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A Guide to Digital Signage

It’s not only about customer experience. Digital signage can also help your business internally.

So if you’re a business owner looking to digitalise how you display information, follow along with this digital signage guide to ensure you’re getting the most out of your digital signage project.

What Are Digital Signage Solutions?

What Is This Kind of Service?

Digital signage, sometimes called electronic signage, means using modern digital display devices to cast media. They’re commonly used for sharing information and advertising.

And it’s all around us, too. We see it in museums, airports, train stations, stadiums, the cinema, and in many restaurants.

These companies rely on a digital signage solution to bring their project to life.

What Is a Digital Signage Solution?

A digital signage solution is a set of key components, both hardware and software, that make up a digital signage display. These components work together to deliver content to the display.

The Components of Digital Signage

So if you’re looking to kickstart your project, here’s the digital signage technology you need.

What Is Involved in Digital Signage?

Digital signage technology is varied, but there are generally five parts: digital signage display, content players, a signage distribution network, a content management system, and content.

1. Digital Signage Display

To display something, you’re going to need a digital signage display device. It’s the front end of your digital signage hardware, and it, together with the content, are the only components your target audience will be seeing.

2. Content Players

After setting up your display, you need some media player that delivers media to it.

There are many different kinds of content players, and each of them has its own set of configurations and properties. For example, does your player connect to the display via cables or through the internet? How does its storage work? More on these later.

3. Signage Distribution Networks

Nowadays, most players have Wi-Fi and even Ethernet so that you can cast them on your display wirelessly. But you need a stable connection for this.

If you don’t have a reliable internet connection, then hardware is your go-to. Luckily, HDMI, AV, or even VGA cables are still around.

We recommend cabled connections for stability for most cases, but if your digital signage project is uncomplicated or small-scale, or your company has a stable network, then a wireless connection should be fine.

4. Content Management System

As the name implies, an electronic signage content management system (CMS for short) is a behind-the-scenes piece of digital signage software that lets you manage what to display and how to display.

CMS’s widely range in price and features. Some are free, though these are often unreliable and have security issues, so avoid that. Decent CMS options offer extra features but are subscription-based.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to use a CMS. You upload your content to your CMS (if it’s cloud-based) or load your content on its storage and then use the online user interface to control how it displays.

Nowadays, it’s incredible how much time CMS’s save. Through the UI, you can bundle certain content into a playlist (similar to music apps) and play it in sequence. Many CMS’s even feature a scheduler that can help you automate what displays when.

5. Content

Now that you have your set-ups ready to roll, it’s time to decide on what to put there.

A good-looking set-up is essential, but so is content. After all, your target audience will think, “Look at the design of that banner!” before they think “Those thin bezels are quite the feat.”

The great thing about electronic signage is that you can display pretty much anything on it, either dynamic or static signage. So be sure to spice your content up to entice your new customers.

What Is the Use of Digital Signage?

Why Would Anyone Want to Use It?

At the most basic level, digital signage is used to convey information in an attractive way that entertains your customers and entices your employees. In some cases, you can even combine digital signage with touchscreens to enhance the customer experience.

Examples of Digital Signage

  • Let’s look at a few prominent examples where you’ll find digital signage being used.
  • Restaurants now use digital menu boards to display items and offers in a cycle. Digital signage makes
  • it much easier for a restaurant to update its menu since it doesn’t have to discard old paper menus and make them all over again every time there’s a change.
  • Most cinemas now have these wide, hard-to-miss screens showing the movies available and where to book tickets for them.
  • In almost any large shopping mall, you’ll see a digital map on display near the entrance to make it easier for customers to find where everything is. Some shopping malls put a touchscreen for customers to navigate – an excellent interactive experience.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Signage for Your Business?

Why Would Anyone Want to Invest in It for Their Business?

There are many ways digital signage makes life easier for the customer and you.

First, It’s effortless to update information on a digital display. No longer do you need to contact an advertising agency every time you make a minor change.

With digital signage, you can easily update content through your CMS, and it’ll take effect as soon as you’re done.

Second, self-service. For many customers, self-service is more attractive than waiting for someone to serve you. Just look at this study by Aspect, which found that 69% of millennials prefer self-service.

And why wouldn’t they? For many menial tasks, it’s more convenient to do what you want over a display than have someone else do it for you. For example, imagine going to a mall and asking a “path man” for directions instead of seeing them on a screen.

Also, the design of digital signage is more attractive and eye-catching than traditional static signage. It’s much easier to grab your customers’ attention with a digital sign since it’s sleeker, more vivid, and more dynamic.

