We are seeing digital signage more frequently in a wider variety of spaces every day. Transforming from mere advertising boards in shopping malls, digital signs are being used as noticeboards in schools or offices, directories in public spaces, menu boards in restaurants, and even as decorative pieces to enhance areas. The benefits of digital signs and screens are well recognised. However, as they grow increasingly utilised, we now commonly see digital sign ‘blunders’. Most of us have probably walked past a digital sign with a blank-blue screen reading ‘a problem has been detected’ or landscape orientated messages on a portrait display. When compared to good-old-fashioned print media, there is a lot that can go wrong with digital screens, and that becomes an expensive mistake. That’s why when committing to the investment in digital signage, buyers must consider these following 5 factors.
Perhaps the most common, and indeed frustrating, failure of digital signs can be summated by the sentence ‘we are experiencing some technical difficulties’. It’s the shortfall that’s never realised by print media. Outages can be caused by a myriad of faults, from the power supply, to the Content Management System (CMS) to the display itself. All of these components need to be functioning properly for a digital sign to do its job. When deliberating over the array of digital signage options available, buyers should give particular attention to the technological components that are running the system. This starts with asking oneself a few questions regarding the intended usage:
- Will the display be on and operating 24/7? It’s important to consider the capabilities of the digital signage being used. Typically, digital signs will be operating continuously, at least during business hours. That is why commercial displays are recommended as they are built to withstand long running times, with more effective cooling systems and higher-grade TV components designed to last longer.
- What type and variety of media will be played through the system? Some users require only very basic media to be run through their display, such as a few rotating still visuals, others may want to run web pages, social media feeds, online videos, motion graphics, slides, or more. This consideration determines what type of media player and CMS will be required. The media player stores and delivers content for the digital signage system. The CMS is the primary software component and serves as the system’s control centre.
- Where will the system be used? Location specifics are key to determining the type of components needed. For example an outdoor display that is exposed to sunlight will need a powerful cooling system and a screen with a higher brightness level. Further, it must be considered how the signage will be powered and connected to the internet (if required).
One of the key benefits of digital signage is its ability to engage with and communicate to audiences at a superior level to print media. The bright screens with changing graphics or attention-grabbing videos have proved more attractive to the modern individual. However simply placing any-old screen in a random position does not guarantee the engagement users may seek. Proper thought must be given to the placement and execution of digital signage. Too often we see small, unremarkable screens placed in areas of high-footfall, or low quality displays behind shop windows making them barely visible. Users must consider the following with regards to the visibility of their display:
- Where will the system be used? Again, knowing the intended location of the display is crucial to effective digital signage. For example, in areas saturated with varying media such as shopping malls, displays should focus on ‘standing out from the crowd’. Screen types and enclosures must also be optimised to allow for clear and noticeable displays – this goes for size, brightness and clarity.
- What size and format display will best present the message to the most possible people? There are single and double-sided signage systems available in the market, consider if there is visibility of the system from either side. Digital signage can be almost any size, so thought should be given to how much of the available space is to be occupied by the signage.
Suitability to the Setting
Shopping centres, restaurants, schools or what-have-you all have their own aesthetic and style. Like any piece of furniture or art installed for decorative purposes, digital signage should fit its environment. The effectiveness of messages or advertising material can be crippled by sign housing that is unsightly or contrasts its immediate environment. Taking the extra time to find displays that suit the style of the location they are in, or displays with adaptable exterior housing will be worth the additional spend. Advertising material and the like is a business’ art and it should be framed in a way the emphasises the art.
Protection and Security
An often overlooked consideration when investing in digital signage is the functionality of the housing in ensuring the durability of the investment. The components needed to run a digital display are expensive, from high-tech commercial screens to complex CMS systems. These components are susceptible to damage if not adequately protected, and that’s a costly lesson to learn. Many may assume that an indoor screen is safe from the elements so they don’t make the investment in high quality safety glass, resistant materials or efficient air cooling and exhaust systems. Accounting for human interference and environmental changes out of ones control is critical, as it only takes one unfortunate situation to create a costly outage or worse. The parts that will ensure a secure and protected digital display are as follows:
- High-grade or double glazed security glass.
- Strong and durable enclosure chassis with fabricated steel and complete weldment.
- Robust and rigid foundations for permanent fixtures, or a stable and secure base plate.
- Tamper-proof security bolted door frame and high-quality locks on openings.
- Efficient powered air-flow with filtration for component cooling and protection.
- Exhaust system to allow for displacement of hot air.
Installation and Service
The fifth factor to consider when investing in digital signage is concerned with ease of installation and ongoing serviceability. Installation typically requires the assistance of technicians for placing and activating the unit and familiarising the buyer with the technology. Once installed, there remains the need for ongoing servicing – it may be updates, fixes or general maintenance. When considering digital signage options, investors should study the following with regards to installation and service:
- Will the unit be permanently affixed in place or manoeuvrable? Consider digital signage that is easily transported as this will diminish install costs. Many signage types include smart portability attachments that allow for easy lifting or manoeuvring with forklifts and pallet-jacks. Further, give preference to systems that have adaptable mounting options such as fixtures for permanent placement as well as non-permanent.
- Does the unit include the technology required for usage needs? Being clear with sellers on how the buyer intends to use and control the system will mean the right-fit of CMS, Media player and display screen will be recommended, in turn minimising the amount of assistance the user requires going forward.
- Does the buyer have an adequate grasp of how the system functions? Taking the time to understand the functionality of the digital display will further minimise the need for ongoing assistance.
- Does the location of the display and enclosure design allow for easy accessibility? Servicing will typically be required from time-to-time so it’s beneficial to invest in signage that is easily accessed by technicians to lower associated costs. Not all displays are designed with this in mind so taking the time to find displays with well engineered panels, doors and internal structures makes a significant difference. Consider digital signage sellers that are local to your area or city for quicker, more attentive servicing.
Taking these 5 factors into account when considering investing in digital signage will ensure the buyer is getting the unit that is right for them. The upfront investment is significant however the correct digital signage has the ability to prove its worth over time.