Digital signage dwell time

Digital signage dwell time can make or break your business. No joke.

I mean, think about it. If people just glance at your screens and don’t engage with and retain your content, you’re doomed. After all, you could throw tons of money to create fancy content and advertise the sale of the century, it won’t matter if people don’t watch your screens. However, there are vital secrets to make sure your target viewers pay more than passing attention to your screens.

What is digital signage dwell time anyway?

It’s how long someone pays focused attention to your digital signage screen. And we’re usually talking seconds here. If you get to the minute mark, hats off to you my friend. You’re already in digital signage nirvana. So go read something else and let us mere mortals struggle in digital signage hell.

Why’s digital signage dwell time so short? Because, according to industry jargon, digital signage is a glance medium. People walk by, glance at your screen, move on. That’s it. And that glance could very well last a single second.

I’m not pulling that number out of thin air, either. Scientific research backs it up. Industry experts agree most people only devote 1.5 – 4.6 seconds of their full attention to glance media like digital signage. An experiment that simulated real-world conditions (i.e. a digital signage screen in a clothing boutique linked to a camera) revealed even more dire conclusions. Only 35% of customers paid focused attention to the screen, with an average digital signage dwell time of 0.7 – 0.9 seconds. That’s right, folks. You’ve got under a second.

What’s the upside? Young kids and teens spend more time watching digital signage content. However, you can’t wait for the young ‘uns to go from weekly allowance to disposable income in order to save your business. You need to beef up your digital signage dwell time right now. And yes, it’s totally doable.

Grab viewer attention to boost digital signage dwell time

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Bill Gates wasn’t kidding when he said content is king. And if you’ve got great content, you’ll get engaged target viewers. Create valuable content that’s useful to your customers. Give your target viewers information or discount codes they can’t get anywhere else. After all, everyone loves getting exclusive stuff and your screen could be where your customers find it. What’s equally important is that you focus on customer needs and priorities over blatant branding and self-promotion. Advertise community efforts or charity fundraising events. It shows you’ve got heart and care about your customers beyond any benefit they bring your profit margins.

In fact, if your content boasts valuable information, exclusive offers and a customer-first attitude, you’ll give those passers-by a reason to focus on your screens. And that translates to bumped-up digital signage dwell time.

It’s not rocket science if you think about it logically. You’re competing with their smartphones, social media accounts and conversations with friends or whoever they’re walking by your screens with. Your digital signage screen sits really low on their priority totem pole. And you’ve got to factor in something else. People walk by while in a hurry and anything they focus on must earn their attention. Which means your content’s got to be truly stellar to grab and retain their attention and coax out customer engagement. It’s like when you tune in to a TV show. It’s just a matter of time until you channel surf if what you see isn’t worth your time. On the other hand, if you like what you see you’ll stick around and keep coming for more. Which is exactly what you’ll achieve if you create quality content that grabs viewers and increases digital signage dwell time.

Screen placement plays a huge role in digital signage dwell time

So you’ve got content worthy of best-seller status. Great. You’re on the right track, but minutes-long digital signage dwell time still isn’t a done deal. You have to make sure you display that awesome content on screens ideally located to capture your target viewer’s attention. Where’s that? At eye-level and easily visible – not hidden behind columns, booths, clothes racks etc. Check for window and lighting glare throughout the day. Place those screens where you’ll find your target viewers and potential customers. What does that mean? You might have room for a screen in a far corner of your diner. But if customers rarely go there they just won’t see it or your content, let alone engage with what you’re offering.

Also, avoid placing screens near entrances and exits. People going by are in a hurry, focused on their next destination and no one will risk bottle-necking a busy transit hub. You just can’t increase digital signage dwell time on screens like that no matter what you do.

Instead, set up screens in places where people have a lot of dead time on their hands. Waiting and checkout areas, elevators, bathrooms should all have screens – basically wherever your customers have nothing else to do but stand around doing nothing. Why? Whenever people have nothing else to do you’ve got a perfect opportunity to boost digital signage dwell time. Watching your screens becomes something fun to do.

In fact, if you’ve got great content that’s useful, exclusive and customer-centered, digital signage dwell time won’t just increase, it’ll transform into customer engagement. Which means people pay attention and then act on that discount code, loyalty signup form, social media wall or QR-code follower invitation you offer them.

Readability, fresh content and visual appeal seal the deal for digital signage dwell time

While excellent attention-grabbing content and smart screen location all help you increase digital signage dwell time, there’s more you can do. And sure, it sounds like we’re nit-picking here, but these tips factor into your success big time.


Readability should be at the top of your to-do list. The reason’s simple. If your target viewers can’t easily understand the basics about a super sale you’ve got going, they won’t turn into spending customers. Simply stick to what’s truly important: dates, times, discounts, products. Don’t get wordy, either. Short, simple, punchy statements do just fine. And make sure you showcase your big sale or primary message in your content. That means it’s got the center layout zone in your screen layouts or appears two or three times in your playlists.

Also, only highlight one sale or promo code per screen slide. Slide clutter means mixed messages -and viewers will forget your big sale in the process. Making content easy to read and understand keeps viewers focused on your screen – and increases digital signage dwell time.


And don’t forget another key point: your screens must only show fresh, new content. Don’t have expired discount codes or promos about old sales or events flashing on your screens. It’s like old news – people tune out and rarely tune back in. You don’t want to lose a viewer with outdated content.

Nor do you want to chase them away with boring content. By all means, use lots of images and videos. Revenue grows 49% faster if you use video compared to video-free content. Similarly, posts containing images gain 94% more views compared to posts without images. Which means using videos and images leads to increased digital signage dwell time, simply because the human brain loves all things visually appealing.

What does it all mean?

Digital signage dwell time challenges all of us in the industry. You need to get people truly focused on your screens in order to get them engaged enough to act on your promos, sales and services. And if you follow some basic principles like having great content, smart screen location and increased readability, you’ll boost digital signage dwell time. And your profits.

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