Where’s your cell phone right now? If you’re like most people, it’s within arm’s reach. 81 percent of Americans own a smartphone (as of 2019), and that figure continues to rise.

Mobile devices keep us connected to family, friends, co-workers and more. That’s why it makes sense to incorporate smartphones into digital signage campaigns, especially in the retail sector.

Thanks to responsive websites and mobile applications, customers expect visual and interactive experiences when they shop. With that in mind, building a digital campaign that engages and educates can not only attract more customers to your brand but could result in increased profits as well let’s explore six different ways mobile devices enhance digital signage campaigns so you can navigate this medium with confidence.

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1. They Create Customer Interaction

We already know that digital touchscreens encourage customer interaction. From wayfinding maps on college campuses to restaurant trivia on tabletops, with a single swipe customers can find where they need to go and learn a thing or two while waiting for a meal.

But what if they could actually manipulate images on those screens with their mobile device or smartphone?

In Malaysia, McDonald’s created a digital campaign that included the visual of a melting ice cream cone with a fan behind it. During one particularly hot afternoon, the campaign was launched.

Messages on the sign encouraged passersby to slow the melting of a cone by turning on the fan with their cell phone. Without downloading any apps, a mobile device user could point their phone at the sign, and with the touch of a button, turn on the digital fan. As a reward for saving the ice cream cone, the user earned free digital coupons that could be used in the McDonald’s restaurant around the corner.

If that’s not customer interaction at it’s finest, I don’t know what is.

2. They Promote Products

When Despicable Me 2 came out in 2013, Minions fans all over the world were aflutter. Wanting to increase anticipation and promote the release of the film, Universal Studios created an interactive experience that involved text messaging and digital signs.

In Europe, five separate territories became part of a personalized, geo-specific digital campaign that invited consumers to control the screen with their mobile device. Using text messaging, users could command the Minions.

From dancing and vacuuming to silly sneezing and belly laughing, the little yellow creatures did exactly what they were told by the mobile phone user. The best part was that users could receive a copy of the video they were a part of and share it via email or social media.

The results were profound. More than 10 million people were reached using a total of 259 digital signage screens in 51 locations.

With a new video created every minute, that’s a lot of social sharing.

3. Encourage Knowledge Seekers

By now, most of us have seen or interacted with a QR code (quick response code), a square barcode that can be read by a smartphone. The code can convert large amounts of data when scanned, making it possible to link to web pages, videos and social media.

Mostly seen in magazines and on storefront posters, QR codes are fast making their way onto digital screens.

With digital signage already a strong medium to grab consumers’ attention, QR codes are moving users from solid space to cyberspace in a matter of seconds. To keep users educated and updated, organizations and businesses are using the code in lots of different ways. With a quick scan of the code, users can receive coupons from a store just 500 feet away.

  • Upcoming events or workshops can be promoted. When the user scans the code, information is stored on their phone. They’re reminded of the event leading up to the date.
  • Maps can be quickly downloaded to guide the user to the advertised destination.
  • Product information is immediately available so the user can learn more about what they are about to buy.

These kinds of interactive marketing campaigns increase customer buying power and interest.

4. Adds to the Internet of Things

In a previous post, we talked about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how digital signage plays a huge role. IoT is a concept where anything with an on/off switch can be connected to the internet, allowing devices to connect and “talk” with each other.

McDonald’s is using IoT to increase sales and improve customer relations. The fast food giant partnered with a Bluetooth provider to greet customers on their phones the second they entered the restaurant. Customers were offered coupons, surveys, and even job opportunities moments after stepping into the store.

A second campaign called “Give lovin’, get lovin’” was launched soon after. In an attempt to share the “lovin”, the McDonald’s campaign encouraged patrons to pay for their food with a hug, a selfie, or a high-five with another. Customers were greeted by digital signage that promoted the campaign, encouraging participation.

While it raised some controversy, the company saw an increase in sales. After the first month, the fast food chain garnered over 18,000 redemptions, and McChicken sales increased by eight percent.

5. Raises Brand Awareness

Coca-Cola has been around since 1886. That’s a long time. If you don’t feel like doing the math, that’s more than 130 years.

Over the years, Coca-Cola has launched hundreds of campaigns in an effort to stay on top. Some campaigns worked, some didn’t. Remember when it changed its formula in 1985? That campaign failed in taste, but it excelled in getting the world’s attention.

Despite its interesting advertising strategies, the brand still remains one of the most popular worldwide. And that’s because they follow the heartbeat of what’s working.

Digital signage is working. In the summer of 2015, Coca-Cola used the integration of digital signage and smartphones for their “What’s In a Name?” campaign in New York City.

The campaign encouraged smartphone users to tweet their first name with the hashtag, #CokeMyName. Within seconds after tweeting, a personalized story about their name appeared on a digital sign in Times Square.

Moments later their story, captured by a webcam, was tweeted back to the user. The campaign, piggybacking the popular Share a Coke campaign, averaged 200 messages a day in the first two weeks.

Not only was the campaign a continuous reminder of the iconic brand, it also helped Coca-Cola further zero in on their target market.

6. They Increase Social Proof

Social proof is a social influence. It’s a “follow the herd” kind of phenomenon. The more shares and follows you get, the more your social proof increases.

Why would you want that? Well, it seems today we can’t take five steps without seeing, hearing, or interacting with some piece of social media on a smartphone.

Advertisers know this, and understand that incorporating social media into digital signage can drive campaigns into corners of the world they never thought of.

Digital campaigns that encourage social shares are seen by more eyes and heard by more ears. Universal Studios understood this when they offered the option for users to share an interactive video they were involved in.

Let’s say your business creates personalized, funky, colorful coffee mugs. On an image-driven platform like Instagram, your super-cool coffee mug can make it around the world in a matter of seconds.

For the record, Instagram has the highest follower engagement rate of any social network. Your digital campaign, when aligned with this platform, can reach mobile users within seconds.

This kind of integration can affect your campaign dramatically, changing the face of your brand and increasing visibility like never before.


Digital signage and mobile devices are merging for some highly creative campaigns that can affect your business in powerful ways. Product awareness and increased sales are just a few of those ways.

Brands can expand their demographic in minutes by creating a campaign that encourages engagement. Customers can become part of promotions that lead to brand loyalty.

Integrating social media in a digital signage campaign allows the user of a mobile device to pull the campaign off the screen and out into the world. We think that’s pretty darn incredible.

In what ways do you see the integration creating a positive effect on your company? Which examples spark your creativity?

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