Three recent celebrity news articles prompt the drafting of this blog post:
- Miley Cyrus and her demoralizing behavior on stage
- Justin Bieber and his intoxicated driving antics
- Shia Beouf and his weird behavior, including putting a bag over his head
First, let it be known that I’m not a frequenter of TMZ, nor am I a celebrity news junkie who can’t wait to reach the latest tabloid at the grocery store. But there are common elements that apply to each scenario:
- Each is bizarre or out-of-the ordinary
- Each appears to be a cry for help–at least at some level
- Each is a blatant and obnoxious in-your-face attempt to draw attention and even boost relevant traffic and/or followers
Each of these cringe-worthy stories relate directly to our efforts and providing tools for digital signage content in a number of ways. When we discuss content, we’re often looking for best practices on not only how do we draw people in with their eyes, but how do we draw them in with their pocket books. How do we convert. Finally, how do we measure that conversion.
Ms. Cyrus, for instance, was seeking a massive uptick in Twitter mentions from her antics–which she received. As the saying goes, any news is good news if it draws attention. Unfortunately, it does so with a lack of taste. So the true question remains, how do you engage an audience to look, then act without offending, upsetting, interrupting the news cycle or otherwise branding yourself in a truly terrible way? In other words, how do you keep your message relevant without clogging the airwaves with garbage?
I like the way Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella puts it–which applies to anything related to driving traffic with meaningful content:
This business of ours doesn’t respect tradition. What it respects is whether you’re relevant and innovating in the future.
Keeping your content relevant is no different. Here are some key take-aways in ensuring content relevance is maintained and the message doesn’t get lost.
First, innovation in content and content design doesn’t mean ignoring fundamentals. Like our “Belieber” example, you don’t go out and break the content rules—so-to-speak—just to boost your audience volume. True targeting takes a more disciplined approach. Such tactics require a hard look into demographics, desires and the audience with whom you wish to connect. Content best practices based on relevant demographic groups, screen dwell times based on venue and audio on the screens should all be considered in the assessment of a holistic screen strategy.
Second, like Miley, attention for attention’s sake does not equal relevance to the audience. Way too many people saw Ms. Cyrus’ antics who were irrelevant to her audience, including me, my mother and pretty much everyone with whom I associate. But one might argue, “just because it’s irrelevant to one group it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t publish it out to everyone in shotgun fashion. It’ll still make an impact.” I highly disagree. When airways are clogged with irrelevant content, especially when it comes to digital out-of-home advertising, you can more easily burn a potential client.
An example may be helpful. One of many dentist office waiting rooms who’ve installed digital signage was using it to promote high margin Invisalign treatments to patients. There was one problem, most of the current patients were not there for routine dental work. The office was a prosthodontist. He made dentures, crowns and bridges for older patients–older patients who were not interested in orthodontia-like treatment. Still, the office pushed and pushed with the ads, but to not avail. When 80% to 90% of your patients are not the target demographic and 60%+ of your ads are for the said “irrelevant product, then you’re simply “clogging the airwaves.” It becomes wasted digital real estate. Making a pivot, the office soon learned that messages could more easily “clog” and fill up more of the time allotted to the sequence as long as relevancy mattered to the audience.
Finally, it’s important to understand that drawing attention does not need to be done obnoxiously. Excessive audio, inappropriate images or videos, over-played content loops and otherwise stale, C-Span-esque dribble won’t move the dial one iota. Keep it fresh, keep it relevant, keep it moderate. Nothing is worse than a screen that reminds you of email spam or that annoying telemarketer that calls right during dinner. They just clog the airwaves.
At the end of the day, software solutions will become commoditized. The only real differentiation is the content strategy. Keeping the content relevant, engaging and converting is the single most difficult struggles of most digital signage operators. Thinking through all the potential issues, including potential scenarios may help, but ultimately the audience will decide on what is best and you’ll know by the level of your conversions.