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Digital Signage Content: RSS Feeds Offer Inexpensive Way to Keep Content Fresh
Article posted on Feb 28, 2012
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Keeping digital signage content interesting and up-to-date has never been easier thanks to an explosion in the availability of RSS feeds.

Turn on your favorite cable news channel, and what do you see at the bottom of the screen? How about over on the business channel you like to watch? What's being shown at the bottom of the screen of many sports and weather channels? See any similarities?

Did you conjure up in your mind the ticker that crawls across the bottom of the screen, displaying everything from top news headlines to stock movements, sports scores to even weather conditions? Firsthand experience as a TV viewer with these sorts of tickers should make clear how up-to-the-moment information can motivate viewers to focus their attention on the screen.

If these sorts of crawls are successful in grabbing and holding the public's attention on television, have you ever asked yourself why they shouldn't be equally as effective on a digital sign? There's little reason to think otherwise. But many digital signage content creators don't even consider such news tickers because they assume the expense of the data required to feed the onscreen info crawls will be prohibitively expensive.

To be sure data subscriptions exist, and they vary in price. But data subscriptions aren't the only way to feed fresh news headlines, stock quotes and other changing information to a digital signage screen. There are sources of free content that can feed digital signs a stream of fresh, up-to-the-minute content that will grab and hold the attention of an audience. These sources are available online in the form of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds that offer something for just about everyone.

The diversity of the info available via RSS feeds is critical because there are so many uses for digital signs. What might attract the attention of a digital signage viewer in a car dealership service department waiting area could be entirely different from what grabs the attention of those waiting in the reception area of an investment advisor or dentist. Fortunately, with enough online investigation it's possible to find RSS feed sources on topics that make sense for both people with shared, yet highly defined interests as well as mass audiences.

For those who are a little uncertain about what an RSS feed is, think of it as a stream of headlines, info bits, data or conditions that is regularly updated and syndicated by online publishers. RSS source feeds literally are as diverse as the Internet, and it would be impossible to list them all. But to illustrate the diversity of content available via RSS feeds, consider such feeds are available from the NASDAQ stock exchange, Rotten Tomatoes movie review site, the BBC, the New York Times and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Topics range widely from science and culture, to financial and gardening.

For digital signage content producers looking to tap into this rich source of freshly updated information all that's needed is a digital signage system with RSS reader functionality that can take incoming RSS feeds and present them on the screen as a text crawl.

Finding RSS feeds to consider is as easy as doing a Google search for "most popular RSS feeds" and spending sometime honing in on those that make the most sense for your audience. To get you started, I've included a few URLs with lists of RSS sites: The Free Dictionary, Feeds for All and RSS Feed Folder. Good luck with your search.

Keywest Technology is a longtime member of Infocomm International with over 12 years of experience helping professionals use technology to effectively communicate. For further digital signage insight from Keywest Technology, visit our website for many helpful tips and examples. For more in-depth research from Keywest Technology, download our free digital signage white papers and case studies.