White paper lays out why networks fail

UK-based Future Source Consulting has released a good white paper on digital media networks and their prospects for success.

Not surprisingly, the group determined that of the 100 or so projects they looked at (in Europe), nine were complete failures, 10 were only partial successes, and for “a significant proportion it was too early
to judge success, the risk of potential failure was high.”

The report says a variety of reasons were provided for decisions made, but the group boiled down the factors behind a lack of success to five key things:

1. A lack of clear ROI modelling

Often large upfront costs to implement and maintain a network make such a signage network very risky and sound ROI models critically important. There is a need to prove that screen networks lead to sales uplift, and
simply measuring footfall and dwell time is not enough. Proof is needed that screen networks deliver measurable and lasting uplift.

2. The lack of advertising proof points

Whilst a number of companies are using technology to provide screen ‘footfall’ and ‘dwell time’ metrics, this has not provided a raft of proof points. Compared to TV, radio, posters and the internet, screen media
networks still have a way to go in proving their value.

3. Too much network fragmentation and not enough scalability

With so many independent networks in operation it is very difficult to tempt advertising and media agencies to spend on digital signage. ‘Opportunity to see’ statistics are not at all persuasive and it is almost
impossible to run a coherent campaign in multiple locations.

4. Project complexity
In some cases eight individual parties can be required to complete a project. This is simply too complex.

5. Little understanding of content requirements

Issues such as the expense of refreshing content, the mix of content and what the content (particularly advertising) is supposed to achieve are frequently overlooked. However, this is the most important aspect of a network to get right.

I would add underfunding to that list, and the lack of a good, experienced management team.

The paper also makes a great point about content that I don’t think gets enough attention:

The industry has a clearer understanding of how content should look and what it aims to achieve. Gone are the days of reusing a TV commercial in its entirety, where only 10%, at best, has any kind of call to action. Furthermore, dedicated signage channels are currently in development to help smaller budget constrained networks overcome the problems of keeping content fresh and interesting. However, with an ever growing reliance on content feeds from broadcasters to ‘fill in the gaps’ it is a worry that the impact and effectiveness of signage may get lost in a homogenous mess of unoriginal content.

Precisely. Beats me why network operators want to use conventional broadcast TV clips in environments where they are wildly unsuited. All I can think of is its cheap (possibly), looks polished, and somebody else is doing it, so it must be the thing to do.

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