7 Guidelines To Future-proof Your Digital Signage

Time is an unusual master of all things. Some people age better than others, and some tools and gadgets last a lifetime, while others break down seemingly within hours. Digital signage is a tool withthe potential to erode in more ways than one. While the effects of time are difficult to predict, there is much that can be done to delay its grip on this particular tool.

Below are seven guidelines which will help you protect your digital signage from all manner of things time will throw at you. To win this battle, you will need durable displays, quality planning, management unity, a user-friendly interface, a strong content strategy, and one more ingredient which is as valuable to your business as the eyes in your face are to you.

Let’s get started! The clock is ticking.

1. Buy commercial, not consumer

The first method of ensuring your digital signage lasts a long time has a lot to do with a big misconception about digital signage. It is indeed true that taking any display and using it as a medium to send a message to an audience does classify as digital signage. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s a smart idea. On the contrary, using consumer grade displays like that is very inefficient in the long run.

You see, consumer grade displays are not designed to meet the criteria you should require from them. A consumer grade display won’t run 24 hours a day. Even after binge-watching Game of Thrones for a full day, you’ll eventually turn it off. Commercial grade displays, on the other hand, are designed, intended, and used to run for longer periods of time, even non-stop. They can handle that task and they will last. Much longer than a consumer grade display. They’re durable, and on top have tons of features which are very useful for any digital signage owner.

Additionally, commercial displays will provide you with everything you need from hardware without growing outdated too quickly. There are certain features expected from your hardware as time moves forward, but those do not evolve as quickly as, say, content strategies do. Thus, rest assured that commercial hardware will last you a lot longer than consumer counterpart.

2. Plan for the environment your digital signage will be used in

The prior point ties into this one quite easily because it is a result of planning. You planned to use your displays commercially, so you get commercial grade displays.

Planning means answering the question what you want to do with your digital signage. We won’t list all purposes under the sun, but establish the purpose you want to use your displays for and research it.

An excellent example of this guideline are outdoor vs indoor displays. If you plan to set up digital signage outside, you can improve its resistance to time by making smart purchases. For outdoors, you’re looking for a display with a high brightness setting, durability and resistance to the elements. LED displays, for instance, have proven to be the wiser choice for the outdoors. They’re better for rotating content which users do not interact with. LCD displays, on the other hand, are better indoors and with content which changes frequently, especially if a user is interacting with it.

3. Establish a unified platform

In unity there is power, a statement which describes many facets of life, and digital signage is no exception. If you have digital signage in more places than one, even if it’s just two displays, it’s easier if the content displayed on them is accessible to you from one location. It’s easier if they are united.

Unity in digital signage is fantastically easy to achieve, while ignoring this simple solution will result in a complex web of unsynchronized displays and content. A nightmare for any manager, really. What is the solution? Digital signage software.

Software like OnSign TV allows you to be fully aware of what all your displays are doing, so to speak, and it allows you to interact with them, update their content, remote control them in case of an issue, and much much more. If unity is achieved, it’s just so much simpler to manage your displays and content. Then, you also have the ability to schedule content easily, ensuring your displays know what to do for days or weeks at a time.

An additional plus from a great digital signage software provider is that they’ll keep up with the industry, providing you with frequently used features which emerge in the industry. It’s also important to have a software provider who can keep up with you as you update the hardware side of your digital signage.

4. Take user friendliness to heart

A user friendly or a simply readable interface ensures your digital signage is easy to access and is inviting to people. If it isn’t user friendly, it will become useless. Sure, your employees will use it because they must, but consumers will stay clear. With that, your digital signage will have been defeated, with only a slim chance of becoming appealing to your audience again.

Making it friendly right of the bat is the best start you can have, especially if the digital signage is interactive. Digital signage software is, yet again, the ideal solution for this as it not only makes management easy, it makes creating campaigns through tried and true templates fast and obvious as well. Your employees will learn and handle digital signage easier. And your customers will be drawn to interact with it (if interactivity is an option) if it’s easily digestible at first glance.

