Digital Signage Goes To College

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Guest Post: Pat Hellberg, The Preset Group

I have a son who is a junior in high school, which means in about a year and a half, he will be spending all of my money.

College is coming … quickly.

To find the right fit, we just spent spring break visiting schools in California.

Our tour hit some of the best in the West. Every school was incredibly impressive. Fabulous facilities. Extraordinary settings. I didn’t see a single blade of grass out of place. One university offered students their own nutritionist and personal trainer.

And while it wasn’t a highlight of any of the campus tours, digital signage was everywhere. Five colleges. Five campus-wide digital signage networks.

That’s the good news. The bad news? If there was a Digital Signage 101 class, unfortunately, every one of these schools would get a failing grade. On virtually every digital display, we saw fundamental mistakes.

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Too much information on the screen. Curious color combinations. Too much information on the screen. Inconsistent font styles. Too much information on the screen.  Teeny, tiny font sizes.  Did we mention too much information on the screen?

BTW, grabbing the audience’s attention is challenging at any venue. On a college campus, that challenge is especially daunting. I watched dozens of students walk the halls. They all possessed an uncanny ability to avoid smashing into each other. All the while, they were looking straight down. At their mobile devices. They were not looking up. At digital signs.

All of these universities have their own distinct brands and their unique brand stories. They all take great care to dial in their message on every platform … in print, online, in conventional signage. But there’s one platform they missed. The digital signage opportunity fell short. At all five schools, It felt like an afterthought. And for me, that was a head scratcher.

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The college admissions process has changed dramatically since I was a teenager. Back then, if you had a pulse, you were admitted to the local state university. Now, the scene is fiercely competitive, for prospective students and schools alike.   On-campus digital signage can be a powerful tool to help schools gain a competitive communications edge.

Eventually and incrementally, colleges will start getting their digital signage right.   When they do, students, faculty and visitors will notice the difference.

 

Pat Hellberg
Pat Hellberg is a partner in the digital signage consultation company, The Preset Group, which has worked with Lexus, Bank of America, Nike, Samsung, MTN, NEC, Cisco, LG, Sony, Verizon and others. He also runs Kaicon, a digital content production company whose clients include Nike and Gatorade. Before going out on his own, Pat was the creative director for Nike Film & Video for over 10 years. He started Nike’s in-store digital communications program known as the Nike Retail Network.
Pat Hellberg

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