Live Video Feed vs. Digital Signage – The Showdown

Taking a no-video stance when it comes to digital signage is something that Noventri stands by.
Why? Because over the years we have found customers are just not interested in using video in their signage. They may think so at first, but later discover it is not the way to go. Naturally, as the head of Marketing I wanted to see if others shared these same sentiments so I posted the question “Should live TV be part of digital signage content” on a popular business social networking site. The responses were varied and interesting.

Comments soon arrived from all over the world including Spain, Israel, India, and Australia as well as Canada and USA. Naturally digital signage companies responded the most, but there were comments from content companies, news feed companies, creative/marketing companies, and A/V integrators.

One comment in particular seemed to sum up the general consensus toward live TV shown as part of digital signage content. It came from a Market Development Manager from an A/V company in the US. He said, “…It’s an attraction. TV gives viewers a reason to stop and look at the display. And while watching the TV feed they also see everything you truly want them to see.” I’ve heard this argument over and over.

So what were my overall responses to this ominous question? Did they concur? I had well over 30 responses and a whopping 19 gave an affirmative NO, live TV should never be used as digital signage content! Only five agreed with the above statement, that it is an attraction; while seven said it depends on the venue.

I was not surprised since I have always thought live TV feeds on digital signage screens were a distraction. They just don’t go together, kind of like water and oil. Digital signs are digital signs and TV’s are, well…. TV’s.

One digital signage company touts that they have “tested this idea many times and if you include live TV in your signage people are going to focus on that and ignore the message” on the digital sign. Then they reason, “You’re spending all this money for a signage installation just to provide people with television.”

One consulting firm simply states, “Streaming live TV takes away from the objective of most, if not all, digital signage networks.”

“I would never include TV on digital signage…I find video content causes a complete diversion from getting the message across,” comments a digital-out-of-home developer from the UK.

A Canadian company relates, “What they fail to understand is that digital signage – or in this case, digital marketing – relies on a completely different model than broadcast television. The success of digital signage is the consistency and quality of messaging. When live TV interrupts the messaging you lose the audience. Another Canadian says, “With live TV you can’t control the content and this might conflict with the content of your own network. I would stay away from any content that you can’t control. Besides the purpose of digital signage is to get the attention of your audience and to communicate specific messages to the audience. The last thing you want is having the TV content competing for their attention.”
It can be pretty well summed up with this one comment, “It should be live TV or digital signage. Take your pick.” Another says, “It seems to work better if there is a separate screen for programming and one for DOOH. And finally another remarks, “ just ask Walmart about the network television partnership as it relates to digital screens.

TV – a Lazy Man’s Answer?

So if there is such a relentless sounding against live TV feed showing up on digital signage screens, why do we still see it being used on digital signage screens? Well it seems that for some, that’s the way it’s always been. One example was shared that revealed the underlying reason for a company to insist on live TV feeds. This was primarily based on the fact that historically they had live TV at their locations before installing digital signage. When it came time to begin using digital signage they insisted it had to have live TV integrated on the screens too. So “to placate the local managers live TV was added as part of the project.” What they failed to understand is that they may “very well be advertising for a competitor who buys time on the television channel.” Not good. This is content that you cannot control.

But many feel the same as this responder from Australia when he said, “Let’s face it, it’s a cheap source of content and if you need to entertain people on a budget, it might be all you can do.” Well, first are you actually entertaining people? That’s what TV is for. There are two types of content – entertainment and infotainment. Creating targeted messages that capture the viewers’ attention requires work. Live TV is the lazy man’s answer.

Live TV, Is It Legal?

“I wonder how long it will be before one of the major networks comes in with their lawyers and claims that this is ‘repackaging the appearance’ of their programs?” This was a thought-provoking comment. One that others played off when they made such remarks as, “Subscription TV contracts might forbid subscribers from running their own material alongside the broadcast feed. They do here in Australia.”

And another response took it further by sharing this information, “Legally you cannot manipulate the television broadcast. This means inserting it into a wrapper with branding and messaging is not allowed. All the software companies tell you their software allows it, but unless you are CBS or a major media outlet, you probably cannot afford the licensing. If you are a national chain, retailer, etc. you have a lot at risk. As with anything lawyers love to get their hands into your business.”

It’s obvious that live TV has no place within the digital signage world. Just because digital signage content is viewed on video screens doesn’t make it TV. Give TV programming its own screens. Digital signage is just that… signage. Digital Signage content should be appropriate, relevant, well designed just like traditional signage.

So, ding, ding, ding! Who wins the showdown? The nays! No live TV feeds. Yeah! It’s good to know that Noventri had it right all along.

To read the entire discussion(s) go to Linkedin.com > Groups > Digital Signage @ Work, Digital Signage Advertising, Digital Signage Experts Group, Digital Signage Expo, Digital Signage Industry Connection, and Worldwide Digital Signage Network groups.

Source: Noventri