And there’s a big, often forgotten benefit – data. When interactive digital signs are used, you can enable them to collect data that you can then analyse to conclude what’s best for your company.

For instance, what pages do customers spend most of their time on? What products do they buy or search for the most? What kind of content grabs the most attention?

These questions can be answered through data analysis and can help you make decisions for your company.

How Effective Is Digital Signage?

Digital signage is effective. And to prove it, we’ll talk about a few points that digital signage improves.

Digital Signage Is More Engaging

Conveying information to your customers is no longer about traditional static signage and hoping they stop to look at it. A dynamic digital sign is different – it adds life to your content.

Engagement is the primary benefit of digital signage since it’s the most significant difference that sets it apart from traditional signage and is the first step to attracting customers.

Digital Signage Improves Your Reach

It’s easier for people to recall advertisements they’ve seen when they were digital. For example, 70% of surveyed Americans aged 12 and older recalled digital videos within one month. But, more impressively, 52% have done so within one week!

These monthly retention rates are pretty high compared to the Internet (43%) and Facebook (41%).

Of that 70%, nearly half (47%) recall the content of what they saw.

Digital Signage Improves Your Sales

Of the viewers who noticed an ad, nearly 1 in 5 (19%) said they bought an item they weren’t planning to buy after seeing it on a video screen.

Digital Signage Can Reduce Your Costs

It may be more expensive to purchase, but on the long-haul, electronic signage can save you money since you can update it as much as you want without spending money every time you need to.

For instance, Novartis Pharmaceuticals said they cut costs by about 90% after installing digital signs across 15 of their buildings, and that was over five years ago!

Digital Signage Can Increase Employee Productivity

Not only can digital signage improve your company’s results, but it can also boost employee productivity!

Digital signage offers more engagement within a workplace, and employee engagement is key to a company’s success.

This Gallup study found that employees in engaging workplaces result in 22% more profitability, 21% more productivity, 37% lower absenteeism, and 41% fewer quality defects.

And these are only a handful of the stats that support this argument.

Working Out Which Technology You Need

Which Digital Signage Solution Is Right for Your Needs?

The digital signage solution you choose for your company depends on its needs. Recall the five components we talked about: display, content player, signage distribution network, CMS, and content. Of these components, the first two are hardware, so let’s take an in-depth look at them to help you decide.

Digital Display Devices

Unsurprisingly, smart TVs are the most common form of digital signage display. We see LED and LCD screens all around us, after all. And how could they not be? They’re abundant in shops, range widely in size and resolution, and are easy to set up on a wall or a stand.

TVs also come in two different types: consumer display and commercial display. Both will work for electronic signage, but there are a few differences.

For instance, commercial displays are larger, have thinner bezels, and can work for longer without overheating.

The drawback with commercial displays is the price. They can cost multiple times as much as consumer displays. So weigh your options before picking if you’re on a limited budget.

Another digital display you could use commercially is a video wall, which is a collection of smaller commercial display TVs with very thin bezels put together to form a big display.

Video walls are pricey, but they’re a great idea if you’re a big company planning massive public displays.

Of course, there are other types of digital signage display than TVs.

For one, projectors are another common digital display device that can have a great value over TVs, depending on your company’s needs. For instance, projectors are more commonly used internally and in meeting rooms. Also, common for internal electronic signage are computer screens and tablets.

Screens can be as large as a small TV and come with built-in stands that make them easy to place on a flat surface.

On the other hand, tablets, while small, can be very convenient. They can act both as a digital display and a media player (which we’ll talk about soon), and they’re easily portable.

Types of Content Players

Like with TVs, you can use many different devices for content such as PCs, dedicated digital signage players, and systems on a chip.

Many companies opt for traditional computers as content players since they’re familiar and easy-to-use devices.

And while computers are definitely powerful content players, they can be too expensive if you’re only planning to use them for that purpose.

Generally, Windows- or Linux-based computers are best for performance-demanding applications. For example, if you’re building a video wall with some 20+ screens or a digital display with 4K or 8K quality, then you’ll want a computer.

Familiarity is also important. Installing an operating system and getting started is simple because we’ve all done it recreationally.

Another big plus for computers is that you pick the digital signage software you like, unlike dedicated media players where you’re stuck with whatever software they come with.

But of course, the drawback with computers is their cost. The general rule with computers is that the more you spend, the better quality you’ll get.

An alternative to computers is dedicated digital signage players, which many digital signage providers include in their set anyway. However, there are also individual media players from big companies like Amazon and Chrome devices.

And dedicated players are simple too. You plug it into a computer, load up your digital signage software with the content you want, then plug it into your display and deploy it.

