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The Information Overload Phenomenon

In recent years, the digital signage industry has been going from strength to strength as Marcom teams continue to push and experiment with digital over traditional mediums in their stores, offices and transport hubs. This continuing trend estimated a reported, eye-watering £12.7 billion spend on digital signage activities in 2021. Obviously, with the massive influx of screens on our high streets, competition for consumer attention is at an all-time high!

Not only are brands competing for the best signage, but they are also competing for the attention of consumers, which is a challenging yet vital task in such a busy, brand-heavy environment. With the large number of advertisements exposed to, people have to actively select which pieces of information they want to pay attention to.

Attention has been described as being highly selective (Müller Et Al., 2009) when it comes to digital signage, as there is far too much information to be processed naturally, especially in retail environments.

This can lead to a phenomenon called information overload (also known as info-mania, infoxication, and infobesity!), where the amount of information one can take in exceeds its capacity. Furthermore, this cognitive overload can lead to multiple negative impacts upon the viewer, including feelings of confusion and anxiety, which often leads to conscious and subconscious avoidance behaviours, making subsequent views of the screen less likely!

These negative feelings can also impact viewer attitudes towards the brand and lower purchase/uptake intentions. When information overload occurs, the consumer becomes very selective and ignores large amounts of information, which is terrible news for many brands! Their attention is diverted to what is most attention-grabbing or what the consumer feels is most relevant to them, further emphasising the importance of creating eye-catching content. As a digital signage agency, we realise the strains that too much information can have on a consumer, so we like to keep our range in line with a few rules of thumb:

  • Keeping it simple

  • Keeping it clear and concise

  • Keeping it relevant

We adhere to these through various methods, including the amount of text we use in content, the number of colours displayed, and the length of time the content is displayed. We need to create easy to understand and digest content, improving the likelihood of viewers acting upon the content’s key message and thus ultimately making our clients happy!


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