Friday, September 28, 2007

Content Worst-Practice #3

3. You've split the screen into multiple content windows
This is likely a controversial addition to the list, given that so many digital signage networks partake in it, but splitting the screen into multiple content windows—generally in the form of a main panel, a side-bar, and a news/stock ticker or two—is an unabashedly bad practice. For a moment, let’s explore two most common reasons for doing so…

The big television news networks do it. Yes, the networks do, but they don’t have anything invested in what particular bit of content their viewers are watching on their screen. Banks, on the other hand, are generally footing the cost of the network in hopes of selling additional products to their customers…why would they want to provide an alternative to watching their ads while they are running? Given the choice between reading a news ticker, watching the weather, or watching an ad for home equity, which would you choose?

The news material keeps customers entertained, and alleviates wait-line fatigue. Yes, news, weather, and sports material does keep customers entertained, but there’s no need to provide it all at once. In fact, exit interviews conducted during a pilot test for one of the US’ largest retail banks indicated that customers preferred when syndicated content was provided one bit at a time (ie. separate spots for news, weather, and sports sprinkled throughout the loop), finding it easier to read. And on the wait-time point, branches whose screens displayed multiple content windows faired no better than those in which the entire screen was dedicated to one spot at a time.

It helps keep the content fresh. Bosh. XML feeds can be incorporated into other content just as easily as they can into a ticker. If anything, keeping content in four panes fresh should be more difficult, because there are more “mouths” to feed.

In all, just a bad idea.


marketingmaven said...

Screen splitting hither and thither seems more a show of technological one-upmanship than a way of merchandising financial products. It’s baffling, especially considering the limited amount of time available to speak to a given customer need.

The proliferation of potential marketing channels makes the job of merchandising commoditized products - like those in banking - difficult enough. Worse, TiVo, iPod, and XM Radio, enables the complete elimination of advertising.

So when is a better time to communicate directly with our customers, than when they have visited us to do business? There isn’t a better time. So why clutter the message by layering content and slackening focus?

The truth is screen splitting is a symptom of a larger and more deadly disease known as lack of marketing focus. Our industry is not taking the time to ask important questions, like, “What am I trying to accomplish with digital signage?” And, “What metrics will I use to demonstrate that I’m succeeding?”

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