Digital Signage

The Four Types of Digital Signage for Bars & Restaurants

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By Andrew I Jaffee of  The Rail Media

How many of you have been approached by a digital signage company promising you the world if you put their product in your place? Plenty to be sure, but the ironic thing is they were all correct. The problem with digital signage is…umm…digital signage. Meaning no one knows exactly what it is or how it works in the restaurant industry. There are many different ways to skin this cat, and this post will aim to demystify it so you choose what’s right for you.

Let’s be direct. Content is just as important in digital signage as it is for a sports channel on TV. There’s a reason none of you has heard of Next Level (DIRECTV 623); they don’t have any content your guests would be interested in viewing. How about we start with the various forms that digital signage can take inside a restaurant?

Ad Revenue Based

These are installed by third parties who control the content, but restaurants can place their own content on the signage and sell their own advertising to mitigate the cost of the platform. Nothing is free, and whether you are paying or your guest’s attention is the cost, there is a price.

In ad revenue systems, the provider creates, deploys and maintains the content. You can insert your own ads, but you cannot be sure that the content playing will be interesting to your guests.

Engagement Based

These express themselves in various ways, from table-top tablets to interactive TVs that leverage mobile or another device-based element. With engagement-based solutions, the provider offers games and experiences that your guests may or may not be interested in playing. If you’ve ever seen the on-screen trivia that no one is playing, then you know this one. This solution can also be expensive because you can’t directly connect the system and any measurable return on investment (ROI).

Pay-to-Play Based

This is characterized by SaaS programs that allow you to create playlists and schedule them while the provider charges you a monthly fee. These systems require a ton of work to create and maintain, but you have total control over the content. They can also be pricey for the privilege of creating your own content. There are out of the box versions of this solution that deliver prepackaged content, but it’s generic and not particularly entertaining or proprietary.

Any of these three models can make sense depending on your restaurant’s size and scale. Multi-unit restaurant operators may prefer the pay-to-play as they have the capacity and economies of scale to create their own content and manage it end to end. Engagement-based is great for operators to entertain their guests and give them a diversion while waiting for their meals, but it can be expensive with no real, trackable return.

In the end, we believe that a hybrid solution is the best approach to digital signage.

Take a Hybrid Digital Signage Concept like Atmosphere…

Group of young restaurant patrons watch Atmosphere TV at a bar top.

If you aren’t familiar with Atmosphere, they are a digital entertainment system that offers myriad options on their various channels, from CHIVE TV and Red Bull TV to Tavern TV and Escape TV (among many, many others). Atmosphere’s content is varied, unique, and exactly what guests that aren’t sports-driven can enjoy while visiting your restaurant.

If you are in the bar biz, you have likely heard of theCHIVE. For those that haven’t, theCHIVE is the #1 humour website in the U.S. with over 20MM monthly sessions on-site and over 1MM app users; they know entertaining content.  They have an enormous following and are incredibly popular with the main demographic you serve — men 19-49.

Small selection of the vast TV channels that are available through Atmosphere TV.

The CHIVE TV channel on Atmosphere takes theCHIVE’s awesome content (fails, trick-shots, amazing feats, cute stuff, viral videos, and general hilarity) and provides it to operators at no cost. CHIVE TV is appropriate for any audience and is completely family-friendly, and is just one example of the 51 channels available on the Atmosphere network. As we have described, connecting your restaurant to a national brand is just good business.

A brand like Atmosphere with CHIVE TV will be recognizable to your guests and contain content they will look for when visiting your restaurant. The atmosphere also provides you with the ability to include your own content and marketing for a reasonable subscription fee. If you are looking for what digital signage, like Atmosphere, can provide as a return on investment, check out these stats: Operators that have employed Atmosphere have seen a 16% increase in dwell time, 19% more repeat business and seen new business increase by 14%. Now that’s an ROI.

Regardless of the method that best works for your business, remember that the true value of digital signage is getting guests to respond to messaging, increase their spending at your bar/restaurant, and entice them to return. That’s why the combination of content & customization is the right formula for implementing digital signage.

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