A simple but crucial aspect of Digital Out-of-Home signage networks is individual screen placement.
Over the past few years, certain networks have poured enormous resources into researching and fine-tuning the placement of their screens, observing the venue’s consumer traffic patterns and analyzing line-of-sight to ensure optimal screen placement. These networks often employ multiple touchpoints with adjusted messaging to maximize brand impact on the consumer, and they analyze results to fine-tune current and future programs.
Many networks, however, seemed to rush to install screens without the thoughtful analysis required to optimize the medium’s impact, perhaps simply lacking the knowledge or experience to maximize screen placement potential. These networks possess displays that are awkwardly positioned, partially obstructed or otherwise compromised. The key is to maximize screen placement potential during the installation process.
We have spent a lot of time here at PITCH working on how networks should be valued and determining the message-conveying power of each individual network. We have also endeavored to place certain weight on the various components of a successful, viable network, and over the course of such considerations it has become increasingly evident that placement might actually be the most important factor in determining overall network value. For example, you can have long dwell times, excellent content, and a pre-qualified audience that is ready to be engaged, but if the audience can’t see the screen because of poor placement, the entire venture becomes moot.
A few examples of poor placement include screens arranged at odd angles, screens placed too high, screens that are too small for the large venue in which they play, and a major issue with several networks: screens that have to compete with the venue’s television screens. (These screens have to compete for placement, programming and engagement).
The insights we gain from this are important:
1. The positioning of each individual screen, even if it is a member of a network consisting of hundreds or thousands of screens, is critical.
2. Poorly positioned screens have a major impact on the effectiveness and success of a campaign, and it is impossible to confirm all placements on a national basis when you are not in market.
This conundrum leads to the big question: How do we as an industry evaluate each individual location?
I ask this question because—as I have discovered—not all signage placements are created equal. Sure, the research firms go to the venues and conduct research, but they approach a sample of the locations, and their research focuses on “notice”/”impressions”/”recall” rather than assessing the power of the screen placement.
I have heard mention of certain aggregation bodies/platforms doing a venue-by-venue assessment of all of the networks under its umbrella, but I have not seen the results. My traditional OOH colleagues solve similar problems by undertaking extensive market rides to inspect inventory. But not even street furniture or 8-sheet or 30-sheet plants have as many locations as many digital networks.
The answer: Regulatory inspections of entire networks? Take a 30% sampling of a network’s locations and give it a rating based on physical screen placement and performance capabilities? Independent auditing of network viability within the venue? I am not sure of the answer, but I do see the questions and hope that others in the industry acknowledge that they need to be answered.