The Four Components of Digital Signage
Digital signage has evolved from the bulky CRT displays that ran on video cassettes in the 80’s and ‘90s to today’s super sharp 4K videos run on ultra thin flat screens or video walls. This signage can engage audiences and prove to be crucial in increasing a brand’s reach.
In fact, studies show that digital displays capture 400% more views than their static counterparts. They are also 47.7% effective in terms of brand awareness, and has an 83% recall rate.
If you are interested in digital signage, you should first get to know its components to make sure your investment will be worth it.
Four Components of Digital Signage
Digital signage is a long-term investment. You can market a new product, launch your brand, communicate messages to the public and engage with anyone who will see it.
You can invest in this if you have multiple messages that you need to change or promote. You can also place these where there are long queues to engage people waiting in line. You don’t even have to choose between a static or digital sign; they can complement each other to educate, inform, and entertain your target market.
Every digital signage project contains the following components, which all require consideration and planning:
The software basically includes the content and/or device management systems, as well as the playback software on media players:
- Media player – Make sure that you pick a player that can support various types and media formats (e.g. photos, music, videos, etc.), as incompatible software will not be able to play your content. Some advanced software out in the market can even save your content in their internal storage, allowing you uninterrupted playback even if there’s no internet connection.
- Content Management Software – A content management software (CMS) would allow your content to be played on the Display. There are many features available, which all come in a range of prices. You can upload/organise your content, create a playlist, or distribute the same content to multiple players. Other CMS can only support limited type of content, while there are those that can let you manage text, images, videos, etc.
- Device management software – If you are planning on using multiple screens in different locations, you need to be able to manage all these remotely. With the right device management software, you can gather playback data from media players, check on players’ health status (e.g. temperature, disk space, etc.), capture screenshots, update the software, or reboot the device remotely.
When picking software, do your due diligence and research whether the vendor can be trusted and is worth their price tag.
Hardware refers to the physical components of a digital signage.
This includes the screens, media players, network components, wall mounts, etc. If you’re using cloud option to play your content, you would also need internet connection, which involves hard line, Wi-Fi, or mobile technologies.
We used freestanding digital signage screens in our work for Infiniti, the luxury car brand
- Digital displays – Digital displays for digital signage look very similar to standard consumer flat screen TVs but are more robust and can be used 24/7 without screen burn. They are also often supplied brighter to suit ambient light and can be used in both portrait or landscape formats. Digital displays are LCD screen, (Liquid Crystal Display) and like modern televisions, are usually lit with LEDs from the edge. Most digital display companies (us included) don’t manufacture digital signage displays but will source them from industry players like Samsung, LG, Philips, Panasonic, etc.
- Digital signage player – Think of Blu-ray players. These hardware connect to another device and deliver the content to it. Make sure, however, that there are HDMI ports on both devices (or VGA, DVI, RCA, depending on the device) for compatibility.
You can also opt for a cloud-based solution, in which case, your signage player should be able to connect to the internet to access your content. Other devices, however, can act as a hard drive and store your content within its internal memory. Lastly, if you are investing in multiple displays, it’s best that you go for multiple players as well, unless you have HDMI splitters.
Content is the most exciting component of digital signage, as you have control and freedom as to what you will show to your audience. You will be able to communicate with them, and when done right, hit your campaign goals.
Even though you have the most high-end software and hardware, if you don’t have the right content to play on it, your investment will go to waste.
However, content is also the biggest ongoing cost of this project. You have to continuously create fresh content to make sure it stays relevant. What works on day one may not work a month, or even a year, after.
In terms of format, you can create the following:
- Slides – One of the most common types of content, you can create slides using basic software like Microsoft PowerPoint.
- Photos – String together a lot of photos that would effectively communicate your message.
- Graphics – It can be the logos of the companies under your umbrella brand, icons, or any illustrations.
- Animated graphics – These are graphics that have movement. They can also zoom in/out, fade in/out, etc.
- 3D graphics – Today’s technology allows for 3D graphics that do not require viewers to wear special equipment.
- Video – Video is the type of content that most of your audience would expect to see, given that TV screens are mostly used in this kind of campaign.
- Live feeds – Stream live information as they get published, whether on social media, RSS feeds, websites, or broadcast networks.
- Database content – These are pre-programmed content stored in the internal drives of your hardware. You can schedule these to show on your display, often in the form of event schedules, menus, promotions, special of the day, and other types of listings.
Lighboxes supplied by W&Co for Italian gourmet chocolate manufacturer Venchi
Having a good content strategy will make or break your campaign. Without the right content on display, even the most expensive TV will not give you the returns you’re looking for.
To come up with a viable strategy, do the following:
- Objective – What do you intend to achieve with your signage? Among the objectives you can set include lowering the costs to distribute information, providing information in certain situations (e.g. events, arrival/departure, etc.), increase sales, present new products via interactive signs, enhance customer experience, or promote your brand.
- Logistics – Who will create your content? How many and how often do you need to update them? How will you find out if the content works? In what format will the content be and can the display support that?
- Resources – Do you have enough budget to keep your display running for a long time? If not, what is your realistic timeframe and will you be able to expect results from that?
- Scalability – Keep in mind that consumer behaviour fluctuates. The devices they use can easily be outdated, their fascination with a certain content type may soon fade. Your objectives may also change, depending on how your signage performs. Make sure that you take these factors in mind so you can adapt and scale.
Digital Signage Will Continue to Grow
Although digital signage is relatively new—the term was actually born in 1992 in a UK shopping centre —it is definitely a medium that a lot of businesses will continue to use in the future.
If you’re interested in using this to strengthen your brand or promote your products, please feel free to contact us here at W&Co and we’ll be more than happy to talk through some options with you.