We’ve worked on hundreds of exhibitor adverts across many different shows and sectors, and have produced a lot of great-looking, highly targeted digital adverts for exhibitors.

For example:

DSEI Digital Signage - ExCeL London

We’ve also paid very close attention to video content in general at events – not just content that’s streamed on digital signs, but also traditional video walls and billboards.

Which means we have a lot of experience in knowing what works and what doesn’t.

Over the years, we’ve found that there are a few deadly sins that exhibitors make when implementing digital signage adverts. We’ve laid them all out here for you so you don’t make the same mistakes!

1. Not Playing to User’s Short Attention Span

A lot of exhibitors happily put together video adverts that run longer than 15 seconds.

This is their first mistake.

15 seconds doesn’t sound like a long time, but the fact is that the attention span of an average visitor is around 15 seconds maximum. It’s why social video apps like Instagram and the now defunct Vine had a set time-limit on their content.

Any longer than 15 seconds, and you run the risk of losing visitors that simply glance at the screen when they pass by.

Think about it: it’s unreasonable to expect people to stand in one spot and watch video content in a live event environment for longer than a few seconds. There’s just too much going on around them, especially in public places like on the London Underground (do people really have enough time to watch a full ad at rush hour?).

What You Should Do Instead

A better, proven approach is to grab the attention of your visitors with a short and sweet call-to-action or a simple product benefit that is backed up by eye-catching, animated visuals.

The best adverts contain just one call-to-action that’s reiterated three times in various forms. Alternatively, you can list three benefits of the same product to hammer it home.

The good news is that, as long as you’re clear on what you want to get across in your digital advert, our design team at EventIgnite can bring it to life in 15-seconds or less.

2. Messaging That Sucks

If you’ve pleased your marketing department and impressed the executives you need to with your advert but it’s not getting the traction you’d hoped for, it’s highly likely you’ve got your messaging all wrong.

Ineffective, irrelevant, and vague language is something that crops up a lot with digital signage.


Because marketing departments often don’t know what their audience wants or needs in any given moment, and that should be the number one aim of digital signage.

What You Should Do Instead

It sounds simple, but make your message clear, to the point, and let it shine.

How do you do that?

Don’t muddy the waters by using more than one call-to-action per advert. For example, don’t advertise a produce and invite visitors to your evening drinks at the stand. Use two separate adverts to promote each option.

3. Where’s the Sound Gone?

This deadly sin is often committed by exhibitors because they forget to take into account the loud ambient noises and echoes that fill public spaces.

It might seem quiet and peaceful when you’re setting it up, but bring in thousands of visitors and all of a sudden your lovingly put-together advert is drowned out by chatter, even if you’re pumping it through powerful speakers.

What You Should Do Instead

If you really need to include speech or sound in your video, be sure to use large subtitles that can be seen from a distance.

A limited use of relevant music can work to attract attention, but a lot of event areas don’t allow for sound as it can get annoying to exhibitors and visitors in those areas.

4. The Wrong Dimensions

Too many exhibitors implement a landscape video on portrait digital signs. This is what we mean:

Digital Signage - wrong dimensions video advert

Yeah, we know, it looks silly. Why would anyone do that?

The truth is, a lot of exhibitors simply haven’t seen the screens in real life and they only put together one video that they have to use on all screens. They don’t take into account whether the screens have different dimensions or formats, or they simply don’t understand the specifications for the screens they’re using.

What You Should Do Instead

There are a few good ways you can make a great looking portrait video advert. Here’s one of them:

Digital signage - improved video advert

Our designers recommend cropping the video and incorporating extra artwork in the remaining space to make it eye-catching and fill all the gaps.

5. Re-Using Content That’s So Last Year

This is almost never a good idea.


Because visitors are always on the hunt for something new. We all like to feel like we’re watching exclusive content that hasn’t been dragged out and dusted off from last year’s storage.

What’s more, content needs to be time-relevant and give visitors a clear reason why they absolutely need to visit your stand this year.

What You Should Do Instead

There really is no excuse.

It’s so easy to update existing artwork, even if it’s just the call-to-action. Our designers are awesome at adding new twists to existing digital adverts to refresh content, and are happy to show you ways you can change the advert based on your objectives and goals.

6. Focus (or a Lack Of)!

This follows on from the messaging sin we mentioned earlier, but it’s more specific.

Basically, your visitors need to know the number one thing to take away from your advert. If there’s not a clear benefit advertised or a single call-to-action they can follow through with, the chances are you won’t see the traction you want or need.

What You Should Do Instead

We recommend you pick just one product or service and lay out a maximum of three benefits per advert. Alternatively, you can show one branding message per advert, but any more than that and you risk confusing your visitors and losing custom.

7. Too Busy

Even if you’ve got your messaging honed in and focused, you might find that it’s your visuals that are letting you down.

A lot of exhibitors fall foul of this sin because they use small fonts and washed out colours that don’t catch visitor’s eyes in a busy event space, or the adverts are too busy, so the visitor doesn’t know where to look or what they should be doing with the information.

What You Should Do Instead

Perform what we call a “squint test” on your advert or look at it from a distance to see what stands out and what disappears.

squint test - clear image and blurred image

Does the advert still make sense? Can you still make out what it’s about? Which parts stand out the most and what does it mean if they are the most prominent parts? For example, you ideally want your call-to-action to be the part that stands out the most.

Final Thoughts

Digital signage can work wonders for you if you implement it properly. Hopefully you can now see what you shouldn’t be doing, and can instead focus on techniques and tactics that will make your signs really work hard for you.

Do you have any questions about digital adverts and signage in general? Send me an email: [email protected]

Thomas Walczak

By Thomas Walczak

I am the Founder and Managing Director of EventIgnite, a technology company dedicated to creating an effortless experience at events. EventIgnite develops professional digital signage systems, including interactive and large-format digital signs. Don't hesitate to send me an email at [email protected]