- Create messages with the understanding that the store has many other visual and audio distractions.
- Think billboards, not television. The majority of the shoppers won't stop and stare at the screens, so you need to communicate your message in the "blink of an eye".
- The content must be good enough to attract attention to the screen, even if a shopper only glances at it for a second.
- Advertising messages must be short and frequent. No more than ten seconds in aisles and fifteen seconds in dwell zones, and they should always have a call to action for the shopper.
- The "star" of the message should always be the product, its attributes, and the added value it brings to the consumer over its competitors. In other words, focus your digital signage ads on the things that make the product desirable in the first place.
- Consider regionalizing your ads when appropriate, since different communities often use the same product differently.
- Keep content fresh to avoid shopper complacency and employee fatigue. The network is a monster... you must feed it with new content!
Considering how many things can vary from one in-store network to the next, these results probably can't be extended to every digital signage network out there. But I'd be willing to bet that, generally speaking, they'd hold up in virtually any big-box or grocery store environment. This has led me to two conclusions. First, sometimes it does take bona fide research to disprove things that "common-sense" tells you ought to be true. Take the product promotions note from above, for example. I was really surprised to learn that a big animation showing "SALE, 1 DAY ONLY!" (en espaol) was actually less successful at motivating shoppers than a much more involved, instructional piece. Second, the initial 1.5-3 seconds really is all you get to make your impression, and anybody who isn't really impressed by this needs to sit down with a stopwatch and see just how little time that actually is. Then, go read up on the first-moment-of-truth and what it means to in-store marketers.
I'll leave the academic question of whether it's even possible to "tell a story" (as the agency folks like to say) in such a short period of time up to you. But I will say this: Televisa and Wal-Mart Mexico have clearly shown that if you're trying to deliver in-store messages that help grow the bottom line, three seconds can be more than enough.