5. Formulate a strong content strategy

Digital signage is an investment, not a simple purchase. This means that once you pay for it, there is plenty of work to be done. It’s not going to act on its own, you know.

A strong content strategy involves creating content with a specific purpose. This guideline is closely tied to guideline #2 in this list which speaks of the environment in which your digital signage is used. Let’s assume you want to use your digital signage outdoors. Excellent! Now, what message do you want to give to the consumer? Not only that, but who is going to create that message? Who is going to create new content after that, new campaigns and update them weekly? Digital signage software is an excellent tool, but its potential lies in the hands of the user. Answer these questions, and you’re set!

Brand awareness, a boost in sales, social media interaction, all of these are valid goals around which you should build your content strategy. It is far more than simply spamming ads and facts on a display. You need to plan it out. Here are more tips for you on how to do just that.

6. Set up insightful analytics tools to see the bigger picture

Analytics are the eyes of a business. They help to see what works and what doesn’t. Rather simple, yet so many choose to ignore it. Do that and, well, you’ll be blind. Analytics are not that difficult to track, however, one must merely be willing to open their eyes! That’s enough metaphors for now, let’s get literal.

Did your sales get a noticeable bump after launching the new campaign you set out on your digital signage network? Excellent! It means people are responding to it. On the other hand, if promoting your featured items in a store didn’t really boost sales, or if your campaign didn’t get as much social media attention as you had hoped, it’s clearly not working. Change it! Pay attention to analytics, understand what works and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly.  

Any experienced business owner will know that It can be a painful thing, when a carefully thought-out campaign doesn’t work. You put passion and thought into it, but if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work! Analytics are your cold, hard objective guide and as such are an important component of any business. Don’t ignore them, or your consumers will ignore you.

7. Secure your digital signage, inside and out

For the last guideline, we will merely set a reminder, as you probably know this one already. If you want to protect your digital signage from the effects of time, make sure it can’t be stolen. If it’s not well protected, then time will defeat you and someone else will walk away with your display! Who says it takes years for time to punish your digital signage. It might do so in a week.

Fret not, here is information you can use! A set of guidelines for securing your digital signage, both as a physical body as well as its software soul. Cyber threats are just as real as the physical threats from thieves or nature. The latter harms your digital signage physically, but the former has the potential to damage the reputation of your brand and business.

Follow these seven guidelines, and your digital signage will be build up immunity to time! Of course, this is not to be taken as a 100% guarantee. Nothing is. If a tornado hurls through your town and sends your display to a neighboring state, well, not much can be done there. Mind you, even in such an unlikely scenario, the data will remain if you’ve followed guideline #3. Remember, in unity there is power, even against harsh natural disasters. Will the physical protection of your displays weather the storm? Who knows, but it’s safe to say, it has a much higher chance of surviving all the threats time will present than your mom’s old TV you propped up in your store window.

Google’s Possible Journey Into the Out Of Home Industry

The recent talk of the town are tech-giant Google’s plans to venture into digital Out Of Home advertising. Now, whether this is simply because digital signage and OOH ads are the logical next step from online advertising, or if Google has something specific in mind, we can’t say for sure.

With a company as big as Google, anything is possible and they hardly have to worry about a particular move being a hit or miss. Google+ or Google Glass famously failed, but Google overall stayed strong. Next to them, the idea expanding the advertising field is really quite realistic.

We’ve already talked a bit about Google’s presence in the physical world of advertising in our latest digital signage news, now let’s get into the details of why and also what we might expect in the future.

Recognition of Out Of Home industry

Google's presence has grown in the world of Out Of Home advertising. But Google isn't the only one chipping big money in. In 2017, some of the top spenders on Out Of Home advertising included companies like McDonald's, Apple, Amazon, Coca Cola and plenty of other names you will recognize. There is no hidden agenda or underlying secret as to why this is.

