How New Technology is Redefining Digital Signage for Restaurants

Picture of Chrissy Ockerbloom

While digital signage for restaurants has largely been tied to menu boards and interactive displays, the onset of new technology has changed the meaning. This new shift in understanding is catalyzed by the increased opportunities that are available for digital signage in our day to day products. This do more with less concept is crucial for all brands looking to reduce costs and get more out of their digital investments. 

With new technology, digital signage now spans to your TV Screens. Previously only used to watch live sporting events, news or music videos, new technology is making them a customizable asset for advertising. But, what do your consumers really want to be looking at on your screens?


The Ever-Present TV

The ever-present mounted TV— ubiquitous in casual dining and increasingly a part of fast-casual and quick-service environments as well—is typically tuned to sports or news programming. All are safe bets and bound to please the majority of your customers. However, if your goal is to delight them, best to know what it is that they love. We asked a representative sample of restaurant-goers what they thought was most important in entertaining them on the tv screens of bars and restaurants they frequent. We found that most consumers actually would prefer to have TVs broadcast more music content; 66% indicated that they’d be interested or very interested in seeing music content on TV’s in a restaurant or bar. The average restaurant goer finds music much more compelling than any other programming, including sports (59%), digital games (44%) or social media content (42%).

The data also shows that preference for music as a form of entertainment is universal across multiple demographics. For instance, 79% of females and 77% of males said that listening to music is either very or somewhat important to them as a form of entertainment. Other engagement tools prove far more polarizing. For instance, while 67% of men find watching sports entertaining, only 39% of women agree.

Generational patterns show a similarly broad interest in music. Among younger adults—Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z— eight out of 10 place a high value on music, followed by 70% of Baby Boomers and 55% of Matures. For other types of entertainment—such as watching sports or other TV programming or playing games—interest levels are more disparate. Are you starting to hear the quote, "music is the universal language," yet? We are.

The End of the Casual Customer

But, why change from your typical ESPN/NBC/FOX rotations? Nation's Restaurant News recently put out an article about the critical issues restaurant operators will need to face in 2016. One of them was, "the end of the casual customer." NRN wrote the following excerpt,

"Nothing costs as much as caring, except, maybe, not caring. Customers have expectations of foodservice operators today that far exceed serving hot food hot and cold food cold. Make sure you're aligned to how your customers use technology and prefer to stay connected with your brand. Customers also have long memories, and, as I mentioned last month, the mindful customer is the enemy of the thoughtless business. Be brilliant at the basics, sharpen the saw of service and heighten hospitality in 2016. And obsess about the next customer, too. In other words: Always Be Marketing." written by Jim Sullivan for NRN.

You're always going to have to nail the basics; putting out quality food and drink, in a timely manner, with a smile on your face. Once you get the basics down to a science, you can start working on the details-- ways to entertain your customers, surprise them and keep them coming back. This all comes back to understanding your customer preferences-- food preferences, technology preferences and entertainment preferences. Since TV screens are such a necessary part of daily entertainment in bars, it makes sense to optimize that experience for your customers and what they're interested in seeing.


Using an L Bar


Digital Signage in Restaurants

Popular among Rockbot customers, using an L Bar can help you get more out of your screen. While music was your customer's most preferred way to be entertained on screens, you don't need to completely take over your screens with music content. Many sports bars and local spots need to have the games on for their loyal fans, so don't lose out on that opportunity. With an L Bar at the bottom and side of your screen you can show what's playing, giving your brand musical identity while also keeping the game on. Not only that, but it also allows you to display rotating custom specials, social media promotion and sports feeds on the left hand side. Your one-dimensional screens just became multi-use products for your business.

When you think of digital signage in restaurants, your existing TV screens should be part of it. NRN made a good point when they mentioned aligning with how your customers use technology. They are watching your TV screens, so get more out of them! While this is a relatively new concept, we see companies utlizing our L-Bar technology to increase engagement across social channels and music, as well as to promote specials, new menu items or events!

To learn more about your consumers and how they want to engage with your TV screens, download our white paper about Guest Engagement Technology! We worked with Technomic to create a study asking consumers about how they prefer to be entertained while in restaurants and bars.Customer Engagement in Restaurants