Ask the Board – April 3, 2018 | MARCOS TERENZIO

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What is the future of data-driven content?


Smarter Environments – The future of data-driven content

One of the largest challenges that faces digital content today is that it quickly becomes irrelevant. Typically, content is not updated and refreshed frequently enough. This is usually due to cost constraints, both in creation and operational up-keep. This is a problem because, if viewers keep seeing the same information every time they see the content, they soon learn to ignore it as it offers nothing new. In traditional advertising like TV commercials, repetition can help establish familiarity for a product or a brand as long as the viewer remains entertained. TV advertising usually has a more general large brand purpose that is intended to speak to the masses most commonly on a national scale through large campaign-based messaging. Digital signage, however, is typically viewed during some sort of activity such as shopping, waiting for service or commuting; its messaging priority is usually to provide information, not entertainment. The information typically should be more localized and less mass-reach-specific like that of other mainstream advertising channels. Therefore, if the content mix is not localized, relevant and able to provide new information related to the immediate needs of the viewer, it is likely to be ignored.

This means that it is vital to find ways to deliver smarter content that can be varied and personalized as opposed to displaying a standard repetitive loop. Today, there are several examples of intelligent systems and networks that provide unique (or high relevance) messages to targeted audiences based on their current situation or location. These deployments sometimes rely heavily on expensive hardware and technology to execute. There are examples of low-cost dynamic content that leverage RSS feeds as well, like weather, or news feeds. But, how important is a weather update to customers on-the-go? How important is entertainment news to a shopper holding a smart phone? Is this a case of delivering irrelevant dynamic information just for the sake of delivering dynamic information? Is this actually providing a true benefit to the viewer?

“The future of smart content” will allow messaging to be personalized and varied spontaneously in response to local conditions or user recognition, and it will deliver an appropriate message based on pre-set rules or logic. It will target a specific individual with information related to their purpose and objectives within a specific environment. Thanks to IoT (Internet of Things), a lot of information on personal interests, browsing history, loyalty memberships and even online purchases are stored in the cloud and available through peoples’ connected devices. With the spread of open Wi-Fi hotspots and connection points, consumers are connected to their environment more and more each day. This allows for frequent virtual “handshakes” between their connected devices and the environments in which they dwell. As digital screens and players become more connected with those same environments, the ability to pull this information and serve up content better related to the shared information will result in more meaningful connections and relevant information being displayed within “Smart Environments.”

Of course, this means that more content with multiple variations and more dynamically available information need to be created. Much like the Internet evolved through responsive CSS design standards and HTML5 content, so will the content for digital signage continue to evolve from flat video files to similar dynamic based content types.

However, this does not mean that the quality of the content will be sacrificed, rather that a new breed of content creators and animation experts will emerge in the space to bridge the best of both creative and data-driven content to deliver engaging and relevant information. This new content breed is here today, and there are several software solutions compatible with delivering these types of file formats now. So this is not a distant future state it is a very near future state and the time to lay the foundation and begin building a future proof strategy that will be able to make use of all the shared data in the cloud and be part of these “Smart Environments” is NOW.

 

About Author

Director, Digital Experience
Shikatani Lacroix Design

MEMBER OF THE DSE ADVISORY BOARD
Content Council

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