How do you choose a digital signage provider? The simple answer is: know what you want and know what you need. That’s it, really. But let us elaborate.
The first step for any project is planning and, at this stage, you should:
1. Know your goals and objectives. What are the things that you want to achieve?
2. Define your content. You need to know what type of content you want on your digital signage and how this will be presented. Who will create and manage your content? If you do not have the talent in-house to create and manage your content effectively, you might want to check out if there are tools that you could use to help you manage it or you might as well just outsource this part.
3. Get to know the choices you have. When you are in the process of setting up your digital signage and looking at different digital signage providers, you will no doubt come across several new terms and concepts. Take time to learn them and their benefits and advantages. What are commercial displays and how are they different from consumer displays? What are RSS feeds, zones, live video and dynamic content? Furthermore, you will need to learn about remote control and management, verification of playback, and others.
4. Be sure to get the appropriate departments involved. Internally, having a digital signage campaign might involve your marketing department, sales staff and your IT department. Depending on what kind of campaign you run and what deployments you choose. Be sure that they are on the same page from day 1.
5. Decide on your implementation. There are tools, software and providers out there that help you implement your digital signage campaign in-house. Or you could decide to altogether outsource everything.
Knowing what’s out there
Getting familiar with your options. There are four different setups that you will come across when it comes to digital signage deployment.
- A single non-networked player setup.
- A multi-display non-networked player setup.
- A multi-display and multiple media player setup that may come with live TV capture.
- A full-on media server, multi-display and multi-player setup with a whole range of functionalities.
Getting familiar with the features. You might want to look for a service provider that makes digital signage content creation and digital signage content management a whole lot easier to do. This will help you become more flexible and more independent when you create and manage your content. This is especially true if you outsource your content; you do not have to wait for them to be able to change your content. You get to save money and time when you have great content management and creation tools at hand.
High quality playback is yet another feature that you should take note of, especially if you opted for a multi-display setup where some images might become pixilated or distorted.
Interactivity is also another feature to consider. If you want to further engage your customers with your digital signage, then you might want to consider using interactive touch screens, gesture tracking and SMS capabilities.
Aside from the foregoing features, you might want to consider using an open platform that would easily work with any source or system. Be sure that the digital signage solution you choose is able to efficiently distribute your content. What’s more, you should be able to scale up and down seamlessly.
Additionally, being able to set up schedules and rules for your content is an absolute must. You should be able to get the right message out at the right time to the right people. Consider getting a platform that would be able to allow you to set up when your message is going to be displayed and when the campaign would end. You could also further target your audience in such a way that your content is played if they get near a mall or your store. What’s more, you should be able to do this anywhere.
Last and most importantly, choose a system that would make it easier for you to monitor your screens. Because DS marketing involves distributed screens, it is costly and time consuming, if not downright impossible, to go to each screen just to check if your content is being displayed at the time you want it displayed. Consider a digital signage provider that would help you stay on top of all of your campaigns, getting notifications when errors happen and even receiving reports that provide proof of playback.
A quick run down
With these considerations, you would be able to narrow down the providers that you can work with.
Be sure that you evaluate each on:
- Hardware compatibility, or whether the digital signage software is compatible with the platform that you want to use.
- The robustness and stability of the digital signage software.
- Feature set: Does it have all the features you need?
- Scalability: Is the solution scalable?
- Ease of use and cost effectiveness.
Some of the top providers you will come across when looking for a digital signage provider includes:
- AVI Systems gives you the full range of services from content creation to management. It offers scalability and a wide range of functionalities, such as interactivity, real-time experiences, in-store, and other setups. It also allows you to customize your message to drill down your target audience.
- C-Nario Messenger gives you high quality playback, network distribution and display, digital signage content creation, management, and reporting.
- OnSign TV also gives you pretty much of what C-Nario offers with easy, reliable and customizable interfaces that make your content creation and management a breeze. Scheduling is all a matter of a few clicks of the mouse and it supports GPS targeting as well. Plus, you get to work with your media anywhere because all of media are stored on the cloud and it has top notch error notifications and playback reports, as well as an easy way to see all your campaigns and monitor them on one page. The only difference is that it is very affordable. You could get a digital signage campaign for as low as $10 per month.
The last word
Finding the appropriate software for you should be based on your needs. Some providers practically give an entire array of services and charge you more for it. You end up with a whole lot of services that you do not need or use but you pay for anyway. For instance, why should you be charged for quick and easy way to update all your digital signage devices when you’re using a single screen that involves infrequent changes in content and data?