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Digital Signage: Keep Your Content Fresh

Sep 9, 2008
Any manager knows there are costs associated with buying a piece of equipment that go well beyond the initial purchase price. Regular maintenance, parts, additional operating expenses are some that come to mind.

In the digital signage realm, there are some additional expenses smart managers should keep in mind as they add or expand a system. Fortunately, since the technology behind digital signage is so computer-centric, there aren't many mechanical parts to fail or be replaced. However, there is an expense that can be easily overlooked. Unless you happen to have a background in media, you may be completely unaware of this recurring demand on resources, and if you don't plan for it, it can become a constant drain on your operation.

What's this mystery expense? It's constant content creation -an action I like to call feeding the beast. It's something that must be done regularly -definitely weekly, probably daily and maybe hourly depending on what you're specifically trying to accomplish with your digital signage communications.

Generating and inserting fresh content into the playback schedule of a digital signage system is an essential component of the sign fulfilling its reason for being. Without fresh content, customers, employees or whoever is your target market will quickly tune out the sign and your communications. Think of it this way, how willing would you be to watch your television if every time you turned it on you saw nothing but the same program?

The same is true for your digital signage communications. Granted, no one is going to stand in front of your digital sign completely mesmerized by your message the way they would sit in front of their television and watch their favorite show. But if you stand a chance of grabbing their attention and holding it for the few precious moments they glance at the sign, it better present something new, fresh and interesting.

What this means for an enterprise committed to communicating with digital signage is making a commitment to creating the content necessary to achieve the organizations goal -weekly, daily or hourly, depending on the mission at hand. For an organization, that translates into channeling the appropriate resources to the process, including skilled people, the right tools and an appropriate amount of creative time. To shun this burden is to cripple your communications effort before the first digital sign is turned on.

Fortunately, there are some practical tools and approaches at the disposal of an organization to freshen content and attract recurring viewer interest without busting the budget. They include:

*Television: Many digital signage systems include a television or cable TV tuner so a portion of the screen will always include something new.

*Subscription data feeds: Whether it's news, stock tickers, sports scores, temperature or traffic conditions, there are a variety of data feeds available to stream new information continuously.

*RSS feeds: In the same way data feed subscriptions can keep content fresh, free Internet RSS can deliver headlines, weather and scores. However, taking this approach removes the comfort of predictability that's available with a data subscription.

*Existing marketing materials, television commercials and training videos. Excerpts of these existing corporate resources can minimize the need to shoot and edit original video content -especially in the initial phases of system rollout.

As with so many things in life and in business, digital signage requires balance to be achieved. Organizations employing digital signage successfully have learned to allocate the appropriate number of resources to maintain content freshness without generating unacceptable expenses. By using some or all of these suggestions, finding that balance should be a bit easier.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage enthusiast with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to effectively communicate their unique marketing messages. For further digital signage insight from Keywest Technology, visit our website for many helpful tips and examples.
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