By Frank Kenna
ROI is about the digital strategy, not the hardware
When managers of companies are considering installing a digital signage (DS) system, one of the first questions they ask is, “What’s the ROI (return on investment) on this?” However, that’s really the wrong question, or rather the right question applied to the wrong subject.
ROI is derived from achievement of objectives of a company. DS is used to ‘sell’ those objectives, to help the manager get the objectives done by engaging employees and changing their behavior in some way. The behavior change accomplishes the corporate objectives, and that’s where the ROI should be measured.
So digital signage has no intrinsic ROI, any more than a billboard on a highway does. A billboard is simply a large structure next to a road. It’s your message that’s displayed on it that causes the buying of a product or service that determines its ROI. If it sells a lot of product, it has a high ROI; if it flops there’s probably negative ROI.
It’s just the same with your DS. Let’s say that customer service is not good at your company, causing you to lose customers, so you start putting positive customer service messaging on your DS. If the customer drain stops, then you have positive ROI that can be measured with before-and-after metrics. If you keep losing customers, then your ROI is poor. But in either case, it’s not the digital signage that has good or bad ROI, it’s the messaging created to support your digital communications strategy.
DS is a means to an end. To expect it to have an intrinsic ROI is unrealistic, just like leasing billboard space without an effective ad campaign would be.
If a digital signage strategy helps you accomplish your company’s important objectives, then it’s dripping with ROI. If it does nothing for your objectives, then you’ll end up unplugging it. But don’t blame the DS, blame your content… or lack thereof.