Digital Signage Helps Reopen Businesses Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic

As the world does its best to beat and recover from the pandemic—all the while hoping the path to recovery doesn’t become more challenging—businesses struggle to reopen and return to their precovid level. The road to recovery presents difficulties for all establishments, but assistance comes in the form of digital signage as a universal solution. A masterful tool for the provision of information, digital signage is the ideal helper going forward. If you’re looking to enhance your reopening efforts, here are some of the ways digital signage helps reopen businesses!

Provide a comfortable customer experience

At the beginning of the pandemic, stores scrambled to set up all kinds of make-shift safety measures. The initial shock of the pandemic has faded and we now know what we must do to stay safe. Entering a store or a shop won’t become a completely stress-free experience any time soon. All of the benefits of digital signage we discuss here make any customer (as well as employee) feel more at ease as they visit your establishment.

As initially forced-closed businesses reopen, information and communication become primary tools to bring customers back in. Providing key information about COVID-19 measures in place or making the customer’s way to checkout more efficient to limit exposure time in store, digital signage can overall provide a sense of much needed comfort. Below we’ll highlight some of the more important features needed to enhance the customer experience. Of course, all of these can be provided by digital signage. This makes it a vital ingredient to reopen businesses and return them to a precovid state.

By the way, this applies to all establishments, not just businesses. Education is an excellent example where the power of digital signage comes to shine. 

Create an efficient customer journey

The most efficient customer journey is achieved by having customers who know precisely what they must do once they enter a location. This ensures they get what they want quickly.

Firstly, wayfinding information can be set up on several displays throughout your business. This can be personalized with interactivity by means something as simple as a tablet which allows users to obtain directions. For a touch-less experience, an online link on your digital signage can direct users to this information on their own devices.

An arrow sign, a simple example of wayfinding

Apart from wayfinding, visitors can also turn to digital signage to obtain information about the services you offer and the criteria to obtain them. For instance, certain facilities like banks can inform clients on which documentation is needed for specific procedures. This prevents bottlenecks and ensures clients arrive prepared and helps reopen businesses with a good head start.

Efficiency ensures the customer journey is swift and concise. Prior to COVID-19, this factor perhaps was desirable but by far not prevalent. Today, it has become somewhat of a necessity. As customers complete their journey faster, exposure time is kept short and occupancy becomes easier to manage. That’s another field where digital signage can help.

Manage occupancy

Tracking occupancy rates of your location yields many benefits. You need to be aware when the occupancy rate is approaching high levels amid a pandemic. In some cases there is a government regulation in place allowing only a certain number per square meter of retail space. Second, visitors feel more at ease if they know the occupancy is managed and that social distancing is taken seriously. 

One can manage occupancy by giving out a limited number of tokens such as a shopping basket. When all tokens are gone, you need to wait for a person to hand one back. This analog system works, but it often requires a person in charge to supervise. Digital signage paired with sensors can do this task reliably for you. 

The downside of occupancy management is that sometimes customers have to wait to be admitted. Nobody likes to wait in front of a shut door. But if traffic flows efficiently thanks to digital signage, as we just discussed, they may not need to.

A man wearing a medical mask

Combined with an efficient customer journey which allows visitors to get their tasks done quickly, it becomes easier to maintain occupancy at the required level. This enabled businesses to reopen with efficiency. 

Provide a touch-less experience

When the pandemic first reared its ugly head, everyone thought it would mark the death of touchscreen technology, at least for a while. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and touchscreens can still be a safe feature even during a pandemic, so long as they and people’s hands remain clean. Thus, instead of causing a problem, touchscreens are another path for digital signage to reopen businesses.

A man using a touchscreen device

Of course, there are those users which would rather keep their hands to themselves. In case you find that even a few of your customers will appreciate it, you can provide a touch-less way of interactivity as an additional feature. Voice-activated digital signage is one way to do it. A much simpler and more affordable way is through features such as QR-codes. These allow users to interact with digital signage on their own devices online. 