Simply put, the OOH industry has proved its worth over the recent years. Especially with billboards evolving to their digital form, it is no wonder how outdoor advertising is so effective! Digital billboards provide a new outlet for creativity, and also more freedom with amount of content shown, among other things. It is also blatantly obvious that companies with creative digital campaigns do get all the glory. Spotify based one of their campaigns around a David Bowie exhibit, and the response on social media was overwhelmingly positive.

Thus, it is not surprising that OOH is so strongly recognized, not just by Google but other giants as well, regardless of their home turf being online in the digital world.

Google’s targeted ads might appear on billboards near you

Google is gradually stepping outside of our computer and mobile displays into the physical world. And rumor has it that they're doing so with some grand plans. One such plan might involve showing you a specific advertisement you will like on a nearby billboard you can see. This would be achieved through a combination of several different factors. For a start, your online presence, web browsing and such, and of course, your location.

Although such a concept sounds eery and chilling, it is hardly surprising when you think about it. Of course, displaying a specifically tailored ad to one individual on a billboard would be highly inefficient. Just imagine how often and quickly they would need to change. Instead, advertising would be displayed to a specific group of people. It's still similar to online ads shown based on browsing behavior, except here they’re on a billboard.

With ideas like this in mind, Google certainly poses a threat to advertising companies once technology of this kind reaches its peak stage of development. It can't be long with digital Out Of Home advertising growing as fast as it is.

Will Google become a big player in OOH?  

Given the amount of data they have, Google simply needs to decide whether this is in their future or not. And if they indeed decide that, they can just go forward. If yes, it is very viable, and even anticipated. A German newsweekly, WirtshaftsWoche reported the plans to introduce an advertising product for the Out Of Home industry. Allegedly they’ve been talking to German officials about it. However, Google denied this report, but ad experts find that such a response would be a logical one if they indeed were planning on releasing such a product.

Google has tested a programmatic ad buying platform for OOH ads in the past, which shows they didn't just decide to take steps in this direction out of the blue. Their spending in OOH, as we’ve seen alongside other larger companies, is quite substantial. However, it’s one thing to increase ad spending, and a completely different thing to try to become a major player in the industry. If it is the case, they have one advantage with the amount of rich data they have to aid their targeted advertising. They might sell digital billboard ads in a similar way they sell online ads.

Whether or not they’ll remain a user of digital billboards or become a provider remains to be seen. Time will tell, and from the looks of it, we might not have to wait too long to find out.

With Google denying any claims planning on releasing a major product to the OOH advertising world, and experts saying such a denial would be logical, we can only wait and watch what happens. The industry is anticipating and preparing for the impact should it turn out to be the case.

As we can see, the OOH industry is still moving forward each year. This is reason enough to have some of the bigger players drawn to it. However, if a giant like Google indeed is aiming to make a splash, it will certainly make big waves and significantly shape the world of advertising yet again.

Digital Signage News: DSE comes to Europe, Google invests in OOH, and more!

From hard problems to easy solutions, from standing in the present to digging through the past, this month’s digital signage news article is stacked with surprising information from various sources. Let’s not waste any time and start off with a few easy issues digital signage software can solve. Then we work our way up to bigger subjects, such as Google in DOOH. Or a company launching a very serious OOH platform in South Africa. Let’s go!

Frequent mistakes in retail digital signage easily solved!

By now, digital signage is a known sidekick to retail marketing. We’ve discussed its amazing features ranging from the ability to easily connect with consumers, all the way to helping your sales associates attain better results. Thus, you do not want your digital signage performing poorly and leaving all these pluses on the table.

On that subject, if you head over to DigitalSignageToday you may see their latest article on the three big failures of retail digital signage, and just how easily they can be fixed. For the most part, they can be solved through features offered by any software provider. For example, non-functional screens aren’t much of an issue if you’re quickly aware that they’re not working properly. Unless you have an employee sitting in front of each display, you probably won’t notice errors quickly. Digital signage software detects and notifies you appropriately. You will quickly know which one out of a sea of a thousand displays you need to attend to.

