Ten Digital Signage Buzzwords and Phrases That Need Shelved Now

Robin Wauters at TechCrunch did a great piece recently about words he would love to see banned from press releases. It is very Silicon Valley-focused, but much of what he had to write could be applied to this sector.

I thought I would use that for inspiration for my own, DS-centric list. The hype in this space is crazy, and there are entire press releases that don’t say much at all, but have lotsa words and phrases we all read way too often, and that need to go away.

We’ve all read this press release:

Dynamic HyperDigital LLC, a leading global provider of best-in-breed, scalable and cost-effective digital signage solutions, announces the release of its next-generation software platform, ScreenMax 5.2, which revolutionizes the way businesses can manage their screen networks.

A pioneer in digital signage solutions since 2007, Dynamic HyperDigital develops leading-edge … blah, blah, blah

Mere mortals have at this point given up, and still have no idea why they should be interested.

With that buzzword blizzard laid out, here’s the must-go list, in no real order:

1 – CONTENT IS KING

“At XYZ Creative Studios we believe content is king…” Click. Gone. Not reading that thing anymore. The phrase is so old and tired it’s slipped into a coma. Stop! Just stop.

This stuff really is all about what’s on that screen, but the people who STILL drag that phrase out instantly kill their credibility. There are many ways to write or state the same thing.

pressdooh-worldcloud2 – LEADING

I did a very casual survey once and even built a little word cloud to visually represent ALL the leaders – the industy leaders, the leading providers, the global leaders – in the digital signage sector. There was a PILE of them. As TechCrunch notes, just because everyone else writes that, it doesn’t mean you are breaking some rule by skipping it. When everyone says they are the leader or at least a leader, the term becomes meaningless.

Variants: recognized leader; leading global provider; worldwide leader; world-leading

3 – REVOLUTIONARY

That’s one big, loaded term, and it gets used by companies saying their new bits or baubles will revolutionalize digital out of home media. Or whatever. Revolutionary technology comes along only ever so often, and when it does, everyone knows. The iPhone was revolutionary. Same with the Blackberry. Not so much with the Palm Pre. Use the term with care, otherwise you look goofy.

Variants: revolutionized; groundbreaking; game-changer; disruptive

4 – LEADING EDGE

What does that mean anymore??? New???

Variants: Cutting edge; Taking it to the next level (eeesh)

5 – NEXT-GENERATION

Also noted in TechCrunch, a seriously overused nonsense phrase. It gets used to express the notion that the stuff coming down the pipe is new and cool. Does next-gen mean something 20 years ahead of its time? Or does it mean upgrade?

6 – PIONEER

“So and so, a pioneer in the something or other.”

Honestly, there are a few people who have been banging away at this digital signage thing for 15 years or more. Unless you were around before it was even possible to buy a flat panel, or needed $10K to get one, you’re not an industry pioneer. Nor is your company. Exceptions go to companies that are bringing newer technologies into the space, though pioneer is still a pretty tired handle.

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Veteran is OK. It expresses you’ve been around the block and made some mistakes, and learned some stuff.

Variant: “the first!”

7 – TURNKEY SOLUTION

The term is now so liberally used it is impossible to sort out what might really be a turnkey solution. A turnkey solution, properly defined, is one in which “a product or service can be implemented or utilized with no additional work required by the buyer.” So, good luck with that! Most of the guys peddling a turnkey solution aren’t even close to being able to say, “Here ya go buddy, network’s done. Here’s your keys!”

The other problem is the risk of typos. Ask BroadSign, which a few months ago saw a plug for a turnkey solution turn up as a turkey solution.

End-to-end is a a variant, and still a bit of a cliche. But at least it conveys more accurately a sense that a company can work with a client from the start of a project through to inception.

8 –  SCALABLE

Now scalable is meant to convey that a particular technology or service can grow with a client, from 10 to 10,000 if need be. Scalability is indeed important. If you do it right and the platform really is built to scale up, then you should be able to operate a very large network with only a relatively small increases in resources needed. Invest in a platform that’s good for 50 sites but can’t handle 500 connections, and you are for in a world of pain. Problem is, everybody now uses that term, and scalability has lost its meaning. Plain language – just flat saying what your doodad can manage – will do just fine.

9 – COST-EFFECTIVE

This is code for affordable, or justifiable. But when just about every solution out there describes itself as cost-effective, it’s no longer a phrase that’s going to resonate. If you’re selling on price, just point out you have a low-cost solution. People get that.

10 – BEST IN CLASS

Says who? There are no real objective, thorough ratings or reviews in this space, certainly not for the software platforms, so how does a company get to be at the top of the heap? By self-declaration, of course.

So the phrase is empty, and prospective buyers know that. What makes a company top of class is how much business it does and how many clients stay with that client year after year, not to mention how the company behaves.

Variant: Best of breed; best in breed; best in show (OK, never seen that in this context, but it will happen.)

Dave Haynes is the founder of pressDOOH, a marketing communications firm focused specifically on the digital signage and digital out of home sectors. Haynes writes a general blog about the industry called Sixteen:Nine, and another called Buzz, Not Buzzwords that he hopes will guide industry members about what NOT to include in company marketing pieces.