Seven Ways To Get Your Digital Signage Creative Seen And Remembered

August 19, 2014 by guest author Mark Janke, MarkJanke

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Digital signage is its own highly-nuanced medium. It looks like TV, works like the Web and takes a lot of visual cues from outdoor advertising.

Most mediums have defined activities – people who sit and watch TV, listen to radio, read newspapers and surf the web. With digital signage, the dynamics of how media gets seen and consumed can change dramatically within a single venue. In some places they’re moving, in others they’re in lines or waiting in reception areas.

To get it right, and optimize the marketing opportunity and effort, takes thinking, planning and understanding the nuances and distinctions of running digital signage creative in environments like retail financial services.

Here are seven important considerations:

Start With A Brief

A spot that’s going on walls behind teller counters at regional bank branches should be run through the same process as a multi-million dollar ad intended for a high-profile TV broadcast. In both cases, good work starts with a creative brief.

It’s a discipline that forces all the contributing parties to get on the same page about the objectives, ideas and key points.

Your creative brief for spots should:
• Provide the background behind the need, and the objectives;
• Define the assignment;
• Identify the target audience and any insights, such as research that suggests what motivates consumers;
• Review available assets and brand guidelines, as well as compliance and regulatory information;
• Include details on the product and service, such as the bullet point features and benefits;
• Set expectations and deliverables, such as the target dates to approve and schedule, formats and resolutions;
• Set a budget.

Respect The Moment

Consumers are on journeys. Around a bank, they’re doing different things, and seeing content in different ways, based on whether they’re moving or sitting, and where they are physically located in the branch. Good creative respects and works with those different moments.

For example, consumers who are walking past a busy bank branch window are rarely going to stop and read the messaging. They’re on the move. They’re glancing at content, so messaging must be bold and quick.

But inside a branch, in a teller line-up or in a soft seating area waiting for an appointment with a financial services advisor, consumers are much more stationary. They have time to take in the narrative built into more involved, targeted creative. There’s time for storytelling.

Effective creative considers the location, sightlines, timing and the many other dynamics at play, and is tuned to those individual moments. An identical segment run across the distinct locations and moments in a branch will have mixed results. A better approach is to build a common theme and look for a message – like a new loan program – and package it in different ways, for those different moments.

It’s also important not to generalize. Not everything about customer visits is necessarily how it appears. For example, just because the branch is in an affluent suburban area, that might not mean it is an appropriate branch for wealth management messaging. The people who are doing that type of banking may well be doing during workdays, downtown where they work.

Remember That Most Moments Are Fleeting

Consumers don’t watch digital signage the way they watch TV, whether they’re on the move or sitting still. They visually and mentally dip in and out, and then dip back in, and then leave again.

Stacks of research backs this up. When audience counting technology, such as face pattern detection cameras and software, is used to log how many people look at screens, and for how long, the video analytics that come back from these systems tend to show people watch, on average, for about four seconds. It changes little from types of audiences, venues or circumstances.

That means effective messaging needs to get the message across quickly, and the core elements of the message should be consistent for the full run-length of spots.

So, for a bank’s new airline rewards credit card, the key features may drop in and drop out of a created spot, but the credit card brand and “now available” tag always stays on screen – because some viewers might only see the middle five seconds of that 15-second produced spot.

Building creative spots and playlists should be tuned to how long people will be in view of the screens, what they’re doing and with some estimation of what they’re thinking about.

Programming decisions should respect the overall time people spend in banks. For example, if customers are in branches for an average of 10 minutes per visit, 2/3 of a 30-minute programming schedule won’t even have an opportunity to be viewed.

Clutter Is Deadly

Because marketers have scant seconds to make an impression, the content and layout should embrace minimalism.

While a good digital signage content management platform can support layouts that have multiple content zones operating concurrently, that’s not advised. Every new element added to a screen layout is competing for viewer attention, reducing the likelihood that the core message will get noticed and retained amidst the visual clutter.

Wherever possible, keep your messages full-screen and fight back any urge to add the multi-zone layouts.

Even full-screen layouts can get visually cluttered. Because consumer attention spans are limited and likely growing even more so, messages are best kept simple. One big visual. One value statement. One call to action or price message. And that’s it.

Clutter is a particular challenge in some jurisdictions where regulations mandate terms and conditions of services and offers also be on the screen for all or portions of a message.

Move, But Not Too Much

A little motion can catch the eye of consumers, whether that’s a statement sliding in or graphic building into full view.

A lot of motion in creative, however, can be detrimental. You don’t want to make watching a spot a visual chore, as text and graphic elements fly around the screen.

Keep motion simple and brief, and the spots will have a better chance of being noticed and retained. Think, as well, about using interesting motion as the background for messages, as opposed to making the message built on motion.

Design For The Environment, Not The Desktop

How often have you seen creative that you couldn’t read from your vantage point, because the fonts were too small, the characters too closely spaced or the colors not offering enough contrast?

That often happens when creative gets designed on a desktop screen, and pushed out to digital signs without being previewed on displays and settings that emulate the target viewing conditions.

Smart creative teams replicate the display technology, ambient lighting conditions and sightlines of the environment where produced spots will run – so they can preview how things look, and ensure the spots are optimized.

What looks fantastic on a 30-inch monitor at a graphic designer’s workstation can be all but impossible to view and remember when loaded on screens on back walls, 20 feet away from people waiting in teller lines.

Think Digital First

It’s slowly changing, but creative production for financial services still tends to lead with broadcast and print. Digital – particularly digital signage creative – is often an after-thought.

Media’s silo’d walls are starting to disappear, and we’re already seeing more thinking and work built around the concept of omni-publishing – creating media once that works across multi-channels – from broadcast TV to online to smartphones to in-branch display screens.

Thinking early about all the possibilities for a creative campaign minimizes the limits, and shifts digital signage beyond a state of simply trying to animate print campaigns or repurpose the usable elements of broadcast TV spots.

The creative team at my company has a unique approach to multimedia development, dubbed the “Brand River,” that helps maintain brand consistency while also controlling costs.

The approach makes use of a rich and continuous branded backdrop, created using repurposed, pre-existing video content assets. This backdrop gets punctuated with quickly read messages about things like key offers and relevant customer information. These messages, or “splashes”, are quickly and easily created using pre-approved design components and re-purposing messages already used by other marketing channels.
Focused on viewers that tend to dip in and out of messaging as they go about their business in branches, these short splashes help drive brand values and convey a broad range of locally-relevant product and service messages.

The Brand River system also enables bank marketers to produce a steady stream of new messages using in-house capabilities, without any need for expensive agency involvement. Our data targeting capabilities then make it possible to fine-tune the type, tone, timing and frequency of messages easily, without ongoing scheduling headaches.

Powerful Marketing Opportunity

Digital displays can be incredibly powerful marketing tools – prompting actions, reinforcing the brand and making getting customers better informed.

True impact comes when the programming model and plan evolves to thinking more about what’s possible and will be effective, and much less about what’s already available to load and fill out schedules.

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