The way in which information is presented to consumers, and within organisations, has changed dramatically over the years. Television, email, social media and websites have afforded the opportunity to communicate faster and to more people. Information needs to be faster, easier to assimilate, and more powerful than ever before; after all we are bombarded with messages left, right and centre all day long.
Since shortly after lithography was invented, all the way back in 1796, posters have been used to get marketing messages into the faces of target consumers. But now we have digital signage. With it comes the ability to be more dynamic in the way that we communicate. The ability to adopt a true direct marketing strategy.
Digital signage is not only used for sales messages though. The technology is found in universities to ensure real time, consistent communication to students on campus. The technology is found in the atria of finance companies, providing branded industry information and company updates.
The technology can be linked to the Internet and provide the opportunity not just for static adverts, but also audio and high definition video. It can provide a seamless link between consumers and social media. It can be set to loop information and present different messages on a schedule, tailored to different locations in a network. Digital signage is incredibly flexible.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that companies are benefiting from digital signage. After reading this we hope that you will have a greater appreciation of the diverse ways that companies are using the technology to meet their specific goals.
In Harrods there are approximately 150 screens, running on 6 different networks. They are concentrated around the highest footfall areas, such as the escalators. Guy Cheston, Media Sales Director, explains that Plasma screens first went into Harrods about a decade ago. He says “from there we really recognised the potential for using the space in a more dynamic format, and that from a commercial point of view we could generate more revenue from the same space.”
In Harrods the dynamic moving messages capture the attention of the customers. Cheston explains that a lot of research at Harrods bears out that moving messages are more effective than static images.
The retail space, and particularly the luxury end of the sector, is seeing digital signage becoming an integral part of marketing campaigns. The screens are being used for promotions, new product launches, and re-enforcing core product and service sales. The Burberry Regents street Flagship store has, like Harrods, been an early adopter of the technology and is pioneering its use to market to customers.
Cheston affirms that the future of fixed digital signage will be geared towards more interaction with smartphones. The challenge is how this will happen.
University of Bristol
Universities around the UK have adopted digital signage as a core communication tool. At Bristol University the technology is installed at over 25 locations on campus. The screens are managed, and owned, locally by the relevant university department.
At universities and colleges around the UK the signage is used for timetables and schedules, emergency information, TV streams, sports information, announcements and news that is relevant to the location of the screen. The technology offers the opportunity to provide real time, consistent information, driven locally by different departments, or by a central administrator.
The Post Office
The Post Office was the first and largest digital signage network in the UK. It serves to advertise products offered by the Post Office, but also as a third party advertising platform geared towards generating revenue. In much of the Post Office Network these digital signage installations are managed by advertising companies, who pay the Post Office to tap in to their customers.
Revenue generation is a key goal for many buyers of digital signage.
NHS South Birmingham
The trust installed digital signage in order to drive content to 65 surgeries from Head Office. Their goals were to ‘educate’ patients on frequently asked surgery and health questions, to ‘entertain’ patients while they wait, and to have a conduit for the communication of ’emergency’ messages. The system has been a success.
In hospitals and surgeries around the UK digital signage offers diverse functions and benefits. It provides updates on waiting times, live TV, medical information, advice and guidance. The screens tend to lead to higher levels of satisfaction amongst patients.
When PwC relocated to their modern, stylish corporate offices in Dublin there was a problem. How would they keep the 2000+ employees up to date with the latest information?
The company decided to install 29 digital signs in high footfall locations in the 22,000 sq ft office complex. The solution has been far more flexible and time efficient than emails or noticeboards. Staff are kept abreast of information related to PwC and local initiatives.
In addition, visitors to the office are met with branded digital signage, which no doubt enthuses them with a highly positive image of the company’s communication and technological strategy and capacity.
Corporations use digital signage for staff absences, employee of the month notices, message boards and company targets. The use of the technology really is down to the requirements of the business.
The Future of Digital Signage
As Cheston suggests, the goal of getting people on their smartphones, on social media and on corporate websites as a direct result of digital signage is going to be a key driver of the technology. The new digital signage revolution is going to become inextricably intertwined with the now established smartphone revolution. In the future digital signage will be a necessity for many. That is the future.
As of now, with Transport for London trialling an interactive real time bus journey digital signage solution at Bus Stop G in the busy Piccadilly Circus area, it is only a matter of time before the technology is out on our streets; as well as in our businesses. As we become more and more used to the technology more companies and public sector organisations will take it up. Early resistance to technology is normally just a reflection of a lack of understanding.
The more the technology is rolled out the more companies will be compelled to invest in order to compete. Right now, in many sectors, digital signage provides an opportunity to steal a march on the competition; to enhance the corporate reputation and become more efficient in marketing, and general communication.