How to Create Effective Content for your LED Screen

If you are approaching the LED screen advertising business for the first time, you probably have no idea on how to create the advertising. Or worse, you think you do know how to create them.

Unless you have some solid background in marketing, I suggest you forget what you think you know about creating advertising on LED screens, and use the following guidelines.

If you don’t have a LED screen yet, but you are thinking about getting one to start your advertising business, I’m sure you'll find a few tips that might be useful for you (or your designer) you when creating the next Ad for your LED screen.

Duration

Some people make the HUGE mistake of creating 30/40 seconds Ads. 30 seconds? Are you crazy people? Your audience is not sitting on a sofa waiting for the next TV show.

They are most probably driving-by at 30/40 Kms per hour and hopefully they are more focused on the street rather than your screen. Still they should be able to see the entire Ads, from start to end while passing by.

What’s the point of creating a wonderful Ad, if they can not read the advertiser's phone number and address at the end because the Ad is TOO long?!

From my experience an Ad should be maximum 10 seconds in length (rarely 15). Longer Ads are pointless because either your target sees the beginning but not the end, or vice-versa.

In both cases (1) you didn’t get the message across, (2) the audience did not find an interesting message on your digital billboard, therefore will have no interest in doing it again in the future and (3) your Customer didn’t get much in return for his investment, which should be your very first concern if you want him to come and buy your services again in the future.

Of course there are exceptions to the "10 seconds" general rule, say for LED screens installed in pedestrian areas, where people have more time to watch the LED screen... But as I said, those are exceptions. They are rare. And anyways 30 secs is still too much, even in these cases.

If you want to get the most out of your LED screen (and you Customers) in terms of recognition from the audience, this article will tell which are the worst mistake people make when creating a new Ad.

Format

Rule #1

The first Rule of formatting when creating text (ie. the address, phone number etc) for a electronic billboard Ad is... Ready?

MAKE LETTERS BIG! At least 1/4 of the screen. I cant understand those designers that create super small text, that might look nice on their PC or MAC monitor when they create it, but its terrible when broadcast on the LED screen.

Rule #2

Second Rule of Formatting: Do Not Apply Shades or Glossy Effects on Text

Get it? As said before, this fancy effects might look nice on the monitor, but they definitely they are not cool on the LED screen.

The reason for it is that, despite of its huge size, the LED screen has actually LESS pixels than you PC monitor. MANY less pixels.

So it is pointless to create special shining effects on a 5 centimetres letter that look big on a PC but its invisible on a LED billboard.

Rule #3

Third Rule of Formatting: Use Sans-Serif Fonts

If the text looks blurry on the LED screen, we should make any possible effort to make things better. Serif fonts (ie. Courier, Times New Roman etc) are very nice on the PC monitor but they do have the Serifs which add pointless "noise" to the text and make it look less clear.

Imagine this situation amplified by the "blurry" effect of the virtual pixel. Not good. Instead use Sans-Serif fonts such as Verdana or Tahoma, as they appear much more readable on the LED screens.

And if you absolutely have to use a "noisy" font, at least please use it in BIG size.

Rule #4

Fourth Rule of Formatting: Use Contrasting Colors

Over 20 years ago Ms Karen E. Claus published a table, indicating the color-match with the best contrast ratio. She did it for the classic static signage, but the principle is still valid today.

According to her research and studies, the best matches are the following: Black on Yellow - Black on White - Yellow on Black - White on Blue - Yellow on Blue - Green on White - Blue on Yellow - White on Green. Please use text colors in such combinations and try to avoid such things as Pink-on-Red.

Rule #5

Fifth Rule of Formatting: Plain Text is Better

On LED Screens, you have 10/15 seconds to make your Ad memorable. It means that if the text is not clear at the first sight, people won’t give it a second chance.

Remember that they are most probably driving at about 35 km/h and hopefully they are more concerned about the road rather than about a fuzzy headline.

Design

Other terrible mistakes you should absolutely avoid when creating new content for your LED video wall are related to design.

As you can very well imagine, the KEY role in the LED screen content creationis the Designer. Many people don’t realize how fundamental this role is, because they are too concentrated on selling the ads spaces.

The point is, if you have a good designer, your ads will sell themselves. If you don’t have a good designer, it doesn’t matter what a great salesman you are… you will not sell a single space!

Rule #1

So the First Rule of Designer is: One More Little Effort

If you installed a LED screen, you probably have made quite an investment. I know at this point you don’t want to hear about further expenses anymore.

I perfectly understand that. But please, please, do not make the unforgivable mistake to save on the Ads designer. Having an inexperienced person creating the ads (i.e. your teenage nephew) is like giving your brand new Ferrari to a first-time driver.

I know you already spent lots money, but try not to waste more by poorly managing your investment.

Rule #2

Second Rule of Designer: Let Her Know What She Does

Sometimes I look at ads that are so badly designed that I actually would like to call and complain. I feel like even I could do better than that and I bet other people think the same.

To avoid such situations, send your ads designer in front of the screen at least 1 hour a week, to check by person what is he doing and how the ads appear to the final audience. I promise you that the first few times, he will change 50% of the content of each single ad of your LED screens.

Content

After you took care of the designer, you must absolutely take care of the content he/she creates for the electronic billboard. Here the basic rules of content.

First Rule of Content: Complex vs. Simple

There are two different schools about the ad content. The first claims that the ad should be as creative as possible, in order to get the attention. It seems a pretty clear and justified goal: a paying customer should get the most memorable ad possible.

The second school, on the flip-side, claims that the memorable ads may boost the agency pride, but not the customer's profits. So making an ad too funny or too memorable, might not be the best for your customer.

Usually this would happen because people concentrate so much on the content, to become blind to the brand or product. From my point of view, as always balance is the best solution.

Second Rule of Content: Fresh Is King

On your LED screens there must be always be some fresh, updated, curious or useful content. Not ads only. Otherwise people get accustomed to the LED screen and will stop looking at it.

You must always provide constantly updated content: ideally you should upload new useful content every day. Yes, every day. That is exactly why we implemented the news, weather forecast, sports and stock-exchange automatic update in our software.

Even basic information as the temperature, the weather forecast for the next few days, the fact of the day, the name day, the random quote of the day will incredibly increase the stickiness to your LED screen.

If you manage to get people looking at the screen over time, for example because they are curious about the next random quote, you simultaneously achieve two results:

First, people will start commenting and therefore talking about the digital billboard, which is free publicity.

And second probably most important, you get an incredibly strong selling point with your Customers because you can prove them the reason why people will look at the screen and in the end why they should advertise on your LED screen.

©2004-2018 Fabio Aversa. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.

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