As digital signage technology gets more sophisticated, so do content wants and needs. Something our customers are asking for more and more often is data-driven content. They’re looking for flexibility and real-time updates for their messaging to keep it fresh and relevant, beyond even what the typical RSS feed can provide. unknown.gif

We recently had the opportunity to develop such a system for a benefit event that required entirely dynamic, data-driven content. By all accounts, the event was a great success for the organization sponsoring the fundraiser – and it illustrated the flexibility and function that data-driven content provides.

“Harvest for a Cure” benefits the Georgia Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society, which supports research to treat and end MS globally. The event features a food-and-wine extravaganza with Atlanta’s best culinary talent. This fall’s benefit took place at Mason Fine Art in Atlanta, which offers a large, warehouse-like gallery space for events.

In keeping with the upscale event, the chapter wanted to offer guests an elegant experience. The technology we used and content we developed had to be appropriate for the occasion and still provide the information attendees needed to enjoy the benefit and donate to the cause. The digital signage had to be noticeable and engaging to do its work, and yet seamlessly integrate into the environment.

We developed content for and set up 19 large-format digital screens throughout the venue. The displays included:

  • Welcome signage to get guests geared up for the occasion and provide information about the event and the society
  • A screen at each food and wine station (at right) highlighting the participating chef and sommelier
  • Several general purpose screens displaying content designed to drive donations, including a running tally of contributions.

The signage design included typically dynamic elements such as a live social media feed so guests could see how others were responding to the event and the donation tally. However, even content on the signs at the food and wine stations needed to be dynamic, as the information on them was changing up to the start of the event.

To meet that need, all information on the signs came from data feeds. We logged the majority of the content (chef and sommelier names, menus, MS Society information) into Google Docs spreadsheets and fed it into the system. The donation tally and donor thank-yous were included via forms completed at the event. One Convergent employee updated information and managed the system throughout the evening.

At the same time, we couldn’t abandon other good content design principles. We created content standards to make sure signage elements were consistent and appropriate for the event. Colors were limited primarily to black, white and gold so the signs were a good visual fit for the gallery space. The hierarchy of elements on the signs – how large they were, where they were placed and what order they displayed on the screens – emphasized station numbers so attendees could easily locate the chefs and sommeliers in the large space.

In the end, donations exceeded the goal for the evening, and the society felt that the signage helped.

 “Convergent’s digital experience at the event was highly impactful,” said Roy A. Rangel, president of the Georgia MS Society chapter. “The signage was a powerful tool that recognized our sponsors, chefs and sommeliers for their contributions. More importantly, it displayed in words and images our relentless pursuit of our vision: a world free of MS.”

Our takeaways from the event? Cooking is an art and many of the chefs have a creative approach to what they do. That whimsical flair is a delight to their guests, but when it means a last-minute change to the menu, it can be daunting if you’re responsible for communicating it to patrons. Good news: instead of having to edit and re-render video files, we simply updated the database with the changes and in seconds the new content appeared on the screen. What an easy fix!

If you’d like to see how digital signage was integrated into the event, take a look at this short video about the benefit.