The Digital Signage Insider

Customizing digital signage content for key audience segments

Published on: 0000-00-00

A few days ago, I gave my spiel about making great digital signage content to a customer that has been unsuccessfully trying to grow their retail signage network. They had a good footprint, well-placed screens, and the support of an enthusiastic retailer/partner. But for all that, they were having a lot of trouble making content that could really influence shopper behavior, let alone drive more sales. While they did suffer from some common and easily remedied mistakes (like using a low-contrast scheme that made text hard to read, and using fonts that were too small), we ultimately decided that the real problem was more subtle and complex. Specifically, their messages were only geared towards one type of store patron, and didn't address the people responsible for actually driving the purchase decision. We had to find a way to reach that audience.

Are you focusing on the wrong viewers?

Last year, I wrote an article about how the Net Promoter Score relates to in-store media. Under this approach, people who would actively recommend a product or service to another person are called "promoters." The theory is that even a relatively small number of promoters can strengthen your brand, since word of mouth advertising is extremely effective, and these people are essentially doing some of your selling for you. However, there is a problem with this system in a retail setting. Within a store, many people aren't in a position to be promoters or detractors, but they can still influence the purchase decision. As I was researching this further, I came across this article from The Customer Experience Labs that sums it up nicely:
The initial question is: Who is your customer?. This is not always obvious since there are many actors involved in the purchase and use of a certain product or service. Yet five main roles can be identified that exist in many purchasing situations. Often several, sometimes all of these roles might be conducted by the same individual but recognizing the needs and requirements of each separately leads to potential areas for service design.

Here is a short description of the single roles:
  • Initiator: The individual who initiates the search for a solution to the customer's problem.
  • Influencer: Individuals who have some influence on the purchase decision.
  • Decider: Taking into consideration the views of the initiator and influencer some individual will make the decision as to which product or service should be purchased.
  • Purchaser: The individual who is actually paying for the product or service
  • User: The individual who finally consumes the product or service.
It is important to understand that in any buying situation various actors can and will influence the buying decision and they will also be - either active or passive - experiencing a product and service and should therefore be considered when designing the overall "brand experience". If different individuals undertake these roles, it is necessary to develop individual and differentiated services to satisfy the different needs and requirements.

The standard example for this is a visit to a theme park with children. The initiator might be the child that saw an advertising on TV, while the decider and purchaser are the parents. While it is important to design a great experience for children at a theme park, it might be even more important to focus on the experience of parents because ultimately they will decide and pay for the next trip to Disneyland.
See the problem? With at least five main roles (and one could argue there are even more, or perhaps sub-roles for each), it's suddenly much more difficult to figure out whom you should be targeting with your retail media content. Are you advertising in Toys "R" Us? If so, should you aim your messages at children? These children probably aren't the deciders or purchasers, but are very likely the initiators and influencers. Or is the parent the optimal target? In this environment, customer age might well be the determining factor, but which age is the right one?

Or consider a home electronics store like Best Buy. A shopper coming in for a $20 DVD could well embody all five roles, from initiator to purchaser and user. But if he's scouting out a $2,000 big screen TV, he might only be the initiator and influencer, and other family members might have to come together to make the decision. So it's not necessarily demographics that would govern what the right target is, it could also be the purpose of the visit.

How should audience segments influence your content strategy?

As I review more and more digital signage content, I'm starting to think that addressing the right viewers might be an even bigger challenge than the design issues (like animated text and lack of a call to action) that many content creators face. We've already shown how addressing the most common content issues improves the overall effectiveness of digital signage ads. I'm willing to bet that the same is true for optimizing content to appeal to the best segment of a viewing audience.

But how do you figure out which role to target? I don't have an answer for that yet, only more questions -- but as I work through them I'll be sure to share my results here. I'm also positive that I'm not the first one to come across this issue.

So, how do you make sure your content is geared towards the right segment of your audience? Have you seen any improvements when aiming at influencers versus aiming at the deciders and purchasers?

Leave a comment with your thoughts. Email and RSS subscribers, click the link below to access the comment form.


+1 # Robin 2008-08-11 08:31
This is all pretty obvious. Clearly there is a need to appeal to the one with the 'want' and the one with the 'money'. It's nothing new either. Advertising has been doing this for years. Watch any childrens cartoon and in the ad-breaks you'll bombarded with commercials for sweets, toys and themeparks. It's a true enough point you're making above, but isn't it a bit obvious?
+1 # Bolaji 2008-08-11 12:36
You are right Robin. But the reality is, making it clear in a new world is not a crime. Is it? Digital Signage content must be made to clearly distinguish the one with the "want" and the one with the "money". I sincerely know it's clear just like you know but it's something most time overlooked. Thanks to you Bill for all the wonderful works done. Your fan from Nigeria.
0 # Bill Gerba 2008-08-11 12:41
Hi Robin, But that's my point exactly - it \\doesn't\\ work that way. Going after the influencers at home -- particularly on a medium that's almost exclusively used for entertainment, like TV -- is a no-brainer because the purchase decision is still far away. Out of home, and particularly at the point of purchase, is a completely different story. For some types of purchases, it might be more effective to target the ultimate decision maker. For others, you might have better luck merely targeting the influencer who can push that decision maker over the edge. As far as I'm aware, there isn't any category- vertical- or price-adjusted research on this at all, so I don't know if there are any trends whatsoever. But my gut feeling, particularly after hand-optimizing a few spots for a few campaigns, is that there probably are, and knowing about them would save my clients (and plenty of others) a lot of time and money, and make their networks more successful at the same time.
0 # BOLAJI 2008-08-11 12:41
And if you look at the statement, you could definitely see that it's could be a big issue: "But how do you figure out which role to target?" Content Designers are not there to see the one with "want" and the one with "money", but with the question, you will realize the importance of making clarification between the two.

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