About two years too late Blockbuster, the now bankrupt former movie vendor, got into the kiosk game. Seeing the popularity of RedBox, Blockbuster, who was probably resistant to this idea because they didn’t want to cannibilize their own business, had to play catch up. The sad part is instead of out-innovating RedBox with their once mighty resources, they went to the courts to block movie releases from getting to RedBox at the same time as they came out on DVD.
This story is very familiar to all in the kiosk space, but what may be less familiar is some of Blockbuster’s strategy, especially with audio. At a Duane Reade (a pharmacy) here in New York, Blockbuster deployed one of their kiosks. It was big, blue, and supposedly beautiful, with a great selection of movies and the simplicity that kiosks hold as one of their strengths.
But there was a resounding issue with this kiosk, and it was apparent on the faces of the cashiers who were ringing people up for their cosmetics, magazines, and stationery. It was the audio, a blaring 15 or so second loop that starts fiery and builds to a climax before going silent for a second and then resuming. In the few minutes that it took to rent a movie, patrons of the kiosk were already feeling a little uncomfortable.
On top of this, the music was so loud that it was impossible for the store to play its own music. Apparently enough complaints came through: there is now no music.
In the DOOH world, content strategies are mostly based on dwell times, or how long a viewer stays at a place where there are screens. What is almost never considered are the people who work in these places, usually for eight hour shifts. Patience can run thin.
I personally think back to my days as a bellman for a hotel in my home town. There was always classical music playing 24 hours a day in the lobby and by the bar. For one month out of each year starting the day after Thanksgiving, the music switched to classical Christmas music. By December 24th, the loop of 10 songs, yes, 10 songs, had become so annoying that it assumed the role of the Grinch and robbed the employees of the Christmas cheer that the music itself was supposed to induce.
In digital out of home planning, everyone would prefer to have fresh content all the time, and replaying some of the better content from time to time so viewers keep looking, even if they have been to a location before. The biggest prohibiting factor to this execution is cost. Content production is expensive, and better communications systems are required to deliver HD and live broadcast. So usually, the person setting up the network finds the best balance between as much fresh content as possible and their budget.
A static sign might be foolish, simple, poorly targeted, or aging, but because it does not have an audio component it is hard for it to be annoying, let alone oppressive.
The employees on the ground are the face of an organization, and keeping a smile on this face is crucial for good customer service and repeat business. As you use DOOH to improve your messaging and up your sales, just be aware that not all dwell times are the same.
Tony Hymes is the Editor of the Digital Out Of Home industry website DOOH.com. He produces introductory videos of the companies working across the space from digital signage hardware providers to content companies, DOOH networks, consultants, and software groups. Tony Hymes writes extensively about the strategies behind DOOH advertising, digital signage networks and deployments, and customer engagement trends.