The early promise of the digital signage network first manifested in advertising revenues, streaming in from marketers who recognized its unique capabilities and power to transform the media landscape. Who could resist the idea of engaging consumers with advertising content positioned impossibly close to the point of purchase? What an opportunity — to serve your brand message to consumers just as they walk through your store's doors or reach for something on a shelf. With digital signage, it's easy to bridge the gap between the living room and the purchase, seamlessly showcasing advertising that's dynamic, timely and contextually relevant.
This idea still make sense today as it did in the early days of digital-placed-based-media (DPBM) networks, but we are yet to see the revenue growth or perhaps, more importantly, growth in share of media budget that had so many investors clamoring to stake their claim in the nascent DPBM Industry.
In today's industry, everyone is concerned about growth. In order to realize this elusive growth, it's imperative to change your model. If your motivation is to make money, you're using the wrong goalposts — thinking this way focuses your energy on a lot of misleading targets. For example, a focus on revenue inevitably leads to comparing a DPBM GRP with a Television GRP, as it is natural to argue that DPBM can compete as efficiently or more economically. But take pause and contemplate — is it fair to compare the experience of advertising in a living room to the same ad served up in the mall?
Obviously, the two experiences are entirely different. Therein lies the key: it's time to change your model by realigning your goals toward the consumer's experience of DPBM. Forget the number of consumers you claim — focus on the outcomes that stem from their experience of DPBM.
Digital media needs to be thought of as digital activation. In lieu of messaging, we should focus on motivating consumers toward actions in or around the context in which they're experiencing your message.
In no particular order, here are a few core principles that we adhere to at Creative Realities. We meditate on them, refer back to them and ensure that they are infused in every step of our process, from strategy to design and finally, development. The result is digital experiences that drive the behaviors our clients need to meet their goals:
A New Model: Stop thinking of digital place-based media as a communication conduit and start thinking of it as an experience. This helps you reframe your thinking to include context, as well as content and channel. It's an entirely different planning model that yields entirely different results.
Call to Action: Almost any content today should include some mechanism for consumer action — think SMS codes to improve effectiveness and drive sales.
Curation: The time, place and context of DPBM requires you to rethink content. Content needs careful curation and will work better if designed to take these factors into account. All too often, content is repurposed directly from television advertising, without regard for the different qualities of various mediums.
Measurement: There are any number of innovative measurement technologies, such as Intel's AVA, that make an investment in this medium not only viable, but essential to convince marketers of the effectiveness of a DPBM strategy.
Mobility: 7% of all e-commerce is on mobile devices — and that figure is growing at parabolic rates. If you're dealing with a Millennial audience, the numbers are even higher. Mobile is an essential component to digital activation with DPBM.
New Platforms: We're in the midst of an explosion in APPs and APIs. Compounded by the availability of new display technologies — which are constantly lowering in price and improving in application — you have access to new combinations of form and function that create imaginative, intuitive DPBM experiences.
Design Power: Apple's success is the clearest reason why you need to engage the talents of designers for your DPBM experience — whether it's content, form, function, user experience or all of the above. Design is more than drawings. It's a philosophy for reconciling aesthetics with function to create magical human experiences. Too much DPBM interrupts rather than complements its environment. When done night, digital design is beautiful, nuanced and moving.
Inspiration: Emotions are the most powerful force in business today. Your experience should take advantage of the extraordinary power of inspiring emotions through digital experience. Too much content we see blends into a sea of sameness, clichés or formulas that the consumer has long since developed filters to block.
Consumer or Shopper? The mindset and mood of your audience is, to a great extent, determined by the shopping mission or lifestyle. Too much content is designed without this in mind and, hence, less effective. You can never have too much insight into your consumer, their mindset and the behaviors you're ultimately aiming to influence.
There's no doubting the potential for digital-placed-based-media to capture an increased share of marketers' budgets. But unless we change our model for planning and executing, that growth will continue to be hampered. The old awareness-purchase communication model isn't adequate — it doesn't explain the many unique dynamics that digital-placed-based-media offer compared to others. Start thinking of experiences to inspire behaviors. Moving forward, that's how we'll grow more effective and impactful campaigns.
Editor's Note: Paul Price is the Keynote Luncheon Speaker at DSE's 3rd Annual DPB Advertising Summit on March 6, 2012 in Las Vegas. Click for more information.
ABOUT CREATIVE REALITIES
We're a creative technology company designing innovative digital experiences that bridge the physical and virtual worlds. We believe in digital platforms that are equal parts stunning and strategic, designed to take people on bigger, richer journeys with brands. Our work is always human-centric, rooted in consumer insights and built by the best hands in the business.
And unlike other firms in our industry, we're built on a unique infrastructure that enables us to consult, design, engineer, deploy, service and monitor digital installations in any location — all under one roof. To date, we've completed nearly 15,000 installations in over 3,000 locations and continue to host and manage a majority of them.
You can find us in New York City, London and Fairfield, NJ.