Read distances. Mention this in a room full of digital signage marketers and watch the carnage unfold. For such an important aspect which could influence the effectiveness of an ad campaign, it is surprising that there is no industry standard, and the guidelines that are currently out there don’t seem to have much science behind them. How close do people have to be to the advert for it to have the desired effect? Thankfully, a paper published in October can shed some light on this time-old debate.
Jia, Huang, Wyer Jr., and Shen investigated whether physical proximity to an adverts message affects the absorption by consumers and their belief in what the advert is putting across. They did this through multiple experiments, testing verbal messages and written messages at different distances from the participant and analysed the effect this had on the impact of the message. All six experiments produced results concurrent with each other, suggesting that being closer in physical proximity to an adverts message, whether it be a vocal or written message, results in increased mental imagery of what is being advertised. This increase in vivid imagery lead to an increase in belief of the message, therefore positively affecting attitudes towards the product or service.
From a digital signage point of view, it is useful information to know that keeping advertisement messages in close proximity to people would increase the likelihood of them creating vivid imagery, leading to higher beliefs in the ad, higher product or service evaluations, and the acceptance of the appeal. This effect is tricky to achieve on screens which have a large distance radius, and will prove most effective in places where people can’t physically deviate too far from the screen, such as in shopping malls or inside a store.