Ask the Board – August 29, 2016 | PAT HELLBERG


What is the most controversial issue in the digital signage industry right now and why?

The most controversial issue, and the greatest challenge, is unchanged from last year, the year before and the year before that:  Does digital signage work? Our industry is not alone in asking the question. According to the majority of recent research, the effectiveness of conventional mass-market advertising is in a slow but steady decline. But that’s little consolation for digital signage. The numbers don’t lie.  More money is flowing into digital signage every day.  But there’s an underlying degree of skepticism about whether the increase in investment is paying off. 

Ironically, the growth in digital signage projects subtly works against the success of said projects.  In the past, the novelty of screens at retail, in the workplace, in transit, etc. compelled the audience to pay attention to this unique form of communication.  Now, with screens virtually everywhere, audiences take all screens for granted. Without compelling content on those screens, they tend to ignore the messaging.

There’s ample research claiming that digital signage does work. Established firms such as Arbitron have created studies that digital signage content can drive impulse buys, is more memorable than online content, is more effective than the content on conventional static signs, etc.

That research is all well and good.  But it is also quite generic.  And it does little to answer a more specific, and certainly more important question:  Does YOUR digital signage work?  My advice is to create a clear, measurable objective for your digital signage project.  What is the desired effect on your audience?  Do you want to inform, motivate, educate or entertain them?  Create a distinct goal to make the project relevant for the audience, which will, in turn, make the project effective toward achieving your business goals. Then evaluate the program on a constant basis. 

If you can provide definitive proof that your digital signage program is reaching its well-defined goal, congratulations. You will be far ahead of the vast majority of digital signage operators.  More importantly, you will be able to tell your CFO (or whoever is writing the checks), “Look, it works!”

About Author

Principal & Brand Consultant
The Preset Group

Industry Consultants Council

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