What do you find is the most effective and accurate way of measuring dwell time?”
There are times when nothing beats an “old-fashioned” TIME STUDY with a human, a stopwatch and a clipboard. But honestly, in some areas, that is the most effective and accurate method.
If you are measuring dwell time for a transactional screen (kiosks or large touchscreen), then you can easily measure dwell time in the interactive app as well as many other things (dwell time per page for instance). Maybe in a QSR, the order management system can track the speed of service for a customer transaction from order to receipt of food.
But if you’re talking about traditional non-interactive digital signage, without having some sort of camera to count “faces,” a stopwatch might actually be the best. Of course, the craze for anonymous video analytics can tell you dwell time and a whole lot more (e.g., rough demographic profile of the viewer). It’s a lot of technology to set up, and it’s not 100 percent accurate. It generates a TON of data and is probably too expensive to deploy everywhere, but for a smaller sample size, it can give you hard data to back up your assumptions (or not!).
But don’t underestimate the power of just doing a simple site survey with your own “two eyes” to figure out where people “gather.” But, you’ll need to capture that at the right time of the day. And knowing who is watching at different times can be very enlightening for developing an effective content strategy, which is really the reason you want to measure dwell in the first place. You need to match your play-loop time to the dwell time for a given location. Most of the time, you’ve got three seconds at four paces to get your idea across in five words or less. And for heaven’s sake, don’t just put a screen where it might be convenient to mount it or plug it in. Putting the screens in the right place, in front of the right audience with the right content is what it is all about!