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Digital Signage: Keep Them Happy with HD

Oct 22, 2007
HDTV is becoming a mainstay in U.S. homes. The Consumer Electronics Association said in June that it expects 16 million high definition televisions will be sold in the United States this year, raising the total number of HDTVs sold here to 52.5 million.

To put that into perspective, TV ratings specialist Nielsen Media Research estimated in August of last year that for the 2006-2007 television season there were 111.4 million television households in the United States. Even taking into account that some households own more than one HDTV set, it's clear that HDTV has transitioned from an interesting peculiarity to a mainstay of TV viewing. In fact, the CEA forecasts that by the end of the year 36 percent of U.S. households will have an HDTV.

Digital signs -many of which are based on the same sort of flat screen LCD and plasma technology as the HDTVs in U.S. homes- find themselves afloat in this growing sea of first-hand experience with high definition and a rising level of expectations.

Savvy marketers using digital signage networks will acknowledge the proliferation of high-def sets in the home and work to upgrade their networks and the content they display to high definition. Why? Because that's what their customers who own HDTVs say they want.

Last week, Nielsen Media Research released the findings of a poll of HDTV owners that revealed a wide chasm between their attitudes towards the quality of image they see on their screens and the amount of HDTV programming they can watch. Asked to rank their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 5 with "5" meaning "excellent" and "1" meaning "poor"), almost 48 percent of respondents said the quality of the image on their screens deserved a "5," while only 11.7 percent ranked their HD program selection at the same level.

Conversely, the ratings and research organization found only about 3 percent rated their HDTV picture quality as poor ("1") or below average ("2"), while more than 21 percent considered their HD programming selection to be a "1" or a "2."

I believe these findings reveal how critical it is for marketers to not only begin getting serious about upgrading their digital signage networks to HD, but also underscore how critical it is for them to play back high definition content on the HD displays that are part of those newly upgraded networks.

So much of marketing and advertising is intertwined with creating perceptions and feelings on the part of customers and prospects, that to ignore the increasing presence of high definition televisions in the homes of Americans is to risk being seen as dated and out-of-step. In other words, if nearly 4 in 10 of the people looking at a digital signage network in a retail store this shopping season already have HDTVs in their homes, doesn't that mean as many as 40 percent of potential customers may wonder why the quality of the digital signage presentations they see looks inferior to their home sets? How do such questions impact the perceptions those retailers wish to create?

And that's not all. The Nielsen Media study explicitly pointed out the level of dissatisfaction among HDTV owners with the amount of high definition programming available to them. The message for those responsible for digital signage networks is clear. It's not good enough just to have HD displays. The content played back on those display needs to be high-def, too.

To ignore the presence of HDTV in U.S. households and the desire to view actual HD programming is to turn a blind eye to the environment in which digital signage networks exist. Doing so could prove to be perilous.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage enthusiast with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media . Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons.
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