A great question that is commonly heard amongst digital menu board customers is, “What’s the use of paying for digital menu boards if you aren’t going to animate almost everything?” With a hefty price tag attached, digital menu boards can often seem like a large pill to swallow for what you’re getting. Therefore, many believe that in order for digital boards to feel different from printed menu boards there must be a constant movement on screen. This way of thinking isn’t far off. There’s no doubt that animation has the ability to take content to a whole new level, but the tricky part is determining the fine balance between too much or too little. I’ve often seen boards that display flat, static, content with little to no motion. But, on the opposite side of the spectrum digital menu boards can feel like the Vegas Strip.
So, how do you determine what is the best way to display your content? The first step is to hear it from the source, the consumer. A lot has been learned from consumer responses to digital menu boards, and there has been some conflicting feedback. We have heard that the content can enhance the appetite appeal of products so much that it has actually convinced customers to try items they normally wouldn’t. But then again, there are some who struggle with animation at all, saying they have trouble focusing on specific items. From these insights, we learn that there needs to be enough of an interruption so that it grabs the viewer but not so much that it can cause confusion on where to focus.
Less flashy benefits have big impact
While animation is a huge benefit for the consumer, we must not forget about the advantages that go unnoticed. With digital signing, you no longer have to use pricing stickers on menu boards, pricing can be updated automatically. Content can be changed almost instantly and pushed to your location within minutes, cutting down on operational manpower and eliminating shipping and printing timelines. And finally, versioning becomes less of a challenge. A good software provider should have the ability to version out based on data verses actually building each file version. However, while versioning is much simpler, localization of content is a challenge. Many companies, whether it is a QSR or not, need the ability to have flexibility to support national campaigns and local efforts all from the same software support.
Additionally, testing content becomes a more attainable, low cost opportunity. Because digital signage does not require printing and shipping like most static elements, there is the ability to create multiple versions of test layouts. Through this, you or your company can potentially learn what formats work better for customers during their ordering process and help the ease of navigation. There is even the potential to determine if different layouts sway customers to change their purchase habits. It does seem however; that there is a bit more work that needs to be done on tying content to sales data. Many software companies claim to have this ability, but they are still in the process of being validated.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with digital menu boards, but skeptics still might need some convincing. It’s true that the price tag might be a bit jarring for some, but the animation and the content is visibly the most impactful from a consumer’s standpoint and the benefits far outweigh the costs. The times are definitely changing, and it’s important to stay relevant to consumers while embracing all that technology has to offer.
Clare Pitt, Manager, Image & Merchandising, Wendy’s International, serves on Digital Signage Expo’s 2013-14 Advisory Board and will be at Digital Signage Expo 2014 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, which will take place February 12-13. For more information about DSE or to register to join this or any other seminar and learn about digital signage go to www.dse2014.com.