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  So finally I finished my first blog entry.  I plan to write at least one a month.  The overall theme will be ‘Do it Right or Don’t do it at all‘ and there will be a focus on a particular area each month.  This segment will be on content, but first…For those of you that don’t know me I thought I would set some ground rules:
  • Just because I say something does not make it so, after all this is why they call it a ‘personal opinion’.
  • If you don’t like what I am saying spend some time and contribute, I am sure we can use as many opinions as possible…. or tell me why you don’t agree perhaps you can help me improve.  This industry in the Middle East can use some intelligent debate (something that was lacking before people like Myself, Andrew Wood and Patrick Crosbie came to town).
  • I don’t pull punches, if you do cr*p work I will call you on it.
  • I can rant and I can be a bit of a smart ***(edited by me before DOOH Insights).

So now to this month’s topic – Think Content First:

You know when I first came to Dubai 7 years ago I kept hearing people talk about Digital Signage networks being installed….I come from a basic school of thought and that is that seeing is believing….at that time there was not much to see in Dubai….installations were few and far between, screens were of questionable quality, installations and cabling jobs were done by amateurs and the content….well don’t get me started on the content….I think my 13 year old daughter has done better stuff on PowerPoint than some of the content running on those screens(by the way she’s been doing better power point then them since she was 8).

In the Middle East Installations focused on Hardware, installation and software (I would be afraid to see how bad they would look if this wasn’t the focus) and absolutely no time was spent on content either before or after.  This very SIMPLY is wrong….  you cannot deploy a solution that provides you the opportunity to use rich multimedia content and not think about content.   It is best to start with the  Content strategy and buying screens should be the last thing on your mind at the beginning of any project.  So here are some simple guidelines:

  1. The content strategy usually needs to be tackled from scratch.  Digital signage content has a completely new set of requirements; existing media assets often provide a good starting point, but few of them can be reused outright.
  2. A screen in landscape mode calls for very different content than a screen in portrait. The greater the number of screens in the network, the greater the organizational challenge for content.
  3. Multiple networks might be involved. The most beneficial digital signage products touch one or more networks.
  4. Most projects I have seen in the Region have been run and managed by the IT Department.  The reality of the situation is that if content is King then the people responsible for the content should manage the project.  Of course it should be the marketing people who drive this initiative.
  5. Have a sound content strategy and know what is going to be shown on the screens.  Please do this before you buy the screens, software or any other hardware.
  6. It is important to get everything up and running but the successful deployment of a digital signage Network is tied to the Content.
  7. Understand the possibilities of the network outside of mere advertising, such as corporate communication, education, way finding and interactivity.
  8. The end result should be a plan on how to tackle content.

Now once we have thought of all the above we can start buying hardware and thinking about software.

Unfortunately, even for those few who have been lucky enough to think about the content ahead of time and purchase the right equipment, networks seem to be ineffective.  Content is not changed and it is not uncommon to see the same content running on a Digital Signage Network as when first installed 3 years ago.  It is the fault of the amateur Digital Signage companies who do not know how to develop content.  Most of the time they are happy to sell the solution and get the heck out of there fearing they may be asked to help formulate a strategy (the kiss of death for rookies)…..

Sidenote: when I refer to rookies or amateurs in the business please do not for a minute think this is limited to people who just started in the business….this is more to the so called ‘experts’ you know the guys in any business that claim to be the first and by virtue of that the best.  There are far too many Digital Signage Companies (so called) or Digital Signage Integrators that are pretending they understand the business.  Guys you know yourselves….shame on you charging that much and not providing value.  The common response in at least Dubai when they are challenged on content is ‘we told the client but they wanted it this way’…. I have met these clients and believe me they never wanted bad content, of course we all know the previous excuse is simply a way to blame the client for the Integrators lack of experience or knowledge.  Funny enough some of these end users know better what is bad content then most companies in our industry.

Next blog I will give some helpful hints on actually designing content.

Raad Raad, Managing Director, MxN Middle East FZ-LLC

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 and is filed under


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