Creating Content for the Three Types of Digital Signage Networks

Creating content for digital signage/DOOH first requires an understanding of the three different types of networks.
There are three basic types of digital signage networks that determine both placement and approach to creating messages for digital signage installations: Point of Sale, Point of Transit and Point of Wait. These messages are uniquely tied to the type of network and affect the length, timing and type of engagement. Each viewer of these different networks is also in a different frame of mind and is doing something that is unique to the venue that directly affects their receptiveness to messages, interaction and ultimately actions tied to the messages.


A point of sale (POS) network is what you might expect: digital signage that consumers encounter close to a product or service for sale. These screens are usually comprised of in-store or retail digital signs. Sometimes, they include screens placed on the end of an aisle, or “end cap,” near the deli in a grocery store. When in front of a Point Of Sale (POS) network, the consumer has become a shopper. The mindset of a person who has deliberately entered a store is much more attuned to cues and opportunities related to their needs and the wares on sale at the particular store. They are now reachable with more direct offers about products – and particularly offers that now take into account their gender, age and income, for example. These viewers are “shoppers.” The power of this type of network is that the call to action is immediate; the screens are placed where consumers make their buying decisions. The content is attention grabbing, relevant to product and brand, while the consumer is focused on buying. While retailers and brands have sometimes different goals, one thing they all do is attempt to create a digital experience or “digital destination” that is engaging, interactive, personal and connects bricks and mortar with the new digital consumer while in-store. Putting all these together creates real relevance for the content of a POS network because it can create an emotional response that drives desired behavior.

On the other side of this are the consumers who are on the go — people who are walking or driving and are in transit. Digital billboards, along with screens associated with transit hubs and store windows comprise this second type of installation, Point of Transit (POT) networks. These are arguably the “live poster” of the industry. They work by grabbing the attention of passing consumers for a brief period of time. “On the Go” viewers are people in circumstances where their mindset is firmly fixed on reaching a destination or taking a journey — this is usually in areas where POT networks dominate. They are on a mission to get somewhere, and that’s the key to relevance. Where are they headed and why? This is a very complex question with a range of answers. These screens are mostly focused on establishing brand identity or value, and parcel out visually attractive or active content in short bursts. Many consumers are already familiar with these types of POT networks. Even an exterior screen on a taxi which functions as a moving billboard is considered a POT. The latest POT networks involve engagement at some level whether it is mobile interaction or gestural interaction that leads to the consumer providing information to the brand. Relevance is an important factor to keep in mind. If it is a billboard for instance, then during morning commute traffic you can guess that most “on the go” viewers are heading to work. On a subway this will also apply. What is on their minds? More than likely, it will be something involving work or coffee. They are also thinking about where they came from. Home and family issues, things they may need to find time to deal with during a busy work day. Conversely, on their way home they are recapping their day and looking forward to home, friends, family and dinner.

The third type, Point of Wait (POW) network — is one targeted to consumers waiting for a product or service. Usually we encounter these in retail lines, healthcare and hospitality locations, as well as corporate lobbies. The consumers watching these screens are “Dwell Time” viewers. These dwell time viewers are in situations where they might be a patient and have little choice but to remain passively in the area of the screen, or may be in a situation where there they are relaxed in an out of home situation like a food court in a mall. A dwell time viewer can be in an elevator or a doctor’s office, but in any case is stuck with a wait. A typical POW network is found in retail banking, where consumers are entertained in the queue while also exposed to messaging, and general feel-good content. Good content, usually lengthier, results in happy customers for the teller. It is all about perceived wait time. The digital screens installed inside elevators that present a quick news bite, an ad and perhaps a weather forecast during the short trip from one floor to the next that enable the advertisers to reach the viewer during this dwell time. In the work place, corporate communications screens are putting everyone on the same page. One cannot avoid the messages on a screen in a corporate environment. In health care, screens are used in the waiting areas and the content is targeted to that particular type of facility. Some of these networks are interactive, such as screens facing passengers riding inside taxis. In those cases, the viewer has more “dwell time” and can take in a longer message or series of messages. The common thread is that consumers viewing a POW network screen are both receptive and have sufficient time exposure to allow for longer messages and several repetitions. All have dwell time, but for entirely different reasons, and it is those reasons that need to be considered when creating content that is relevant.

These examples are of course basic thinking around what mindset of the shopper, dwell time viewer and the on the go viewer is in and depending upon the sub category of network, this can be fine-tuned to match relevancy.

keith-Maximidia2010_KK-Head-Shot-lrge-0613When you think about content and categorize by type of network and the mindset of the shopper, on the go viewer or dweller, it immediately helps to organize the thinking around how to create the appropriate media to engage.

Author and speaker Keith Kelsen, chief visionary at 5th Screen, is considered one of the leading experts on digital media. More information about his book, Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage – Content Strategies for the 5th Screen, published by Focal Press, can be found on the book’s companion website at Reach him at or on Twitter @Kkelsen.