Digital Signs & The Psychology Of The Poster

Attending The Screen breakfast briefing in London this morning raised an interesting point that probably gets overlooked about general perceptions of signage. Ever wondered about the factors that lead viewers to give their attention to a digital sign? Here’s a thought for you.The briefing today was all about the digital signage network at Heathrow Terminal 5 and on the Heathrow Express. The presentations focused on how successful the project has been to date and how it was implemented. All very interesting stuff. One thing that struck me from the research that JC Decaux conducted was how people in general interpret screens at first glance.

We are all well aware of the landscape format of movies and TV and it would appear that whenever we see this shape with motion content, it registers as that type of content. So, looking at a landscape screen makes us think of TV or movies. Simple really. The expectation is where it gets more complex. Because of the association if we see content in digital signs presented in landscape, most people’s reaction is to think of it as a film and classify it as such. The nature of the content however is usually quite different, and this can be slightly disappointing, unless the creative is purposefully entertaining.

If digital signage networks use portrait screens to present content, viewers perceive this as something different, essentially allowing the content owner a little extra attention time to communicate. This seems to be routed in the association of portrait style signs usually being more important messages or required information. Of course this may not be universally true, but it was significant enough to make a major signage network decide to exploit the fact.

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