Ten tips to improve narrowcasting
Screens are an excellent way to digitally communicate with your target audience. Therefore, it’s not surprising that this channel is becoming more and more popular and can often be found at trade fairs, airports and in retail environments. Implementing narrowcasting properly remains a job for trained professionals, though. This is quite often underestimated, which can lead to a host of problems. These problems may include errors on the screen, low readability or strange hardware choices. These issues are not only doing damage to your message, but possibly also to your brand.
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So how can we prevent all this? Here are my ten tips:
1. Conceptual versus technical solutions
In an ideal situation, the concept informs which technical solutions are chosen. In reality, the technical possibilities often limit the optimal amount of digital communication by means of a screen. Start with a conceptual storyboard and draw the process in steps. Then, find the appropriate hardware and supplier(s) and make any changes to the storyboard if necessary. This way you’ll achieve realistic implementation.
2. Develop content based on the screen
Quite often you can see black bars next to content, or the content is distorted. Each screen has a specific size, aspect ratio and resolution (for example: 32″, 16:9 and 1920 x 1080 pixels). When using LED screens, the limited pixel density can give poor results at close range. Details such as these should be considered when producing content for a specific environment.
3. Use professional screens
Shop windows that show the screen producer’s name repeatedly or stacked screens with wide bezels or low readability due to light angles; these are examples of a distorted or failed overall picture. Not every screen can be used professionally. This can reduce the impact of your message. Make sure that you’re properly informed about which screen is fit for what purpose. For an optimal experience, take sunlight, temperature, viewing angles and other factors into account.
4. Keep up-to-date with the latest trends and developments
Screen producers constantly present new innovations at trade fairs and on online platforms. Make sure you’re aware of what is technically possible now and in the near future. Niche players come up with new things. These can be harnessed into new solutions.
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5. Choose between LED and LCD, based on content
When presenting content in large formats, LED is usually used. LED is very bright and is great for outdoor use. The downside is that when in close proximity, individual diodes are visible, making LED less optimal for detailed views or small text. In a shop window for instance, where the message has to be conveyed at an arm’s length, LED is not the optimal choice. And even with recent improvements, LED screens are still prone to malfunctions. If text or other content has to be displayed at close range, one or more connected LCD screens with small or seamless bezels is still the best choice.
6. Make touchscreens work like they do at home
To many people, touchscreens can only work a certain way – like a tablet or smartphone. If a screen reacts differently to what people expect, this will often be considered as clumsy or annoying. Another frustration can be having to type in a search term using an on-screen keyboard. This does not help convert potential customers. If you find a way to give the user back the controls by using their own smartphone for instance, it’ll feel less contrived. How a screen reacts to touch is determined by both hardware and software. During the concept phase of development you’ll need to determine how many fingers are needed to control the application.
7. Use good software and hide error messages
You often see error messages, start menus or update pop-ups on giant billboards, airport screens or ordering terminals at fast food chains. This is bad for your key message, and has a negative impact on brand perception. Smart software doesn’t show error messages in front of the content, is user friendly and gives you the ability to remotely adapt the content without having to switch off the screen.
8. Get proper fixings and/or casings
Free-hanging screens in their made-to-measure encasing look unprofessional. Fixing brackets for consumer use can be multifunctional, but pricey. Do you really need one of these? Select a bracket with the biggest VESA size possible for stability. You should also consider whether the screen needs to be integrated into a furniture element. If so, then make sure there’s a way for heat to dissipate, even if that means installing fans. In case of a malfunction or maintenance, it’s useful to be able to reach the screen without causing damage to the surrounding unit.
9. Don’t forget about cables or power sockets
In shop windows or made-to-measure furniture elements, cables have to be fixed out of sight. A screen that has to be managed remotely will of course need an internet connection. The best way to do this is still using a network cable. Make sure that all of this is tested and working well on location to prevent disappointment on the launch day.
10. Perform regular checks on the screen
Somebody should be responsible for periodically checking and testing the screen. Does everything still function as intended? Is the readability still correct and does it still perform as expected by the target audience? A screen is just a digital poster to the average store employee. It should be able to handle a bump or two and be switched on immediately when a store opens in the morning. If that is not the case, then it should be switched off or removed completely. This is why store employees should be involved in the concept phase, so they understand how to use and operate the technology. This is especially important when it comes interactive screens, as employees can generate more conversions by using them effectively during the sales process.
Ready for optimal performance
Every application of a digital screen deserves custom implementation. There are a whole host of factors that influence the end result. These ten tips are not a guarantee for success, but do prevent the most common mistakes and pitfalls. By using these tips for developing or implementing your narrowcasting application, you’ll be ready for the professional and dynamic presentation of your message and your brand.