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Digital Signage Playlists Best Practices
We dug deep for stats on how to create the ultimate digital signage playlist to engage your audience.
A few weeks ago we had a message come in to Slack from one of our team. They’d been approached by a customer using ScreenCloud Signage who wanted help making better digital screen playlists and schedules which would engage their team.
The message said:
“I’ve been observing how they use ScreenCloud and they've mixed company information with Facebook feeds, noticeboards and other general content. This was because they were thinking that if they just had company info the whole time, the team would zone out and not look at it anymore. But in fact, I've noted that people still ignore it, and maybe more so because the salient information is only visible 10% of the time. Just wondering if, in our research, whether there is any received wisdom about how and what to show within digital signage playlists?”
You know the worst thing? These guys aren’t alone. In all of our support queries around features, apps and more, many of the questions we get asked are around best practice.
Digital signage is a marketing vertical that’s new to many companies. They want to give it a shot, but while getting setup is easy, the way to handle content is often not.
Questions on what to show, when, how long for and what to mix it with can all be answers that are seemingly plucked from thin air.
In this post we’ve put together a selection of science and data that points towards the best way to collect and curate your next digital signage playlist.
Creating your digital signage playlist
As a guideline, each piece of static content should play for eight seconds or less to ensure it captures the attention of humans, who have a surprisingly short attention span. In areas of high footfall (i.e. shop windows) lower the duration of content to five seconds only.
If your content contains complex elements (i.e. animations, longer descriptions), extend the length of content - it takes the brain much longer to process motion graphics or animation.
As a test, you should be able to read your message three times over in the allocated time frame. If you can’t, make the message shorter or easier to digest.
Some studies suggest that six pieces of content creates the optimal playlist format.
When thinking about repeating playlists or schedules, the viewer should have chance to see the content seven times, before moving on. Whether this is over the course of a visit or multiple visits.
Also remember, that outside of the data, how you create your playlists will differ depending on your audience, dwell time, your budget and your overall aims. If your displays are going up in an office, or surgery waiting room, naturally you may want to extend your playlist length for a ‘captive audience’. If they’re going up in a college corridor, where students will have a glance window of just 10-15 seconds, you may wish to make them shorter. The demographic of a visitor may vary also. For example, in a coffee bar you may have Moms and babies at 10am and teenage students at 1pm. The content you will show to each and the duration could differ wildly.
Using content best practices
The text within each piece of content shown on screen should be a maximum of six words. Rather than creating text heavy content, create messages that are short and can be repeated often, to increase chances of retainment.
Place the most important piece of content first in your playlist or at the top of the page within a static piece of content. Remember that messages that can’t be absorbed in 2-3 seconds or less, are unlikely to be retained.
Ensure text colors have high contrast with the background color and use sans serif fonts. Create a mix of formats, but video is often more effective when used for learning and information, as opposed to advertising. Remember to keep product pitches under one-minute in length. Educational content can be extended to up to two minutes
Ticker tapes are only beneficial when they reinforce a message already on screen (for example, a live news broadcast, with a live news written broadcast in ticker tape below). Otherwise, they disseminate the content and make the messaging harder to retain.
Creating different content types
40% of shoppers say that digital displays can change what they buy because relevant information is served close to the point of purchase. 44% of shoppers also admit to social media increasing purchasing decisions.
Within gyms, studying while moderately exercising is proven to help individuals retain information better. This could point towards educative material as a must for fitness environments. Social media also motivates people to exercise so setting up social media feeds within a gym could help inspire patrons.
Deciding when to update playlists
If you don’t refresh your content frequently, repeat visitors will eventually stop paying attention to your signs. Work out how often your playlists will show to the same audience by measuring dwell time or footfall. Try to ensure that your audience is subject to the same message no more than seven times during their customer lifecycle.
If your digital signage screens display in an office or reception, where employees might see them everyday, take advantage of apps that update themselves. Social media, live news apps, sports scores and Trello boards for your project management processes could all help keep data up to date without you having to constantly update playlists. Choose these apps and more in our App Store.
The perfect playlist myth
As one of our favorite Sixteen:Nine articles discusses, it’s difficult to find hard data on how much time our digital signage displays have with viewers. Many of the numbers we read seem to be plucked from thin air, or pulled from advertising billboards in city centres which aren’t comparable to our own campaigns.
We hope this article has given you a baseline, from which you can create your first digital signage playlist. Just remember that once the first is created, you should seek feedback and measurement of your digital signage campaigns in order to create a second that works in favor of your audience.
Like any marketing practice, digital signage is a case of trial and error. Testing different content lengths, types and timings could produce higher success than following best practices alone. To learn more, read two examples of how companies found the perfect digital signage playlist in our case studies or start building yours today at https://screencloud.com.