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Feed the Beast

Feb 14, 2011 9:49 AM, by Vern Freedlander, Vice President, Production, X2O Media

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Once your digital signage network is up and running, you now have to deal with your greatest challenge yet: How do I feed the content beast? It’s easy to forget that networks not only have to be populated with initial content, but the content needs to be continually refreshed. A plan for doing this should be carefully thought out, and it begins with having a solid understanding of who the audience is and what content they expect to be shown. In forming your content plan, there are a number of questions that should be addressed with your client:

  • Who will be responsible for creating the content?
  • What sources will be used?
  • What is the content workflow?
  • How often will content need to be refreshed?
  • Is the content time sensitive?
  • Are there types of content, such as breaking news, which should be allowed to override previously scheduled content? If so, how will this be accomplished?
  • What is the budget allocated for content?

When it comes to refreshing content, text and images can be easily driven by RSS feeds. Video content is more impactful, but it is also much more time and resource intensive to produce. The video production process can be sped up with a template-based approach to render content out as video clips. In the templated video approach, certain aspects of the clip may never change, such as opening and closing graphics, layout and color schemes, but the editorial content will change. Changes or updates are made to the middle of the item only, creating brand new content. Likewise, multiple templates can be created to keep the look fresh and to continue feeding the beast.

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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