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No Wallpaper

Oct 10, 2011 12:06 PM, by Vern Freedlander, Vice President, Production, X2O Media

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What appears on your digital signage network is the key to its success. To ensure that there's always something on the screen, it is very tempting for network operators to simply schedule irrelevant content. In the business, this is known as "wallpaper"—generic content that is readily available and usually relatively inexpensive that "papers" over the screen, ensuring no black appears. However, generic content has little to no impact on the audience. Generic content may even be eye-catching, but often does little to enhance messaging and the overall objectives of the network.

In corporate communications especially, the more industry specific and internally focused the news is the more effective it will be. So for example, a technology company's network should ideally feature a technology industry related news feed, updates and messaging from HR, sales, marketing, and communications from the CEO's office. Instead of national weather data, focus on hyper-local weather and weather from the company's branch plants. Instead of a broad cross section of market data, concentrate on the company's stock price, its historical value and industry indicators.

Similarly, in a retail environment, it is important to have content that speaks to customers. In a high-end women's clothing store, fashion show content from Milan may be relevant and effective. However, that same content in a more casual store might backfire and actually work against the network. For system integrators, a good rule of thumb is that the more localized the content—in terms of geographic location, audience, and venue—the more impact it will have.

Vern Freedlander is vice president of production services for Montréal-based X2O Media, a full-service provider of technology, network management and content services for professional digital signage applications. With more than 20 years of broadcast television experience as a producer, director and executive, Freedlander oversees all of X2O Media's content initiatives. He can be reached at

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