Friday is Ticker Free Day

July 6, 2010 by Dave Haynes

My Preset Group colleague David Weinfeld has unilaterally declared this Friday as Ticker Free Day 2010.

On his excellent blog, Digital Signage Insights, David made the case to set aside a day when digital signage network operators could go into their software, turn off the tickers, and see if the sun still came up that morning.

TICKER FREE DAY is meant to bring awareness to the rampant abuse of text tickers, RSS tickers, stock tickers, etc. throughout the digital signage industry. By eliminating tickers from their programming for a single day, digital signage organizations across the globe will be coming together to show that networks can function without tickers.

My rather blunt reaction to tickers is that they are generally stupid, pointless and a distraction from the reason the flat panel was even put there – to communicate information, drive awareness or get people to buy stuff. I think they exist on many screens today for no other reason than people who start networks mimic what they see in the marketplace, and don’t give a lot of thought to whether the things are effective or make any sense.

But rather than dwell again on that, let’s look at what research is out there to support the premise that tickers are exactly the wrong thing digital signage networks need to be successful.

Wirespring CEO Bill Gerba doesn’t have a lot of time to write, but when he does it’s good and deep. He did a post many, many months ago that borrowed on a New York Times piece about CNN dropping its new long-time ticker, and dug up more research that suggested why tickers don’t do anything good for the experience of viewers.

Research that Bill dug up showed:

The New York Times story quoted MIT professor Earl Miller, who suggested people are incapable of efficiently multi-tasking. Miller, a professor of neuroscience, said: “A lot of times, when you think you’re multi-tasking, you’re just switching your attention between one or two or three things.”

As a result, viewers process less of each.

Miller has also done research that indicates the mind’s eye works like a spotlight, scanning around a complex room or canvas looking for things, focusing on just one at a time.

So this notion that modern communications and endless technology advantages has somehow re-wired us all to take in many things at once effectively is false. What you get are viewers struggling to take everything in, and absorbing very little.

If you are a DOOH network operator, your investment absolutely depends on people noticing and responding to the advertising messages. You want to have research that shows unaided recall of those ads is off-the-chart great. So why would you do anything that distracts from those ad spots, dragging the viewers’ eyes off the ad and onto the little train of text chugging along the bottom, usually relaying news the viewers have seen or heard in a multitude of ways that day?

For those rare situations where headline news feeds actually play a relevant, welcomed role in the content programming  playlist of a network (remember, news is now EVERYWHERE), run it full screen so it can actually be absorbed and appreciated.

Tickers be gone.

Leave a comment