Time jump to the roots of (digital) signage

In this monthly recap article, we won't just hop back in time to the beginning of last month and see what’s been going on. No, we will go back much further, a century or two, all the way to 1871, and move back to the future from there. A recent article of OOH Today  takes a look into the family tree of outdoor advertising from the roots onward without missing a twig.

Digital signage is found in the younger branches of said tree. The article goes through every year of outdoor advertising, since its earliest seeds, all the way up to 2005. There is something interesting to see in every year that impacted or at least in some way shaped the OOH industry, 2004 especially. Be sure to take a closer look to see why!

DSE learns how to swim

Very exciting news for digital signage enthusiasts, DSE is coming to Europe! After many successful ventures in North America, DSE is traveling overseas and hosting DSE ONE-EUROPE in London, UK. This is going to be the European edition of the one-day DSE conference program which debuted in New York.

The European conference program will cover basic and important subjects, for example how to accurately measure ROI, implementation dos and don'ts, creating the right content, and more! The event will take place at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel London Kensington. It's sponsored in part by the Digital Signage Federation.

If you're interested in the event, get more information here and make room in your calendar on December 5th, 2018.

Ads2Trade set to launch in South Africa

South Africa might be the birthplace of the first global franchise in outdoor media trading. Ads2Trade platform is an automated, web-based outdoor media trading platform, aimed to revolutionize the OOH advertising industry. The platform will allow media buyers to book advertising space and create specific campaigns for their consumers. These campaigns will be optimized for advertising to a specific audience.

According to Daniel Voros, CEO of Ads2Trade, this trading platform will allow media owners to more efficiently market their stock and improve occupancy. This is only the scratch on the surface of other advantages he mentions. Be sure to read more about these, as well as the goals the platform wishes to reach.

Google an out of home advertiser?

If you need proof that OOH/DOOH is growing — although you'd probably only doubt its growth if you've lived under a rock for the past decade or two — Google has the answer! Not the search engine, the company, because Google has invested quite more than a bit into outdoor advertising.

Specifically investing in DOOH, Google launched the "Make Google Do It" campaign in the UK as a promotion to the various tasks the Google Assistant can help you with.

As per the campaign the Google Assistant can help you "Play it. Skip it. Time it. Dial it. Forecast it. Remember it. Schedule it. Prep it. Do it."

Not only does this sound like the popular Daft Punk song, it highlights the various ways in which the Assistant takes over everyday tasks. This sounds amazing and it opens the doors to unthinkable possibilities. However, perhaps some people prefer to keep their doors shut to the idea of Google making such a big entrance in and outside of their lives. If the comments on the ad video are any indication, there are mixed responses on Google doing everything for us.

A very exciting set of news this month. From figurative time travel and fixing mistakes — not in connection as it might seem — we turned to South Africa and looked at Google’s newest attempt to take over our offline world. We’ll see what the next month’s news will bring, and if you can’t wait until then for us to write it… just make Google do it!


Electric Cars Fuel Digital Signage Advertising

Electric cars are rising in popularity, this is hardly news as you’ve definitely heard of regular news appearances of Tesla or Nissan’s more widely sold but less infamous zero emission electric vehicles. A sometimes hefty price aside, their growth is unlikely to slow down any time soon.

Given the dispersion of electric vehicles advancing further in the transportation industry, a combination with digital signage as a next step feels natural.

We take a closer look at electric cars. What are the opportunities they provide to the digital signage world? Altogether, this will provide insight how both the consumer and the provider of digital signage services can form a beneficial bond.

The riches of car-charging stations

Combining digital signage and cars brings forth all the amazing advantages of digital signage to a new place. However, electric cars provide an additional outlet where digital signage and general advertising can plug in. For starters, the advantages of vehicle mounted digital signage wholly apply to electric cars. Notwithstanding, the main asset of electric cars with digital signage is elsewhere.

