Ask the Board – January 29, 2018 | DAVE DOLEJSI


How do you avoid your content becoming “white noise?”

With regards to digital signage content, unless you have made the effort to review the data to truly understand A) who the audience is, B) what they are doing, and C) why they are in that place at that time, all of your content may as well be considered “white noise.”

Let’s look at retail for a moment. Too often, clients try to express both the objectives of the brand and their key messages with a single piece of content, which becomes the primary, perhaps even exclusive consideration of the client. They might say they want to “have a conversation with the customer,” but for a number of understandable reasons, they neglect to truly consider the context of their audience. Make no mistake, those of us who create content on their behalf can be just as guilty of this. It’s easy to get caught up in objectives and the stress of a big campaign deadline where your window of production shrinks with each passing day as you wait for assets. It becomes increasingly difficult to pause, take a step back and assess your audience.

Truth is, the client may have a message they want to get out to their customer, but if it is not relevant to their in-store audience, what are the chances the audience will opt-in? When creating content, the following are just a few of the things that should first be considered:

“Who is going to see this?”

“Where did they just come from?”

“What do they care about when they engage with this brand in this space?”

“What else is competing for their attention in that moment?”

“Are they in a queue?”

“Are they near merchandise?”

“Is this a message that is conducive and relevant to their age? Sex? Income? Need state?”

I could go on for quite a while here, and this is only the first consideration. Without a good understanding of your audience, it won’t matter what the content is. It may be the greatest piece of content that ever conveyed that message. It won’t matter because they stopped watching it after a couple seconds. After a few glances at content that is not relevant to them, they will likely still glance at the screens, but will have already made the determination that there is nothing for them there.

So how do you get that relevant content in front of them? After you have gathered the data, built the perceptual map and developed a thorough understanding of the brand…it is time to get out of the office. You need to walk the retail environment you are building for – and don’t be clinical. 

Shop there. Put yourself in the customer journey. If you have to line-up, do whatever feels natural. If you tend to look at your phone, look at your phone. Now look around you. What is everyone else doing? Looking at their phones too?

Ask yourself two questions: 

1) If the majority of the people in line are looking at their phones, what are the other customers and staff doing?

2) What is going to make me look away from this phone to engage with another screen?

Start thinking of alternatives. IS this an environment, and will these customers be receptive to pushing content to their phones? If so, can I leverage that knowledge to build a better content experience that works with the digital signage?

Can I break up the regular brand content with something interesting enough to get the customer to re-engage with the digital signage? Does it have to be all about the brand all the time? Can there be something playful? Something thought provoking? 

One can use a variety of creative content tactics. Knowing your audience will make developing these tactics that much easier and your overall content program that much more effective, guaranteeing that it will not become “white noise.”


About Author

Associate Vice President – Content Strategy
St. Joseph Communications

Content Council

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