Putting mobile and digital signage in 'context' (Part II)

July 30, 2013 | by Steven Gurley

In Part I of "Putting the Context into Mobile," it was written that mobile context is the match between a consumer's given physical environment, such as a store, hotel, restaurant, etc., and the optimal mobile experience, such as a mobile app, mobile website, commercial transaction, etc., for that environment.

The first article took the position that the consumer must first be made aware that one or more mobile experiences exist for a given environment before a context can be set. Once the awareness is established, the consumer must then be educated on the scope of the mobile experience as well as the value of the experience.

Several techniques for creating a context were reviewed. The first article concentrated on digital signage, which was described as a system for centrally managing the delivery of digital messages to electronic LCD/LED/Plasma screens installed within different venues (i.e. environments) for the purpose of influencing of educating, entertaining and/or influencing viewer behaviors.

Millions of digital signage screens are in use worldwide, and thousands more are being deployed daily. Very few, however, are being used to create a mobile context. This article will focus on further explaining how mobile app developers, mobile network operators, mobile solution providers, venue owners and mobile advertisers can use digital signage to set mobile context, create a more engaging experience for the consumer and increase awareness and dependence on a given mobile experience.

As noted in the first article, the first step is to define the target audiences for the mobile experience and then identify the venues in which the target audiences can be found. Once the venues are identified, the next step is to find the digital signage network operator(s) that service those venues.

It is important to note that not all digital signage network operators are the same. Some are venue owners who operate their own digital signage networks, some are third parties who manage networks on behalf of these venues, and others are third parties that manage the digital signage networks for their own benefit but allow venue owners to access a portion of the screen real estate for promoting their message.

Venue owners who manage their own networks are generally the easiest to approach about a mobile integration. They intimately understand the purpose of the digital signage and generally have a higher propensity to listen to ideas that can enhance the value of their network and the potential impact to their business.

It should be noted that third-party network operators can be sold on promoting a mobile experience, but it is likely to be a much more difficult and complex discussion. Third-party network owners have a wider range of motivations for doing business. For the purposes of this article, we'll focus on those venues in which the venue owner manages their own networks.

Once the target audience and corresponding venues have been identified and once it has been determined that the venues have a self-managed digital signage network, the next step is to identify and articulate how promoting the mobile experience will benefit the venue.

Venue management will only be comfortable promoting the mobile experience if it has a direct benefit to them. It is, therefore, essential that those advocating the mobile experience be able to clearly articulate the value of the mobile experience to the venue's key personnel.

After selling the venue owner on the value of the mobile experience, the next step is to craft a message that defines the scope and value of the mobile experience to the venue's customers, guests or visitors. This message will provide the basis for educating the venue patrons on the mobile experience via the digital signage

Once the message is crafted, it must then be repurposed (e.g. made into graphics, videos, illustrations, etc.) for display on a digital sign. The digital signage network operator will integrate the repurposed message into the network's playlist.

The playlist defines the time and date that the message will play, on which screen(s) the message will play, and what priority the message will have on the screen. The screen priority dictates whether the message plays as a singular message on the screen or concurrent with other messages as a part of multimessage screen layout.

A singular presentation of the message is usually the most effective approach for capturing consumer attention. The message should then be timed to display just long enough to capture viewer attention and convey the message. It should be timed to repeat enough times per hour to be seen by all venue patrons at least once. The average length of a patron's visit will largely dictate the number of repeats.

In conclusion, digital signage can be an effective tool for educating venue patrons/visitors on the optimal mobile experiences available for that venue. It can also be a powerful technology for promoting the use of a given mobile experience. It should always be remembered, however, that digital signage's effectiveness at promoting a mobile experience will be largely dependent on being able to provide a strong mobile experience for the venue and a strong message that clearly articulates the value of the mobile experience.

Topics: Interactive / Touchscreen , Mobile Interactivity

Steven Gurley / Steve Gurley is broadly recognized as an industry expert and thought-leader in mobile and mobile content management solutions. He is a widely published author of numerous papers, articles and blogs on mobility and serves on numerous mobile advisory boards and committees, including serving as the current chairman of the Digital Screenmedia Association's committee on mobile. Steve is currently the President and CEO of Pyrim Technologies, a mobile business and new market development company.
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