Deliver PSAs

Thankfully we’ve reached a point where everyone knows the primary safety measures required to keep COVID-19 at bay. With that in mind, people adapt and they get used to living in it on a daily basis. PSAs continue to be a reminder to let people know that, despite their new-found comfort in your store, they need to be mindful of the safety measures.

At this point, there is a variety of PSAs available for you to use. Best include them as occasional components within your regular content rotation. 

Digital signage is easy to use

Given its ease of use, digital signage doesn’t require much learning by organisations which have never used it before. In the times ahead, and 2021 expected to be a year for recovery, plenty of businesses will do well to adopt it and use all of its features to make their reopening easier.

As it is with all things, a bit of practice helps. Even for a novice, digital signage is not difficult to get a handle on. You can rely on digital signage software to make the process easy. It enables you to delegate which content will be displayed at which location in your digital signage network. Brainstorming and content creation is the main part of the job. If you’ve prepared your content and have a clear image in mind of how you want to present it, it will literally takes you minutes to set up a campaign and schedule it at your desired time and location.

You can take OnSign TV digital signage software for a test drive right this second and experience that ease of use firsthand.

Digital Signage in 2021: Here’s What Awaits!

Given the challenges we’ve all faced in 2020, we don’t need to wait until its end to call it one of the tougher years. As everything gradually returns to normal, or at the very least appears to be so, we look forward to the future and what 2021 will bring.

Should the current pandemic situation remain on a manageable path and we don’t experience any sharp turns along the way to recovery, here’s what digital signage in 2021 will bring us.

A relative recovery of OOH

A few months back, as living amid a pandemic became the new normal, we saw plenty of sources predict how 2021 will be the year of the miraculous recovery of OOH. Of course, we must take such predictions with a grain of salt. We don't know what lurks around the corner. 

As we approach that corner, however, we now see the situation a bit more realistically. For reference, take a quick look at the UK. The latest Advertising Association/WARC expenditure Report showed that the UK ad spend will indeed continue recovering in 2021, but at a slower rate than predicted "with any gains made in 2021 unlikely to offset this year's losses." Full recovery of the UK ad market is expected by 2022 at the earliest.

Programmatic on the rise

Speaking of the recovery of digital signage in 2021, programmatic OOH is likely going to be a catalyst for it. The pandemic has provoked many changes. Among them is the shift to ecommerce which many brands opted for as the pandemic began. Programmatic OOH is the next logical step for clients of OOH as it can ensure marketers get the most out of their ad budgets while being able to deploy their campaigns quickly.

Not to forget, programmatic digital signage has been on the rise in the recent years. Its growth has shown it as a promising component of OOH. It's bound to become the norm at some point in the future. 2021, expected to be the year of recovery from the pandemic, is the ideal time for it to prove its worth. In fact, the question is not whether or not it will grow in 2021, but rather how much.

Will audio in OOH be the next big thing?

There are plenty of benefits of audio in digital signage. Although do keep in mind that it can be a tricky tool. It should be used with several aspects in mind. With the benefits of audio in mind, there is no question that it will always exist as a feature. Someone somewhere will make good use of it. But is it going to become a must-have feature in the future?

For that, we need to see just how much ad spending goes into it. According to the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) review, US audio and ad spend saw a rise of 30% in the first half of 2019. Additionally, Vibenomics, a location-based Audio OOH ad company, this year raised $6 million in Series A funding, bringing the company's total funding to $13.5 million. The funds will enhance the Vibenomics Audio OOH Advertising Marketplace. These numbers show there is a growing interest in audio for OOH, albeit not a groundbreaking amount.

A colorful visual preview of audio

Another factor to consider is the rise of touchless interaction. As it is today, much of digital signage in 2021 will be interactive via voice commands. In this connection, perhaps the concept of audio will become ingrained as a new normal in outdoor tech. Personally, I doubt that it will become an insanely popular feature anytime soon. One visual display can exist next to other displays without being a distraction. We can't say the same thing for audio. That’s an obstacle that might prevent it from becoming a dominant asset. 

Of course, we can hope to see ways in which this is overcome if audio is to grow further. For instance, there may be a way for audio to be conveyed via the individual’s headphones during interaction. 

The return of trade shows!

