Taking A Second Look

The partnership of audio and digital signage
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For those of us in the AV industry, we recognize that sights and sounds go together. We understand our mission is to help leverage the power of high-quality audio and visual solutions.

There is no shortage of statistics and studies demonstrating that we’re on the right track. But I’m inspired by a more immediate, experiential kind of evidence that I want to share before I delve into how adding audio capabilities to digital signage can help your business. I want to suggest that the inherent compatibility of spoken words and visual images can be found in the human form. Certainly there’s a good reason that we have two ears and two eyes. The foundation of most of our experience, it seems to me, is the combination of what we see and what we hear.

That may help explain the phenomenal response consumers have to marketing strategies that appeal to ears and eyes. Studies have shown that adding audio to digital signage, in retail environments, can increase the likelihood that a consumer will make a purchase by as much as 40 percent.

Contractors can deliver more value than ever by leveraging streaming audio functionality for digital signage applications. Why? To build sturdy and long-lasting engagement with the people your customers want to reach.

The first step is to acknowledge that the partnership between audio capabilities and digital signage has been rocky at best up until very recently. I’m guessing that most of us have either been involved in a less than successful project or witnessed first-hand cacophonous deployments in malls and other heavy traffic areas that have by no means attracted potential customers. If anything, they’ve had the opposite effect and driven people away.

That’s because rather than engaging, they were repetitive. As appealing as a promotion might be, when a sign shouts at you as you make your way through the crowds on your way to make a purchase, your opinion of the store—and its merchandise—takes a nose dive. Not to mention the hostility you generate among clerks and service personnel who are barraged by your message repeatedly.

Who can blame consumers for tuning out the bellowed blather? It’s about as personal as junk mail, which is to say not at all.

But we’ve entered a new era. Right now, visual content is being enhanced with audio in ways that allow us to put the consumer—the end user—at the heart of the equation rather than treat them like an afterthought. Not surprisingly, there is a cornucopia of ways that this marriage of pictures and voices can work on behalf of brands.

But to find a great starting point for the conversation, we need look no further than the local museum. That’s where art connoisseurs are learning more about paintings and sculptures than they have since school. But since the tours are accessed through their smartphones, they can be enjoyed any time the museum is open. And with the ability to stop and start the audio by simply touching a screen, the listener—and observer—can, if she so chooses, skip the parts she’s not interested in and repeat those she is. And this new way of art immersion doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as graduate school. That means that without having to add staff or equipment, a museum can build brand awareness and loyalty. Museums, showrooms, restaurants, casinos, theme parks, waiting rooms, and gyms are examples of venues where the end-user dwell time is long enough that audio delivered to the patron’s own device is practical and beneficial.

As AV professionals working in digital signage, let’s put the “A” back in AV by taking advantage of the bring-your-own-device world we now live in. In the case of audio, what was once old is new again and you should be listening.

Audio Everywhere is a member of the Digital Signage Federation, the only independent, not-for-profit trade organization serving the digital signage industry. The DSF supports and promotes the common business interests of worldwide digital signage, interactive technologies, and digital out-of-home network industries. To learn more, go to: www.digitalsignagefederation.org.

Author Lance Glasser is president and CEO of two companies, GX3 Innovations, a company he cofounded with his father and brother that specializes in military systems research and development, and ExXothermic, also known as Audio Everywhere, a consumer electronics company. Glasser is also presently an industry consultant and Board member of D2S and Transmute.

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