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Digital Signage Content Creation: 22 Best Practices

Grand View Research predicts in its 2014 study that the global digital signage market will reach a staggering 20 billion dollars in volume by 2020! More and more businesses are investing in this method of marketing. Predictions of continuous growth are favored by fantastic success stories reported by businesses across the world.

This popularity and consistent growth is a testimony to digital signages’ literally outstanding and effective way of marketing goods and services. What has worked for others can work for you, too. You want to drive business by catching your clients’ eyes. We put together 22 tips from industry experts which help you do it. Easy to apply advice illustrate ways to maximize the effectiveness of your digital signage content creation.


Content creation

1. Aim for the right target

Attraction isn’t necessarily built on over-the-top pictures, borders, flashy texts or dialogue boxes. Attraction is subjective. It is an emotion that captivates. Attraction is when someone relates to a specific object, image or sound in a beautiful manner. Having in-depth knowledge about the people you target can go a long way in the design phase. Make up a fictitious individual that best represents the average person you want to view your ad the most. Formulate the key features of your product and subsequently the ad you want to create. What would attract this particular individual? Would he or she respond better to loud art or soft elegant imagery? Would he or she focus on long form content or short and to-the-point headlines? Would he or she enjoy witty humor or a serious tone? Be the viewer! Put yourself in the shoes of the viewer and prospect. Ask yourself whether or not the ad on the screen hits home with you. What is the message that is actually being projected and do you feel warmth and attraction towards the ad being displayed? Be honest with yourself before you move onto the physical publishing stage.

2. Get behind what your customer fundamentally wants

State the customers’ reasons for buying your product or service. What is the customer buying this for? To be a hero to his son? To look fabulous for a date? To have easy-to-manage hair? Then tell them, “Be a hero tonight with this.” “Make heads turn!” “Manage curly hair with this.”

Desire is an emotion that can overpower critical thinking. You may not even have a budget for a particular product or service, but a sweet deal can come across which is so enticing that your desire overpowers your financial plan. You buy it – whether it is on credit or cash. It’s an extremely common occurrence. If you were able to directly appeal to someone’s desire for a specific thing and make him or her believe that their want is actually a need, you can convert them into a paying customer! The key is to focus on what the customer has to gain rather than what you have to sell. At the core of our being, we all have the same fundamental desires – To be rich, to look amazing, to smell fantastic, to fix things, to eat tasty food and to feel healthy. These fundamental desires can overpower any amount of critical thinking and result in an exchange of cash and services between the customer and you! All you have to do is identify what your target audience desires, offer a clear and handy solution and state it directly to the viewers watching your ad on a screen.

3. Know your limit

For outdoor digital billboards (and for static OOH billboards, as well) use no more than eight words in your message.

Knowing that you have to limit the amount of text on a digital signage is quite obviously important, but the reasoning is actually far more valuable. People can very easily suffer from information overload. And when they do, everything they read, see or hear doesn’t stick. It goes in through one ear and out the other. That’s one of the most influential reasons as to why shortening the amount of text you use on an ad. It can prevent people from going blank when watching your ad, losing interest or simply walking away. Make your copy extremely direct, concise and to the point. Don’t waste time explaining frivolous details and unessential information. Your copy should focus on 3 particular elements:

1. Gain: What can the potential customer/subscriber gain?
2. Cost: What does it cost? And
3. Action: How can they take action?

Everything else is just additional. Those three elements take preference over everything else and in some occasions, they can be the only thing that needs to be said and highlighted.

4. Every second counts

Digital signage content usually has a short play time, so its message has to be precise and easy to understand: Focus on the important information: dates, places, QR codes, phone numbers, etc.

Imagine you only had 10 seconds to deliver one message to someone, what would it be? You may think 10 seconds is an unrealistic short time frame, but it’s all you have. In a mall or airport with large crowds of people, it’s unlikely to find someone standing dead still in the center of a chaotic place reading a minute long digital signage. The faster you get to the point, the faster you can turn a viewer into a customer. Make it ridiculously easy for people to remember your ad and its purpose. Be as direct as possible! If you have great hotel rooms at super low prices, say it! Don’t waste time beating around the bush. If you have what others need or want, say it loud and say it proud.