Although 2020 was a killer year for virtual events, it was a literal killer for physical events such as trade shows and conventions, DSE being the prime example. While some tried to make it work by postponing to later in the year, most public events opted to call it quits in 2020 and wait patiently for 2021 to make their comeback.

If the pandemic doesn’t spiral out of control and safety measures don’t rise significantly, it is highly likely that 2021 will have plenty of events that didn’t have the opportunity to take place in 2020. Of course, there are also those events which haven’t confirmed if and when they’ll be returning, such as RetailEXPO

Empty seats at an amphitheater

Still, we’re keeping a close eye on events from ISE 2021 to InfoComm, expected to take place in June 2021. Nevertheless, how will the public respond to these events at that time? Some events, like InfoComm China took place this year in September. But do keep in mind that the vast majority of attendees, if not all of them, were from China only. 

It remains to be seen if 2021 trade shows will host only a limited and local audience. Or, should we reach a point where international travel is permissible, we’ll see if the trade show audience is prepared to travel the miles, both in budget as well as in convenience and trust in safety measures.

JCDecaux expects to reach carbon neutrality by 2021

A big win for the environment, the largest OOH advertising company in the world expects to achieve carbon-neutral status by 2021 for all its activities in France. The company is also working on reducing greenhouse gas emissions internationally. But France is, after all, where their largest market is. 

A small tree in a shattered orb of glass

Outdoor advertising is an industry that has relatively low greenhouse gas emissions. Still, there is always room for improvement. JCDecaux has achieved much in order to lower these levels further. One example is rainwater collection for the purpose of washing street furniture without detergent, a technique which dates back several decades.

New opportunities for digital signage

COVID-19 shook up 2020 and threw several challenges to the Out-of-Home world. It has also presented new opportunities for digital signage. Now, more than ever, businesses need such a tool to provide detailed information to consumers. PSAs, for instance, are a new content category which seems to emerge everywhere.

Digital signage software providers in 2021 will be thrown in the spotlight. Digital signage users will need tools which help them organize the content adequately to make sure the right content reaches the right place. Furthermore, businesses which have relied on simple digital signage will now find just how much they can benefit from digital signage software.

 

“How Can Digital Signage Software Help My Small Business?”

Digital signage software is ideal for enterprises running a rich network of digital displays. It allows you to quickly isolate a glitch or an error in a sea of hundreds of displays. But what about smaller businesses which only have a few to a dozen displays to manage? More importantly, can a business with only ONE digital display benefit from digital signage software?

Let’s find out. Firstly, while a single display doesn’t compare in complexity to a network of screens or a video wall, do not make the mistake of underestimating its potential. In fact, these days people expect displays to actually have something important to show. Underutilizing this asset is worse than not having it at all. An uncared for display comes off as neglected and useless. Make sure your small business uses its full potential! Here is how.

A visual asset for the storefront of any small business

If you want to make minimal but still impactful use of your display, place it at the storefront and let the content flow! Use it to invite people in and boost foot traffic. While indoors, you can have as many displays as you want in order to inform and engage, a single display is more than enough to work its magic in the storefront. Keep in mind that you don’t need to share too much information here. Something as simple as the discount number is more than enough to get the message across. “30% off” says it all. Apart from discounts, something as simple as highlighting your most popular or newest items and offers is noteworthy.

The most important tip for creating storefront content is to ensure it draws attention. An animated video draws attention more than a still, for instance. Once having caught the eye of the passersby, ensure your message is quick to understand. If you’re using text, use as little as a sentence, and ensure it can be read at a glance!

Waiting room assistant

Killing time seems to be a feature ability of any screen, if smartphones and television are any indication. Setting up a digital display, even solely to stream YouTube videos, can be a good entertainment source. For this you truly only need one display, especially for smaller businesses with smaller areas. If you have other displays, they can be used for other purposes.

Airport passenger area

In terms of pure entertainment, you can set up a series of entertaining campaigns for the viewer. The dentist’s waiting room display can highlight fun facts about teeth and dental hygiene, or share fun facts about dentistry. To light up the mood of the patient anxiously awaiting their treatment, throw in other entertainment unrelated to teeth. You could, for instance, utilize a series of interesting facts from history. OnSign TV has a content channel focused on Today in History, showing big events in history which happened on any given day of the year. 

