How Often Should You Change your Digital Signage Content?

By Frank Kenna

This is a question we are often asked by our customers.  While there are many considerations such as type of message, cycle speed and length of message, how new the concept is, how complex it is and how many frames of digital signage content are being displayed simultaneously, there is one primary rule of thumb.  That is the rule of three.

What this rule says is that you want to adjust your digital signage (DS) content so that the average person walking by it will see any particular message at least three times. 

This basic theory was developed by Dr. Herbert Krugman at GE in the 1970s when he was studying the effects of attention and learning of GE’s advertising.1 He broke the three-exposure rule down to these three basic elements:

1. The first time a message is seen the viewer thinks, “What is it?” The first response is to try and understand the nature of the content stimulus.

2. The second time makes the viewer think, “What of it?” and “Ah ha, I’ve seen this before.” This completes the basic reaction to the message with understanding taking place.

3. The third exposure becomes the true reminder where the message sinks in.  By then the “sale” has taken place and your message has been understood and “bought” by the viewer. 

Equally as important to the third exposure is that it’s also the beginning of disengagement and withdrawal of attention. In other words, it’s time to take that piece of content out and replace it with something new. 

This simple rule of three can be applied to any digital signage system.  Whatever system you use, just make sure to adjust the content controls so it will stay up long enough to be viewed an average of three times – and not much more.  This will significantly increase the communication, learning and engagement between you and your employees. 

1. Herbert E. Krugman, “Why Three Exposures May be Enough,” Journal of Advertising Research, (December, 1972), 11-14.


Frank Kenna III
October 18, 2012

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