A Fix for the Content Blues

Today’s thoughts on the state of content for DOOH come from Gina Kuck, Business Development for Daktronics National Accounts. Prior to her current role, Gina led the Creative Services team and helped write the industry best practices for LED technology.

Do you ever feel like you’re having a Groundhog Day experience?

Scene: Groundhog Day, the movie (1993)
Plot Summary: A weather man is reluctantly sent to cover a story about a weather forecasting “rat” (as he calls it). This is his fourth year on the story, and he makes no effort to hide his frustration. On awaking the ‘following’ day he discovers that it’s Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. First, he uses this to his advantage, then comes the realization that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day. —Rob Hartill

That’s how I feel about the many, many articles I read about content as it relates to Digital OOH.
Day after day someone writes about the importance of good content. The authors are thoughtful and come from different walks of life with different industry objectives, but the message is the same: The importance of good content. And yet, I still see bad content. So apparently something’s not resonating.
Years ago, I used bad content to my advantage. I could provide a valuable service to the industry through consultation and best practices. As an industry expert, I still carry the message to conventions and conferences. What I’ve come to realize is, I might be doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day… create bad content.

Why, Why Is That Mr. Groundhog?

There are many reasons we see bad content on digital displays, including time, talent and the attention it takes to produce exceptional results. I’d like to hit on two of those key reasons – talent and attention to detail.
Digital displays have characteristics that must be understood and honored with best practices. The industry is surrounded with fantastically talented graphic artists. When we talk about creating for digital technology, I often hear “I’m skilled in this space,” and it’s true. But that usually applies only to LCD digital. LCD and LED are not the same. Let’s acknowledge that the technology is different, and then let’s dive into those best practices I keep talking about.
And number 2? I’ll call it a desire for operational efficiency, but it looks like a short cut. Digital sign owners, I’m looking at you! This is a sophisticated advertising medium. I want you to stop acting like the same person person you hired to run the office and invoice clients is also a graphic designer. (And your neighbor’s child, the artistic one, isn’t an industry expert just because they are a wiz at Photoshop!) Please stop minimizing the skill and knowledge required to produce an advertisement that should be designed to achieve an objective.
I understand what I’m asking. There’s a cost for creative talent. But have you considered the cost of that lack of talent?

Time for a Solution

Those of us in the Digital OOH industry take this business seriously. Until we agree that awareness does not equal action, we are going to keep seeing bad content. We’ll get to witness it on our commutes to and from work. We’ll read one more article about contrast and brevity, and we’ll get to hear about how an ad didn’t work.

I’m not going to throw this opportunity to adjust out there without providing solutions. There are so many ways we can improve the content on those beautiful digital signs. Here are a few that I’ve gathered from resources and my own experience:

  • Produce content that looks familiar – like the concise content we are used to consuming on our handheld devices.
  • Make sure content is an extension of the rest of a campaign. Consumers expect advertisers to show up in all channels. We need visual cohesion across the landscape.
  • Use storytelling, using multiple pieces of content to keep people engaged.
  • Adopt a solid template so it’s easier to upload content.
  • Use the basic design principles: Legible fonts, vibrant colors, few words, and a direct call to action.

Whether it’s Groundhog Day or not, it’s the perfect day to break the cycle of bad content! When we do it right, we will no longer be “doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day.”

Of course, some digital owners already have amazing content. You hire skilled people to create it, and you hold your clients accountable for providing good content. It does reflect well on you and your brand, after all. In any case, we thank you!

If you’re looking for some guidance, you can review these concepts and best practices from my colleagues who are focused on this work every day:

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