Rich and engaging content

This asset doesn’t come on its own. You have to work hard for it, but if you have a rich rotation of content on your screens, they can make a difference, even if it’s only on one display. In fact, let’s assume you only have one digital display in your store. With a bit of effort and with digital signage software by your side, you can set up a balanced rotation of your ads, entertaining visual content, special deals your business offers, and third-party advertisements. 

It’s practically effortless with digital signage software to set up content tied to the time of day. You can rotate special offers based on morning, afternoon, or evening hours. If not for offers, at the very least your display could greet the viewers with a more custom greeting than a simple “Welcome!” You could add inspirational quotes, or even an occasional fun wink.

PSAs

In times of COVID-19, enforcing rules within any establishment has become a priority. While printouts at the door get the message across, a display to remind visitors to keep their distance is hardly overseen. As rules change and some people get tired of the situation, a healthy reminder is needed.

Hand sanitizer, mask, and gloves

If you have multiple displays, you can dedicate one of them to show PSA videos or images. If not a display, you may convert an old tablet or iPad into a PSA display. This clever use of old tech also frees up more space for content on your main display(s). While we’re on the subject, tablets can be utilized as interactive displays.

Screen-splitting for simultaneous content

Your digital display, regardless of purpose or content displayed, can continuously promote your social media handles. To achieve this using digital signage software, you can effortlessly split up the screen to display multiple types of content at the same time. One corner of the display could always show your Twitter or Facebook handles alongside the main content on the screen. Meanwhile, another corner could show the latest news.

An example of a screen layout on OnSign TV digital signage software

Work out which content is most valued by your target audience. If your business is near a bus stop or a train station, one part of your display could show upcoming arrival times. Other audiences will value different types of information. Traffic density reports on the road, sports news near a stadium, current weather along commuter lines, and time everywhere can all be good sources of content to include as extra information on your screen.

Investing in digital signage

One or two displays are enough to make good use of digital signage software and enough to see the impact digital signage can make for your business, if used properly. Thereafter, you’ll see how a more serious investment into digital signage can truly pay off in the long run. With multiple displays, you can assign content to all of them at once. One display can focus on PSAs at the storefront. Another display can advertise for third parties. At checkout, an interactive tablet can collect feedback. Digital signage software enables you to set this up and manage it effortlessly. Here are some of the key features digital signage software can offer you.

Before investing, however, be sure to read up on a few important decisions to be made. For instance, you should already have an idea on who your audience is, which type of content they would want to see, and how digital signage can help you deliver it. Otherwise, you risk going in blindly and showing content your audience won’t care about.

The good news is that digital signage software providers, like OnSign TV, often offer a free trial period which allows you to test out all the features adequately for your business. The best part? You can sign up for OnSign TV immediately and get started. No credit card required!

Digital Signage News: A New Digital Signage Event, Banning Billboards, and more! 

Incredulously, and for the superstitious paired with a sigh of relief, the end of the year less ordinary 2020 is in sight. No doubt, a year to remember and one remaining in our social consciousness as a caesura point for years to come. As we dive deeper into the final quarter of the year we thankfully have only good digital signage news to report.

For a start, this month we saw a stellar example of dynamic outdoor advertising with the JCDecaux and MyPayNow OOH campaign. Among other things, the controversy of banning billboards brought up interesting points to their merit and whether or not they should be banned in certain locations. Lastly, we’ll highlight key features to look for in digital signage software before deciding on one.  

The JCDecaux/MyPayNow dynamic digital signage campaign

A great example of dynamic digital signage campaigns comes from JCDecaux and the cash advance app MyPayNow. Nationwide in the US at JCDecaux bus shelter displays bus arrival times were shown with the advert for the MyPayNow app. This is an instance where a dynamic digital signage campaign offers useful information to commuters while keeping creative focus on the advertisement. As the display showed the arrival time, the ad highlighted what a user could do with the MyPayNow app within that wait time.

