Digital displays are increasingly commonplace. We see them in drive-thrus and quick service restaurant menus, in luxury retail store locations, outdoor displays, and select supermarkets. But businesses often do not know where to start when they begin to consider deploying digital signs.
This article introduces the basic components of digital signage systems, all the parts that customers should never have to think about as they enjoy more convenient, personalized interactions with your business.
We’ll cover foundational knowledge, including:
- Key components
- Digital signage best practices
- Software compatibility
- Benefits of an integrated system
- What are the key elements of a digital signage solution?
- What are the benefits and best practices for network deployments?
- Are there any particular considerations when evaluating technology partners?
What is a digital signage system?
In its simplest form, a digital signage system consists of a content management system and digital screens to display content to an audience across a network.
Here are three example locations where you might have experienced a digital display.
- The menu boards inside quick service restaurants (QSRs), such as Taco Bell and Wendy’s, are often digital. QSRs deploy digital signage in their drive thru experience, as well.
- Retail locations will often deploy a combination of tablets and digital signage to deliver more seamless customer experiences with self-service.
- In entertainment such as stadiums or theme parks, you will find a wide range of digital signage solutions, such as large-format interactive digital signs used for wayfinding, digital menu boards, ordering kiosks and event signage.
Each of these real world contexts influences the digital signage system — not only its hardware but more importantly, its primary goals.
Will customers interact with the system directly? Will the business build advertising revenue by displaying promotional content? These questions underscore the importance of content:
- Content distribution
- Scheduling (Different messaging depending on time of day)
*To see an example of advanced content distribution, scheduling and management see AMP (Activia Media Platform)
Reasons to use a digital signage system
Today, businesses and brands need to compete for the attention of their customers. Adapting to trends like personalization, responding to customers, and providing increasingly convenient and innovative ways to engage with the brand all help to differentiate your brand’s experience above and beyond the competition.
Digital signage cuts through the noise of mobile and traditional advertising to create meaningful experiences, better brand recall, recognition and interaction.
Digital signage also affords new opportunities unavailable with static signs. For physical locations such as stores, restaurants, banks, and healthcare centers, digital signs that are updated with messaging and information in real time extend customer experience outside the four walls of the traditional establishment. Retailers and grocers have built truly unique, adaptable services, such as curbside pickup, in-aisle interactive experiences and pickup lockers, enhanced by digital signs. Drive thru digital menu boards offer other advantages like increased relevance, dayparting, updating offerings in real time, and personalization — all opportunities to increase customer engagement, retention, and sales.
Key Reasons for a Digital Signage System
- Increase in sales and brand awareness
- Higher levels of custom cusomer engagement
- Modernization of the physical space
- Enhanced automation, self-service
- Greater employee engagement
- Mitigated fiction in the customer experience
- Adaptive customer experience
Key components to an Integrated System
Before you ideate a digital display system, or even before you look for a digital signage provider, it is important to understand the components — not only the hardware but also the software and services required to run the system.
Digital Displays — Screens displaying content to the viewing audience. Typically, the screen is a flatscreen like a TV, LCD or LED-type display. Displays can be standalone kiosks or mounted on walls, etc. Some solution providers offer interactive modalities, such as touchscreen or photo-lens for immersive experiences.
Passive and Interactive Tablets — Commercial-grade tablets deliver digital signage content in a variety of use cases in retail, quick service restaurants, banking, transformation, grocery, and other places where you’ll find audiences and consumers in everyday life. These tablets differ from consumer electronics in that they are ruggedized for 24/7 use and are available in a wide range of large format sizes.
Commercial tablets can provide multiple ways for a business to connect with the customer. They integrate functions, such as payment processing, barcode scanning, communications, and mobile sensors. Some tablets can be passive with their display of content, while other touchscreen tablets can feature a range of interactive customer experiences.
Screen and Tablet Examples
- LINQ Tablets (11"-55")
- Touchscreen displays
- Outdoor digital displays (can be available in single, double, or triple panel)
- Shelf-edge displays
Media Player — The media player is the hardware that drives the digital content to the display screen. It’s basically a computer, which is powered by the signage software, to deliver the content to the display.
Advanced use cases will additionally deploy sensors to ensure content adapts to the audience. Sensors gather insights about your shoppers, such as demographics, pathing, dwell time, and detection. These insights not only drive an analytical advantage — you can understand customer behavior more deeply with sensor data — they can also enable your digital signage to respond in real time with personalized, relevant content.
