QSR Magazine sits down with our Marketing Manager Curtis Rose to discuss what’s on the horizon for digital signage.

Q: What challenge(s) is the digital signage industry facing right now? What do you think are the best ways to approach these challenges? 

Curtis: Even with LED emerging as the hot tech in digital signage there is no standardized mounting solution like there are for LCD. In addition, to get a truly seamless experience of an LED video wall, it’s really the mount that makes this happen. If even a single panel is misaligned, the viewing experience is compromised as the viewer’s attention is drawn to the tile defect and not the content of the message on the display.

Making sure you have the right mounting solution that fits the projects needs is crucial. Be sure to ask the right questions like: does your mounting partner work with all the top display manufactures? Do they have stock, custom, and semi-custom solutions? How long will it take to produce they solution needed?

Q: How has digital signage changed/improved in recent years, and where do you see it going next? 

Curtis: There have been two major changes stirring within the digital signage community: the emergence of direct-view LED technology and the increase of large-format digital signage.

Direct-view LED is a technology that has been growing in popularity over the past few years and 2018 will be a year of widespread expansion. Direct view LED has many advantages over typical LCD signage including:

  • High Brightness – LED displays can produce 8000 nits or more making them much more visible in daylight applications
  • Zero Bezel Design – allows for large video walls without the seams between images
  • Viewing Distance and Contrast – LED displays can be visible and legible from far distances (hundreds of feet), and narrow pixel pitch LED can have very high contrast at close distance.
  • Viewing Angle – LED displays do not suffer from the same brightness fall-off and color shift as some flat panels.
  • Maintenance – LED displays have 100,000-hour lifespans with a much longer mean time before servicing. LED modules can also be replaced on site

In addition, the pixel pitch (how close pixels are to each other) is coming down further, currently at 0.5mm, and as that drops so does price. We will see higher, but still, amazing quality pixel pitch displays become cheaper which will make them more widely available.

Another change we will see is that more end-users will want to have larger format video walls added to their locations. With the cost of new technology coming down end-users can afford to go big. Large format digital signage is attention-grabbing, can enhance the customer experience and create interactive environments that will lead to higher ROI on digital signage.

Premier Mounts, and our LED division PDS, recently installed 80×18 ft video wall and we are seeing more and more of these opportunities come about. According to research, in 2018, video walls will represent 18% of all panels shipped.

Q: What’s the new/big thing everyone is talking about in digital signage? What do restaurant leaders need to know about it?

Curtis: Interactivity. It’s easy for a restaurant to have a touch screen for ordering, but true interactivity lies in immersing customers into the full brand experience and making it easy to find what they are looking for.

Using tech and touchscreens, especially for a younger generation who would rather interact with a screen than a human, is important. Making sure the order process is simple and quick, and that the touchscreen is responsive is important. These things do matter to most customers below the age of 35.

The most important thing is to use these methods of interactivity to also tell your brand story. Get the customer to accept your brand as part of their lifestyle, and not get just this purchase, but future purchases and the generation of word of mouth conversations that take place on social every minute. You do this by telling your brand story through interactive platforms weaving things like core values, product innovations, etc. throughout the experience.

Q: What are the most common myths or misconceptions about digital signage?

Curtis: In my opinion, the biggest myth is that there is little ROI in digital signage. When discussing ROI, you have to determine what you consider is a return on investment. Is it an increase in sales? Decreasing operational expenses? Increasing word of mouth marketing? ROI looks different to each business, but at the end of the day, digital signage is proven to help.

At times, digital signage ROI can be difficult to measure, but that doesn’t mean it is not there. For example, if you want to know if your overall sales have increased since a digital menu board install, it may be hard to eliminate other variables that could have contributed to this (like promotions, employee engagement, new processes or products).

Taking a look at the tangible benefits like informing customers of new products, higher overall customer satisfaction, decreased operational expenses, etc can show that there is a value in having digital signage.

Q: What are some especially innovative ways that you see quick service restaurants using digital signage?

Curtis: As I touched on before, I think touchscreens are a major game-changer. Millennials are some of the top customers of QSR restaurants because of the lower cost of meals, the speed at which they can get them and convenient locations. Millennials have grown up with a screen in front of them and its second nature to gravitate to them rather than interact with other humans.

QSR Menu Board

With touchscreens, they are low maintenance, don’t require an employee to take orders and if done right, can give customers more information about their purchases (i.e. nutrition facts, ingredients). This will create a more engaging buying experience and free up employees to serve customers better in ways beyond taking an order.

Q: Soon mobile ordering apps will work with platforms like Siri and Alexa, allowing diners to order food, pay, and redeem rewards in advance. Everything will be integrated and patrons may never even interact with a human. How does digital signage play into that?

Curtis: If this does happen in the future, and I believe it will although it won’t make up more than 30% of all orders, digital signage will still have a role for these particular customers. The key will be to understand that it will not affect current orders, but future purchases. Using digital signage to keep customers informed of new items, promotions and when it can be really powerful is storytelling.

Part of what consumers are buying is the brand’s story and in many cases, the story is what people are buying, even in QSR. Why has Taco Bell been really successful? They are telling a hip, trendy story to millennials that they buy into it before they buy into the quality of the food. Those stories can be told using digital signage.

Q: Please comment on the psychological aspect of digital signage. 

Curtis: Human behavior is at the core of marketing: to understand it is to understand an audience and be able to send them messaging that gets them to act in the way you desire. Digital signage is no different.

In a world where consumers are exposed to around 5,000 brands or advertisements each day, it’s critical to make such a lasting impact on a consumer that they then store that experience into long-term memory. Digital signage can aid in that process through visual stimulation. Studies show that information that includes images are over 60% more likely to be remembered a few days later. In addition, certain colors, shapes, fonts, etc can all play a role in making an image more memorable.

In the end, it’s about using the stories you tell through digital signage and their ability to resonate with a consumer.

Q: What are you most excited about in your industry right now?

Curtis: New technology is the most exciting thing about our industry. I get to see changes from month to month and on a year to year basis the industry can look totally different. As an example, look at the thickness of digital displays – over the past 10 years, they have gone from feet to mm. It’s incredible if you think about what digital signage in a QSR will look like in 10 years from now. We might even be implementing VR into the experience by then!

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