JCDecaux digital signage at a bus shelter

Dynamic digital signage campaigns are a worthwhile path to inject creativity into your content. They pull in real-time factors into your message and as they are helpful they get noticed with an impact!

A new event emerges, presented by DSF and AVIXA 

Digital Signage Federation and AVIXA have recently announced about working together on a special virtual event, taking place on the 8th and 9th of December. The event is called D=SIGN and will focus on digital signage hardware, software, and content strategy.

D=SIGN event banner, presented by DSF and AVIXA

The event will among other things feature technology presentations. Given that DSF and AVIXA present the event, it will likely focus more on the overall education within the industry, rather than pitching certain products or solutions. 

Are billboards too beneficial to ban? 

As a group of citizens of Utah call for a billboard ban claiming they're eyesores, a new question arises. Billboards can indeed be an annoyance, but they do offer benefits which are often overlooked.

An article over at DesertNews discussed this in more detail, and here are some key points. Firstly, billboards are used to solve problems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uses digital billboards to promote safety. For instance, they urge drivers to buckle up, and not drink. The benefit of billboard PSAs during the COVID-19 pandemic is another example. There is also the point of innovation which drives the economy. The advancement of traditional billboards into digital enables the content they display to be more precise and relevant. This success persuades people to inject money into the economy by investing in them.

Has the pandemic made people appreciate the outdoors more?

COVID-19 has made a big impact on customer behavior, but how deep does this impact run? Posterscope, a global OOH and location-marketing firm, made an interesting discovery. 70% of UK consumers claim to be more mindful of their surroundings, especially in local areas. Many claim they found a stronger emotional connection with their local community. 

This also applies to outdoor advertising. 40% of respondents from "The Mobility Mindset" study claim they feel more positive towards brands who currently use OOH than before the pandemic. This confirms that outdoor advertising has the ability to build connections. In the end, this is hardly surprising. We all tend to appreciate things more once we are aware there is even the slightest chance of losing them. 

The latest mobility reports

Geopath mobility reports appear to show fluctuation in reference to pre-covid levels. However, they’re typically always above 90%. Good news comes from other locations as well, such as Australia. Based on their mobility data, the visits to shopping centres are up to 93% of normal levels. 

However, an OOHToday article raises a valid point when claiming that these numbers shouldn't be taken too seriously. While it's important to compare the current traffic numbers to pre-covid levels, let's not ignore the fact that traffic fluctuates throughout the year as well. Thus, perhaps including a comparison based on a year-on-year period may be more relevant. Overall, based on recent data, it’s safe to say that traffic can be regarded as normal, give or take a few percentage points.

Tips on choosing the ideal digital signage software

To wrap up this set of digital signage news, we highlight one of the more important topics we wrote about this month. Digital signage software comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. One digital signage software type will suit your business better than another will. But no matter the recommendations, it’s important you understand the basics and know which key features to look for as you do your research. Only then should you proceed to take advantage of free trials and test the software before committing.

A comprehensive dashboard, proof-of-play reports, as well as the ability to find and fix errors quickly are essential. The interface should be easy to understand and use. You and I may be dedicated enough to put in the extra effort to learn a challenging interface. But think of other users within your management and how they should be able to quickly learn the ropes. Take a look at other essential features, including those which might not necessarily come to mind now, but as you grow your digital signage network, you’ll find them invaluable!

6 Features You Should Look For In Digital Signage Software

With a large number of digital signage players on your hands, being able to manage them efficiently is a necessity. Opting to use digital signage software is the obvious choice. Manually managing one player at a time is workable only in small numbers. When you have dozens or hundreds of players, any organizational efficiency quickly evaporates into thin air. 

In the scope of this article we’ve condensed some of the most important features you should look for during your search for the ideal digital signage software for your operations. Apart from the basic elements such as a simple drag-and-drop timeline and screen splitting, we’ve highlighted features you may not think of at first. However, you’ll discover you need them further down the road as your digital signage network grows and becomes more complex.

Let’s start with the basics! 