5. In favor of genuine laughs

Have fun! Boring signs are, well, boring. Remember, your goal is to grab a casual browser’s attention. Double entendres, puns and jokes are great ways to show you are a fun business. Yes, some people will say you’re not funny or whatever, but the bulk of your customers will appreciate it.

Photo: brewbooks

You can make people look. Now you need to compel them to really observe and get the message. Certain highlighted and repeated words can improve conversion rates. Getting people to focus on your words isn’t as easy as it sounds though. Write headlines that are unorthodox. Be creative, controversial, direct or mysterious. Make people feel curious and half the battle is won.

6. Stylistics in copy-writing.

Photo: James Welsh

Combine words that complement each other. In some instances, the repetition or addition of idioms can serve as a means of reinforcing your promises, guarantees and offers. Instead of saying fast delivery, why not say lightning fast delivery? It’s a simple adjective which if repeated with your actionable words can boost their effectiveness and impact. Most people claim fast delivery and money back guarantees – they aren’t extraordinary or spectacular anymore.

However, that doesn’t mean these types of promises aren’t effective. By reinforcing benefits or features with pleonasms or other stylistic devices, you easily turn a common promise into something unique. Lightning strikes fast and hard! When someone is searching for a business that delivers fast and is faced with a variety of suppliers who all promise fast delivery, you are the group that goes one step further. On the flip side, there may be cases when you need to eliminate words that are unnecessary and redundant.  “Immediately Cash In And Get A 20% Discount Right Now.” This is a case gone wrong. You want to stress the immediacy. The sentence is too long for that. ‘Immediately’ and ‘Right

Now serve the same purpose, but different from the lightning fast delivery example they don’t paint a picture. Unnecessary repetition steals focus and impact away from the benefit of a 20% discount. Be cautious when writing copy. Don’t allow unnecessary and redundant words to overpower your unique selling propositions like a discount.

7. A picture is worth a thousand words

Ask your client if they have any photographs you can use. You might be surprised what they have lying around as physical printouts or even photos they have digitally. You only need a few to make a really interesting and personal display.

There’s something incredibly personal about using photographs. It creates a very distinct feeling of intimacy. Also, it has been said that photographs are merely a piece of a puzzle. Behind them are stories to be told. If we have learnt one thing from market research and psychology, it’s that from a very young age, everyone has been exposed to storytelling.

We have a desire to hear or see a story from start to finish. In fact much of our knowledge over the centuries has been passed on through stories. And that small piece of knowledge can be what keeps people interested in a digital signage content creation. The prospect of a story being told through the use of photographs is too appealing for people to miss out on. We are almost programmed to seek out stories. But that’s not the only reason for using photographs. It depicts legitimacy and realism. Seeing the actual building of the business, employees in work attire or the product itself sends a message to the brain of a viewer that this is real. He or she can trust you and take action on your offer.

8. Selling without the hard

No one wants to view content that is just throwing advertisements in their face without informing or teaching them something. On the other hand, people also don’t like to search for a company name or objective of content they are viewing. Therefore, using a good blend of information and advertising is important in order to create compelling content.

In the publishing world, writers are often asked a question: “Do you want to be a best-writing author or a best-selling author?” You can be the best writer in the world, but it doesn’t mean you will sell a ton of books. On the flip side you can sell a ton of books without being the best writer in the world. It all depends on what you want. The same questions can be asked in the world of advertising. We encouraged you to think out of the box!

Most businesses are adamant about creating advertising campaigns that are unique and unorthodox. However that doesn’t mean it will generate the best results. Being unorthodox or over-the-top in digital signage content creation isn’t a rule set in stone. China is known for replicating others. From knock-off watches to gadgets, China has a cheaper alternative for everything you can think of. Some people criticize this approach, but the matter of fact is that it they sell.

This system of replicating a winning formula works and it has continued to work for China year after year. In saying that, there are digital signage content creation formulas out there that work for others and it can work for you, too. The choice is completely yours whether or not you want to replicate or redesign a campaign! Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about plagiarism. Merely identifying winning elements of existing digital signage campaigns and using those core elements as a guideline for your campaign is not plagiarism as long as you don’t rip off ideas and sell them exactly as they were your own. It can be a fantastic way of repurposing old ads on digital signages to create new ads that are of a similar quality with the same elements that made the predecessor ad so successful. With your very own take on it that is.


