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Common mistakes in Digital Signage

altDue to ignorance of how to optimize the services of a Digital Signage network or save costs in the installation and operation, many projects of this type stop working in a short time.

Cristian Mecalco*

It is a sad reality that many projects in Digital Signage (DS) that began with high expectations failed "in a big way", with screens off as a final result. It is sadder to recognize that the main reason for the failure could be listed in the following 10 points to avoid at all costs when installing a DS network:

1. Invest as little as possible in hardware and software.
While hardware and software are only part of Digital Signage, believing that a home screen and DVD running 18 hours a day, replace a professional monitor and a player designed to work 24x7 365 days a year, is a serious mistake. Investment in these two points will guarantee the functional life of the network.

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2. Believe that installing the Digital Signage network at the top of the premises is the best option.
This point is important to consider because many Digital Signage networks in supermarkets are installed at least 2.20 meters above the head of visitors to the establishment.
If the screen is at that height, by the time we are two meters away we will have to raise our head and keep it there to receive the information, a very uncomfortable posture.
No doubt the screen will look better from four or five meters away, but if the screen is not large enough or the content is not readable by the size of the letters or any other graphic element, there we have another problem.

3. View the Digital Signage screen as an extension of the TV.
This is, in my opinion, the biggest mistake of all those who start in digital signage.
The screens of a Digital Signage network have a different communication objective than the TV.
Think about it: Will a woman in a supermarket stop to see "the long version of the commercial of X kitchen product that lasts 2:30 minutes" on a Digital Signage network? And with this I move on to the next point.

4. "Save" the creation of content by placing the same TV commercials in the Digital Signage network.
In simple words, the DS is not TV, they do not communicate the same and above all, the type of information they share are of opposite natures. The communicative DNA of the Digital Signage network aims, among other things, the positioning and recall of the brand in situ; helps you remember the attributes of product X over product Y at specific time periods of the place where the network was installed. The creation of specific content goes hand in hand with the particular moment and context: restaurants, waiting rooms, hospitals, etc.

5. Not knowing exactly what you want to achieve with a Digital Signage network.
The lack of knowledge about Digital Signage leads many to not have a clear goal on how to exploit their network to the fullest. After they install it, they do not know if they will sell advertising, or screen time, or if what they want is to have advertising and then transmit the football matches of the local team, or how the times and content received are managed ... in short, the list goes on and on. Before installing an entire network, ask yourself: What is my main objective when placing a Digital Signage network and what are the technologies and creative strategies to achieve it?

6. Turn off the screens.
This is the most common mistake in the short term and it happens for different reasons: you do not see the results you want in the ROI (ReturnOnInvestment), you did not plan the creation of new content after your stellar campaign, you no longer like "something" of the network ... there are many reasons, but the solution is not to "close your eyes" or turn off the screens. The ideal is to identify the error or failure and find the solution. A screen off is money thrown away, a screen with errors is an investment that must be strengthened.

7. Abandon the screens to their fate.
Like any piece of technology, hardware needs maintenance that results in the fewest potential problems. Many times the screens are turned off not because of network errors, but because of lack of maintenance. There are software solutions that present the ability to monitor when a player or screen is about to fail, if it is failing or if it has already failed. Including these solutions would help you solve the problem remotely and greatly reduce technician visits to the network site.

8. Do not update the content.
Even if your content will be the same for an entire year, changing the presentation is important to "refresh" the medium and presentation of the information. This collaborates in the task of communicating correctly and that the medium continues to be attractive to other possible advertisers in your network or by the brands, keeping the image of the product or service updated.

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9. Measure Digital Signage with metrics from other media.
Television has its metric, which in turn is the king of the traditional metric: ratings. Wanting to measure the DS with TV or other media metrics is simply impossible. The DS has its own measurement strategies provided by a combination of software + camera(s).

10. Don't look for real experts.
When someone tells me that digital signage does not work the first thing I ask is about the characteristics of its network, and some answers are: "the DVDs that they put me did not last me even 2 months" or "The LCD of the vertical screens began to drain at 3 months" or "the monitors do not synchronize well and the video looks all cut"... and it is that is more common than one imagines, find people who say they know how to install a Digital Signage network and improvise a solution just not to lose the project.

If we invest time in knowing the characteristics of the car we want before buying it, why not invest time in researching what a professional Digital Signage network consists of and who can offer a complete solution.

* Cristian Mecalco is the director of the Digital Signage Association of Mexico.

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