All news, all the time?

November 3, 2006 by Dave Haynes

I have had a bunch of conversations in the last couple of weeks with clients and prospects about what they want to do with their signage program. Just about all of them wanted to put a news headline ticker on the screen, usually running across the bottom.

My typical response is to say, “Ok.” And then ask, “Why?”

Some don’t really know why. They’ve just seen other companies doing that and it is part of the mix. Others felt it was sticky content that will make people look at the screens — something they wouldn’t do if it was nothing but ads.

I spent 20 years in the newspaper and then online news business, so I know a bit about the subject. And I just don’t see much point in posting headlines on a screen in many of the places people want to put them. Between your computer desktop, TV, radio, and mobile gadgets, there’s no shortage of ways to get news these days. It’s everywhere.

It has a role for ad-based networks that have captive audiences for extended periods, like airports and other environments where people wait and wait, and are bored silly.

It does not have a role, at all, for network operators who  have a few precious seconds to hit consumers with marketing messages … and they spend those seconds catching up on the latest news from the Middle East instead of even noticing the ad.

If you carve up a screen and have something other than straight marketing messages, at least make the content engaging and new. Direct experience and expensive research has taught me people respond better to soft content like trivia and word puzzles than conventional, rolling news.

If you still insist on news, make sure it is timely and directly relevant to the audience and environment. Better yet, get it sponsored.

  1. Stephen says:

    My experience has been much the same… everybody assumes a zoned screen with a news crawl is best.

    I think it is far too easy to assume that news feeds as tickers in a content area on a digital signage networked screes is the right choice. If you know what audience is there for how long the content equation needs to make sense. With the right sponsorship it can even become a situation where the sum equals more than the parts. That is the sweet spot that seems to be quite elusive now.

    It doesn’t seem to be happening at the speed which some voices have predicted, or wanted.

  2. Michael says:

    I think the question is: What are you putting the screens up for? If it is “to get people to look at the screen”, news probably works. But if it is “to get people to look at my message (or my advertisers’ message) on the screen”, trhen I believe headlines only serve to give people an excuse NOT to look at your advertising or other message.

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