Tag: Digital Signage Blog
“I’m remodeling the kids’ room. May I get a gallon of lead-based paint, please?”
Before 1978, lead-based paint was deemed to be good practice and a great value. Now, in the US, a company can be fined and possibly face criminal charges for failure to comply with regulations regarding removal and disclosure of lead-based paint.
Why? Because we are now aware of the unintended, yet harmful health effects. Today, how would you react if you overheard someone asking the above question? They must be joking, or have no concern for the well-being of their children.
In like manner, it has become standard in the digital signage industry to promote video as the ultimate medium for reaching customers. Conventional “wisdom” says it’s good practice and gets the best value out of your signage. This is because many choose to ignore the harmful side effects video has upon customers.
For example, imagine yourself in a store. You notice a TV suspended from the ceiling near the checkout area. It’s playing a video. What instantly comes to mind?
“Hey, there is going to be some interesting information I really need to know.”
Nope. Most likely it’s, “Oh no! It’s a commercial.” You make the association between a TV showing video and being sold to. You quickly turn away. That’s what customers do.
At Noventri, we embrace the universal truth that people hate watching commercials and will avoid them at every opportunity. How could we, in good conscience, tout the effectiveness of video in digital signage applications? We cannot. We do not. It is a source of pride to stand up for the truth.
Despite these facts, the geeks and crooks of the digital signage industry continue to push “lead paint” as best practice.
“You must have video to have great signage!”
Or “Using lead makes for superior paints!”
A new coat of paint does brighten a room, makes it feel warm, clean, and inviting. Digital signage has the same effect. Isn’t everyone much better off without the lead and video?
Does it make a difference where your screens are mounted? YES!
The Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, The Egyptian Pyramids, and the Great Wall of China all have something in common. Whether they have an audience of one, or of thousands, they can be seen by everyone. These landmarks wouldn’t be nearly as impressive if they could only be seen by one person at a time.
The best way to make your digital screens viewable by the masses is to move them off the floor! Hanging them by the ceiling or on the wall with proper tilting can go a long way. The cynics will say ‘Yeah, but the higher they are the harder it is for them to read.’ Then get a bigger screen! Make the fonts larger! There is always a way around distance. There is NOT a way around having your message blocked while there is a group of people in front of the screen that is on a floor stand. Even one person standing in front of the screen can be enough to destroy your message if your screen is on the floor.
While floor standing screens have their place, make sure that everyone can see your screens by taking the high road, not the low road.
SIDE NOTE: Although this isn’t an article about touch-screens, one reason why touch screen kiosks are strongly discouraged is because they’re intended for one person to use them at a time. Who wants to wait in line to see the Eiffel Tower one person at a time? I would rather enjoy the Eiffel Tower with my friends and family. The same feelings or principles apply to digital signage. People are at your place of business to do something other than stop and admire the new digital screens. So make your digital signs a part of their day-to-day lives by giving them the information they need that is easily viewable by many.
A major supermarket deployed a 100-screen digital signage ad network in 2004 as a trial run for a planned 300-store install. The goal was, like all major instoreTV, to attract advertisers and run promotions within the shopping environment and to increase sales. But the project died off with little interest from both the public and potential advertisers. Why? It was a matter of too much and too many.
First, there were 40 screens within a single location. Yes. That may have been a little too much…digital display overkill. This was partly due to the excessive reliance on store traffic pattern studies. Such studies are great for knowing where customers walk and linger, but they are limited because they don’t show where customers are looking as they walk.
Second, the screens were placed too close together. Screens churned out various advertising messages all at the same time next to other screens. Concerning this ‘faux pas’ in screen placement, did anyone involved in this project even consider whether advertisers would want their message competing with other advertising within the store?
Thirdly, Apparently the screens had rapid, 10-second visuals. The content contained flashing, bright video images that bombarded customers during their shopping experience. Can you imagine 40 screens placed very close to each other and pounding moving images into the eyes of customers that are struggling to concentrate on one thing… to simply purchase groceries? This was visual harassment! Little wonder the deployment never made it past its infancy.
Using video and extreme motion in retail signage must be given very serious thought. Is it really necessary? It is costly, time-consuming and it just doesn’t work. Why digital signage vendors and resellers are intent on using flashy video for such installs is beyond reason. After all, shoppers don’t go to the store to watch television. Nor do they have the time to pause and consume such content.
But high-definition, non-moving graphics and ‘soft’ transitions within zones does works. It calms the mind. People can focus. Only then can an advertiser’s message truly be seen and digested. Good digital advertising content does not invade a person’s freedom to shop and make buying decisions. Rather than harassing customers on a visual level, it adds to the shopping experience by providing messages that are there to be consumed as needed.
Noventri has preached this message since the early days, with some resistance by the industry, naturally. But more and more, digital signage users are finding this to be sound reasoning. Video just does not work in most installations. After all, it is called digital signage. Traditional signage does not need to move. Thus, viewers that are on the move can actually read and ‘get’ the message. Soft motion through transitions provides just enough so-called movement or change to catch a viewer’s eye without harassing them. Noventri has a ‘golden rule’ that they follow for most installations: “Moving audience…still pictures; still audience…moving pictures.” In retail, the audience is moving. No need to say more.
