Digital Signage Industry

Digital Signage Software: ROI & ROO

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Our series guiding you through key features to consider when navigating a digital signage software decision is back! This time we're digging in to analytics, audience tracking, and reporting!


Sometimes your software selection is crucial to proving your network is meeting or exceeding ROI/ROO, and sometimes it isn’t. So how are you supposed to know the difference? Let’s quickly review the three most commonly used methods of analyzing, tracking and reporting before breaking down what method is best for your network and what software features you may, or may not need to support it.

Three Common Methods of Tracking:

  1. Increase Profit - Show a direct correlation between the content and increasing revenues or decreasing costs (e.g. # of employees or decreased employee time etc.).
  2. Automated Audience Measurement - Increase brand awareness by tracking demographics, impressions, dwell-time, travel patterns and even re-target the same viewer while they're browsing online later using cameras and mobile phone data.
  3. Classic Market Research - Leverage old school classic market research methods via qualitative/quantitative interviews from a random sample size of the network representing the entire audience’s opinion on the value your network creates for different objectives.

Which Method is Best for your Network?

The method of reporting and tracking you choose above will depend on what you’re trying to measure.

For example, are the decision makers and budget approvers of the network requiring a dollar amount (ROI) or are they simply looking for an objective to be hit (ROO)?

ROI and ROO Defined

(If this is review for you, skip ahead)

  • Return on Investment (ROI): Sales increase of Point of Sale item placed next to screen by 120%. 1,000 additional widgets sold with a Profit Margin of $5.00 a piece gives you monthly Profit of $5,000. The initial Capital Expenditure (CapX) was $30,000 (small network). Ongoing monthly Operational Expenditures (OppX) (SaaS, content, playlist management etc.) are $2,000 a month. If we were to project future returns as 100% correlated with past results, ROI break-even will take place in 10 months and generate $3,000 a month in new profit ongoing before CapX refresh in 48 months etc.
  • Return on Objective (ROO):  You received 10,000 new ad impressions. 6,500 of those impressions were seen by your Target Market: 55% males and 45% females between the ages of 35-55 years old and an annual household income of $75,000+. Across all 10,000 impressions, you converted 20 online conversion signups for Campaign A on “”. The Objective being, increase email subscribers etc.

Proving ROI will most often require Method #1 - Increase Profit. To do this, you need to figure out how you can get to a dollar value per “x”. Profit increased by $5,000 per month.

NOTE: That said, you can also use Method #2 - Automated Audience Measurement or #3 - Classic Market Research to “estimate” ROI. For example, you could quantify the lifetime value of a new subscriber as $10 on average (20*$10 = $200) then it could be considered ROI. Online Marketers do this all the time and it is a less desired but acceptable proof of value to the network. The less “estimating” you do, the stronger your proof will be.

Proving a ROO will most often be done by using Methods #2 or #3. These are numbers that matter to your organization, but are difficult to be tied to a specific dollar amount. Such as: # of retargeting clicks, # of sign-ups, # of new followers on social media, increased experience in store by 1 star, perceived wait time decreased by 20%, # of impressions within target market, increased employee retention rate etc.

What Software Features do you Need—if any?

If your goal is to prove ROI by tracking an Increase in Profit

There are two ways I see this accomplished most often.

  1. Simple A/B tests - Take the Revenue/Cost numbers from before the network launched or in locations without screens and compare them to numbers with the network once it has launched. No software features required.
  2. Complex A/B testing - Run dynamic interday A/B testing across the network. Most networks will have many different content items playing in a playlist and those items are constantly being refreshed. Which piece of content made the biggest sales impact in the playlist? This is easy to track and compare if your POS system is directly tied into your software so you can compare your playlist’s impact on Profit from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour. The ability to do this, and do it well, will dramatically vary from software to software. If you need this feature, forget every other question and ask how their software can integrate with your current sales/productivity tracking software first.

If your goal is to accomplish some sort of ROO via method #2 - Automated Audience Measurement

This will become a lot easier or far more challenging depending on the objective you’re trying to track. I’ll break down two of the most common methods: Anonymous Camera and Mobile Phone tracking.

  1. Camera Tracking -  Quividi and AdMobilize are the two biggest players in this space though there are others. Both options will allow you to track many of the same data points - Gender, Age Range, Mood, Impressions, Dwell Time etc. Here is the crucial question from software to software—how well do you integrate with these options or others? How well can you compare what is playing on the screen (which specific piece of content) to the response of the audience in the Camera Tracking solution? Was it the weather that gave the audience the happiest mood or the ad right after it? This has been a major challenge for me to date.
  2. Mobile Phone Tracking - There are a lot of providers tracking phone data. This can be done outside of your software and won’t provide a direct comparison between your individual content items and audience measurement but it is extremely powerful. For example, since this measurement is tracking your audience’s device, it can get even more data than cameras such as household income and interests (based on app and web search history) as well as track the journey (what stores they visited before/after yours). This method also puts a pixel on the devices so you can run retargeting campaigns to your audience after they leave your location. All of this is anonymous of course, but super powerful data for tracking the impact of your Digital Signage solution.

If you’re looking to track ROO but the #2 - Automated Audience Tracking method isn’t for you, then #3 - Classic Market Research is the best way to go

There are two methods used by some of the biggest networks in the industry today and most digital signage software can provide a playlist export to compare what played on screen to the opinion of your audience. Many times, both methods will be used to get a full picture of value.

  1. Qualitative Research - This method requires a smaller number of in-person interviews whether they be focus groups or individual. This won’t give you a statistical number to report at your quarterly review but it will take a Simple Random Sampling (SRS) of the network to represent the underlying feelings, motivations and opinions of your audience in a way that numbers can’t.
  2. Quantitative Research -  This method requires a larger SRS of individual surveys questions that can be quantified. This should give you statistical numbers to report at your quarterly review with descriptions to represent the value of your network.

In Summary — The Top 2 Questions to Ask Your Vendor

  • If you’re going to shoot for a clear ROI, ask your software IF and HOW they can integrate with your current sales/productivity tracking solution.
  • If you’re looking to track ROO with a camera tracking solution, ask IF and HOW your digital signage software integrates with the big 3rd-party camera tracking providers. The goal should be to provide clear and accurate reports based on syncing the audience metrics with the content playlist timeline.

Everyone would LOVE to be able to report an increase in ROI because it is so cut and dried. Unfortunately, it is so much easier said than done and your software selection can be critical in achieving this. Thankfully, if your software is lacking in integration capabilities, there are other options to track your audience and prove the value of your network.