By Alan C. Brawn CTS, DSCE, DSDE, DSNE, DCME, DSSP, ISF-C
We find ourselves in a world of acronyms and buzz words. I don’t know about you, but acronyms can be difficult for many of us to grasp unless we are “in the know” and buzz words in our popular lexicon roll off the tongue and appear to have meaning but are often vague and lacking in specificity. Words like convergence, team, collaboration, and my current favorite, experience, are all buzz words but have different meanings and depths of resonance to each of us. We fill in our own blanks.
In the world of digital signage, the term experience is bandied about at every turn. The audio-visual trade organization AVIXA is the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. They incorporated an additional buzz word, integration to further appeal to their intended audience, which is AV, and more recently digital signage. The newly reprised DSE is now the Digital Signage Experience with the word experience displacing the former word expo. File this under the practice of word-smithing at its best where every word has an intention.
Inside or outside AV and digital signage, companies use the term to entice people that there is an experience there to be had. The idea is that everyone wants and will seek a good experience. Few could argue with that, but the use of the word experience begs for an explanation and further understanding in special applications such as digital signage. Our objective is to show how digital signage can create and drive multiple experiences. It is rarely one and done! Let’s start at the top and work our way down.
According to several dictionary definitions, the word experience can be a noun or a verb.
As a noun:
- The process or fact of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something
- Practical wisdom gained in observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time
As a verb:
- To have experience of; meet with; undergo; feel
- To learn by experience.
Psychologists tell us that there are 6 main types of experiences under the umbrella of physical and mental and in digital signage we have added a 7th. By category they are:
- Physical experience includes both planned and unplanned events in your immediate surroundings. A physical experience requires your presence but there may be a physical reaction to events outside of your presence.
- Mental experiences take place in our minds. They can be disconnected by the physical such as in the case of fear, anger, or joy or they can be the result of past physical experiences. Mental
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experiences also involve learning and being aware of social behavior. Training the mind is part of this category of experiences.
- Emotional experience are the most personal. They relate to feelings of love, social abilities, anger, and many other personal aspects. Emotional familiarities generally involve affectionate experiences, desired experiences, and sensational experiences.
- Spiritual experience refers to a person’s beliefs. Some of these can be thoughts from a young age while others are discovered as an adult. A transformation experience can often be a spiritual experience.
- Social experience requires the physical presence or communication with other people. These types of experiences are part of our main needs as humans. It has been defined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (psychological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization).
- Virtual experience refers to the information technology and its immediate role in our lives that also require physical interaction. Virtual experiences involve things like gaming or watching virtual reality movies or (drum roll please!) digital signage. Fully immersive, partially immersive, and non-immersive categories distinguish themselves in the different types of virtual experiences.
- Transactional experiences lead to the “bigger” experience and as such, the journey is part of the experience.
The fascinating thing (perhaps even unique) with digital signage writ large is that it can be created in a multi-dimensional form from an experiential perspective. Digital signage can “punch the experience ticket” of some or all the categories and several sub-categories. Let me illustrate the point in each category. Digital signage can provide the following and more:
- Physical experiences through touch screens, QR codes, and responding to a call to action.
- Mental experiences through learning, applying, and recalling.
- Emotional experiences that reach the viewer at a personal level.
- Spiritual experiences that transcend personal to the greater good.
- Social experiences in communication and collaborating with others.
- Virtual experiences that transcend face to face but maintain many of the personal benefits.
- Transactional experiences are additive and cumulative toward the major objective.
By addressing and incorporating as many of the 7 categories of experiences as possible in your content you increase the likelihood of creating a memory and recall. For those in advertising and retail among others, the quest for recall is the journey and attaining it is the outcome that defines success. If your content is seen and then immediately forgotten, sorry but it is not an experience and your efforts and attempts at creating an experience was wasted. Back to the drawing board.
The creation of an experience in digital signage is not automatic and not easy. It takes time and thought. There are many variables and there are no “silver bullets” for guaranteed success. What we do to create the experience is part business, part art, and part craft. In business it is setting the objective. What work do you want the digital signage to do and what do you want the viewer to take away? It is craft in setting and designing the physical manifestation of digital signage to meet the objectives. It is art in the creation of content and how the material is conveyed in alignment with the objectives.
We know the categories that make up a memorable experience. Take your project (in any venue/vertical) and plug the details into the categories. Ask yourself how many targets you are hitting. By addressing as many as possible within the sphere of your objective, you will get closer to the holy grail of digital signage that we can rightfully call an experience.