There is a not-so-new popularity contest brewing between the big screen and small screen.  No, we’re not talking Star Wars vs Game of Thrones or Jennifer Lawrence vs Sofia Vergara. This competition is between your digital signage screens and the smartphone your customer’s face is buried in as she enters your place of business.

But is it really a competition? Can your digital signage content truly compete for her attention with a device that has become arguably the most essential possession of daily life? In everyday life, probably not. But for the time smartphone-obsessed users spend in your store, hospital, or restaurant, you have the opportunity to capture their attention, provide a respite from a hectic life, and enhance their experience.

Here are 6 Digital Signage strategies you should be using to get your customers to keep their heads up:

Catch Their Eye

According to research conducted by OTX, 63% of adults report that digital signage catches their attention. This is great for businesses that use digital signage, but if you want any chance of stealing attention away from the smartphone for more than a few seconds, your digital signage must be well-designed.

You should employ visually compelling graphics, dynamic fresh content, and carefully crafted digital sign language. Your design must consider optimal screen height & placement, use contrast & emphasis, and must pass the Squint Test. The first step in keeping their heads up is catching their eye.

Give Them What They Expect

You know when you go to see a romantic comedy, there is the expectation that a girl and boy will fall in love or at an action flick. you expect to see car chases and explosions? The same concept can be applied to your digital signage strategy based on your industry.  

If you are in retail, it is essential that your digital signage content includes product displays.

Patrons expect restaurant digital displays to showcase their menu items and specials. Hospitals and hotels should at a minimum utilize digital signage for wayfinding purposes. Digital natives and Baby-Boomers alike are visiting your place of business for a reason, so they have to look up from that mobile device to actively find the info they are looking for. If you want to keep your audience engaged, you have to at a minimum provide the information they expect.

Entertain and Educate to Keep Their Heads Up

Providing entertaining content is one of the most effective techniques you can use to keep your audience off that smartphone. Curated YouTube playlists, live feeds to sporting events, and movie trailers are typical examples of digital signage content being used to entertain customers in businesses like gyms, restaurants and movie theaters, but the options are almost endless.

How about adding jokes or trivia content as a part of your digital signage entertainment strategy? And using a countdown timer to build anticipation before the trivia answer is revealed or the punch line is displayed. Maybe add a Pinterest widget to your digital screen to showcase 1000 life hack ideas that most any demographic would appreciate.

This can reduce the perceived wait times for an anxious patient waiting in a doctor’s office, a patron waiting to be seated at a restaurant, or a bored spouse dragged to the mall.

Almost every market or industry can use this assortment of content in their digital signage to reduce their audiences’ perceived wait times from amusement parks to religious venues. Biblical trivia anyone?

Show Them Bigger is Better

The #1 smartphone activity was checking the weather, according to an Online Publishing Association study. In fact, social networking, local news, sports information and directions/maps also ranked high in these studies.

So if your consumers are viewing weather, sports, news, and maps on their little smartphone screen, why not keep their heads up by showing it to them on your big HD digital screen. As a part of your dynamic content offering, try weather, sports, live traffic, and local news feeds that can be rotated in with other digital signage content. Not only are you keeping them engaged with your brand messaging, you are relieving the strain from their eyes.

Keep Their Heads Up

A great way to keep their heads up literally is to keep their heads up figuratively. And using motivational quotes does not have to be exclusive to corporate offices and churches.

Hotel digital signage can display motivational quotes during the morning hours to inspire business travelers before meetings and conferences. Doctor’s offices and hospitals can use motivational quotes as a part of their digital signage content to encourage patients and caregivers. Schools and universities can display quotes throughout their campuses to motivate students to hit the books.

Virtually all industries can use motivational quotes. It can be part of their dynamic digital signage content mix to keep their audiences engaged and inspired.

Can’t Beat Them…Interact With Them

Ultimately, you may not be able to completely tear that smartphone user away from her mobile device. Consequently, your digital signage screen may have to share.

Texting tops the list of smartphone activities and social media networking is not too far behind. You can display On-Demand coupons on the digital screen. Then they can text your business to retrieve the coupon. Or display content encouraging them to visit your business’s social media sites in return for discounts or other perks.

Embed QR codes on your digital signage so users can download coupons, receive product info, or register for an activity. It’s a win-win! In fact, your audience gets to continue to play on their smartphone and your business gets to keep the audience engaged in your brand.


In the end, keeping their heads up is about engaging your customers, patients, patrons, students, and employees. Sometimes, that means using digital signage to drive response, build awareness, and increase sales for your business. In other instances, the goal is simply to create a memorable experience to get them through the day.

Maybe you should be content with using your digital signage to merely keep them from falling and running into things!