The CONTENT of Dynamic Place-based Media - The Rise of the 'Content is King' Monarchy, Part IV: More Content - The Online Magazine for the Sign Trade.
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The CONTENT of Dynamic Place-based Media - The Rise of the 'Content is King' Monarchy, Part IV: More Content

In Part IV of this series, Content is King, we will examine templates, advertising standards, and measuring the impact of advertising content.

By Lyle Bunn

Dynamic Content Templates, Standards, Provisioning and Analytics

Sign Elements Vehicle Templates

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  • Templates
    The word "template" suggests easy, rapid, low-cost, content creation. This is accomplished by adding graphics or text to pre-defined areas of a content layout, and economies are enjoyed along with adherence to brand and layout standards. Successful dynamic signage networks use templates extensively, often using the authoring tools provided with the Content Management Software, which provide sample layouts, backgrounds, color palates and text formatting, along with basic animations and transitions.

    Templates help the content provider or administrator to provide short-form, direct messaging suitable to the viewing environment, view time and call to action. And further, to refresh these with regularity suited to viewer re-visits.

    Templates require structure and "rules" that are the standards of spot construction and refresh strategy that allows Dynamic signage to earn brand and merchandising success by generating engagement. Using templates is an "efficiency" proposition in developing spots that achieve Return on Objectives. Tools as templates will serve network operators, advertisers and information providers well, but it is "rules" that will provide the greatest benefit to short-form content success.

    Templates and created content spots differ in the levels of achievement of objectives that each could enjoy. A template spot while produced inexpensively might achieve sales lift while causing a negative impression of the brand. A spot created "freeform" by adapting available elements might create sales lift but also improving brand impression. Marketing messages are never neutral. They are positive and a worthy investment or negative and the ill spending of scarce resources.

    To be successful, template content spots should use graphics and text, easily read and short-form in terms of playout time. They should be interspersed with other creative spots that inspire, relate to and reward a viewer.

    Knowing when to use a template spot or a "created" spot in a play-loop is a talent required by network operators. The measure of this talent is in viewer interest, recall, action and impression of impact in a viewing location. By balancing the proportion of templates and created spots against viewer impact (measures), costs and benefits can also be balanced.

    Content and Advertising Standards
    Content and Advertising Standards offer a framework to help assure that the dynamic spot is not perceived in a negative light or tests legality. The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) has published advertising standards of practice ( which direct that no advertising should contain:

    • False or misleading statements or exaggerations, visual or verbal.
    • Testimonials, which do not reflect the real choice of a competent witness.
    • Price claims which are misleading.
    • Comparisons which unfairly disparage a competitive product or service.
    • Claims insufficiently supported, or which distort the true meaning of practicable application of statements made by professional or scientific authority.

    Statements, suggestions or pictures offensive to public decency. Standards of practice on digital signage content in the style guide for a network operator, content producer, communicator or advertiser should reflect that content presented on Digital Signage should not;

    • Infringe the legal rights (including copyrights, rights of privacy and publicity) of other.
    • Cause any damage or disadvantage to others.
    • Disturb public order.
    • Reflect a criminal act.
    • Present or distribute any third parties' private information without obtaining approval from such third parties.
    • Disgrace others
    • Defame or libel others.
    • Offer digital files for access or download that contain viruses, corrupted files that may damage the operation of others' computers.
    • Present unlawful or prohibited information.
    • Reflect any other activities that the location provider of the digital display deems inappropriate.

    A good way to improve DS content design and composition skills is to look at DS content spots and gauge the ways that you are affected. Be the judge by asking yourself the following while considering the viewing environment;

    a) What would make the intended message clearer or easier to ingest or "take in"?
    b) What was good about it?
    c) Was the value proposition clear?
    d) Was the requested action clearly presented and compelling?
    e) What was a distraction or not essential to the message?
    f) What would you change to simplify or empower the message?

    Dynamic Content Provisioning
    Dynamic media operates by presenting a pre-planned loop of content spots as media files or feeds. This loop is typically configured to present the media most suited to the location and time. Optimizing the use of the medium can become quite complex.

    An emerging approach to media presentation is the "triggering" of content presentation based on some external or situational input. Examples include:

    • Safety alert messages presented based on expected bad weather conditions or other threats.
    • Advertising for soup being triggered for playout based on declining temperature.
    • Product information being presented when a product or printed material is picked up and examined by a patron.
    • The proximity of a person triggering a particular message.
    • The scan of a bar code, Quick Response (QR) or other machine readable format triggers additional information or database query (inventory level, price, etc.).
    • Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) used to select content most suited for presentation to a targeted demographic.

      This "Dynamic Content Provisioning" is a new paradigm of place-based communications using the kind of technical infrastructure that underpins Digital Signage, and offers the promise of outcome beyond the playloop-centric approach.

      The ability of Dynamic Content Provisioning suggests much more efficiency in advertising placement. An advertiser could provide a network operator with one or more versions of a content spot that would be presented to a target demographic. When that target demographic is looking at the display, as sensed through Anonymous Video Analytics or other triggering input, the designated media spot would be presented. The "standing insert order" used in this approach offers better brand messaging control and cost savings when media is presented to the intended target audience. A compliance/playout report identifying playout volume would be included with the ad invoice.

