Keeping your playlist fresh with great content that supports the objective of your network on day 30 through year 4 of your network is one of the most difficult content strategy tasks for an operator.
How can your selection of software help?
For many networks, the secret sauce to a fresh playlist is to
...automate some of your content. Some software options do this well, and others do not.
Below you will find a list of questions, examples and tips to identify which software will best enable you to take advantage of automated dynamic content.
Five questions to ask your prospective software partner
What content (apps/data/images/video) can they import automatically, that is, without manual clicks after setup?
How do they import this content to the software and deliver it to the player (API integrations, XML, JSON, Custom App, FTP etc.)?
Where and how is it cached (on the player hard drive, central server, browser cache)?
How can the content be scheduled in a playlist (HTML5, Media RSS widget, App)?
Can you show me how to do this (get the sales rep to confirm support before you order)?
Don’t steal content.
While there are a lot of great .rss feeds and website channels of news or other infotainment around the web, they are almost always limited to personal use. If you haven’t signed an agreement or asked for permission to use their content on your network, you’re opening up yourself to a liability. In other words, you’re stealing content that wasn’t intended to be used by “most” digital signage networks. Yes, this includes: CNN, BBC, AP, Reuters, WSJ, USAToday, CBS, ESPN, Sky, FOX, Buzzfeed, YouTube, AOL, Disney, Discovery and all the companies and brands they represent. Really, just about any internet source. You can negotiate terms with these providers yourself or work with a company like Screenfeed to secure these rights on your behalf.
4 examples of content sources to automate your content:
Owned Data Sources Your company may have a trove of great data just waiting to be beautifully presented on screen. Many companies will display Business Intelligence (BI)/KPI data, food menus or even dynamic “art” (See below) based on captured data.
3rd Party Raw Data Sources Automatically delivering .xml or .json content feeds like traffic, weather, sports and financial data for a network operator to build their own custom visualizations.
3rd Party Ready-Made Content Sources Are fully-produced image feeds, HTML5 or video packages such as weather, sports, traffic or, even custom ads/messages refreshed into your playlist, automatically.
Semi-Automate Your Content with Custom Ads/Message Templates Leverage Adobe After Effects or Premiere templates, HTML5 or even image templates by considering how the assets can act as a “container” holding a common theme of messaging and creative. This method requires manual editing as well as some additional thought up-front but will allow you to quickly update the copy, images and/or video with far less ongoing effort. Note, this method works with any software as it can be executed outside and then uploaded into your playlist.
Refik Anadol has made a name generating award-winning and artistically rich digital signage content driven by otherwise innocuous but dynamic data sources like business analytics and flight information.
Does your ENTIRE playlist need to be automated in order to be perceived as fresh?
No. In fact, unless your screen is operating as a “single-purpose” solution like a Flight Board or KPI Board or Menu Board, most playlists will have a combination of “static” ads/messages and automated content. Even a little weather or news widget can give off the impression that the screen is active and dynamic because it has been “touched” with something new and relevant. It helps to train your audience that even part of the playlist has been recently updated. This isn’t a static printed sign your viewers have seen 10 times before--there is something new, different, helpful or entertaining to engage with.
Work smarter, not harder
Consider a realistic content refresh plan from the outset. A good content strategy is infinitely scalable, cost effective and perceptibly fresh with few bottle-necks to the content ideation, creation and scheduling process. Using automation can help smooth all these road-blocks so run your software options through the ringer to find a partner that will set you up to succeed.
If you've seen or created some beautiful, effective or innovative dynamic content, we'd love to hear all about it - give us the scoop at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to subscribe below and stay tuned for key digital signage software feature #3 where I'll tackle the matter of how software caches content (or doesn't...).