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Become a Digital Signage Pro

Learning everything about digital signage

There’s a great solution for integrators wanting to learn a lot more about all aspects of Digital Signage. The Digital Signage Federation(DSF) has worked with subject matter experts from around the industry to create over two dozen online classes as part of a micro-credentialing program.  Training covers everything from the basics, to specific topics for hardware, software, scheduling, project planning and content. Courses were developed by Digital Signage Federation members working as volunteers to deliver educational content to industry peers.

Courses are about 30 minutes so they are perfect for learning a topic at whatever pace makes sense. Courses include a short quiz at the end and return a certificate of completion when done. Courses area always being added throughout the year as more contributors add to the growing library.

These courses are limited to DSF members, so you do need to first register yourself or your company to gain access. Once in, there’s hours of courseware available.

Ryan Cahoy, DSF Board Member and Managing Director of Rise Display provides some clarity about how these courses were developed.

“The Digital Signage Federation’s mission is to help our industry grow through ongoing education.  We have a very diverse membership so our approach has been From Members – By Members.  This approach has allowed experts in each field to share their expertise, such as the 2 courses contributed by Almo on interactive content design.  Today we have over 30 active courses with new releases each month.  We would encourage Almo reseller partners to join the DSF to get access to the entire library to and expand their digital signage knowledge.”

Learning about content

As Ryan mentions, I contributed two courses, a basic overview of content and a more advanced course on experiential content. The basic overview provides a good introduction to content creation, content strategy and workflows. The experiential course goes over interactive and dynamic content, both for close up touch screens and more complex at a distance experiences.

Getting involved

The great thing about this program is the DSF is always looking for more content, and they accept multiple contributions on similar topics. If you’re interested in contributing a course, reach out to me and I’ll connect you with the right people at the DSF.

Jim Nista
Senior Director of Content Creation

[email protected]
888-420-2566 x6572

Times Square Magic on NYE 2020, made easy by Almo Content Services

Ringing in the New Year in New York’s Time Square, our mission was to figure out how to get a selfie from your smartphone onto the largest screen in Time Square, in seconds.

Time Square everyday is a jumble of digital screens, showing ads for everything from retail, movies, video games and beverages. Content for most of these screens is created months in advance by advertising agencies, and most of it is static images and videos. Every so often though advertisers are willing to take advantage of the fact that each of these screens can do much more than show simple images or videos. With the right type of content development, these screens can create a one-to-one experience between the advertiser and consumer using social media, real-time games and by posting photos to the screen.

Time Square always has a huge crowd, but it’s biggest night by far is New Year’s Eve for the Ball Drop. Advertisers bring their best for NYE, knowing there will be millions of viewers both in person and watching various broadcasts at home around North America.

Almo Pro AV Content Services teamed up with Diversified Media and Silvercast to deliver a special New Year’s Eve experience for Wilkins Media and their client Freixenet. The brand wanted a way to connect with partiers in Time Square and around the world. Using the largest digital screen in Times Square they encouraged people waiting for the ball drop to text their photo to the screen in real-time.

That’s where Almo Pro AV came in. Our Content Services group does a lot more than make beautiful content – and in this case, we handled programming and data connectivity with all the creative coming from the advertiser.

The big screen showed a special text phone number and keyword which encouraged people to text a selfie to the screen. Once people snapped their photo and texted it to the number, we first had a live moderator verify the people were well behaved. Once approved, the photo went into a data queue to show on the screen and everything from there was automated.

The digital sign wasn’t showing the typical video-based ad, but a real-time generated HTML5 application. This custom built application animated the selfies to appear as if they were a bubble popping out of a Freixenet bottle and allowed for four new selfies to show each time the ad played on the screen.

Selfies create challenges because each one is so unique. Some photos have just one or two people, others have a large group. Some are portrait and others landscape or at strange angles. The creative called for us to show the photos exactly the same for everyone, with the faces all fitting in a tight circular bubble.

With hundreds of photos coming in at the same time, all of the cropping and animation had to be automated. We used facial detection algorithms to best fit the photo on the ad layout and adjust each photo to best fit in the circle. As each photo was texted in and passed our live moderator, we had in some cases just a few seconds to get it in the queue and on the screen.

After each photo passed moderation, we also sent a text back to the viewer. This text alerted them they were being shown on the screen and sent them a small preview image of how they looked in the bubble. This preview creative was different than the big screen, meaning every photo had to be auto cropped and sized twice.

The ad was live in Time Square from 7pm to just after midnight and the big countdown. Once the party was over in New York, the campaign was over. Months of programming work and prep was over in a flash.

Hundreds of partiers sent in photos and the content performed flawlessly thanks to amazing teamwork with Diversified, Silvercast and Wilkins Media. We helped people ring in the New Year in style and they looked great up on the big screen, without knowing about all of the behind the scenes programming and magic that made it happen.

The “10-Foot Rule” and Other Viewing Distance Considerations

I was recently asked my opinion on guiding principles for content prepared for close-up viewing versus long distance.  My immediate response was that there was a category missing there.  The Almo Content Design team looks at viewing distance as three different categories, not two.  We design for 3 feet/1 meter for close up viewing screens, such as wayfinders, 10 feet/3 meters on informational screens and greater than that for retail/outdoor.

The “10-Foot Rule” demands legibility and clarity to ensure content at a distance is delivered accurately within the moments it takes for a simple glance.  When my team works on informational screens such as menu boards or employee communication screens this is an important consideration that will drive font and icon sizing, color contrast and animation principles.  We are careful to use timelines instead of cramming the screen with too much at once.  In fact, our mantra is “less is always more when it comes to design on informational screens.”

When you’re working on content for touchscreens, design principles follow mobile app design guidelines.  Consistency within the overall user interface (UI) becomes extremely important.  Every day we all interact with a touch screen UI that breaks consistency rules.  For example, an ATM where the “OK” button changes location from prompt to prompt not only confuses the viewer, it slows the interaction.

For larger screens, especially outdoor, the rule tightens.  The message must be legible, of course, but more importantly it must be concise.  The “5-Second Rule” isn’t really five seconds anymore – it’s less.  Color, contrast and concise messaging become key.

Do you have any “rules” you follow when determining your digital signage designs?  

Leave me a comment and let’s start a conversation.  And stay tuned for more of my expert advice as I come back each month with a brief thought on a single aspect of digital signage.

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