1. An easy editing layout

Keep in mind that your digital signage software of choice won’t only be managed by you. Sure, you might know the tool inside and out, but you also want your staff to be able to learn the ropes pretty quickly. 

A drag-and-drop timeline is a very common and solid feature as it’s straightforward to most users. The OnSign TV timeline allows you to quickly piece together each section of your display. Of course, you may also choose to display one piece of content on the entire display. Or you'd like to create custom layouts. Regardless of your plan, your digital signage software should provide you with the tools to achieve it. Like you know it from a good presentation software, you can also tweak content transitions, aspect ratio, duration, as well as manage the audio for your campaign.

These are the basics, so regardless of which digital signage software you choose, take advantage of the free trial most providers offer to check if the necessary features are there.

2. Flexible scheduling

When it comes to scheduling, you want to have as many options as possible. Think about the types of content you’d like to display and what the ideal time for them is. Some content types you’ll schedule to run individually at a certain time of day. You can also create playlists and schedule them in order to run multiple pieces of content together. 

You may also even take advantage of triggered content playback which runs only under certain conditions. Users may trigger campaigns by scanning a QR code. If your display is in motion, in a vehicle, for example, you can trigger content based on the geolocation of the vehicle.A preview of the geofencing feature offered by OnSign TV

Another neat trick within this genre are fallback campaigns. You can schedule the campaigns to run only once there are no other campaigns running. This is ideal outside of work hours, during maintenance, or should a certain campaign fail to publish. Fallback campaigns can ensure your displays always show something to the viewer.

3. Proof of play reports

After spending your time to create quality content, you want to be sure it will successfully work and you can’t be everywhere all the time. This is where proof of play comes into play. You can check if everything worked even outside of office hours. Naturally, you’ll want the freedom to arrange for reports to be delivered to you at a specific time. You may want to receive them instantaneously, or on a set schedule throughout the week. It’s up to you to set it up.

Remote viewing and control is another feature which can come in handy. Should your digital signage software dashboard indicate there is something wrong with a player, you should have the tools to fix the problem. Firstly, you want the ability to view the direct feed of the player and see what is being shown in real time. Secondly, you want to be able to remotely control the device, or at the very least be able to reboot it instantly.

4. A comprehensive dashboard

In any given situation where you manage multiple live feeds of content, you want a quick and easy overview of the situation. Take a look at the OnSign TV dashboard as an example. Apart from checking the status of your players, you can also see any warnings or errors which may have recently occurred. You can see your players on map view, allowing you to grasp anything that may require your attention at a single glance.

A preview of the map feature in the OnSign TV digital signage software dashboard

Your digital signage software should make it effortless to isolate players based on their status. For instance, you may want to filter all players that are out of sync or offline at any given moment.

5. Player grouping

When you reach a certain number of players, you quickly see that it’s an inefficient use of your time to handle each of them individually. Your digital signage software should be able to allow you to group multiple players and manage them as if you were only managing one. This is what player grouping does. 

Group together displays which are primarily intended for displaying PSAs, for instance. Others may be responsible for entertainment, advertising, or schedule reminders. Maybe for you it works better based on location as an alternative criteria, or something else entirely. You can then push content to these displays without having to handle each of them one by one, without double-checking if the content you published went to the correct player. This way, you can always be sure a staff meeting reminder will only reach players on internal communication. 

6. User access complexity

Once your digital signage network is managed by multiple individuals, you will want to have a certain structure of authority set in place with different access levels. Your digital signage software should be able to assign authority to handle campaigns and players individually, allowing them to add players, create player groups, create custom layouts, add playlists, etc. This is a great way to ensure that people responsible for specific players will only see and be able to access those players.

Similar as with grouping players, you may also want the ability to group users. For example, you can place multiple content creators in one group to give them all access to view and edit a campaign, but without giving them permission to publish the content before it’s approved.

 

Shown above are several additional digital signage software features you may find useful. They’re good brainstorm fuel as you should think ahead and see the requirements for your unique content setup. 

Each and every single feature listed above, and then some, is available to OnSign TV users. All at your disposal right this moment to try them out with the 14-day free trial, no credit card required!