Car-charging stations are a prime location for digital out of home advertising. First, there’s electricity on them. Second, every owner of an electric car will need to charge the vehicle eventually. This creates a perfect opportunity for up-close and personal advertising or provision of content fitting for that consumer. As such, digital signage at charging stations is relevant to the consumer and the advertiser alike.

Free car-charging stations, funded by advertisers?

With estimates of the number of electric cars reaching as many as 220 million worldwide by 2030, car-charging stations and companies which provide them have been mushrooming. The big question is who is going to pay for them. Some say carmakers, others say utility companies or a third party. Volta has a different answer.

San Francisco startup Volta offers vehicle owners free power by turning charging ports into digital advertising. The company’s recently raised $35 million to expand their network. This has helped them claim the tagline, “the largest free electric car charging network in the US”.

By offering free charging stations, they're counting on more electric drivers approaching and using them. Furthermore, by converting those charging stations into outdoor ads, they can charge advertisers in exchange for the benefits of exposure time and an interesting demographic.

Paid or free charging - the verdict is still out

While most customers surely prefer the latter option, it is uncertain which version will dominate. For free charging to make financial sense, the charging station operator and digital signage provider in personal union would need to earn enough advertising revenue to offset the electricity costs. It’s a plausible option, but one which will need to be proven feasible.

For now, many chargers are proprietary and specific to certain car manufacturers. Many don't have a credit or debit card system, cutting off many potential users. Instead they rely on specific payment methods, such as charging cards or apps. However, more and more companies are investing in charging stations, such as Chargepoint, Greenlots and others. Volkswagen plans on investing $2 billion on vehicle-charging infrastructure. The well-known Tesla has its own proprietary Supercharge network as well. Head over to Quartz for more details on the state of the industry.

All features of digital signage apply

What about the content placed on these charging stations? It’s important to keep in mind that charging an electric car isn’t the same as filling up a car which runs on fuel. Charging times take from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the charger used. Hence, there is quite a bit of waiting time involved.

While traditional signage might work on charging stations, digital is most definitely the better solution. Applied to full potential, digital signage can do a lot more than just advertise. Take entertainment for a start, especially with interactivity coming into the mix. Maps and orientation are another source of content a user might look for. Further useful information such as weather forecasts, current events and local points of interest could be included. Above all, these opportunities prove that charging and signage is a natural, comfortable and beneficial combination.

Unique content opportunities emerge

The primary benefit of electric cars is their ability to generate power while leaving less emissions. In an effort to demonstrate this, last year, Volvo used the power of lightning to power their billboard. The ad was set up as a part of the promotion for Volvo's S90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid Luxury.

The electric car industry is still young and facing obstacles. Infrastructure and patterns are not yet fully established. As we have seen, there are options for free charging as are there for paid ones. Neither seems to be the obvious leader yet, given the state of the industry. It’s quite surprising they haven’t been utilized in a more noted way. For example, charging stations at retail locations haven’t become commonplace everywhere yet. This is certainly a matter of who advances the cash. Time will tell, and quite soon from the looks of it as the industry is going to expand faster and further in the upcoming years.

Top Must-Know Advancements in Digital Signage

If you thought digital signage refers merely to digital content on a display, think again! That may be true on the surface, but it’s only a part of what digital signage really means. There are plenty of advancements in technology beyond this simplified definition which foster the power of digital signage.

As you have most likely gathered from our many guidelines, it’s the strategizing and the way of using digital signage and its content which matter most. Let’s zone in on these aspects and what some of the more important advancements in the digital signage industry are, both in terms of technology and application method of this tool.

The digital shopping experience is gaining traction!

Retail is undoubtedly one, if not the top industry where digital signage induces the strongest impact. This is very evident with displays standing as a big part of the shopping experience. More precisely, it’s not only the in-store displays, but also the smaller, pocket-sized versions shoppers rely on to inquire and ultimately make their purchasing decisions on.

Many shopper research a product before deciding to purchase. With the internet at the tip of the finger, we have access to pricing across different vendors, product descriptions and, perhaps most importantly, peer reviews.