9. Appeal through clean design

Design matters – keep it simple. The look and feel of your signage should engage and reinforce your brand. Limited fonts, thoughtful contrast between background and text colors, and rotated information vs. static displays all help avoid clutter and give your signage a clean, intentional look.

Have you ever been to the packed streets of Tokyo with its amassment of neon signs all competing for your attention?

Photo: Takadanobaba Kurazawa

They are so many that they either blend together before your eye with none sticking out. Or you decide to ignore them altogether. Your mind is simply too overwhelmed by the amount of information that it decides to zone out. It’s all a uniform of noise to you which gets less and less heard. Translate this to your design. It should never overwhelm the viewer. Instead try to captivate with clarity. Design should be specific, tailored and smart. Don’t overpower your key message with unnecessary elements. Use rounded edges on images for a sleeker design, text that is smooth without jagged edges and an overall color scheme that looks attractive at face value.

10. Right at the dot. The art of sticking out.

Imagine a blank white page and at the center is a circle colored red. What do you think your eyes will focus on? My money is on the red circle. Why? Because it stands out! It’s different compared to 99% of the page. If you want focus to be on particular places, make those spots on the screen the most different (colorful and bright or dark) from the rest. Let everything else seem faded compared to that particular section. That’s how you draw attention to something without taking drastic steps. A quick tip – put together a focus group and do a test and analysis of where people looked the most. That small study can prove to be extremely beneficial for your ad campaign and digital signage content creation plans.

11. Show me your true color

Choosing one color over another rarely has any impact on the success of your content. So, pick colors that meet your business and stylistic goals, e.g. those that match the color schemes of your venues or advertisers.

Colors are attractive – especially when they complement each other. But they serve a far more important role than merely evoking attraction and fondness. Over time, we have subconsciously assigned certain responses and actions towards particular colors. Green is synonymous with taking action, proceeding and positivity, whereas red is synonymous with danger, attention and negativity – or provocation. Yellow represents warmth and bright summer days, whereas baby blue represents fresh oxygen, bubble gum and the sky. When used well, colors can trigger thoughts and particular imagery that can be used to enhance the message of your ad and promote calls to action. H. J. Eysenck already proved in 1941 what now seems evident to us. In terms of shades, tints and hues men have a preference for bold colors while women prefer softer colors. Depending on the nature of your campaign, combine colors that integrate with each other to promote a particular message or match up contrasting colors to draw attention towards an important detail.

12. Fond of font

Never use more than two fonts in a single design and use italics sparingly, as they can be hard to read from a distance

Photo: AIGA/NY

In the world of fashion and design, sometimes less is more. Design isn’t about being the most creative or the most outstanding, it is about establishing a particular and identifiable style for your brand. Don’t let different options distract you from the main goal – conveying a message as effectively and quickly as possible. Stick to one font style. At most, you can vary font size. It promotes consistency and reduces the chance of viewers losing focus. Keep this in mind: You don’t want people to notice the fonts you use. You want them to notice what you’re saying!

13. Focus

When previewing your designs, consider where your eye goes first and adjust your design to ensure that the most important elements take priority. A good tip is to stand back from your monitor at least five feet because this simulates your audience’s perspective for viewing screens at a distance.

A common problem encountered when creating an exemplary digital signage content creation method is to make particular elements stand out naturally. Believe it or not, the solution is absolutely simple and can take place during the photographing or editing stage. Try this – stare and focus on your computer screen and notice what happens to everything surrounding the screen. What do you see? Everything blurs out and the computer screen receives a 100% crystal clear focus! Now if our eyes adjust in such a way to give a particular object importance and complete focus, shouldn’t you try and assist viewers further by applying the same blur and focus formula with a digital signage?

Yes! Either the photographer can adjust his camera’s focus to blur out background or a graphic designer can apply a blur to an image whilst editing. Enhance details without actually doing anything besides decreasing visibility of other elements or objects that hold little value to your digital signage content creation. It’s a simple yet effective way of improving conversion rates.

14. Wandering eye

Use focus techniques to guide the eye to critical information first and create a visual hierarchy in your design. Headlines, graphics, bright colors and high contrast items will pull the eye to them.

