Looking Under the Hood of Enplug’s Content Rotation System
Our users appreciate the ease-of-use of Enplug’s digital signage software. Yet users rarely get a glimpse into what’s involved in creating Enplug’s content rotation system. In this post, we want to give you a look under the hood of how our Dynamic App Playlist slider works.
Enplug’s App Market enables users to display images and videos, social media posts, news feeds, and weather – all rotating on a single screen or across multiple screens in different locations. Our users can further customize their screens by:
- Adjusting how often each app displays on their screens during the day
- Adjusting the duration of how long each piece of content within an app will display
- Scheduling content to play during specified times of day or days of the week
- Setting selected pieces of content to override all other content on the screen (“Priority Play”)
For this article, we’ll be focusing on just the first element mentioned above: how users can customize how often each app displays on their screens during the day using Enplug’s Dynamic App Playlist (as seen below).
According to Ben Goldberg, a senior software engineer at Enplug:
“The Dynamic App Playlist system was designed so that users would not need to create manual playlists and schedule out each piece of content. We built our system to take just a few seconds to set up the content rotation. We also created a smart algorithm that could handle live updates to apps like Social Media Wall while still respecting the user’s goals for content variety.”
To explain how these user-determined adjustments work, we have created examples below. (Caution: This article gets very detailed, so you may want to skip to the end for the concluding section.)
1) Examples of two apps with 50% display time each:
Let’s take an imaginary company BRIGHTIDEA using two apps — the Graphics & Video App and the News App — in a 50/50 percentage split.
Example #1: Two apps with equal duration for each piece of content
If BRIGHTIDEA sets the 50/50 split and sets each piece of content in the app (e.g., one graphic) to display for 10 seconds, then the two apps rotate one piece of content to one piece of content. (The content in most apps have configurable duration. The exception is videos because videos by definition have a set duration so the length cannot be altered.)
Example #2: Two apps with unequal duration for each piece of content
Now imagine BRIGHTIDEA sets its Graphics & Video App to display one image for 30 seconds and the News App to display one piece of content for 10 seconds. This means that the Graphics & Video image displays for 30 seconds for one round while the News piece of content displays for 10 seconds for one round.
In a 50/50 percentage split it would seem that the next Graphics & Video image would display after one round each of the Graphics & Video App and the News App. Yet this would put the 50/50 percentage out of sync.
Thus the next display after the first 10 seconds of the News App would be another 10 seconds of the News App, which means that 20 seconds of the News App of the 30 seconds 50/50 split have now been used.
Then the News App would display a third 10 seconds so that 30 seconds of the News App have been displayed before another 30 seconds of the Graphics & Video App displays.
Some of Enplug’s apps have a pre-set duration. Our Instagram App and Social Wall App always display for 60 seconds.
For example, if a person we shall call Jane posts a hashtagged Instagram update during the 60 seconds the Instagram Wall is displaying, her update appears immediately as part of the Instagram round.
On the other hand, if the News App is displaying when Jane posts, her Instagram update overrides the News App’s round and her Instagram update shows immediately and then Instagram Wall displays for an entire 60 seconds. Then when the screen switches to the News App, this app displays for more than its normally allotted 60 seconds to make up for lost display time.
2) Example of two apps with 60/40 percentages:
Now imagine BRIGHTIDEA resets the app percentages to 60% for Graphics & Video and 40% for News. BRIGHTIDEA keeps one piece of content of the Graphics & Video App displaying for 30 seconds while one piece of content of the News App will display for 10 seconds.
The cycle would start with the Graphics & Video App piece of content for 30 seconds. Next one piece of content from the News App would display for 10 seconds and then a second piece of content from the News App would display for another 10 seconds.
Now the algorithm switches back to 30 seconds for one Graphics & Video piece of content rather than in the above 50/50 example where a third News piece of content displayed for 10 seconds before switching back to the Graphics & Video App piece of content. The algorithm displays this specific rotation in order to adhere as closely as possible to the 60/40 percentage split.
3) Example of three apps with varied percentages:
Now that the imaginary company BRIGHTIDEA has gone through the above examples, let’s move on to the example of three apps in the following percentages with every app sent for 10 seconds each:
20% Graphics & Video
40% Web Page
To start — Graphics & Video App displays one piece of content for 10 seconds; then News App displays one piece of content for 10 seconds; and finally the Web Page App displays for 10 seconds. Then because both the News App and the Web Page App do not yet have their full percentages, the News App and then the Web Page App will display again for 10 seconds before the Graphics & Video App displays again.
The reason that two rounds of News and two rounds of the Web Page App do not display in immediate succession (as 20 seconds each) is because, if one app is below its percentage and another app is also below its percentage, the algorithm will switch to a different below percentage app to keep the streaming content more interesting while always trying to keep the percentages in sync.
What’s best for your content rotation?
Which percentages and time per round are best for your company’s digital signage content rotation?
There are no right answers here as it depends on your own company’s goal for sharing digital internal and external communications.
A general rule of thumb for content rotation might be that the most important content be given the largest percentage. For example, if you are using the Graphics & Video App for your own company’s messages and the News App to provide general information — you might choose 60% for your own company’s messages and 40% for the News App.
The best news is that the percentages and the duration that each piece of content displays can be changed at any time for all your TV screens via the Enplug dashboard.