While digital signage systems may look like consumer televisions, they are far more sophisticated and consist of several components. Specifically, this is what you’ll find in a digital signage package:
- The digital display
- The media player
- The content management system, or CMS
- The content itself
Digital signage is flexible, so there’s a lot of choice in how these components are mixed and matched. For example, a digital display may be a single display panel or it may be a video wall that spans from floor to ceiling.
Here’s a closer look at each piece of the digital signage puzzle.
The Digital Display
The display is what everyone will see, so reliability and durability are important considerations. That’s why AV integrators will always recommend their clients opt for commercial displays. Commercial displays are built with parts designed to take on continuous wear, like larger heat sinks, so they can operate around the clock without risk of damage. Commercial displays can also be oriented vertically, giving AV integrators additional display design options. Some commercial displays are much brighter than their consumer counterparts, and this is critical for exterior systems.
In a digital signage system, the display can take on many forms, with a variety of screen sizes and technologies available. Samsung, for instance, manufacturers a line of exterior displays built into rugged housing. Planar builds interactive LED walls, along with a line of standard digital displays. Christi Digital’s microtile displays can be arranged in any shape, including curves and angles.
A compelling aspect of digital signage is that it allows users to unleash their creativity. That’s because there’s no limit to how the technology can be used.
The Media Player
The media player is what stores and delivers content for the digital signage system. Media players are unobtrusive, and most can fit in the palm of your hand, so they are easy to accommodate. In most cases, each display is paired with a media player, though there are some media players that can work with several displays at once. Most media players can be connected to the display via HDMI, so they are easy to install and set up.
A media player can either retrieve content from the cloud or from its onboard hard drive, and some can do both. With the cloud, media players can grab content as soon as it’s available. With local storage, the players can continue delivering content to the display even if it’s disconnected from the internet temporarily.
The Content Management System, or CMS
The display and the media player are the hardware components of any digital signage system. The CMS is the primary software component, and serves as the system’s control center. Here are some of the features you can expect from a digital signage CMS:
- Upload and manage content
- Schedule content to run at certain times
- Make instant changes to uploaded content
- Group displays for easy uploading and updating
- Check the status of networked displays
There are many CMS options on the market, ranging from open-source, free software to enterprise-quality products that are purchased on a SaaS (software-as-a-service) model. It’s essential that the CMS chosen is compatible with the system’s other components. An AV integrator can help with the selection to ensure their clients get a CMS that provides the perfect mix of usability and functionality.
Content is what makes digital signage worth it. If you have visually impactful content, there’s no better way to show it off than with an eye-catching video wall. However, there are plenty of easy content options available that don’t require an artist to display.
For example, a popular content options is to use the displays to show off social media feeds, RSS feeds, weather, traffic, sports scores or headlines. Your branded content can also be arranged easily into layout templates, so you can get a visually compelling look with minimal effort.
Content is where companies, educational institutions and venues can express their creativity, so the more media you have to work with, the better.
Digital Signage is Everywhere Because it Works
According to industry surveys, 73 percent of educational institutions consider digital signage essential for their future communications. On the corporate side, more than half of internal communication departments are looking to add digital signage—which shows that decision makers see the value in this technology.
Is digital signage effective?
There is plenty of evidence to support the effectiveness of digital signage. According to SalonSense Media, 70 percent of Americans are exposed to digital signs every year, and of that group, 52 percent can recall a specific advertisement they’ve seen with the technology. Another industry study tracked “impressions,” or the number of times the digital signage was able to attract someone’s attention (the study used video analytics). That study found that digital signage was able to maintain a high number of impressions long after it was installed. When compared to static signage, digital versions were able to grab attention long after the static sign was no longer able to.
Digital signage systems are extremely effective, but there are a lot of ways to approach putting one together. With so many digital displays, media players and CMSs to choose from, consider consulting with an AV integrator to ensure your organization gets the most from the digital signage system put in place.