There’s quite a bit more to digital signage content creation than words and pictures. Positioning plays a pivotal role in directing eye contact towards important words and pictures. After some analysis from heat-map studies, we have a notion to where people look on a screen.

If you’re using an actual picture of a person or video, make sure that their eyes are looking towards something of value and importance like the product or brand name. Studies show that people tend to follow the direction where the person in the advertisement is looking.

Try to get the model/person to project a certain emotion like happiness, excitement or sadness rather than calmness. Myeong-Gu Seo and Lisa Feldman Barrett’s 2007 research paper shows how being emotional can affect the outcome of the decision making process of the average person.

A Nielson Norman study found that the left side of a page received 69% of the total viewing time and it is looked at first.

With that being said, you hardly go wrong by placing your calls-to-action and product or service information on the left side of the page. Have a picture of a person on the right looking towards the left excitedly or depressingly. That’s bound to get the job done! Great conversion rates are found in the details of marketing. Look at every possible way to promote the message you are trying to portray to viewers and it will make a difference on the level of success you achieve.


15. Standstill is a step backwards

When people look at a monitor or TV screen they expect the elements to move at least somewhat. I’m not talking about flashing colors and screaming graphics. Regular movement works to grab the attention of the people casually sitting in the waiting room or sitting at the table in the restaurant. You can do this with real-time feeds from the Web or other elements on the page that scroll and change.

Powerful digital signage content creation isn’t about content alone. It’s just as much about presentation. Focus is both a mental and physical phenomenon. Keeping someone’s eyes fixed on a screen requires the use of passive hypnosis. Have you noticed that when someone is being guided into a state of hypnosis, he or she is asked to focus on a moving object and to follow that object until they enter a state of hypnosis? At that point, they become susceptible to the hypnotizers questions and requests.

Let me explain how a digital signage viewer gets hypnotized. First, when a viewer begins to mentally focus on a digital signage, they are open to receiving your key messages and offers. But that period of focus can easily be interrupted if something in the surrounding area of the viewer moves. It draws physical focus from that person. Through the addition of moving frames, words gliding across the screen and transitions, you can successfully engage a viewer in a manner that activates both mental and physical focus. Gradually, because their minds and eyes are transfixed on the screen and the message delivered, if you use the right words and instruct the viewer to keep watching or take action, they enter a light state of hypnosis and their surroundings begin to dull out. Ensure that all the movements are of an average speed. Let them flow either horizontally or vertically. Note that on some occasions, sporadic movements can break concentration and focus.

16. The timing is right

“Place your most important messages at the beginning and the end of your list. Introduce the first item on the list at a slower speed, and leave enough time at the end for people to remember the last item. If possible, choose your two best messages and get rid of the rest.” – Bill Gerba.

Transition time is important. Playing a slide for too long or too short can heavily impact your conversion rates and the effectiveness of your digital signage content creation efforts in relaying proper information. You want people to get enough information within the shortest time possible without feeling rushed or missing out on anything important because the slide changed. The page with your most crucial information and calls-to-action deserve the most amount of time for display. Allocate 10 seconds for slides with information that encourage the viewer to keep watching and 20 seconds for the slide that promotes actions and conversion.

17. Design for your medium

Try dark backgrounds and light headers, which will prolong the life of your screens.

On average, the life-span of a standard LCD screen is approximately 100,000 hours. It’s possible that a single screen can last up to 11 years in a perfect world. But this number isn’t designed for screens which are turned on and off repeatedly every day without a break. The design of your ads can make an impact on the survival of a screen. Then there are other external factors which can affect the condition of a screen. These are some tips you can use to prolong the life-span of LCD/LED screens:

1. Turn the Brightness down as much as possible. A screen with a brightness turned all the way up has to work twice as much. This can cut down the life-span from 100,000 to almost 50,000 hours.
2. Adjust the contrast. Similarly as brightness the contrast level, meaning the difference between an illuminated and a dark pixel, extends or decreases the life-time of your screen. Turn down the contrast for an optimal level for your ad.
3. Install a voltage regulator. Gaps in power and surges are actually a common reason why most LCD/LED screens end up damaged even if their display is in mint condition.
4. Ensure that there is adequate space from a wall or backdrop so the screen is protected from overheating. A well ventilated place can protect your screens’ internal components from overheating and packing up.

