More than ROI: Alternate Ways to Define Digital Signage Success

May 13, 2009

The impact of digital signage can be more far-reaching than traditional
measurements based on financial return.

By Bryan Meszaros

When most people think of digital signage, the first thought that runs through their
minds is advertising. Indeed, it’s common today to see screens in supermarkets,
banks and retail environments. In these venues, the typical network strategy is to
drive sales and create a call-to-action by displaying a mixture of content designed
to showcase various products, promotions and services.
While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, there are alternate ways in which
digital signage can generate success for both traditional and non-traditional
environments.

Measuring Success
Digital signage success is typically measured by the Return on Investment (ROI) it
generates. In a traditional environment such as retail, an ROI is usually based on
the profit from products sold in a set period. What is sometimes overlooked is the
impact retailers can have when they engage their customers through non-
promotional-based advertising.

This alternate approach creates a focus on using digital signage to enhance the
retail experience and help create a strong brand relationship with the consumer. In
this instance, the ROI isn’t immediately apparent. Instead, success builds over time
from the relationship the consumer develops with the brand.

A case in point is Reading, Pa.-based Sovereign Bank, one of the top 20 banks in
the United States. Sovereign understood the value of using digital signage to create
a relationship with its clients. The intention of its network is not to promote every
product or service the bank offers, but to engage its customers through content
designed to educate them and provide ideas on how they can benefit from their
relationship with Sovereign.

Likewise, the bank understood that it could not measure the success of this
approach by an immediate uplift in products and services but by the long-term
relationship it developed with its customers through this educational process. As
Sovereign’s customers’ knowledge grows, so does their trust in the bank.
Ultimately, this brand loyalty translates into customer retention, which reduces the
expense of promoting to new customers, and into the increased use of the bank’s
products and services, which grows revenues.

Outside the Box
Thinking outside the box, or in this case outside the mall, is where new ideas to use
digital signage are emerging. Corporate lobbies, hospitals, museums and other non-
retail venues are beginning to understand how to utilize this communication
medium to improve service, enhance the environment or educate their audience.

A recent example of a successful approach to digital signage in a non-traditional
environment is the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History project. The
digital signage application for this renowned Washington, D.C., institution extends
wayfinding from simple directional guidance to an educational experience, providing
detailed information on events and exhibits within the museum. Unlike traditional
media networks that base their success on a ROI, the effectiveness of this
application is measured by the visitor experience.

In a museum or other non-traditional location, that experience might include such
factors as ease of navigating the venue, convenience of knowing about scheduled
events, knowledge or awareness gained through the information presented,
accessibility for people with vision or hearing impairments or other physical
disadvantages, and engagement with the signage through interactivity — any of
which could contribute to a memorable visit.

As a communication medium, digital signage has the ability to influence consumers
and engage audiences. There are many traditional and non-traditional
environments suited for digital signage. It’s important to understand that success
can be determined in a variety of ways. Developing a long-term relationship with
the consumer or creating an exciting museum experience are such examples.
Achieving an ROI is important, but sometimes success can be measured differently.
We need to look at digital signage as more than an advertising medium and
remember that it’s also a tool that can create a dynamic visual experience. As the
industry continues to grow and learn from the past, new concepts and ideas will
emerge on how to use digital signage as more than an advertising medium and
measure its success in ways other than traditional ROI.

For more information on Digital Signage, contact Josh Jagfield and the Emerson Technologies Audio Visual team.

Bryan Meszaros is the founder and Chief Business Development Officer of the digital
signage agency OpenEye, located in S. Amboy, N.J. Article courtesy of the Digital
Signage Expo Conference.

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