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MagicINFO blog

How data-driven content is shaping the future of digital signage - part 1

How data-driven content is shaping the future of digital signage - part 1
4 min read

In the world around us, you see more and more digital screens appearing in public spaces, office buildings, and shops. This is a logical development, but at the same time, digital signage is still used to a limited extent, more as a replacement for a printed poster. And I feel that’s a missed opportunity for many organizations. In this first article about the future of digital signage, I will walk you through my vision of how to be successful with your digital signage solution in a technology-driven industry. And not entirely unimportant, how to evolve your signage solution in a future-proof project.

The evolution of digital signage

Many organizations still use digital signage in a more traditional manner to schedule graphics, videos, PowerPoints, and pdf-files. This is slowly changing into a more database-based approach, by using video background and showing pricing and products extracted from a database for example. And this is rapidly evolving; eventually, digital signage will be less about just showing nice graphics or videos, and become more and more data-based content. Programmatic buying-the use of automated technology for media buying-is already used more commonly. Without being aware of it, we witness a lot of smart, rule-based, data-driven content. 


“We are constantly clustering; how people will behave, based on certain perimeters we decide what to show on display.”

For example, a BMW 3 Series stops at a gas station. By using the license plate it can be observed this car is leased and when this particular lease contract is expiring. Imagine it’s a three-year lease contract and he is now in his 30th month, then it would be smart to show an advertisement at the gas station of an Audi or a new BMW. You are a fool if you show him a Volvo or Fiat advertisement. But also; you are shopping in the city on a rainy afternoon and you walk by a warehouse window. You notice a screen promoting umbrellas. That would be convenient!

In order to fulfill these digital signage needs, digital signage CMS software products have evolved to the point where they now support meta tags, rule-based playback, and rule-based triggers. You can now use any type of data extraction from a device with an IP to manage what’s shown on your digital signage displays. In the not-so-distant future, we can envision all digital signage content will be managed without any direct user interaction. 

Of course, you still need to know what to do with all this data and variables. The fact that all these devices have a chip nowadays opens up a lot of possibilities, but the next step is to analyze the information.

“Data analysts will (have to!) get a bigger role in digital signage since they have this rich source of data available.”

When using the data wisely, it can grant you immense insights and possibilities to turn this into powerful digital signage adverts, depending upon your creativity. Because that’s still a tricky point.

Creative minds are much needed 

Today’s digital signage asks for a different - more creative - capability compared to working with more traditional digital signage solutions. There are a lot of different variables that designers have to work with, which might be overwhelming. Designers cannot render it anymore to just one video. This job asks for a new generation of designers that has to think as a programmer. 

“We will have to rely more on these creative designers. This is still a dark hole now.”

Actually, it’s a lot about making it more simple. The main question remains: what is the goal of your digital signage solution? Don’t forget humans are irrational creatures. We think we determine for ourselves what we do, but that is not the case. As Professor Lamme (a well-known brain scientist) explained: “Our brain determines what we do and a brain scan knows better what we want, for example when buying something, than we know ourselves.” So that’s why we need to let that creativity come out (or take on an excellent creative member on your team!) because that’s when the most fun and beautiful digital signage projects come together.

Obstacles in implementing futureproof digital signage solutions

Of course, just being creative does not get you all that’s necessary. I notice that there are some obstacles that hinder organizations to rely on more futureproof digital signage solutions: 

  • Fear of the unknown (and undesired) outcomes; As the data volume grows, data ethics are debated and security continues to be an ongoing priority. And in consumer commerce, one of the overtly evident exchanges of data between people and business takes place within loyalty programs. Loyalty programs are often under attack; will it enhance the member’s experience or will it invade their privacy? Is it not very easy to draw false conclusions?

But when the corporate world and creative world come together, it's becoming more fun and that will also make the technology less scary.”

  • Silo thinking; The silo mentality (a situation that occurs when important information or processes are not shared because they are that isolated, exclusive, or remote) but also inconsistent customer focus, are preventing organizations from delivering good customer experience. Organizations that work in silos are not capable of being customer-centric over time. When your POS system is closed, it will not get you very far.
  • Issues with technology: The implementation of digital signage solutions is not always without problems. The technology used can revolutionize your relationships with customers, but mistakes result in higher costs and disappointing results. Therefore organizations need to have their connectivity and APIs in place, own the right hardware, have correct power requirements, and this all securely installed. This can be challenging at times.

Make the most of your digital signage solution

It’s a waste if your digital signage solution is not used to its full potential. It may ask for an investment from your organization; having the right (data analyst) employees in place, allowing creativity to play a bigger role, and overcoming some obstacles that might come your way, but it’s definitely worth it! Next week I will explain the influence of new technologies for the future of your digital signage solution.


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