DIGITAL SIGNAGE: THE SALAD OPTION
The choice of technology at the hands of exhibition professionals is vast and the quantum number of options is increasing on a daily basis.
Amongst all the available technology for an exhibition, digital signage is pretty much the salad option on a restaurant menu – it’s always featured, it never really appeals and very few people enthusiastically order it.
Let’s get it straight, why would you order digital signage when you can have social registration to help hit registration targets or some catchy microphone thingamajigy to amuse your visitors?
Nope, digital signage is definitely a mixed leaf salad and here’s why:
- Does it deliver against an exhibition/individual KPIs? Hell, no.
- Is it cheaper than current print solutions? No.
- Oh, is it more expensive? Actually, yes.
- Is there an ROI? Haha…Signage ROI, you’re killing me*
*Funny how everything else has a ROI, right?
And with those answers the standard order of wood chip A-frames and cutesy village green signposts is rolled out in exhibition halls all over the world.
Every. Single. Time.
I get it…like completely… and last year when I saw that the sign at Oxford Circus – the UK’s busiest tube station – had gone digital (see blog picture) I thought it was a case of technology for technology’s sake.
I would wager the sign had been pretty much left untouched for decade after decade but then those tinkering technologists started to put their highfalutin case to Boris down at the Mayor’s office and it goes all digital salad.
What’s the point? Oxford Circus is always going to be Oxford Circus, right?
Much like the signs on tube escalators didn’t need changing but check them out they’ve gone digital salad as well.
- Please stand to the right.
- Keep feet clear of the brushes
- No smoking
- Hold the hand rail
I mean, they would never change, why do you need digital signage for that??!??
Well it turns out you do.
You see, as much as people cuss London Underground those guys actually know what they are doing. On a daily basis the underground spits out 4.821million people which makes 1.305billion passengers every year and on the 4 December last year they did an interesting experiment at Holborn station.
They slowed the crowds down and changed the signs.
In actual fact, they changed the commuter rules by making people stand on the left of the escalators.
For people unaware of the rules in London, standing on the left of an escalator is up there with kicking grannies and stealing charity money
If you stand on the left you are either a tourist or a scumbag.
However, the crowd experts worked out that if people stood on the left and the right that the escalator capacity increased by 28% and that in turn reduced the bottleneck and congestion at the station foyer by 31 people every minute.
And at rush hour… 31 people a minute is massive. To the tune of ten of millions of pounds when you consider new station redesigns.
So in this instance, digital signage is not salad, it’s a Kobe steak served on a gold plate washed down with a 2009 glass of Chateau Margaux.
OK, I’m over doing it… but you get my point.
TfL have the advantage that the London Underground is a permanent infrastructure and can apply science and modelling based on crowd patterns and behaviour compiled from data spanning months. At best, exhibition organisers have one day, two days, three days…to influence the crowds.
But that’s our expertise right?
Imagine if crowds at exhibitions could be influenced by digital signage fed by real-time data and insight from machine vision cameras (not expensive) optimised with Forge SP-esque floor plan data and N200-esque lead generation data.
Imagine influencing crowds to visit certain exhibition areas, or a seminar, or a feature area, or a specific exhibitor.
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