The Biggest Bang for the Buck!
Convincing the folks holding the purse strings that a digital signage network is a worthwhile investment is always a challenge. Judging HOW to quantify results and goodwill imparted to the audiences is nebulous at best in the entire industry. With newspapers you would look at things like the sales numbers of papers purchased and the interactions of the public to the editorial content as a way of “counting the beans”. A printed brochure sent to alumni might be tracked by the receipt of donations during a capital campaign. With television impact you would consult something like the Nielsen Ratings or Advertising Age Magazine to judge viewership and advertising revenues. The digital signage industry is not as mature… yet, as some of these other forms of media and quantifying the results of your message has to be considered in a less tangible fashion. If your digital signage includes an entrepreneurial model that sells advertising space you could track some normal metrics by the sales of those advertisements. Some exciting technology is coming to some maturity in audience measurement and biometric data (http://www.tru-media.com/) at the site of the actual signage where a little black box looks out toward those people standing in front of your signage and reports back to you the number of people who actually looked at (engaged) the current message being displayed, how long they dwelled in front of it, what their gender was, and approximate age range. This technology is also capable of sensing a preponderance of a specific gender in front of the signage to “push” a particular message at that moment. For instance, if there are more women standing within the range of the digital sign it might push a message that appeals more to that particular audience.
With that said, there are ongoing discussions in the industry surrounding Return On Investment (ROI) and Return On Objective (ROO). These tend to be subjective determinations, at best. It can be frustrating when attempting to quantify your own results given that no one tends to agree on a one-size-fits-all metric for every deployment of digital signage. At the university and corporate levels I suggest that you try to be certain that your content messaging dovetails with the values and mission of the organization. Are you maximizing the opportunity to promote, grow and add value to your brand? I would see ROI as more indicative of a retail environment that could be tracked with sales of products advertised. Whereas, I would view ROO more toward a non-sales environment, such as a college campus that is attempting to determine if their institutional advancement message objectives are absorbed by their audiences over time, as expected. You will need to determine what best fits your needs for judging an adequate return for the investment.