What is Narrowcasting?

Narrowcasting can be described as the delivery of visual content through a network of digital screens to a select group of people. The term was first introduced in 1968 by Joseph C.R. Licklider, an American psychologist, as a counterpart to broadcasting in which the focus is on spreading a message to a wide audience. Narrowcasting is about precisely delivering the right tailored content to the right people, at the right time, and at the right place. The most common form of Narrowcasting is by digital displays, typically in an out-of-home setting, to deliver commercial or informational messages.

Why Narrowcasting?

Narrowcasting brings forth a world of opportunity for any business looking for a way to effectively communicate with target audiences and has several advantages over traditional broadcasting media.

The benefits of Narrowcasting

1. Targeted messages

Narrowcast networks are target group-oriented because the audience is clearly defined by time, place and activity. By addressing the target audience directly with tailored content, through interactive digital displays, businesses can cut through the noise and establish relevance and interest amongst real potential buyers.

2. Diversity of content

Narrowcasting also creates the possibility to present diverse pieces of content to a select audience. This content can be promotional in nature, customer service-oriented, intended as entertainment or support for operational processes or applications. Content can also be presented in many different formats, such as video, flash, static or moving images and can be easily updated and tailored for specific moments, in real time.

3. Cost-effectiveness

Unlike traditional print media, narrowcasting is far more cost-effective, as the purchase of digital displays is usually once-off. Also, the cost of developing and adjusting content is relatively low compared to print media because the content on digital signage is managed through an integrated content management system (CMS).

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Where can Narrowcasting be used?

From storefront digital signage to touchscreen checkout stations, narrowcasting installations are a growing part of the retail, corporate, education and public venue markets. Here are some examples of narrowcasting applications:

Point of Wait

Modern buildings, such as hotels, hospitals, banks, museums and corporate offices, use narrowcasting installations to display relevant information to their visitors and staff. This information may include the time and place of an upcoming event or meeting, financial and weather updates, or simply content that is designed to enhance the ambience of the building.
In retail markets, for example, Point of Wait networks target consumers who are waiting to receive a product or service. This increases their exposure to displayed messages, making it possible for businesses to display multiple tailored messages during the waiting period.

Point of Sale

Narrowcasting installations are used in Point of Sale (POS) networks close to a product or service. They are designed to deliver a measurable return on investment as they are placed in locations where consumers can easily encounter them. Retail chains are using narrowcasting to cross-promote products, personalize and improve customer experience and educate customers about the availability of products and services.

Digital Out-of-Home advertising

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) refers to any form of digital signage that displays content and/ or advertising in a public space. This could be anything from a four-inch shelf display at a grocery store to a massive LED billboard on the side of the road. With DOOH advertising, businesses can reach people outdoors with attractive, attention-grabbing, targeted content. Unlike static signage, DOOH signage can be interactive, making it easy for audiences to engage with the content displayed.

How to get the most out of Narrowcasting?

For a marketing program to be effective, a plan needs to be made and clear objectives need be set. Narrowcasting is a great way to reach people with targeted content and through clever use of data, businesses can specify when, where and to whom content should be shown. Below are some factors that play an important role in the success of a digital signage solution.

1. Define the target group.

Before launching a narrowcasting campaign, it is important to know who the target group is. Businesses need to answer questions such as “who am I trying to reach, what do we know about them and what are they interested in?”. Answers to these questions will help you tailor your content so that it is relevant to the target group.

2. Determine the placement and programming

Content should adapt to the location and placement of the digital signs. At a Point of Wait for example, where customers have a 2-minute waiting period, displaying content that is 5 minutes long will not have the desired outcome as it is too long. The same can be said in a situation where customers are waiting for longer periods of time. Having content that is too short and looping over and over could bore customers, making them switch off from your content. It is important to carefully consider your digital signage placement and playlisted content.

3. Balance Narrowcasting content

Digital signage is a great way to drive sales, but it is important not to exaggerate this with too much promotional content. This may have a negative impact on customer engagement and overall experience. Narrowcasting should strike a good balance between sales-oriented content and informational messages. For example, in retail stores, the integration of local news and local weather is a good way to attract attention and reducing the redundancy of promotional content.

4. Use audience analytics for measurement

The best way to measure the success of narrowcasting is by using analytics. This will help answer questions such as, “Exactly how effective is my digital display? How many people did my message reach? Of those people, how many were in my target audience?" At Raydiant, we have developed a powerful analytical tool that is able to detect and measure faces. Our Face Analysis Technology helps businesses analyze the response of customers to the displayed content. The information that is captured by our technology includes headcount, facial expressions, age, gender, dwell time and time of day. The technology is completely anonymous and no personal information is collected or stored. Businesses can measure the success of narrowcasting by leveraging the power of audience behavioral metrics. Go to our Face Analysis Technology page for more information.

What are the challenges of Narrowcasting?

1. Potential Threat of disconnect between the audiences

It can be said that narrowcasting believes in focusing on specific groups of individuals and promoting group divisions that are based on specifications. This often results in fostering conflicts between the groups that are being targeted via narrowcasting and this situation eventually leads towards the disconnect from the audiences that are being targeted. Moreover, it also has to be mentioned that political, social and other group ideologies can be marked as the ones that can cause harm to the society when outlined via narrowcasting.

2. Narrow-minded groups of people

Narrowcasting primary objective is to focus on a given group of people that also allows a formation of groups based on their interests. The problem arises from the fact that those groups are not exposed to different viewpoints of other people. As they are constantly exposed to a given message they might start to think that they are the ones who have the right opinion. This results in a fact that narrowcasting leads towards the creation of narrow-minded worlds where individuals might find prominent conflict due to differences in mindsets and approaches. In other words narrowcasting limits the access towards the news that represent other opinions or ideologies.

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