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Captivate your Captives

By Steve Scheidecker -- Get free updates of new posts here

Info2go Digital Pumptoppers

In the Summer of 2007 we started to entertain the idea of building one of the Midwest’s first digital signage networks.  The coasts were saturated with entities building digital signage networks in elevators, bus stops, waiting rooms, and inside of taxi cabs.  However, the Midwest remained mostly untouched by such entities — other than the occasional restaurant owner with a television displaying Powerpoint presentations.  With the rise of online media there was much skepticism over taking this direction.  The number one reason that we ended up entering the digital signage industry was because it was one of the few mediums where you have a captive audience.  For almost every digital signage company this is the big focal point.  Its when you focus on your “captive” audience that you set yourself up for failure.  Its this very viewpoint that has caused companies to struggle in the digital signage space.

When we produced our digital signage network, the captive audience made advertising dollars seem like a no-brainer.  What alternatives do you have when you are fueling your vehicle?  Its a period of time where consumers must wait without any alternatives.  There is no option for the consumer to change whats in front of them like traditional mediums.  So we went about building our network focusing on optimizing the quantity of inventory we had available for sale.  We had people captive, all we had to worry about was getting the most advertisers on-board as possible…  Right?

As we observed our network, we quickly found out how false our “captive audience” preconception was.  People do have alternatives — they are not captive!  There are thousands of things that people can do other than look at a digital signage screen.  People will look at trees, buildings, other patrons, their cellphone, or countless other interesting parts of their surroundings.  If you locked a person in a room with a digital screen that only displayed advertising, you would still be hard-pressed to get their attention.

With the thousands of visitors in front of their screens on a daily basis, digital signage companies are left scratching their heads and wondering “Why’s nobody looking at our screens?”

The key to getting people to look at digital signage screens is to focus on captivated audiences, not captive audiences.  Taunting a captive audience may help sell some advertising initially, but captive audiences do not make purchases — captivated audiences do!  And the long-term success of digital signage is dependent upon just that — getting consumers to act.  In order to become successful in digital signage you need to constantly ask yourself, how do I captivate my captive audience.

What content have you seen on digital signs that has captivated you?

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