Learn more. Ask for a live demo today.
Designing menus is much more than simply listing menu items for customers to view and choose. There is an established psychology behind engineering menus. Studies are conducted, strategies are planned and distinct actions are taken to reap the most in monetary value from menus whether digital or static.
The general strategy of restaurant menu engineering is to efficiently convey enough information to customers so that they happily choose to consume what the menu engineer prefers them to buy. So basically, the consumer does not decide what to order. Instead, they are subtly told what to order.
Profitability is at the very core of menu engineering. This is accomplished by subconsciously encouraging customers or patrons to buy particular items, while discouraging the purchase of items that are less profitable.
Menu engineering requires four fields of understanding:
- Psychology – perception, attention, emotion
- Management & Accounting – margin and unit cost analysis
- Marketing & Strategy – pricing, promotions
- Graphic Design – layout, typography
Psychology of Menus – How a Menu Should Be Engineered
Menu boards serve as a visual aid for patrons; therefore visual perception is directly linked to how a menu is read. Menu engineering focuses on how to increase the viewers’ attention through menu categories that are strategically placed on the menu. This is referred to as finding the ‘sweet spot.’ The sweet spots are where the customers look first and last.
Managerial Accounting – Finding What’s Most Profitable
Studies show that the same item on a menu will sell differently if placed in different spots within the menu. Managerial accounting encourages the purchase of the most profitable items and discourages the purchase of the least profitable items. Using established formulas marketers are able to calculate and identify these items. The menu items are than categorized as one of the following:
- Stars – popular, high profit
- Plow Horse or Cash Cow – popular, low profit
- Puzzles - not popular, high profit
- Dogs - low popularity, low profit
Once labeled, these items are then placed accordingly in similar profit margin categories on menu boards.
Menu Design – Making It Look Pretty
Designing a functional menu means considering the following items:
- Capturing and Retention
- Price Presentation
- Descriptive Labels
Capturing and Retention
Most mainstream menu design tactics focus on content presentation or how to draw or increase attention to targeted items or menu categories. The focus is not only to get consumers to be aware of a promoted item, but then to repeatedly draw them to that item or to make that item more memorable. This is accomplished by highlighting, boxing, placement at the top of a category list, or placed in sweet spots.
Interestingly, how pricing is presented on menu boards affects sales. For instance, studies have found that when menu item prices are displayed numerically without a dollar sign, diners spent significantly more than prices displayed with a dollar sign or with the prices spelled out.
Is it necessary to give menu items a descriptive label? Can’t a hamburger just be a hamburger? Not according to research. Descriptive labels such as “Texas Smokehouse Angus Burger” will increase sales by a whopping 27%! This would include sensory labels such as, “Hot Buttery, Caramel Bread Pudding,” or nostalgic labels such as “Ye Olde Beef Stroganoff.’ And never forget to use brand names in labels. Who can resist “Yuengling’s Beer Bread?”
Most menu colors will, and should, reflect the eatery itself. Corporate colors have been given much consideration and should be used consistently in signage, interiors and exteriors of Quick Service (QSRs) restaurants, Fast Casual restaurants and convenience stores (C-Stores).
The above just touches the basics. Clearly, engineering profitable menus is a science that requires more than a simple list of menu items.
Are there tips and tricks for digital menu content that you have found to be beneficial? Please share.
Noventri recently came across this particular entry at QSRWeb.com titled, “Where are the traditional menu board companies?”’
We must say, “Kudos, Scott Sharon.” He is right on when he presents several thought-provoking questions in the second paragraph. His statement, “ …most of the digital menu boards are sold by companies outside the menu board industry” is an interesting observation.
We agree wholeheartedly that IT and AV companies are popping up everywhere with the idea that they can jump on the digital menu board bandwagon and mount some video screens using standard digital signage mentality and call them digital menu boards. But they don’t always work.
Scott’s article confirmed what we have always known…just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. There is more to digital menu boards than just screens, software and hardware and this is where IT and AV companies drop the ball many times.
Likewise, for menu board companies to begin offering digital menu boards there would be a stupendous learning curve to overcome. They are far removed from the technology know-how needed to launch digital menu boards and would soon find themselves needing to partner with companies that understand the technology, ergo, IT and AV.
Ideally the solution would be to develop a symbiotic relationship with both…someone who knows the technology as well as the needs of QSRs and menu board usage. After all, traditional menu boards work, it’s just that they are cumbersome to update and compliance is sporadic throughout franchises. Digital menu boards must provide a solution to the aforementioned, but also understand the design elements of a menu and bring to the table a stable, low-cost, easy-to-use technology.
Having worked closely with QSR’s for years, we, by all means do not know everything there is to know about the menu board industry, but we have developed essential relationships and gained inside knowledge along the way. As a company, we can confidently say, there is definitely more to digital menu boards then meets the eye.
Thanks again, Mr. Sharon and QSRWeb.com for sharing this fundamental insight