Keys to dayparting and digital signage

| by Christopher Hall
Keys to dayparting and digital signage

Dayparting is as old as radio and as modern as social media — and it's a key to effective digital signage as well.

Whether you're scheduling radio ads for "morning drive time," time-sensitive Facebook posts or breakfast menus on digital menu boards, changing your message based on the time of day is a simple but crucial element of any communications strategy.

And, not entirely surprisingly, the keys to dayparting success in digital signage are not that far removed from the idea behind any good content strategy, dayparted or not:

  • 1. What are you trying to say?
  • 2. To whom are you saying it?
  • 3. What are you trying to get them to do?
  • 4. And, obviously, what time are you talking to them?

First, you have to define and refine your message — and then adjust it for time of day. If you're a retailer, what you’re trying to say likely will not change as much through the course of the day as, say, a hotelier. But the time of day will still affect what you're saying: You'll probably want to advertise a sale on coffee beans in the morning as opposed to promoting your beer selection on aisle 13. Now later in the day, on the other hand… Also, Macy's might want to think about advertising a suit sale more at night than in the morning, when they might want to be advertising skillets and frying pans. (Which is not to say never advertise the other thing in the morning or at night; maybe it'll be a reminder for someone else to buy a gift.)

But even if you know you have to change your messaging based on time of day, you'll still need a coherent, thought-out content strategy and message. You'll need to be consistent, day or night, even if you're selling different things or targeting different audiences.

Second, you have to figure out who your audience is and how they change during the day. This is the main thing for dayparting – or any content strategy – if your message isn't targeted to your audience, why are you sending it? TV stations daypart based on viewers: families in the mornings, stay-at-home parents and college kids in the midday, families at primetime and adults in the evening hours. As a starting place, that's not a bad way to go for digital signage as well.

If you're a mall digital signage network, it's not unlikely that you'll want to run more ads for Hot Topic in the afternoon hours after the local high school lets out than you will earlier in the day when you should probably be advertising for Toys "R" Us and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Third, and this really is also a part of the first item, what are you trying to get your audience to do? Studies of retail behavior suggest some times of the day are better for driving purchases and some times of the day might be better for branding; is that the case in your location? Are you trying to get your audience to remember you, or to buy something from you? Either way, the message has to fit the time of day, or even the time of month, to achieve the best results.

Finally, what time is it? It sounds — and is — obvious, but that doesn't mean everyone has embraced it or figured it out just yet. Digital menu boards seem obvious: You put breakfast items on in the morning until you stop selling breakfast ... but do you change the items you highlight with a little twitch of movement here and there after 6 p.m.? If not, why not? The college kids hitting Taco Bell at midnight might be a little more susceptible to some suggestions than others that might resonate more to the dad getting his kids a guilty treat for dinner earlier in the day.

If you're a grocer or a big-box retailer with digital screens on endcaps or at the front of the store, do you change your messaging during the course of the day based on the demographics you see coming in the doors? Are there more 30-something females shopping at noon and more 50-something males shopping at 7 p.m.? If so, why wouldn't you tailor some of your messaging to those demographics based on time?

Again, it all goes back to knowing your message and knowing your audience — and your message and your audience likely changes — several times — over the course of any given day.

(Cover image courtesy of Lordjiew at

Topics: Content, Customer Experience, Hotels, Restaurants, Retail

Christopher Hall

Christopher is the managing director of the Interactive Customer Experience Association and former editor of A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.

wwwView Christopher Hall's profile on LinkedIn

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