Remember: The screen displaying your ad is just as important as the ad being displayed on the screen. There is no one without the other. Keep your screens in excellent condition and in a perfect angle for people to look at without putting any strain on their eyes and necks.

18. Learn from the movies – Use These Proven Aspect Ratios

Did you ever consider why newer screens are rectangular in shape whereas old screens where almost square? It was what was technically possible in the old days, but not because it was natural. Our eyes have better horizontal viewing abilities than vertical. More specifically, we have a 180 degree horizontal field of view and a 135 degree field of view.

It means that in reality, our vision is almost rectangular in shape. And since technology has been continuously developing and reaching new peaks, we now produce screens that are wider and almost mimic our natural viewing ability. In other word, screens were redesigned to optimally project images to the human eye. Some go as far as 2.39:1 (cinemascope aspect ratio). Use these aspect ratios when designing your ad:


A wider formatted picture feels more natural. You’re more likely going to look at an image and it’s contents on a rectangular screen because it looks more natural. That is why the format of your digital signage ad ought to be customized to suit the screen it’s being displayed on. Popular bloggers stick to a certain picture width. Let’s learn from them. Whenever you use text, format and place the picture in a wider format. To make the calculations simpler, use this tool.

19. Stay current

Use relevant, repurposed content that is data-driven and auto-updating.

The average American person spends 23 hours a week online and 11 hours a day with electronic devices. All of which provide people with some form of entertainment and/or information. We live in a time where any question can be answered in mere seconds using search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Not only that, we get a constant feed of updates from people around the world and businesses we associate ourselves with through social networking sites. Information is at our disposal all the time and at any time we desire. We have reached a point of post-modernity where our dopamine levels are starting to be affected by this instant gratification lifestyle because we can google anything we want to know about whenever we want to know about it. But, for a marketer, this piece of information is something that can be used to the advantage for those businesses. Using digital signages they can offer a constant feed of updated content for people who are interested. Imagine not needing to even google information or think about questions to ask when everything is already provided to you on a digital signage? It’s going to captivate and hold your interest.

The desire already exists. We know that live feeds, streaming status updates and information is something that people can’t help but read. Walk past a bank and you will find a screen with ads on the top. Below the ad run constantly updated currency rates from across the world. It’s a continuously updated feed which provides relevant information for people who are travelling, looking to convert money to send to others or engage in Forex. Their focus is immediately drawn to the updated information and since it provides the viewer with something useful and informative, they are going to observe the rest of the screen and take note of the ad displayed simultaneously. This is a classic win-win situation between the advertiser and the viewer!

And Action

20. Address your audience literally

Use the words you or yours. Customers buy when they start visualizing themselves using your products. One way to help them is to incorporate the words you or yours. Notice how much stronger the above signs become with the addition of you or your. “You’ll be a hero tonight with this.” “You’ll make heads turn!” “Manage your curly hair with this.

There’s a golden rule for digital signage content creation and it goes like this: create ads for people, not robots! People respond to their humanity. The things that make them laugh, smile, frown or feel curious is what makes for good advertising. It appeals to people directly.

Businesses come across more real and genuine when their image is relatable to people’s humanity. Do you know why? The reason is actually pretty simple. We don’t buy or take interest in things that don’t have anything to do with us. More importantly, we don’t focus on things that don’t appeal to our wants, needs and desires. Forget about logic and theories. Focus on people because they are the life force to any business. Utilize digital signage content creation which triggers emotions and has an impact with creativity and uniqueness rather than sticking to a word for word theoretical approach.

21. Activate your clients

Repeat important words – such as try, buy, download.

Do you know the purpose behind copywriting? It’s to accomplish two very important objectives – attract and convert. In saying that, calls to action need to be implemented as practical as possible. Openly tell your reader what he can do next. A prospect has invested time and attention to view your ad displayed on a screen. Make use of this attention. Instruct your prospect how to convert his thoughts into actions. How do you do that? Repeating certain actionable words is an obvious way to do it. Highlight and emphasize important words both visually and audibly. If you repeat the perfect actionable words at the precise moment, you stand a higher chance of converting this viewer.

22. Make me a deal

Sales promotions can be one of the best tools for retaining customers and increasing your share of their wallet. The promotions can encourage customers to try your product or company, increase their frequency or quantity of purchases, they can help you build your database, cross-sell and extend and reinforce your brand.

