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Avnet hosted its first Brilliant Digital Signage Partner Summit last week in Arizona. During the Summit, Avnet's supplier partners presented their products and services to our new dedicated Digital Signage team. What quickly became evident was something that I had suspected.

In today's digital signage market, return on investment can no longer be based solely on the cost of digital signs versus printed signs. Rather, digital signage must add value and drive incremental return, whether that equates to increased sales, reportable viewing metrics or increased customer loyalty. The point is that reduction or elimination of printing costs is no longer adequate justification for decision makers.

So what exactly does that return on investment look like? It all stems from one major feature — interactivity.

In my opinion, the greatest benefit of digital signage is not that it can change on demand to display different content, but that it has the ability to engage your audience (who has increasingly dwindling attention spans) with immersive content that makes your signage a true experience!

Furthermore, with the very nature of the content being digital it means that, with the correct software, you can begin to connect with your audience by delivering more relevant and impactful content.

The key to building a truly interactive experience that drives increased ROI is your strategy. Unfortunately, it seems as though many companies are missing the mark on first defining the goals of the content before creating the content and choosing their hardware and software.

I would contend that what companies really care about is hitting their goals with effective content and should really care less about the hardware — it is a necessary evil to achieve their goals. Yet, we all continue to see static or completely blank screens all around us. It becomes apparent the company spent the bulk of their budget on hardware (number of screens and size of screens) and forgot the most important part — the content.

Digital signage is no longer new, but fairly common in the places we eat, shop, travel and work. While operationally, a digital sign may be beneficial to the deploying company, for the user there is no longer any advantage to showing static content in a digital format.

So how do you create an interactive experience?

Start with your goals. Then, take that box you've been thinking in and blow it up. New technologies like touch, gesturing, 3-D and products like Intel's AIM Suite, CopiaMobile's Wave2Save are completely changing what is now possible.

Your goal is to get the user to look at your sign for as long as possible. How can you do that? Let them touch it; navigate to their area of interest. Add a camera that shows them on your screen, interacting with the content. Allow them to interact with their smartphone or mobile device, taking with them videos or photos of your products, coupons or something else unique or special. Then, allow them to post directly to social media, increasing your reach exponentially. See where I'm going with this?

Don't be afraid to think big and push the envelope. In the end you'll be glad you did.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Christopher Krywulak
    Great piece on digital signage interactivity, Jon. With the rapid increases in digital signage usage, connecting with customers is vital. We at iQmetrix completely agree that customer service is of utmost importance in today's multichannel environment: an engaging, in-store digital platform is not enough. That's why we at iQmetrix have developed the XQ Interactive Retail for mobile retailers. XQ draws employees and customers to interact more and integrates an informative in-store experience with excellent customer service that will increase customer loyalty. Adopters of XQ will see a significant drop in walk-outs and an increase in consumer interest.
    - Christopher Krywulak, President and CEO, iQmetrix
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Latest posts by Jon Parks
Jon Parks
Jon is a product marketing manager for Avnet's Brilliant Digital Signage, focused on building supplier relationships driving digital signage solutions for Avnet's reseller and OEM/ISV customers. He's has been with Avnet for five years supporting supplier marketing for the Embedded and Sales Acceleration groups.
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