      Dynamic Content Provisioning provides immeasurable advantage for homeland security, mass and area targeted alerts, warnings and instructions. When linked to sensors, proximity indicators, atmosphere sniffers, etc., it offers the earliest warning and impact intervention.

      Clarke Systems Architectural Signage Systems Wayfinding ADA

      The measurement of the impact of content is used to describe the effectiveness of the medium as a communications device, validate and plan future investment and, importantly, to provide input to optimize content so that it better serves achievement of communications and marketing goals.

      Providers of measurement and analytics services such as Arbitron, Neilson, PeopleCount, Decision Point Media Insights, DS-IQ and others have specialist capabilities related to dynamic place-based media. These firms are recognized for their independent analysis and harmonize with widely accepted measurement practices and standard industry approaches.

      The Digital Place-based Advertising Association (DPAA) has issued Audience Metrics Guidelines as a first step towards developing audience measurement standards for the industry. It urges digital place-based networks to use the Guidelines to inform what should be measured in order to report comparable audience data.

      Measurement approaches are generally focused on "outcome" and "awareness."

      Outcome measures are quantitative and are based on counting the change in transaction volume including, for example sales lift, enquiries, applications, registrations, traffic to website or other communications devices, other responses or compliance with the requested action, etc. Often this is through comparison to previous periods in the same location or benchmark against a similar (i.e. control) location. This might include a count of quantitative outcome measures are obtained through activity logs or "scorecards" where the counts of transactions and interactions reflect viewer response.

      Awareness Measures are concerned with the degree to which target audiences are aware of messages. This provides a valuable input toward future quantifiable outcomes, on the simple basis that if dynamic messaging is not being noticed and ingested, no resulting action or growing awareness can be expected.

      The quality of engagement with the content on the part of targeted audiences can be measured in several ways including Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA), intercept interview or questionnaire. Questions can be aimed at establishing the awareness of messages and attitudes resulting from the messaging, perception of the information displayed, etc. Responses can suggest the propensity for future action and can gauge the perceived value of the dynamic media and the messages presented in areas of reduced perceived waiting time, providing education, entertainment or useful information, adding energy to the environment, etc.

      Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) and Sentiment Analysis
      Two other measurement approaches (beyond transaction counting and interviews) are being increasingly used related to digital media presentation.

      Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) uses an inexpensive webcam and proprietary facial form detection and tracking technology to distinguish the form of a face. No infringement of privacy occurs since no photo of faces occurs, no records of the webcam view are maintained and no person actually looks at the image captured.

      AVA is typically used to measure the audience size and gauge the interest in messages as a key input to message refinement. There are about five providers of AVA linked with digital signage, one of the most recognized of which is the Intel® Audience Impression Metric (AIM) Suite.

      Quantifying viewers with technology-based tools such as anonymous impression metrics through the Intel Audience Impression Metric (AIM) Suite or other AVA systems provide data on viewership while providing actionable intelligence on how viewers are engaging with messages. As the Intel AIM Suite anonymously monitors viewer metrics such as age, gender and length of attention, this enables retailers and advertisers to deliver targeted content for individual viewers and track return on investment with greater accuracy.

      Sentiment Analysis uses a structure of eight emotional descriptors such as anger, fear, surprise, contempt, happiness, etc. in an enquiry to gauge the sentiment evoked by information or media presented. As of late 2010, upon presentation as part of a keynote address at Customer Engagement Technology World (CETW), eleven of the world's largest 20 brands, use this analysis technique to refine their messaging to better align the actual versus intended perception of the brand.

      "Sentiment analysis" allows for a deeper level of engagement intelligence to be gathered. In his opening keynote address to a standing-room only crowd at the Customer Engagement Technology Summit, Dr. Bill Ratcliffe, a Toronto-based veteran of branding and measurement, defined how seven emotional responses encompass the high level range of human reaction to messages. "These offer insights to brand perception that can be used to refine messaging and forward the achievement of branding goals," he said.

      Aggregation of anonymous viewer data provides metrics such as the number of viewers in the area of the display, the amount of time someone looks at the display and the content spot that was playing when they looked at the display or not, the age range of the viewer and to some extent, a viewer's ethnicity.

      "The graphical query system, which is used by most of the world's largest brands, provides a framework to determine a viewers emotional reaction to a visual or message, and then further, helps to establish the intensity of that feeling. Ratcliffe noted that each of the eight high level emotions have a dozen layers of intensity description beneath them, and further refinements on the scale of intensity beyond that. This is very valuable to message development.

      The Content is King series continues with Part V uncovering how to improve content practices

      Dr. Lyle Bunn (Hon.), Principal and Strategy Architect, BUNN Co. - Lyle Bunn has been recognized with an Honorary Doctorate for his significant contributions to education and the development of the Dynamic Place-based Media industry. He is one of North America’s most highly regarded independent consultant, advisor, commentator and educator to investors, operators, suppliers and users of Digital Signage and Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) Media. For more information visit

      Read on, go to: Part 1, Part II and Part III

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