How long should you keep each piece of media playing for on your digital signage?

In this article we will pose the question “How long should media content be visible before moving to a new asset” but we’ll also look at best practice when it comes to the volume of content that you should put on your screen.

Question: How long should I keep my media content on the screen before moving to the next asset in the playlist?

Answer: The best practice is to make sure you have enough time to read everything before moving forward. 

If you’re uploading content (to digital signage or any other display medium) your key metric for judging how long your content should be on screen is the amount of time it takes to read the content. 

If uploading something like this:

Iso_Content_ex_busyScreen

You may want to take some time to read the content back at a slow pace. If it’s taken you 20 seconds to read, consider adding 10 seconds and having the content display for 30 seconds total. Remember, your viewers may not engage with your content immediately and might need a moment to notice that this information is important to them.

If you’re uploading something like this:

Iso_Content_ex_bDay

This is a 1-line sentence that’s clear and simple. Something around the 10-second mark should be perfect for a situation like this. 

Maximum and minimums

You should consider a minimum time for a piece of content to appear on your screen. For example, if your content happens to be an image with no text, it should still appear for a minimum of 10 seconds to allow viewers time to ingest the content. Anything faster than 10 seconds can start looking too fast-paced. 

On the other hand, There are some content items that should have absolutely no maximum at all.

A few examples of content that could (or maybe even SHOULD) appear on your screen at ALL TIMES and should never swap to display other content are 

Menus

  • If you’re using your screen for digital menus, removing the menu from the screen is going to be frustrating for any user who’s looking to choose their menu item. 

Clocks

  • If you’re opting to display a clock on your signage (say for corporate communications) then you shouldn’t remove the clock at any time. Viewers will become familiar with checking the time via this display (which increases your watch time). If you are looking to display a clock, consider adding this to a zone of a screen, rather than displaying this full-screen.

Weather

  • Similarly to clocks, keeping weather on your screen can increase your content viewership, however, if you move it from the screen at any point, it will become far less powerful as a retention tool

There is such a thing as “too much content”

In some situations, it makes perfect sense to add a lot of information to your screen. If you’re looking to display a range of reports from PowerBI or if you’re looking to display safety reports for the day, this would be perfectly viable, however, be cautious not to OVERLOAD your digital signage with a full-page white paper. Too much text is going to be impossible to read at leisure. Remember, someone may notice your content 15-seconds into a 20-second loop. If there’s too much text there, they aren’t going to reach the end of that content. 

Find ways to split your content into multiple bite-sized chunks. A good example of this is health and safety information.

Iso_Content_covid

This content can be added to a playlist that slowly feeds this information through the playlist, which makes sure the messages have time to land, be read clearly and move to the next asset. 

Consider your sizes!

When building your digital signage, try to keep in mind two key metrics to decide what content should appear on your screen. 

Screen size and Distance from viewer

The bigger the screen, the more space you have to add content, however, don’t fall into the trap of trying to add hundreds of zones of content just because you have the space. Bigger screens are usually chosen because the viewer may be further away from the screen than usual. 

In the example image below, the screen is far too busy for anyone on location to pick out the important information. The text is far too small for viewers that are far away from the screen and the power of the messaging is lost.

Iso_Content_ex_busyCorporate

On the below image, the screen is the same size but it has been reduced down to the key information that’s important for everyone. Viewers can see the content from any distance and the workforce is up to date on new information. 

Iso_Content_ex_largeOffice_Staremployee

The same concept works for any size screens. Even if you’re working on small screens designed to sit outside your conference room. You may have some less-vital content appear, however, the key messaging should be clear to read at a comfortable distance. 

Iso_Content_boardroom

Still images for moving people and moving images for still people

There’s a saying that “Still images are for moving people and moving images are for still people”. 

It’s elegantly simple and means exactly what you think it does. Adding too much motion to screens in areas where views are potentially commuting or rushing to their next destination can add confusion. If you know that your viewerbase only has a short period of time in front of your screen, don’t dilute your message. Keep your main message static in place to make sure it’s unmissable. 

If your viewers will be spending an extended period of time (let’s say 2 minutes +) you have the chance to add some more motion to keep the views engaged. A good example of this would be a waiting room. Adding Live TV of content which refreshes regularly is key to keep your audience entertained, informed and educated. 

Final thoughts

When building your digital signage content, always consider

  • What is my most important message
  • How long will it take me to read this piece of content
  • How large is the screen this is being sent to
  • How far away might a viewer be to see this information

    Now that you’ve got your plan, you have all the tools you need to create engaging, valuable digital signage content no matter the situation.