The drawback here is that these players have a fraction of the power a computer can give you. They’re good enough for smaller projects, but if you’re looking for extensive projects or an ultra-HD video display, you’re going to need more power than found in most dedicated players.

Lastly, let’s talk about systems on a chip, or SoC for short. These have been rising in popularity recently due to their convenience. For those who don’t know, an SoC is a media player built into your display; think of TVs with built-in receivers or DVD players.

However, SoCs aren’t as versatile as computers. Think of SoCs like budget-dedicated players built-in to your TV; they’re good for most companies (though SoCs can run on pretty much any network, unlike players), but bigger companies will need more powerful hardware.

How Do You Create a Digital Signage?

Assuming you have your display ready and a computer connected to it, you can create your electronic signage without any digital signage software other than Google Slides or MS PowerPoint.

First of all, make sure you disable system auto-updates, screensavers, or any other software that can pop up when the computer is idle.

Next, open Google Slides or PowerPoint and put together your slideshow as you like.

Once the presentation is ready, go full-screen to display it. On Google Slides, click View then Present, or press Ctrl + F5 to start the presentation. But if you’re on PowerPoint, press F5.

What Software Do You Need for Digital Signage?

When setting up digital signage, you’ll need somewhere to store your content. You have two options: on-premise storage and cloud-based storage.

On-Premise vs Cloud

On-premise storage is when you buy the servers and set them up somewhere spacious enough. Of course, you also need to hire technicians for system upkeep.

This may sound too laborious or costly, and it is, but the upside is that you own the system and have total control over it. So we’d recommend purchasing an on-premise server if you’re a bigger company.

But in recent decades, cloud services have risen as an alternative to on-premise storage.

The storing method itself is the same – massive infrastructure with servers running in it. But the difference is that you pay someone to set it up and take responsibility for maintenance. So although you pay a subscription fee, cloud-based storage will always cost less than on-premise.

And yes, since the server lies somewhere else far away from you, you don’t have total control over your storage, and your valuable data lies in the hands of your provider.

Industries Which Can Benefit From Digital Signage Solutions

Which Industries Benefit From It?

In our opinion, the industries that can benefit the most from the digital signage industry are:

  • Internal Communications: Internally, digital signage can increase a company’s employee engagement and streamline communication, improve meetings, and more.
  • Contact Centres: To ensure a smooth workflow, contact centres can use digital signs to display information, stats, and KPIs quickly and clearly across the centre.
  • Reception Areas: Companies can use digital signs in their reception areas to direct information to receptionists, grab their customers’ attention, provide easy wayfinding, and more.
  • Healthcare: No-contact healthcare has been on the rise, and we expect this trend to continue. Moreover, digital signage facilitates communication, which is vital when you’re saving lives in a medical facility.
  • Education: Big screen interactive displays can provide a more enticing experience for both students and instructors during a class.
  • Transport: Wayfinding signs are the first and most noticeable signs in a transport station, where you can display details about arrivals, departures, baggage claims, times, and so on. Furthermore, you can use digital signs to engage idle customers.
  • Manufacturing and Factories: Digital signs in a factory boost productivity by helping you share information between the office and the factory clearly so that factory workers don’t miss crucial messages.

How Much Does Digital Signage Cost?

Depending on what you choose, digital signage can cost anywhere between a few hundred pounds to £1,000+ or more.

However, we expect digital signage costs to go down as do the costs of any shiny modern technology.

What Do You Put On a Digital Sign?

You can feature one of your products or services on a digital sign and talk about it in more detail in another slide. You can also advertise a discount to create a sense of urgency, but don’t be too salesy.

If your display is in a lobby, you can even put some entertainment there to engage your audience. You can also talk about your company, staff or share your social media accounts in a slide or two to inform your audience about your business.

Whatever you choose to display, make sure it looks good, or you won’t be getting second looks from potential customers.

Why Is Digital Signage Gaining Popularity?

Simply put, digital signage gives you the power to market much more flexibly than a traditional sign or poster. You can spice up the content you have there to engage your customers.

And the best part is that digital signage is cost-effective. You don’t have to pay every time you need to change the content there, so it saves you a lot of money in the long term.

Conclusion

By now, we’ve explained what digital signage is, how easy and convenient it is for your company, and proved how it can help your company both internally and externally using available statistics.

Our advice is to go for digital signage. It’s not a fad, and it’ll continue to rise and overtake traditional signage since it’s the far more cost-effective option for businesses and the more engaging one for customers.

Source: Oliver Candy – Sabercom