Sometimes a sale is a good way to boost your business. It is a chance for your customers to get a good product at a cheaper price. Seasons even may require for you to turn over your stock. When you have a sales campaign going on, focus on the sale as much as on the product, focus on the sale. [People love a discount]( The chance of saving money is too good of an opportunity to pass by regardless of whether or not a person can financially afford the product or service being sold on sale.

Don’t just advertise the reduced price. Place both the original price and the reduced price side by side as this will encourage people to compare the difference and realize that the prospect of saving money is real. Also, don’t be afraid to advertise a limited time offer on your sale. This creates a sense of urgency and panic. No one wants to lose out on the possibility of purchasing something they desire at a reduced price. It may not even be available at a later stage any more.

If you can make them feel that fear of loss, they will take action! A limited offer is a call-to-action now!! Another alternative is advertising the discount percentage for items and/or services if you prefer enticing people through curiosity to come down in person to your place of business for the actual price. They might not know the actual off-promotion price. A 10% discount can go a long way in converting. Imagine 20, 50 or even 70% savings. Once in your store, they are just a small step away from buying.

Bonus: Finish big

Finish with a Call-To-Action – QR codes are gaining traction. A QR code can work on a digital display because people are sitting there bored. They want something to do. A coupon or a call-to-action with a QR code can get them interested.

Every ad campaign has a specific goal and purpose, but they ultimately always lead towards instructing the viewer to take action. This goes hand in hand with understanding and identifying everything you would ideally like to achieve from your digital signage content creation efforts. It assists you in deciding the kind of action you want people to take. Every word matters. Whether it is instructing people to take action on specials, discounts, sales, services, existing and new products or to spread your message. It is compulsory for you to tell people exactly what you want them to do. It’s a give and get system. The bottom line with digital signage content creation: the viewer gives your digital signage time and attention and you give the viewer information on how they can benefit from doing so.

Calls-to-action must be direct, concise and to the point. Here’s a list of 50 awesome call-to-action phrases from Jessica Swanson:

1. Click here.
2. Click here to find out all the details.
3. Download now.
4. Immediate download.
5. Reply today.
6. Try it free.
7. Start your free trial now.
8. Sign up for your free trial immediately.
9. Your free trial is just a click away.
10. Join now.
11. Start now.
12. Talk to an expert.
13. I invite you to…
14. I urge you to act at once.
15. I can’t wait to hear from you.
16. We’d like to hear from you.
17. Just hit Reply and we’ll email you the details.
18. Sign up online at
19. Learn more about us at
20. Order now, while there’s still time.
21. Place your order now, while everything is still in front of you.
22. In a hurry? Call 555-1212.
23. For even faster service, call 555-1212.
24. To place your order, call us toll-free at ____________.
25. Just reach for your phone.
26. Mail your order today!
27. Send in your application today!
28. We’re waiting for your call.
29. I urge you to send for our free brochure.
30. Send for our free catalog.
31. Mail this convenient coupon today!
32. For more details call 555-1212.
33. Please don’t hesitate to call us.
34. Why not give us a call to find out all the details?
35. Call us this week to schedule an appointment.
36. It’s important that you respond promptly.
37. Offer expires March 1st.
38. For a short time only.
39. Order now and receive a free gift.
40. See it in action.
41. Get it now!
42. Request your FREE quote today.
43. Free Shipping.
44. Money Back Guarantee.
45. Best value.
46. Limited availability.
47. Expires at midnight tonight.
48. Act quickly.
49. Reserve your spot now.
50. Sign up now, while you still can.

Take it from here You now have a handy toolkit to create one of the most fantastic and effective digital signage set ups for your business promoting conversion, attracting large masses of people and strategically improving the portrayal of your brand and key message. Never stop looking for ways to improve your content. You could simply be a few tweaks or an effective call-to-action away from converting people left, right and center! Invest in digital signage content creation and technology and be a part of the expected 20 billion dollar industry that turns profits from screens with ads which attract and convert more people than you’ve ever imagined.

Aks Kojic
Aks has been a writer in the digital signage world for over 5 years, bringing you the best of cases and news this industry has to show. Thoughts or suggestions on topics you'd like to see? Drop him an email at

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