Regardless of whether you sell equipment, design content, or are in charge of the digital signs sitting out in your lobby, chances are you've had to think about what those screens ought to be showing. The question of what the "best" content would be for your screens usually can't be answered in an objective way, though obviously there will be dramatically different goals and constraints depending on whether the screens are placed in shopping malls, waiting rooms or airport terminals. A long time ago, we noticed that despite being a software company, we were constantly being asked about content. That's one of the main reasons we've developed so much organized research about the best practices for creating digital signage content. And while we discussed content strategy in an article a few years back, I realized that there was still one simple but important document we hadn't shared on the blog: our quick-and-dirty content services questionnaire.
Asking the tough questions
It can be very productive to take a step back and examine the process that takes a mental notion of a good message to put on a screen, and turns it into an actual content file running on your displays -- even if you've already deployed screens and are feeding them a steady diet of fresh content. In fact, we're frequently asked to help with this kind of exercise, sometimes by network operators who -- annoyingly -- aren't even using our software. Likewise, we often find ourselves needing to spoon (or shovel) feed knowledge to new network partners who might have grand ambitions, but lack experience in this area.
Digital Signage Content Services Questionnaire (PDF format), but if you choose to adopt it for your own needs, you can call it whatever you like. At only three pages long, it's short enough for even the most time-pressed individuals to fill out. And it's a great way to break the ice with new clients and partners and show them that you've been thinking deep thoughts about things like loop length, dayparting and content strategy.
What can the questionnaire tell us?
Well, if you're already operating some screens and decide to fill out the survey yourself, it might show you where there's still room to make improvements. Perhaps you never thought much about the ratio of advertiser to non-advertiser content before. Or maybe you hadn't considered the relationship between the average trip time or dwell time and the number of channels of content running in your venue. Taking a moment to write down your thoughts on these things can be quite illuminating, and I know of several networks that started off on new content optimization projects after simply doing a little introspection along these lines.
Obviously, if you're a vendor or content creator and can get an early-stage client or prospect to answer these critical questions about content, you can put yourself in a better place to sell the right pots and pans when the time comes. I also find that sending out documents that require a bit of actual work to fill out helps to separate the wheat from the chaff, since the worst prospects are usually also the laziest.
And finally, whether you're circulating this type of document internally (amongst your coworkers) or sending it out to vendors, partners or clients, what it really does is provide a launching-off point for further discussions about strategy, workflow and task distribution and responsibilities, all of which are important for making any digital signage project a success.
Which questions are too often left unanswered by network owners/operators? By vendors? By content creators? Leave a comment and let us know.