Digital menuboards can brighten dreary drive thrus with engaging graphics and capture customer attention, but they are a big investment. Measuring the efficiency of digital menuboards over print solutions, or even other digital options, can be problematic because there are so many factors influencing sales. So how can operators be sure that digital menuboards are a worthwhile investment?
“Digital signage isn’t new, and people have tried it in their restaurants, but there is still uncertainty around the ROI—the return and the justification for the investment,” says George Yunis, senior vice president of marketing for Allure, a company that has been researching digital signage effectiveness for more than a decade.
“You can’t just deploy one, do regular measurements, and say tacos are up and burritos are down,” Yunis says. “You’ve got to use real analytics and measurements to understand what works, what doesn’t, and what your real return is.”
The key to a true measurement is to identify the real and attributable results tied directly to a menuboard. Menuboard data must be isolated from all the other influences, and controls must be set up to ensure that the number being measured is actually the brand and sales lift a digital menuboard gives rather than a combination of effects.
While this sounds simple, it’s an often-overlooked aspect of measuring menuboard effectiveness, especially since many menuboard upgrades are often part of other store changes, Yunis says.
“People tend to [upgrade menuboards] as part of remodels, but that makes it inherently much more challenging to find the attributable lift,” he says. “You’re much better off going to an existing environment, keeping everything else the same, adding the digital menuboards, and measuring them.”
Even beyond remodels, other differences can also throw off measurements, including changes in menu items, pricing, and environment, as well as measuring stores in different markets without factoring in major geographical and traffic differences, such as locations in Manhattan versus Topeka, Kansas, Yunis says.
By isolating variables through controls and ensuring that stores being measured are similar, true measurements of menuboard lift are possible and can give operators the information they need to make decisions.