The more I reflect on my time at DSE last week, the more rich I feel it was. And the funny thing about it is, I didn’t spend my time racing around seeing everything under the sun. I focused on a couple of activities and spent the rest of the time meeting & talking to people. There are some incredible minds in the digital signage industry. That much is for sure.
One of the richer times I had and that I wrote about last week was my dinner with Dave and Pat from Preset. It was really an interesting discussion – I was able to hear from them more than surface thoughts on important concepts that this industry wrestles with. In a lot of ways, it was kinda like a master class for me. You ever have those times when you find yourself in a situation where you’re like, holy crap, there’s some serious knowledge here? Well, that was me then.
One of the things we talked about was this idea of screen blindness. It’s an idea that I’ve thought about for awhile now. The question is – is the average consumer blind to outdoor screens? (And I’m not talking about Times Square or the strip in Vegas. I’m talking about standard outdoor screens like in elevators or in lobbies or at the gas station.) They’re everywhere now, so when someone encounters a screen, how much do they pay attention to it? Or better yet, how much do they even notice it?
I would say (and I did that night) that the answer is a) yes, generally consumers are blind to the screens, b) they don’t pay much attention to them and better yet c) they notice them less and less.
The reason? Mainly content and lack of interaction. Over time.
I think these digital screens have been around long enough with bad content that the average consumer perceives them as delivering little value. There are, of course, exceptions to this statement, but overall, most of these screens seem to be filled with advertisements, boring/useless content loops and/or some sort of broadcast news. They’re push-only devices delivering content that is completely un-engaging, un-inspiring, and most of all, something any one of us could experience on our own personal mobile devices.
And it’s been this way for years. Literally.
So, why pay attention to them?
I think this is a serious question that everyone who is trying to reach and engage consumers outside of the home, through these digital screens, must answer.
I don’t think the answer is because it reaches them at the right place and the right time. That, to me, is a given, and sure there’s value in that – reaching someone when they’re closer to the point of sale. Giving them a pertinent message while they’re in a waiting in a doctor’s office. But I think people been reached in the right place at the right time in so many un-effective ways, over time, that they see less and less value with these screens and are becoming blind to them.
Next time you’re in the presence with someone, outside of the home, in the vicinity of a digital screen, watch them. Do they watch what’s on the screen? If so, are they watching because they’re engaged? Or are they watching because it’s a distraction and something to pass the time?
Place-based digital signs, in order to be truly effective and valued, cannot be viewed as simply good at distracting people.
They have to do more. They have to deliver good, relevant content and more and more, in order to re-see them, to associate them with value, they have to engage consumers in some way.
So, that’s what I think. What do YOU think? Would love to hear your thoughts!