For instance, as customers walk toward the display, content will change in a similar way to a responsive website, showing more detailed information as proximity increases.
Digital Signage Software
When considering digital signs, the tendency is to focus on hardware. We think of the digital screens that sit in front of the customer. But what about the content itself?
Software helps manage the content that is displayed. The use cases vary widely from simple scheduling of content, to more advanced ways of organizing, scheduling, delivering, monitoring and personalizing content delivery.
Look for a software solution that is centrally managed or locally updatable to help you easily and quickly manage and update your content.
Rich Media Content
If hardware and software is the implementation of the digital signage system, now we need to discuss the execution. What messaging do you intend to communicate? Your content strategy can and should influence decisions regarding digital signage hardware and software. Content is the core of the digital signage experience, as it is the way for a business to connect with the viewing audience.
Define goals clearly, and communicate/consult on these goals with your digital signage provider to achieve the highest level of success with your network.
Digital Signage Best Practices
Here at STRATACACHE we have gathered a wide array of experience as we help customers across the globe design, deploy and manage their digital signage systems. The following is our “short list” of advice.
- Make it legible — Your message is often viewed by your audience at a glance and from a distance. Make it easy for them to see and comprehend your message. Keep in mind that signage in lobbies is usually 5-10 feet away while signage in areas such as data centers can be up to 30 feet away.
- Make it accessible — Increasing readability means increasing accessibility — for all of your audience. Text should be large enough that it can be read from a reasonable distance.
- Study the location — It is important to know where your audience is viewing your digital signage. For instance, corporate communication digital signage is typically viewed in transit areas or waiting/dwell areas. Accounting for the viewing scenario of your audience can improve the success of your message and allow you to design content appropriately.
- Consider graphics and animation — Make the message interesting, evocative and actionable. Graphic designs, graphics, animation and video can enhance your message. But make sure it complements rather than distracts. Consider how your displays will comply with and enhance corporate brand messaging and messaging strategy.
- Create a playlist — Schedule your playlist to change according to the dynamics of the space. Use frequent transitions for busy areas and consider slower-paced playlists that might be ideal for smaller areas.
- Measure and fine-tune — Constant iteration, even minor tweaks or updates, can ensure that your message has the biggest impact. Don’t be afraid to experiment, which can help you find new ways to connect with your audience. Measuring and analyzing success you are able to optimize your digital signage network. By asking questions about the success of actions taken, such as promoted items being purchased or company meetings attended, you can analyze the effectiveness of your message. Defining how success is measured is an important element of a digital signage content strategy.
Software Compatibility and Considerations
Digital signage software helps businesses manage content across display systems. While there are free software solutions within this industry, we advise a marketplace solution vendor that can offer more robust features. Look for a strong technology partner who has the experience and expertise to help strategize, implement, monitor, and scale your project.
Evaluation Criteria for digital signage software solutions
- Compatibility with display system — Will the software be compatible with the digital signage hardware/display?
- Adoption — Is the interface intuitive to use or does it require a lot of onboarding and training?
- Content strategy — What is the goal of the digital signage network? Who are the team members dedicated to success and optimization? How do you define success?
- Software update — What is the frequency of these updates? How/when do they proceed?
- Software compatibility — Think of how this software may integrate with your other software and technology investments.
- Cloud-based platform — Is the solution cloud-based or not? If it is cloud-based, how secure is the system?
- Range of features — Some signage software is limited and does not evolve. Consider teaming up with a provider that can add new features and functionality so you can make the most of your digital signage investment.
- Cost — Weigh the features, functionality, support and all other considerations when determining if the cost fits within your budget.
- Success measurement — Does the solution provide a way to measure campaign effectiveness? Can the provider also make suggestions on how to improve the campaigns? You want to ensure that the solution you deploy offers metrics to not only analyze results, but then take action to improve efforts.
- Technology partnership — Is your provider able to deliver and support a full solution?
Why Choose an Integrated Digital Signage System
Some businesses manage an array of vendors and professional services to deploy their signage solutions. While these projects can achieve success, there are many advantages to choosing a one-handshake provider that can deliver an integrated digital signage system.
- No need to work on systems integration — all components are made and tested to work together
- Simplified vendor management solution
- Less drain on internal resources
- Better communication
- Customer support
For these reasons you will find the largest brands choose STRATACACHE. We have the experience and technology to help businesses like yours connect signage deployments to strategic business results. STRATACACHE is dedicated to innovating technology to help customers push the digital signage industry forward.
Discover how you can integrate a digital signage system into your business.