Before I dive in, please take some time to watch TED video below, courtesy of Psychologist Barry Schwartz:
There are a couple of key points from this discussion that relate directly to the world of digital signage and particularly digital advertising. First, it causes me to question whether digital signage is helping or hurting consumers’ happiness (which is wholly a discussion for another time)? Second, does digital signage add to other forms of digital media? Finally, given so many digital media choices, how do we get the consumers to pay attention?
I’ve seen all the industry reports which showcase the power of various forms of media interacting to make a real impact on the hearts, minds and wallets of today’s busy digital consumer. But is it really helping as much as we’d like to tout? My personal concern is that today’s media landscape is so overrun by so many different forms of digital media that making an impact with digital out-of-home alone can be fruitless without the right plan in place. Think for a moment, not just about all the devices, but all the various distracting applications that are consuming peoples’ attention.
- Tablets and Mobile Phones. Counting the number of applications available to these devices has become as worthless as McDonalds counting the number of hamburgers they’ve sold. Once you reach scale, it doesn’t really matter any more.
- Televisions are now in a state of constant stream with Redbox, Roku, xBox and others taking up a huge portion of consumers’ time.
- Traditional and Application-based radio (like Pandora, etc.) all act as distractions
- Large Format Digital Billboards. I’ve opined here before.
- The Internet. This could include everything from internet search to social networks, email and business networks.
The list could go on, but it’s safe to conclude that the digital media landscape has only one way to go on the fragmentation continuum. The real struggle with all the fragmentation isn’t just on the targeting level for the advertiser in answering the question, “how do I now reach these people?” More important, in my opinion, is “how do non-intrusively reach these people?” How do we make the message subtle enough so people aren’t turned off, but loud enough that people still care and react? That’s the difficulty of today’s media environment and it’s only going to get worse.
Have you ever inadvertently included non-subscribers to a large list in an email campaign? If you don’t do it right, the hate mail can come flying-in. While digital signage is certainly less intrusive as it doesn’t involve a personal account, the idea and issue still remains. We talk over and over about creating quality content, but what about subtle content and in many cases, combined content. Some would argue that the very nature of digital signage media is subtle and non-intrusive enough. It certainly depends, as always, but if it’s too subtle, then we’re missing the opportunity of truly making an impact. That’s at least part of the goal of programmatic advertising in digital signage–giving the ability to combine forces with various pieces of media in a way that is–hopefully–non-intrusive, but still impacting on the consumer.
My biggest worry is that while dynamic signage does tend to get more attention, it’s just yet another distraction in the spectrum of media distribution and it has become one of the easiest mediums to ignore. Certainly content helps. Certainly combining campaigns helps. Certainly interactivity helps (in its various and sundry forms). But I’m concerned–as is Satya Nadella of Microsoft that unless changes are made, the company could become all but irrelevant. The same is true for this industry. As expected, we’re not growing as fast as mobile, but we are growing. We have to remember that we’re competing with so many other players outside of the industry, that our goal is to sell the value-add of digital signage to business buyers. In doing so, we have to make sure our message is relevant to their desire to target the end-user.
What do you think?