The latest research by Navigating Modern Retail polled 2,000 UK consumers to track their shopping behavior and yielded noteworthy results. One of the primary discoveries was that the use of in-store digital technology is a very important component of a modern retail business.

With 60% of UK consumers saying they use their devices while shopping, the industry is shifting to accommodate for that growing habit. Interactive digital signage makes shopping more comfortable and interesting. Self-checkouts continue to grow in popularity as people get increasingly accustomed to them being fast and convenient.

This goes in the line of thinking of people finding driving to be safer than flying. Statistics are on the side of flying, but people prefer to be in control. As it happens with self-checkouts, it’s faster to have a trained employee handle everything for that single transaction, yet people feel increasingly more comfortable doing such activities on their own and think it’s faster because they probably have less line to queue in.

Blockchain is chaining the world of DOOH to it

Blockchain’s the buzzword of our time. Thus, it's highly unlikely this is the first time you’ve heard it. If you haven’t, in short, Blockchain is a decentralized technology for peer-to-peer transfers without the need of a third party, such as a bank when used as a currency. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly for some, Blockchain has also been mentioned in relation to digital signage.

There has been conjecture that Blockchain could transform the world of DOOH as we know it. For example the viewer could be awarded cryptocurrency in exchange for a specified interaction with DOOH advertising. Posting a picture on social media, for instance, could yield a profit to the viewer. A detailed article on DigitalSignageToday showed how this could be done in detail, and it’s quite an interesting read.

Another excellent example of the Blockchain-DOOH combo will likely be seen before the end of 2018. Entrepreneurs from the UAE and Saudi Arabia have announced a new blockchain-based platform aiming to change the DOOH world. They claim it will allow any car owner to transform their vehicle into a moving advertisement. The goal here is to bypass the third party, such as the billboard owner, and advertise easily, directly and with better margins.

The startup is in conversation with global brands. The new service could launch before the end of 2018.

Direct-view LEDs promise a bright future for large venues

According to a Samsung White Paper, the new direct-view LED technology promises a large digital canvas with unique configurations and no visible seams or gridlines. These benefits alone explain the popularity of these displays, but how do they work? Well, in short, each pixel on the image is a combination of a red, green and blue LED. As a result, this creates the perfect illumination and blend of millions of colors.

Direct-view LED displays experience rapid adaptation. New technologies emerge which tend to the video wall portion of the industry. Video walls are growing more and more sophisticated, and the components of direct-view LEDs are promising. Direct-view LED displays eliminate bezels, so combining them into a single installation is super easy. They're glare proof, customizable and the hardware is lighter, smaller and easier to manage.

For a greater understanding of what direct-view LEDs offer, check out this article where they’re compared with LCDs. The image above already shows a few fundamental differences with more to find out about in the article.  

DOOH (finally?) going programmatic

Programmatic DOOH is a frequent focus of discussions in the recent months. Some say it lagged behind programmatic mobile and online advertising. If that’s truly the case, DOOH is finally catching up. First, to clarify the term programmatic very quickly: Programmatic DOOH refers to the programmatic automation of DOOH sales, removing many middle man steps of advertiser purchases and opening the doors to real-time and on-the-spot transactions.

Programmatic DOOH is already causing turbulent changes to the way DOOH publishers operate. Although it might be a disruption of the industry, it promises great benefits to advertisers and brands aiming to extend their audience reach. This is certainly the primary benefit of programmatic DOOH, and it is likely this is not the last time you’ll hear about it.

Some of the points above are moving from well established within the industry to gradually developing further. The subject of larger venues and video walls, for instance, will certainly improve technologically. Meanwhile, others such as the programmatic DOOH haven’t fully impacted the core of the digital signage industry just yet. They are likely to become a more familiar component of digital signage in the future, though.

The digital signage industry is one that must keep moving and changing to stay ahead of the game. As we so famously say, a digital menu was a big deal a few years ago, but it’s not as exciting anymore today. Thus, the industry can’t slow down and needs to keep moving, both technologically and strategically to maintain the momentum it created.