but the tremendous potential is clear.

More simply, in order to interest consumers, content should be high-quality visually and give the other four screens (TV, computers, mobile devices and the cinema) a run for their money. Lucky for us, as traditional mediums like TV and cinema face what looks to be a long-term downturn, industry producers are expanding their work into the digital signage industry. This means it’s easier to find top-notch producers that have experience with digital signage technology, at a much lower overall cost than in the past.

Top-Notch Delivery

New software developments continuously improve the delivery of content and integration with a wider variety of media, everything from high-resolution videos to playlists. As a result, slick, high-quality graphics and cutting-edge technology are more accessible to a variety of companies.

Mobile integration also provides smaller companies with a low-cost, effective way to engage target consumers. According to Gartner, worldwide mobile phone sales totaled 1.2 billion units in 2009. Not surprisingly, digital signage programs featuring mobile integration and user-generated content succeed in greatly increasing consumer engagement.

By integrating mobile targeting with digital signage, companies can increase the frequency of consumer visits by offering payoffs like coupons and personal attention. Many networks take advantage of this integration to provide consumers with eCoupons to increase coupon ROI by negating printing. Consumers in the immediate vicinity receive codes and eCoupons on their mobile devices that can be redeemed for nearby products or services.

Adding a deeper level of personalization, consumers’ text messages, Tweets or Flikr photos can be featured prominently on digital billboards—and this personal level of attention seems to be working. Recent studies show digital signage is extremely effective with viewers in the 18-34 age range. Fifty percent of this age group find the medium to be more “unique, interesting and entertaining” than advertising on other media. Integration with emerging tools may be one reason why.

What’s Next?

Today’s consumers are exposed to thousands of advertisements every day, making it difficult for advertisers to truly make an impact. At the same time, advertisers face a decreasing number of options to cost-effectively engage consumers. Fortunately, digital signage is the perfect medium to reach mobile consumers and engage them on an effective level.

To reap the full benefit of digital signage, it’s still important to use cost-effective strategies. Keeping on top of emerging technologies will make is easier to personalize content and tailor it to the location and tastes of your audience. Quick and higher quality delivery options also continue to lower costs and improve ROI.

By focusing on strategies in these three areas — location, content and delivery — today’s advertisers can increase consumer engagement — and ultimately their bottom line.

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